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What is Brushed Metal?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth

Brushed metal is metal that has been sanded or abraded to create a decorative finish. A number of metals may be brushed to create this distinctive finish. Upon close inspection, fine lines are apparent in the metal's surface. This finish is less reflective than standard metal finishes and is commonly used in household fixtures and decorative accents.

In most cases, brushed metal is created by rubbing sandpaper across the surface of the metal. Varying grits of sandpaper are used to create different textures and looks. Fine grit paper creates finer lines, while coarse grit paper produces more distinct marks. The abrasions usually move in only one direction and may or may not run the entire length of the pre-fabricated metal sheet, depending on the appearance desired.

Brushed metal techniques can be applied to sheet metal.
Brushed metal techniques can be applied to sheet metal.

Other brushed finishes are created by rubbing the metal's surface with linen or muslin mops that have been coated with an abrasive paste. In this method, the resulting abrasions are less uniform and do not run in a single direction. This is sometimes called blending or satin blending. Brushing is usually done only on the visible face and can be accomplished by hand or with an automated machine.

Shower heads are typically made with brushed metal.
Shower heads are typically made with brushed metal.

Common sheet metals used in this technique are nickel, aluminum and stainless steel, though other metals are sometimes used. Items with matte brushed metal finishes are often considered more elegant than their shiny, unbrushed counterparts. As a result, brushed items may have a slightly higher price point.

Building fixtures commonly incorporate brushed metal finishes. Faucets, shower heads, towel bars and other bathroom fixtures are often offered in a brushed finish, as are lighting fixtures, doorknobs and drawer pulls. Large appliances, such as refrigerators and dishwashers, often have brushed metal face plates. Other decorative items such as mirrors, picture frames and table lamps may also have a brushed finish. Even apparel items such as buttons, buckles, jewelry and hair accessories come in this distinctive finish.

Brushed metal is also commonly used in merchandising displays. The high-end appearance is believed to imply that the merchandised product is also high-end. In addition, the brushed surface is less likely to show the small scratches, scuff marks and tiny dents that inevitably occur when a fixture has been on a retail floor for a period of time.

Brushed surfaces may require special care. Some textures allow minor repairs with a simple piece of sandpaper. Most should be cleaned with non-abrasive cleaners to avoid sanding the finish further.

Discussion Comments


A favorite local restaurant just recently remodeled the dining area, and they used a lot of brushed metal on the walls and booths. I thought it looked a lot more upscale, and I told the owner I wished I could do some of this at my house. He told me that I could find brush metal textured wallpaper at a good home improvement store, which would at least give the illusion of a brushed metal background.

The thing I like about a brushed metal pattern is that it feels distressed and upscale at the same time.


I really like the brushed metal look, especially when it comes to household fixtures like lamps and cabinets. I got to pick out the decorating scheme of my man cave when we moved into our new house, and I went with a brushed metal texture whenever I could. The refrigerator in that room has a brushed metal pattern, and so do the tables and light fixtures. I think stainless steel is too cold, and distressed metals like hammered copper only look good in a kitchen.

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    • Brushed metal techniques can be applied to sheet metal.
      By: Kybele
      Brushed metal techniques can be applied to sheet metal.
    • Shower heads are typically made with brushed metal.
      By: Yuriy Chertok
      Shower heads are typically made with brushed metal.