More than Surface Deep – Stainless Steel Finishes

When it comes to choosing stainless steel finishes, one needs to consider more than just the appearance of the material. Whatever the intended use, choosing the right finish is essential.


During your selection of stainless steel finishes, scratch resistance, appearance and colour stability should all be taken into consideration as these processes vary considerably. While some processes may improve corrosion resistance, one should also weigh up selecting an appropriate grade of stainless steel for the environment in which it would be utilised.


The choice of the finish is also important where fabrication processes will be applied. Smooth surface finishes are better for where steel will be blended, whereas rough surface finishes are more appropriate where steel will be ground prior to painting or glueing.


Most Common Stainless Steel Finishes

No. 2B – Matte Finish:  This is a mill finish, meaning that it hasn’t been processed further. The matte finish is the least expensive option but because it is dull in appearance, it’s not ideal for aesthetic use.

Common applications for this finish include:  Chemical plant equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, laundries and dry cleaning equipment, paper mill equipment and sewage equipment.

No. 4 – Brushed Finish:   Brushing the stainless steel produces a muted lustre and a pattern of fine parallel lines making the finish not too reflective, which could be blinding in bright sunlight for example. Due to manufacturing conditions such as the wearing of abrasive belts, one should expect some level of variation in the finish from both different suppliers and even from batch to batch.  A drawback of this finish includes reduced corrosion resistance due to the grooves of the finish being susceptible to rust.

Common applications for this finish include: Home appliances, air conditioners, jewellery and watches, water heaters, architecture and automotive design.

No 8 – Mirror Finish:  Polishing stainless steel makes it highly reflective with an enhanced appearance and consistency in the finish because it hides surface damage and masks the after-effects of welding. The corrosion resistance is good with this type of finish as any small crevices where corrosion particles often lodge themselves are eradicated by the polishing process. Of all the stainless steel finishes, the mirror finish is the easiest to clean.

Common applications for this finish include:  Mirrors, reflectors, ornamental trim, clean rooms, wall panels and column covers.

Specialised Finishes:  These are generally used when aesthetic appearance is most important. These are finishes which include bead blasting, non-directional scratch patterns, ground circles, swirls, embossed and coined textures as well as various coating and colouring methods.

Steelmor is the leading supplier and manufacturer of stainless steel in South Africa and is dedicated to supplying cost effective quality products on time. Give us a call to discuss the best stainless steel finishes for your project.