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Stainless Steel Finishes


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While there are a variety of stainless steel grades with their own advantages, there are also stainless steel finishes. Whether they are mill finishes or applied finishes, there are a variety of aesthetically pleasing and protective stainless steel finishes available for your next building or construction project.

Check out our selection of Stainless Steel at IMS!​

Common Stainless Steel Grades and Shapes

For construction and other building projects, common stainless steel grades include:

Stainless Steel Shapes

Available in various shapes, stainless steel products often used for construction applications and available in different finishes include the following:

Stainless Steel Finishing Options

Your application requirements will largely determine the type of finishing options you need. Some applications will require finishing that provides enhanced corrosion resistance while other applications will require finishing that smooth surface finishes. Finishing options are numbered one through eight, with higher numbers being more reflective than lower numbers. Lower numbers have a more of a matte finish whereas higher numbers have a reflective, polished finish.

Stainless Steel Mill Finishes

Mill finishes offer a matte finish for stainless steel. It is ideal for applications that do not require bright finishes or where durability remains the most important factor.cold rolled stainless steel with BA finish
  • #1D Finish
    • Hot-rolled, annealed and pickled with a coarse surface
    • Suitable for structural projects and support projects
  • #2D Finish
    • Cold-rolled, annealed and pickled, with a dull matte appearance
    • Ideal for gutters and drainage applications
  • #2B Finish
    • Cold-rolled, annealed and pickled, with a bright/high polish appearance
    • Well-suited for solar panels and architectural applications
    • 304 and 316 ss grades often come with a 2B finish
  • BA Finish
    • Cold-rolled, bright annealed with smooth reflective surface
    • Similar to #8 mirror finish
    • Ideal for fabrication projects

Stainless Steel Brushed Finishes

Brushed finishes offer a reflective option with parallel or patterned lines. Brushed finishes are often used for buildings and architectural applications.
  • #3 Finish
    • 100-120 grit
    • Coarse grain finish
    • Suitable for high traffic areas/applications
  • #4 Finish
    • 150-180 grit
    • Bright brushed finish
    • Works for architectural/aesthetic projects

Stainless Steel Polished Finishes

Hot rolled, then buffed, polished stainless steel finishes are highly reflective with a mirror-like shine.
  • #8 Mirror Finish
    • Reflective and polished
    • Ideal for ornamental applications and structures
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Differences between Brushed Stainless Steel and Polished Stainless Steel

Brushed stainless steel finishes can vary due to different abrasive techniques and sanding belt differences used for brushed stainless steel products. #4 finish offers more reflective qualities and lines than the #3 finish.
  • Brushed stainless steel finishes have a dull lustered appearance whereas polished stainless steel has a bright, mirrored finish.
Polished stainless steel finishes are mirror-like with a highly-reflective appearance.

Which Stainless Steel Finish is the Best Type of Finish?

The best stainless steel finish will depend on your project requirements. Matte finishes are suitable for industrial uses that do not require smooth surface finishes. Highly reflective polished finishes are well-suited for aesthetic and ornamental uses.

Find the Right Stainless Steel Products with Quality Finishing Options

Let us help you find stainless steel products with quality finishes. Our inventory of stainless steel products is available for will-call pickup or next day local delivery. Order online or stop by one of our locations and get the best steel finish for your project today.