Everything You Need To Know About Stainless Steel Finishes
Stainless steel has become popular in modern architecture and construction, automotive, transportation, medical, energy, food industry and household use due to its flexibility, strength, resistance to corrosion, low maintenance and attractive appearance.
With its many uses, choosing the right stainless steel finish for your application is as important as the application itself; however, the choice can be challenging, especially if you do not know where to start. But worry not! We’ve got you covered with the correct information!
Here is everything you need to know about stainless steel finishes, so you can enjoy low maintenance, a long lifespan, corrosion resistance and pleasing aesthetics.
First, we will discuss what stainless steel is, followed by the three different types, the pros and cons and select finishes.
What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is made with a combination of two or more alloying elements such as metal iron and a small amount of carbon. The metal iron gives it its high tensile strength, hardness, toughness, and resistance properties.
What Are Stainless Steel Finishes?
Stainless steel finishes are an all-encompassing term used to describe the different types of metal coatings used on stainless steel to achieve distinct appearances. These finishes are the end-product of cleaning and polishing steel in one way or another.
Stainless steel finishes are used for.
- Improving the decorative appeal
- Increasing endurance or durability
- Enhancing conductivity
- Promoting higher tarnish resistance
The Different Types of Stainless Steel Finishes
There is a diversity of stainless steel finishes. Remember, different types of finishes affect the overall appearance of the stainless steel material. In other words, various finishes are used to achieve different visual effects.
The three types of stainless steel finishes that are essential to know are:
1. Polished Stainless Steel Finishes
Also referred to as mirror finishes, polished finishes are the most common. They are often found on household appliances.
These finishes are associated with the word ‘mirror’ because they have the reflective look of a mirror. The finishes are clean and shine in the light.
Advantages of polished stainless steel finishes
- Maintains a clean look at all times
- It has a greater aesthetic appeal in comparison to other types of finishes.
- Easy to maintain
Disadvantages of polished stainless steel finishes
- Polished surfaces show marks and fingerprints, especially in high-traffic areas.
- Requires constant cleaning
2. Blasted and Pickled Stainless Steel Finishes
While blasted and pickled stainless steel finishes share a few characteristics with polished finishes, they do not have a reflective look. This is because they are finished with a light abrasion. As such, they have a vintage look to them. Also, when keen, you will catch a glimpse of the soft, silver-grey finish under the surface.
Due to the subdued nature of these finishes, they are perfect for nude structures or those that do not come in bright colors.
Advantages of blasted and pickled stainless steel finishes
- A higher level of corrosion resistance
- A higher level of durability
- Improved surface appearance
Disadvantages of blasted and pickled stainless steel finishes
- Creates waste as a by-product
- A technical process that requires a lot of time and patience
3. Brushed Stainless Steel Finishes
These are the standard finishes that come with most stainless steel products. Usually, these finishes are achieved by bead blasting stainless steel in a process that mechanically removes its contaminants.
Brushed stainless steel finishes are known for their matte appearance and clean look. Such finishes are perfect for industrial style or diverse stainless steel shapes and designs.
Advantages of brushed stainless steel finishes
- Hides blemishes or fingerprints
- It can be used for a long time before replacement is needed
- Versatile as it can be carved out in different shapes and designs
Disadvantages of brushed stainless steel finishes
- Hides blemishes but does not clean as fast
- Not as long-lasting as blasted and pickled stainless steel finishes
A few types of stainless steel finishes that fall under these three categories include:
No. 1 Finish
The No.1 finish is heated before hot rolling. It is also referred to as ‘rough finishing’ because minimal finishing is required.
No. 2B Finish
Resembling a cloudy mirror, this type of stainless steel finish is a uniform, dull, silver-grey. After its heat treatment, pickling is necessary to remove the chromium.
No. 3 Finish
Characterized by short, parallel lines, this finish is obtained by mechanical rolling. It typically has a surface roughness as it is a moderately reflective finish. It is often used in kitchen equipment as well as scientific apparatuses.
No. 4 Finish
This finish is commonly used on appliances. It is represented by short, uniform lines extending along the coil’s length. It is obtained when a No. 3 finish is polished using finer abrasives. Apart from use in kitchen appliances, this stainless steel finish is also used on hospital equipment and surfaces, water fountains, and tank trailers, among other places.
No. 7 Finish
Boasting a mirror-like appearance, the finish has a higher degree of reflectivity. It is found in wall panels and ornament trims.
Considering your Stainless Steel Finishes
When choosing these finishes for your project, it is essential to consider how it will be used. For instance, if your product will be used in a high-traffic area, then polished stainless steel finishes are out of the equation because they are known to show finger marks and stains easily. However, brushed stainless steel finishes should be considered because they hide finger marks and stains. The qualities and attributes of these should impact your choice.
There you go! Everything you need to know about stainless steel finishes. Achieving your desired finish is not complicated. It is just a matter of understanding these facts and following due processes. Gone are the days when you had to deal with scratches and imperfections on your surfaces. Instead, you can count on stainless steel for your desired finished product.
Learn More and Start Designing With Stainless Steel
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