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Brushed Stainless Steel vs. Polished Stainless Steel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 22, 2024
Brushed stainless steel has a matte finish with a pattern of fine lines, while polished stainless steel has a shiny, mirror-like finish.

Key Differences

Brushed stainless steel features a unidirectional satin finish, giving it a subtle texture. Polished stainless steel, on the other hand, is buffed to a highly reflective, smooth finish.
Brushed stainless steel is less prone to showing fingerprints and smudges, making it practical for high-touch surfaces. Polished stainless steel, while visually striking, requires more maintenance to keep its glossy appearance.
The manufacturing process of brushed stainless steel involves brushing the material with a fine bristle brush. Polished stainless steel is created using abrasive materials to achieve a highly polished surface.
Brushed stainless steel is often used in appliances and kitchen hardware for its contemporary look and durability. Polished stainless steel is preferred for decorative pieces and accents due to its eye-catching shine.
In terms of cost, brushed stainless steel is typically more affordable and easier to repair than polished stainless steel, which can be more costly due to its intricate finishing process.

Comparison Chart


Matte with fine lines
Shiny, mirror-like


Less fingerprinting, easier to maintain
Requires regular cleaning for shine

Manufacturing Process

Brushed with fine bristles
Buffed with abrasive materials

Common Uses

Appliances, kitchen hardware
Decorative pieces, accents

Cost and Repair

Generally more affordable, easier to repair
More expensive, complex to repair

Brushed Stainless Steel and Polished Stainless Steel Definitions

Brushed Stainless Steel

Stainless steel characterized by its textured surface.
Brushed stainless steel faucets are popular for their durability.

Polished Stainless Steel

Often used for decorative and accent pieces.
The designer incorporated polished stainless steel elements for a luxurious feel.

Brushed Stainless Steel

Metal often used in modern interior designs.
The brushed stainless steel finish added a contemporary touch to the office.

Polished Stainless Steel

A type of finish that is glossy and mirror-like.
Our new polished stainless steel toaster adds elegance to our kitchen.

Brushed Stainless Steel

Metal with a matte finish achieved through brushing.
The kitchen featured brushed stainless steel countertops.

Polished Stainless Steel

Known for its aesthetic appeal but requires frequent cleaning.
The polished stainless steel surfaces in the restaurant sparkled impressively.

Brushed Stainless Steel

A practical choice for high-usage areas.
Our brushed stainless steel door handles are both stylish and functional.

Polished Stainless Steel

Stainless steel with a highly reflective, smooth finish.
The polished stainless steel sculpture was the centerpiece of the lobby.

Brushed Stainless Steel

A type of finish that hides fingerprints and smudges effectively.
We chose brushed stainless steel for our appliances to reduce cleaning.

Polished Stainless Steel

More susceptible to fingerprints and scratches.
We use special cleaners for our polished stainless steel appliances to maintain their shine.


What is brushed stainless steel?

Brushed stainless steel is metal with a matte finish and fine line texture.

How do you clean brushed stainless steel?

Clean brushed stainless steel with mild detergent and a soft cloth.

Does brushed stainless steel show fingerprints?

It's less prone to showing fingerprints compared to polished surfaces.

What defines polished stainless steel?

Polished stainless steel is characterized by a highly reflective, smooth surface.

How durable is brushed stainless steel?

It is very durable and resistant to corrosion and tarnishing.

Can brushed stainless steel be used for exterior applications?

Yes, it’s suitable for exteriors due to its corrosion resistance.

Is polished stainless steel good for outdoor use?

Yes, but it requires regular maintenance to prevent corrosion.

Can you polish brushed stainless steel to make it shiny?

Yes, but it involves a complex process of sanding and buffing.

What are the benefits of using brushed stainless steel in kitchens?

It’s durable, low-maintenance, and has a modern appearance.

How does polished stainless steel affect room aesthetics?

It adds brightness and a luxurious feel to the space.

What is the cost difference between the two?

Brushed stainless steel is generally more affordable than polished.

How do you remove scratches from polished stainless steel?

Minor scratches can be buffed out using special stainless steel cleaners.

Is polished stainless steel easy to scratch?

Yes, it's more prone to scratches and requires careful handling.

Why choose polished stainless steel for decorative items?

For its reflective beauty and high-end appearance.

Where is polished stainless steel commonly used?

It's used in decorative pieces and areas where aesthetics are important.

How does light interact with polished stainless steel?

It reflects light, enhancing the brightness of a room.

Is brushed stainless steel environmentally friendly?

Yes, it’s recyclable and sustainable.

Can brushed stainless steel rust?

It’s highly resistant to rust, though not entirely rust-proof.

What types of products are made with brushed stainless steel?

Common products include appliances, utensils, and hardware.

What maintenance is required for polished stainless steel in high-traffic areas?

Regular cleaning and polishing are necessary to maintain its appearance.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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