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Dec 27, 2012 08:02 PM

Brushed stainless steel vs. shiny exterior finish

What are your thoughts on brushed versus shiny exterior finishes?
I have never owned brushed stainless steel and would like to know your thoughts.

I was in a cookware store today and asked the sales associate her thoughts and her answer seemed counter-intuitive and based on conjecture. She said that brushed would show the scratches more and be more difficult to care for. My thinking was that the brushed SS would be more forgiving because it does not have a mirror-like finish and therefore doesn't show scratches as readily.

I have only ever cooked with shiny (and seriously use and abuse my pots to no end, never use Bartenders Friend - the blasphemy!). My All-Clad entry level pots are full of scratches but it may be because I don't baby them, which is fine with me -- life is too short to spend it polishing dishes. If I add some new pots, however, I'd like to 'maintain' them better or at least buy cookware that can withstand my abuse.

P.S. If you have a photo of a well-used brushed SS pot exterior, I'd love to see how it has fared.

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  1. <My thinking was that the brushed SS would be more forgiving >

    I do agree with this thinking - in general. However, I do think it depends how the brush/frost is made. I have a flatware with a frost finish, and in this particularly case, the frost part of the flatware did scatch much easier than the mirror part.

    You can even read other people having the same experience with the frost finish:

    For cookware, I think it is generally the other way around. Satin or brushed finish is intentionally done to minimize/hide the scratch. So my guess is that your sale associate thinks of his/her flatware experience and translate it to the cookware.

    1. If you use a Scotch Brite pad they will have a uniform brushed finish that you can easily replicate to cover scratches, but then who really cares anyway? When I get done cooking the pots, and pans go in the cupboards. I doubt friends will make fun of you if you happen to have some scratched pots, and pans. Do you leave them out for display? Used pans show character, and that they have been used. I look at the swirls in the cookware I inherited from my Mom, and they remind me of all the love she put in the meals she made, Now go make some swirls in your pans, and quit worring about how pretty they look.

      1. I'm partial to brushed-exterior pots, stainless steel as well as aluminum and copper. For me the appeal is not that they scratch less, or show it less, though I think they do. It's that they look like well-used tools -- a subdued, un-flashy presence.

        1. I have mirror-finish pots and pans- and after 5 years of daily use, they've got a few battle scars, but they are overwhelmingly still mirror-finish, and if I were to ever bother polishing them, it would probably be even more so. (I don't, because well, they're pots and pans. Tools.)

          Brushed ss hides scratches-- that's why commercial finishes (and things like elevator doors) are brushed-finish, and as Biggundoctor states, can be "healed" with a heavy-duty Scotchbrite.