Stainless steel in the foodservice industry differs from other applications such as architectural. For one thing, foodservice stainless steel must be “food grade” meaning it must be durable, corrosion free & easily sanitized. In order to achieve this, the correct grade must be used & the proper finish must be applied to each stainless steel product. As you may have guessed, there is more than 1 finish in the industry. We’re here to break them all down.
In this article, we will outline all of the key stainless steel finishes used in the foodservice industry. We will then dive a little deeper into IMC’s methods of applying that last finishing touch to each product before it is shipped. Let’s start.
Mill Finish (or No. 2B) – The Very Base
Let’s start with the basics before getting into the real food grade finishes. Mill/2B is the finish straight from the stainless steel plant. It has an obvious unpolished, matte appearance. It is simply a basis for additional finishing methods. The color is very dull as well.
This finish is not recommended for food service applications as it is not refined yet.
No. 3 Finish – The Former Champion
The No. 3 finish is characterized by short, coarse parallel polishing lines with a moderately reflective finish. The polishing lines themselves are better defined & somewhat thicker. No. 3 used to be the most common exterior finish, but has phased out over the past several decades. Much of the dull gray color from the mill finish is gone.
It is acceptable for food service equipment, but better finishes exist.
No. 4 Finish – THE Grand Champion
The iconic No.4 is the most common stainless steel finishing today. It is characterized by an evenly polished, brushed surface with fine one-directional lines. The No.4 simply has a decorative look without being too reflective.
Every IMC product produced in our facility uses the No. 4 brushed satin finish for the best long term protection & durability. All in all, it is one of the easiest finishes to maintain by end users.
No. 8 Finish – The True Mirror Look
No. 8 is the classic mirror look. It is characterized by a highly reflective surface with virtually no grit lines visible. It’s useful for masking the effects of welding & hiding minor scratches. It is ultimately used as a decorative & ornamental finish, but useful for wall panels/trim.