Re-polishing Stainless Steel

Frequently I am asked the question, “how do I take out the scratches in my stainless steel countertop?”, and the usual answer is… “it depends”. But re-polishing stainless steel is possible!

Stainless steel countertops will “age” over time. From general use, tops gather minor scratches from objects sliding, rubbing, and dropping on the surface. Unfortunately, deep scratches or dents are near impossible to remove. However, surface scratches can be blended out using a combination of commercial abrasive pads and good ‘ole elbow grease.

Please keep in mind that your top was manufactured by professionals who polish and blend stainless steel for a living. Results may vary depending on your ability, abrasive supplies, and experience.

Start by reversing the blending process to “test” the grain or blend. (Your green kitchen sink scrubbing pad does not qualify for this work.) Look for commercial grade abrasive pads like 3m Scotchbrite at industrial suppliers, or call your fabricator for a source. A 180 grit pad or higher is a safe start.

The #1 rule for re-polishing stainless steel: stroke or move the pad in the same direction as the existing grain.

As you apply pressure, the abrasive pad “scratches” the surface and also blends in the existing scratch, removing micro amounts of material. For deeper marks, use a more aggressive abrasive pad, or use a backer on the pad to apply more pressure. A 100 to 120 grit will produce a #3 finish, while a 150 to 180 grit will blend in a #4 finish. Not all scratches may disappear, but the process will soften or dull their appearance.

Another point to keep in mind while blending in a scratch or surface area is that your efforts may create a more resilient appearance than the rest of the top or surface. A light feathering stroke will tone down the obvious changes. Your other option is to hand polish the whole top, or “blend” in the obvious areas. Either way, the new polished area will “age” overtime, blending in with a natural patina.

For a more detailed process of graining and blending, see our staff article “Graining & Blending Stainless Steel Countertops & Copper Countertops”

by Jeff Subra, Eskay Metal Fabricating