Fasteners are manufactured in a wide range of materials from common steel to titanium, plastic and other exotic materials. Many materials are further separated into different grades to describe specific alloy mixtures, hardening processes, etc. In addition, some materials are available with a variety of coatings or plating to enhance the corrosion resistance, or appearance of the fastener.
Fastener material can be important when choosing a fastener due to differences between materials in strength, brittleness, corrosion resistance, galvanic corrosion properties, and of course cost.
When replacing fasteners, it is generally best to match what you are replacing. Replacing a bolt with a stronger one is not always safe. Harder bolts tend to be more brittle and may fail in specific applications. Also some equipment is designed so that the bolts will fail before more expensive or critical items are damaged. In some environments such as salt water galvanic corrosion must also be considered if changing fastener materials.