A quick breakdown on the different types of stainless steel finishes

Quality surface finishes are critical for ensuring stainless steel longevity, maintenance and overall aesthetics. As there are different standards, finishes and grades of stainless steel plates, the process for choosing the right steel for your application can be confusing. While it’s always best to consult a steel laser cutting provider or fabricator, we’ve rounded up the most common finishes you can expect to get in Australia.

2B – Matte finish

2B is the most common cold rolled mill industrial finish and is used for all applications when an aesthetic stainless steel display is not a primary requirement. Its finish is deep, dull grey and is slightly reflective. 2B is used in industrial, chemical and food processing applications.

No.4 – Brushed finish

No.4 stainless steel finish is used for the light fabrication industry and is commonly seen in work surfaces, handrails and any application requiring good aesthetics. Its low gloss sheen and short parallel polishing lines make it easy to maintain. It’s ideal for kitchen equipment, food processing, storefronts, architectural wall panels, marine fittings, heavy haulage trailers and medical equipment.


This is a special type of stainless steel finish that’s coloured by a chemical process to thicken the passive layer and produce interference colours. A wide range of colours are possible.

HRAP or No.1

This is either hot rolled, annealed or pickled. Hot rolling refers to a mill process in which you roll the steel at a temperature above its recrystallization temperature; a heat that typically exceeds 537 degrees Celsius. When it reaches its recrystallization point, it becomes more malleable and can be properly formed and shaped. Hot rolled steel has a scaly finish making it ideal for railroad tracks, I-beams, agricultural equipment, sheet metal and automotive frames. Learn about the difference between hot and cold rolled steel.


This is a process that produces a metal surface which is microscopically featureless, resulting in a smooth, bright and deformation-free surface. It offers superior corrosion resistance, ease of cleaning and enhanced mechanical properties.

No.8 – Mirror Finish

This is a highly reflective mechanical polish that is achieved by polishing with finer abrasives and buffing rouges to remove grit lines. No.8’s mirror-like finish is widely used for architectural parts, ornamental trim, press plates, signage and wall panels. A benefit of No. 8 Mirror finishing is that it improves corrosion resistance. The polishing eradicates crevices where corrosive particles can lodge themselves.

About ShapeCUT

We are one of Queensland’s leading steel cutting providers, offering laser, oxy and plasma cutting for industries including mining, manufacturing, construction, government and architecture. Learn more about our steel services or give us a call on 1800 SHAPECUT.