What is a Standard Finish?
“Standard” finishes are produced on an on-going basis. They are generally available off the shelf or can be obtained with a short lead-time. They are the finishes that are used for most stainless steel applications. Standard finishes are categorized as either “Mill” or “Polished”.
“Mill” finishes are the least expensive finish option. There are both hot- and cold-rolled mill finishes, and, as this description implies, their appearance is produced at least in part by passing the stainless steel through special rolls or dies. The reflectivity of these finishes varies from dull to mirror-like. These finishes become less uniform in appearance with increasing product thickness or diameter.
“Polished” finishes are produced by mechanically abrading the surface with a series of gradually finer abrasives or a special rolling procedure that simulates the appearance of mechanical abrasion. The smoothest polished finishes are buffed after mechanical polishing to produce a mirror-like appearance.
“Special” Finishes include finishes that are generally used when aesthetic appearance is important and for specialized industrial applications. This category includes non-directional scratch patterns, swirls, ground circles, embossed and coined textures, and various coloring and coating methods. For more information and photos of these finishes, please see the Designer Handbook: Special Finishes For Stainless Steel.