Stainless Steel – Choosing a Surface Finish

By superadmin on December 17, 2019 in Blog

Stainless steel (SS) is offered in a range of different finishes, each suited to different applications. Depending on your application, you may wish to enhance the appearance of your stainless steel with a surface finish which will be applied during processing. There are a few things to keep in mind however, and in this blog post we’ll be highlighting the range of finishing options available along with their respective pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. As always, if you require professional advice please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at Mascot Steel today.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Finish

Every project has different goals and needs, and the surface finish of the stainless-steel elements will contribute to the overall feel, look and function of your project. SS can be used in everything from architectural projects to automotive, kitchen appliances and more – and each of these industries uses a different finish to achieve their desired visual effect.

Most people are familiar with the stainless-steel No. 4 finish, which is the most popular and can be found on things such as work surfaces, kitchen appliances and handrails to name a few. Rougher finishes are often used in cases where the steel needs to be ground before it is painted and glued, and it wouldn’t normally be used for decorative applications.

Below you will find a run down on the three most popular SS finish options and some of their most common applications.

Types of Finishes

No. 2B – Matte Finish

This finish is a mill finish, which means it has not undergone any further processing. The SS is cold rolled, annealed, pickled, passivated and then passed through highly polished rollers.  It is a general-purpose SS finish with a dull grey appearance and slightly reflective properties, so it is rarely used in applications requiring strong visual appeal. It is commonly used in the following applications:

  • Bakeware
  • Laundry/Dry Cleaning and Plumbing Fixtures
  • Sheet Metal
  • Refrigeration
  • Sewage Treatment
  • Chemical Plant Equipment

No. 4 – Brushed Finish

This is the most common finish, and most people would be familiar with it. It offers high aesthetic appeal with minimal gloss and good texture due to the pattern of fine parallel lines which come about during the brushing process. This finish is achieved through machine polishing using abrasive belts, and it is sometimes referred to as a ‘satin’ finish. It’s incredibly easy to maintain and could be used in just about any scenario, but you’ll mostly find it used for:

  • Home Appliances
  • Automotive
  • Handrails
  • Architecture
  • SS Drink Bottles
  • Restaurant/Kitchen Equipment
  • Food Processing and Dairy Industries
  • Hospital Surfaces and Equipment
  • Control Panels
  • Jewellery/Watches

No. 8 – Mirror Finish

This finish is used for projects requiring a highly reflective mirror finish. It utilises fine abrasives and buffers to achieve this, with grit lines being barely detectible to the naked eye. Another benefit of this finish is improved corrosion resistance, as there are less crevices than with No. 4 finish. You would normally use this finish for decorative pieces, such as the following:

  • Clean Rooms
  • Handrails
  • Mirrors
  • Reflectors
  • Signage
  • Abstract Wall Panels
  • Column Covers

Other Stainless-Steel Finishes

There are a range of other surface finishes available, but the 3 listed above are the most commonly specified. For deep drawing applications, a No. 2D finish may be used to assist in the retention of lubricants.

For further information on 2B, 2D and BA Cold Rolled finishes please see the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association website.


Mascot Steel Fabrication – We Cater to All Needs

No matter your project, you can rest assured that we are your trusted partner in stainless steel fabrication. With extensive knowledge in SS fabrication and the various surface finishes available, we are equipped to meet any demand.

We have branches at Mascot and Penrith, enabling us to provide high quality SS to Sydney and surrounding suburbs in the most efficient way. Please contact us today on (03) 9313 1313 to discuss your project needs or contact us via our website. We look forward to assisting you.