Stainless steel sheet is one of the most versatile metals widely used in industrial, commercial, or architectural applications. As stainless steel comes in some beneficial properties such as rust resistance, durability, strength, versatility, etc. Moreover, another reason why the material is so popular is that there is a wide range of different stainless steel finishes to choose from, including Matte Finish (No. 2B ), Brushed Finish (No. 3, No. 4 ), Mirror Finish (No. 8), and more.

6 Most Common Options For Stainless Steel Finishes | TBK Metal

Choosing the proper option from these stainless steel finishes for your project will be largely determined by your specified requirements, whether you are looking to use stainless steel in a kitchen, bathroom, or other decorative applications. As different types of stainless steel finish can present different appearances and properties. For example, stainless steel sheet applied in exterior applications requires better surface, which can withstand severe weather outside, and can be able to serve a long useful time.

Common Options For Stainless Steel finishes

Whether you’re looking for a more traditional look or an industrial feel, Here, here we will discuss the methods of stainless steel finishes below, all these types are available for any stainless steel surface.

Type No. 2B - Matte Finish

No. 2B finish is also known as mate finish, its surface is usually dull and not recommended for applications requiring high visual appeal. It is suited to cases where further finishing is not needed or where appearance is not as important as function. This finish is created by cold rolling stainless steel through special rolls and then de-scaling it in an acidic solution. It is commonly used in chemical and pharmaceutical equipment, dry cleaning equipment, and sewage equipment.

Matte finish is one of the least expensive types of stainless steel finishes. It looks like a cloudy mirror, making it unsuitable for atheistic applications. Stainless steel is rolled to its desired size and annealed to change its properties. After this, it is pickled to remove oxidation from the surface, leaving behind a passivation layer. Cold rolling stainless steel coil through specially polished rolls produces a smooth, smoky surface that is low in reflectivity.

Type No. 3 - Brushed Finish

No. 3 is an abrasive finish made with 120-grit abrasive and produced through one-directional courses. This process results in a moderately reflective finish and a grain pattern of fine, parallel lines. It is widely used in the food service industry and is often used in kitchen and brewing equipment. However, the brushed finish does reduce corrosion resistance. Nevertheless, it is often the preferred choice for appliances and equipment.

No. 3 is one of the most reflective stainless steel finishes. It is produced by extensively buffing and polishing the surface with successively finer abrasives. This finish is often confused with No. 8 Brushed Finish but is not as smooth as the latter. Before applying this finish, fabricators first remove welds and simulate the original mill finish. Afterwards, they can refine the machining marks and welds using standard rough-polishing procedures.

Type No. 4 - Brushed Finish

No. 4 is a brushed finish, which is a very popular type for stainless steel surface treatment. It is an attractive, durable finish and is best for decorative or ornamental applications. Stainless steel with this finish is available in cold rolled, pickled, polished, and patterned forms. It is not as reflective as No. 3 Brushed Finish, but it does provide an elegant and professional appearance. It is a perfect choice for a number of applications, including kitchen equipment, barware, and many more.

This finish is typically less durable than a mill finish. Its corrosion resistance is typically less than that of a mill finish. This finish can be scratched to expose the sulfide inclusions present in steel, which are catalysts for corrosion. Although No 4 stainless steel finishes can be slightly rougher than mill finishes, they can still be durable. The No. 4 Brushed Finish is available in several different grades and may be available in a variety of materials, depending on the grade and thickness of the steel.

Type No. 5 - Brushed Finish

No. 5 is a highly reflective surface produced by a buffed annealing process. This process applies finer abrasives and buffer compounds to the surface. Buffed finishes are generally unidirectional and coarse. Their visual appearance varies depending on the material and roughness of the grinding belt. They are suitable for internal architectural applications.

Choosing a proper type from these stainless steel finishes requires knowledge of mechanical properties and a thorough understanding of the application. The process of applying such a finish will determine whether the surface is suitable for a given application. For most stainless steels, further finishing steps are necessary to remove stains and oxidation. If you're unsure of the finish you'll need, contact a metal supplier in your area for assistance.

Type No. 6 - Satin Finish

The No. 6 is a finishing method also called satin finish, which is a non-directional, semi-reflective process. It is achieved by buffing the surface with finer grits and white chrome rouge. The No. 8 finish is the highest polish and is blemish free. Its reflective quality is exceptional and allows the user to view the image with clarity. However, this method is more expensive and requires specialized tools.

Depending on the application, a No. 6 finish may not be as noticeable as a No. 4. The No. 6 finish is often mistaken for No. 6, but it isn't. Unlike No. 4, satin requires higher grits. For example, a finisher using a no. 2B material would begin with a 120-150 grit belt or linear finisher. This would be followed by an 180-220 fleece nonwoven drum to create a satin finish.

Type No. 8 - Mirror Finish

A No. 8 Mirror Finish is one of the most reflective stainless steel finishes available, according to ASTM standards. This finish requires longer polishing to obtain near-mirror-like appearance. Stainless steel products with this finish are used in column covers, press plates, wall panels, and mirrors. The longer polishing time makes them more difficult to spot grit lines and imperfections. However, it is a desirable finish for any project that requires a high level of reflection.

This finish is achieved by polishing the material with successively finer abrasives and is commonly used for cosmetic applications. Mirror Finish is often confused with No. 8 Finish, but it is not as transparent as No. 8. The No. 8 Mirror Finish is also a non-directional finish, and it is a highly reflective surface. This type of finish is also often obtained by annealing the material under an atmosphere to prevent scale from forming on its surface.

Other Options For Stainless Steel Finishes

To meet further more requirements for stainless steel applications, there are other options of stainless steel finishes are available, such as sandblasted stainless steel and etched stainless steel. They are more durable than others and can be applied to fabricated products for decorative purposes. Some are intended to resist scaling or discoloration. Copper and nickel are commonly used as base metals in chromium plating and are often used as color matching materials. Some chemical and physical processes and are also sometimes applied for decorative purposes on panels.

The Benefits Of Stainless Steel Finishes

Stainless steel finishes are highly reflective and non-directional. The typical Ra value of stainless steel is below 0.1 micrometers. Here are some of the benefits of each type of finish. Each one has its own unique characteristics. The first two types of stainless steel finishes are cold rolled and mirror. These two types of finishes have slightly different properties and should be analyzed according to their use. Read on to learn more about each type of finish.

In Conclusion

Stainless steel finishes are an essential aspect of a stainless steel product. Its corrosion resistance is attributed to its natural protective oxide film. In general, there are 6 common methods and other special treatments for getting your stainless steel finish. The difference between them depends on the type of finish you are looking for. A pit-free finish will leave no unseen imperfections. The surface with finish is easier to clean and maintain without the use of harsh chemicals.

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