Types of Metal Finishes

When you’re looking into polishing any metal fixture or pipe, you also have a pretty good idea of what kind of finish you want. Texas Metal Tech breaks down the types of metal finishes we can provide with any stainless steel, aluminum, brass bronze or nickel silver.

Metal Finishes

Our machines allow us to polish up to a 20-foot pipe of steel with the following finishes:

  • Rough Grinding (#3 Finish)- This finish is usually a preliminary finish, used to remove welded parts from the material or excess metal material. Rough grinding appears very coarse, also called a grinding or roughing, and it mostly used in architectural materials, as well as kitchen appliances/equipment. This finish is achieved by using an 80 to 100 grit abrasive.
  • Architectural Finish (#4 Finish)- This finish is a general, polished bright finish with uniform grit lines that all follow in the same direction. Architectural finish, or directional finish, is usually accomplished by polishing the metal with an 120 to 180 grit belt or wheel, and then softened with an 80 to 120 grit greaseless compound. The final finish can also be done with a medium non-woven abrasive belt/pad.
  • mirror finish polished column

    Here’s a mirror finished column we recently completed.

    Dairy Finish (also #4 Finish)- This fine finish is used mostly on stainless steel, created by polishing with an 180 to 240 grit belt/wheel and softened with a 120 to 240 grit greaseless compound or with a fine non-woven abrasive belt/pad. Although it is also a #4 finish, it is much finer than an architectural finish, often used within medical or food settings. Because of its usage, any surface defects/hollow places within the metal should be removed to discourage bacteria growth.

  • Soft Satin Finish (#6 Finish)- This finish will be less reflective than any #4 finish, with a buffed or softened polish lines including a light, haze-like grain appearance. A soft satin finish can most often be seen in architecture and metal ornaments like stainless steel furniture. This finish is normally created by polishing an object with a 220 to 280 grift belt/wheel, and softened with a 220 to 230 greaseless compound, or a very fine non-woven abrasive belt/pad.
  • Semi-Bright Finish (#7 Finish)- This finish is normally seen on carbon steel and iron components, usually in preparation for chrome plating. The semi-bright finish has an even lighter haze than a #6 finish, with a smooth and buffed finish from dull polishing lines. This finish is created by polishing with a 280 to 320 grit belt/wheel, then buffed with a cut and color compound. Different colors can affect the material, creating brightly colored finishes (this used to keep costs down as the material becomes shiny but not perfectly clear of imperfections). This is achieved by color buffing with whatever color compound is needed and a cotton buff.
  • Mirror Finish (#8 Finish)- This finish is the highest reflective finish available. The quality of this finish is completely dependent on the type, and quality, of the metal being polished. For example some aluminum and steel alloys cannot be given a mirror finish. Surface defects must be removed in order for the right effect to take place. Grit lines are almost completely unapparent, and mostly this finish is free of haze. This finish is created by polishing with a 320 grit belt/wheel, or higher, and then finished with a fine color buffing compound. A mirror finish would mostly be used for decorative purposes however it can also be used as a base for plating.

So now that you’ve learned the different types of metal finishing, you can decide which finish is better for your project.

Let Texas Metal Tech know how we can help! We work with rounds, angles and flat bars up to 20 feet in length! Call us today at (281) 893-0411!