Brushing Finish: Process, Types, Materials and Benefits

In the realm of metal manufacturing, there exists a myriad of techniques that transform raw metal finishing surfaces into captivating works of art. the most commonly used surface finishes including: polishing, brushed, anodized, power coating…

In this article, we will delve into the artistry behind brushing finish, exploring the process, tools, and techniques involved.

What does a brushed finish look like?

Brushing finish

A brushing finish is achieved using a wire brush or abrasive pad to create those lovely lines known as “grain”. The result is a visually appealing that is resistant to scratches and fingerprints.

Picture this: A sleek, smooth with subtle yet distinct lines running in one direction. It’s like a work of art carefully crafted by a skilled artisan; instead of painting on canvas, it’s metal on metal.

It creates a perfect finish for those who want their metal parts to look refined but not too flashy.

Look at some brushing finish products, like brushed metal appliances or watch bands, with a that exudes supplication and class. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a finish worth considering for your CNC precision machining, and injection moulding products.

How to do a brushed finish?

Are you ready to become a master of brushing finish process? Then let me walk you through the brushing process step by step:

Step 1: Pre-Brushing Stage (removing dirt)

You don’t want to start brushing a dirty or oily surface. Clean that rounded corner thoroughly with a degreaser or alcohol to eliminate imperfections, bumps, scratches and weld slag. You don’t want those pesky little things ruining your brushing finish.

Stage 2: Brushing Stage

Now the fun part – the brushing! Grab your trusty brush (or, better yet, a machine that does the brushing for you), preferably a steel wire brushes, and start brushing the surface consistently. Ensure you the same brushing direction to avoid uneven surfaces.

Use light pressure first and gradually increase it until you get the desired appearance. Please don’t overdo it, though, or you will end up with irregular surfaces. Remember, practice makes perfect – experiment until you find your unique brushing style.

Stage 3: Post-brushing stage

Now it is time to clean any remaining debris or dust from the brushing stage with soup and water. Dry the surface with a clean cloth, and you’re done!

If you want to take things to the next level, apply a protective coating to keep your brushing finish shiny and new.

Step back and admire your newly brushed surface; you did it.

2 Major Brushes, and Their Application

Steel wire brushes and power brushes are two  of the most important tools in any metalworker’s arsenal. Whether you’re a CNC machining master or an injection molding aficionado, stainless steel brushes will surely come in handy.

Steel Wire Brushes / Standard Brushes

Steel Brushes

Ah, yes, the classic used for mechanical polishing process. It’s like the little black dress of steel brushes – simple, versatile, and never goes out of style. This baby is made of steel wires (duh) and is excellent for creating a brushed metal finish. Plus, they’re tough as nails, so you don’t have to worry about them wearing down too quickly.

If you are into CNC, you might use a steel wire brush to clean up rough or sharp edges on your parts or prep them for painting or powder coating.

Power Brushes

Power brushes

Power brushes are manufactured using a variety of materials such as carbon steel, natural and synthetic fibers, ferrous wires, and non-ferrous wires.

Power brushes are like the luxury car of brushes – it’s powerful, fast, and can get the job done in no time. They’re motorized and can spin at high speeds, making work of any metal surface on steroids.

If you’re a fan of injection molding, you might use a power tool to clean the mound cavities and ensure a smooth, even finish on your final product.

Other common brushes

Variable grain abrasive brushes

The abrasive filaments used in variable grain brushes are typically made of nylon or other synthetic materials infused with abrasive particles such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide.

Unlike traditional brushes with uniform bristle patterns, variable grain abrasive brushes have varying densities of abrasive filaments or bristles embedded in the. This unique design allows for more controlled and precise material removal, making them effective for surface conditioning, cleaning, and blending operations.

Crimped wire brush

The crimped wire configuration provides flexibility and allows the brush to conform to irregular shapes and contours, making it effective for reaching tight spaces.

The primary purpose of a crimped wire brush is to remove rust, paint, corrosion, burrs, and other surface contaminants.

What material can be brushed?

Brushed finishes are commonly applied to various metal materials to achieve a distinctive textured appearance. Stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and bronze are the commonly brushed metals.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless steel is a popular choice for a brushed metal finish due to its durability, corrosion resistance, and aesthetic appeal. Brushed stainless steel is commonly found in appliances, kitchenware, architectural elements, and automotive components.


The process of brushing aluminum involves using abrasive tools, pads or brushes to create consistent linear or circular patterns on the surface. Brushed aluminum is widely used in furniture, signage, and electronic enclosures.


Brass can be brushed to achieve a matte, textured finish. This technique enhances the natural beauty of brass while reducing its reflective properties. Brushed brass is commonly utilized in various applications, including decorative items, architectural accents, and musical instruments, where a distinctive, elegant appearance is desired.


Bronze can be brushed to produce a textured and aged appearance. Brushed bronze is commonly used in art, sculptures, architectural elements, and decorative hardware.

2 Most Common Types of Brushed

The two most common types of brushed are linear brushed and circular brushed. Let’s explore each of them in more detail:

Linear Brushed:

Linear Brushed

This type of is characterized by parallel lines or strokes that run in a straight or linear direction. The brush strokes are typically applied uniformly and consistently, creating a linear pattern on the surface. It imparts a sleek and modern appearance to the material.

Circular Brushed :

Circular Brushed

Circular brushed , also known as radial brushed, involves applying brush strokes in a or radial pattern. The strokes originate from a central point and radiate outward, creating concentric circles on the surface. Circular brushed texture adds visual interest and can create a sense of movement on the material.

Benefits of Brushing Finish

Edge Blending

By brushing along the edges, the brushed texture helps to create a smooth and seamless transition, reducing any noticeable differences and creating a more cohesive and visually appealing appearance.

This is particularly useful when working with custom manufacturing parts or when combining multiple components together, ensuring a unified and well-integrated final product.


During manufacturing processes, metal parts may develop burrs, which are unwanted rough edges or protrusions that can occur as a result of cutting, machining, or other operations. Brushing finishes can be used to effectively remove these burrs and smooth out the edges of the part.


Roughening the surface through brushing helps coatings and paints adhere more effectively, reducing the likelihood of peeling, chipping, or flaking over time.

The improved adhesion enhances the durability and longevity of the applied coatings, ensuring they can withstand wear, weathering, or harsh environmental conditions.


Brushing surface finish can be effective in removing stains, oxidation, and discoloration from the surface of materials, particularly metals. The abrasive nature of the brush helps to scrub away these surface defects, restoring the original appearance of the material.

Tips of Brushing Finish

Here are a few tips for creating a that can take your parts from “meh” to “wowza” in no time.

Use the right technique

Use long, smooth strokes and make sure you’re applying even pressure to avoid unidirectional lines.

Brushing unidirectionally can result in visible lines or streaks on the surface, giving an uneven or inconsistent appearance to the finished part. By using a cross-hatch or random pattern, the brushed texture will be evenly distributed, providing a more uniform and visually appealing finish.

Use the right tools

You wouldn’t want to use a steel brush on a delicate plastic part, would you? So, don’t just grab any old brush from your garage. Bristle density, length, and stiffness all matter!

Clean the surface first

Sand the surfaces with a fine-grit sandpaper to eliminate after rust and give metal surfaces a smooth, even texture.

Pay attention to details

Don’t forget the edges and corners of your parts. And if you’re working with multiple pieces that need to fit together, ensure you’re brushing them in the same direction for a seamless finish.


Q: What’s the difference between satin and brushed?

A: A satin finish is characterized by its smooth, low sheen appearance, providing a soft and semi-reflective surface, while a brushed finish involves the creation of visible linear or circular patterns through the process of brushing or scrubbing the material with abrasive tools, resulting in a textured surface.

Q: How to brush stainless steel parts?

A: Grab abrasive pads or sandpaper with a grit of 180 to 240 and scrub your stainless-steel parts toward the grain, using even pressure and keeping a consistent motion. Then shift to a finer grit of 320 to 400 to remove any remaining scratches or marks for a smooth, polished finish.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.