A Complete Guide to Different Types of Stainless Steel Finishes

  • Stainless steel has probably been the most versatile and widely used material in history. Being the most extensively used material in several industries, it comes with several distinct types of finishes as well. These different types of finishes are required for various applications based on their strength and other properties. The finish required for the construction industry will not be the same as the finish required for various retail products. Therefore, with several stainless steel finishes available on the market, it is essential to choose the right one according to your requirements.

    Stainless steel can be categorised into three different finishes:

    Mirrored Finish

    Mirrored finishes are the result of polishing stainless steel to a certain degree to make the surface highly reflective. The surface of this type of steel is quite attractive for successfully masking the after-effects of welding and other surface damages. The polished surface not only enhances the appearance, but also the consistency of the plate, which makes it easier to clean. By undergoing several processes from mechanically treating the metal with finer abrasives to buffing the surface, mirror finishes are also capable of improving corrosion resistance.

    Some of the most-used applications of a mirror finish include mirrors, wall panels, reflectors, column covers, and ornamental trimmings.

    Matte Finish

    Matte finishes would refer to the steel that comes directly from the mill without being processed any further. This results in their dull appearance making them not so ideal for aesthetic applications. For projects where functionality is the priority, or further finish will be required, matte finishes are often preferred. This finish is created by multiple steps including the cold rolling process, softening in acid solution, and finally, passing the steel on to polish rolls to enhance its smoothness. Being the least expensive type of steel finishing, the matte finish is vastly used in various industries with numerous applications.

    Some common applications include using it in papermills, refrigeration, chemical plant equipment, laundry and dry-cleaning equipment, sewage equipment, and pharmaceutical equipment.

    Brushed Finish

    Brushed finishes can differ from supplier to supplier, or in some cases, batch to batch from the same supplier. The cause of these variations occurs from the wearing out of the abrasive belts or other manufacturing conditions. A brushed finish is not as reflective as a mirror finish, and generally appears with a fine pattern of parallel lines due to brushing the surface. Being moderately shiny yet not blinding to the eyes, the brushed finish is often used in buildings and appliances. It is recommended for you to ask for a small sample before ordering to get a clear idea about your desired finish.

    Common applications of the brushed finish are home appliances, air conditioners, automotive design, watches and jewellery, water heaters, etc.

    These are the three major variations of stainless steel finishes available that can be used in various applications and industries due to their distinctive features and build. Apart from plates, many suppliers also offer these finishes as sheets, bars, and tubes.