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How to remove scratches from your stainless steel railing

Stainless steel railings are durable, corrosion resistant, and suit varying commercial and residential architectural concepts. They offer many benefits, from easy cleaning to being cost-effective.

Despite their countless benefits, stainless steel railings are susceptible to scratches. This is a common problem that can happen due to several reasons. From everyday use to regular cleaning, many factors can cause the railing to get scratched.

Identifying these scratches and addressing them is vital. Doing this ensures the railing looks attractive while keeping the metal rust and corrosion free. If your stainless steel railing is beaten up and you’re looking for ways to repair it, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll talk about the best ways to remove scratches from stainless steel railings and preventive measures you can take to reduce this problem.

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Removing Scratches from Your Stainless Steel Railing

When you see parts of a stainless steel railing scratched, it’s best to address them immediately, especially in outdoor spaces. Here are a few effective methods to remove scratches from your stainless steel railing.
Prepare Your Stainless Steel Railing

Before using any product or method to remove scratches, clean your stainless steel railing first. The dirt and debris stuck on the surface can work as abrasives, scraping the metal when trying to remove scratches.

Use water and a non-abrasive cleaning solution, such as dish soap, and wipe the railing clean. Use a damp sponge to remove the cleaning solution, or rinse it thoroughly. Lastly, dry – ideally with a lint-free cloth. Once your stainless steel railing is clean and dry, you can begin buffing out the scratches.

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Method 1: Baking Soda Paste

An even mixture of baking soda and water form a paste that works as a gentle abrasive. It can help reduce the appearance of scratches or even entirely remove them. If you have shallow scratches and it’s your first attempt to remove them, this is an easy fix to buff out scratches on a stainless steel railing.

  • Mix baking soda and water in a one-to-one ratio to form a paste.
  • Apply a small amount of this mixture to a clean buffing pad.
  • Press the buffing pad against the scratched-up parts and scrub in circular motions.
  • Apply more paste and swap to a new buffing pad as necessary.
  • Once the scratches disappear, rinse the railing thoroughly and dry, as any residue of this mixture can promote rust and corrosion.

While this mixture removes minor scratches effectively, severe ones require specialized products.

Method 2: Stainless Steel Scratch Remover

Stainless steel scratch removers are specialized products that minimize and remove scratches without causing damage when used correctly. Here is how to use these scratch removers to restore the look of your stainless steel railing.

  • First, identify the grain of the stainless steel. Like wood, stainless steel has grains that run along a specific direction. Use a flashlight and inspect the railing at different angles to identify the grain direction.
  • Apply the stainless steel scratch remover to a buffing pad based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Rub the buffing pad in gentle, circular motions along the grain direction.
  • Most stainless steel scratch removers work similarly to polishers and add a shine. Once the metal appears opaque, wipe the excess scratch remover and see how well it worked. Continue this step as required until the scratches disappear.
  • Once the scratches are removed, remove any stainless steel scratch remover left from the surface.
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If your stainless steel railing has deep scratches, these methods might not work well. The same as using a specifically designed stainless steel scratch remover for severe scratches, deep scratches require more abrasive means.

Method 3: Hand Polishing

Hand polishing with damp, fine grit sandpaper is the best way to treat deep scratches. The sandpaper removes metal around the scratched area and levels the surface. However, do this carefully to prevent causing damage to the surface. Here is more on how to remove deep scratches using scratch remover.

  • Take fine-grit sandpaper. A standard 1,000 to 1,500-grit sandpaper should work just fine.
  • Once the railing is clean and you know the grain direction, dampen the sandpaper with a few drops of water.
  • Rub the sandpaper against the scratched area firmly back and forth.
  • Wipe the sanding residue with a damp cloth and check if the scratches disappear.
  • After the scratches disappear, clean and dry the railing.
  • Lastly, apply a stainless steel polish using a soft cloth in the grain direction. This will blend the sanded area for a smooth look overall.

Start with a fine-grit sandpaper and gradually lower the grit if it isn’t abrasive enough to remove scratches. It’s essential to be patient and work slowly when hand polishing stainless steel railing systems with sandpaper.

Preventing Future Scratches on Your Stainless Steel Railing

After going through all that work to remove scratches, we wouldn’t want it to happen again. Here are some preventive measures to ensure scratches don’t become a problem.

  • Clean with the grain: Identify the grain and scrub only in the same direction to avoid adding scratches.
  • Use non-abrasive tools: Use a clean microfiber cloth or plastic scouring pad when cleaning and polishing. Never use steel wool, as it will scratch the surface.
  • Clean with water: Avoid using abrasive cleaning supplies. Instead, use warm water in a spray bottle or wipe the railing with a damp cloth to pick up dirt and dust. You can also add a small drop of dish soap to remove extra debris. Always dry the railing with a clean cloth to remove any standing water or cleaning solution.
  • Vinegar and water spray: Spray a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water onto the railing and wipe it off with a dry cloth for more effective sanitization. Store this solution in a cool place, such as a fridge, to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Apply isopropyl alcohol: For deeper cleaning and shine, apply isopropyl alcohol with a clean cloth. This removes grease and oil smudges while drying by itself streak-free at room temperature.
  • Treat the surface with oil: Apply a thin coat of baby or olive oil with a clean cloth for a natural shine. Doing this hides scratches and prevents smudges. Do this every month to maintain a glossy appearance.
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Looking after a stainless steel railing may take a lot of effort at times. Considering the increased property value, low maintenance expenses, and long lifespan, these upkeep efforts are a worthwhile investment. By doing so, you will guarantee your railings will never rust and have a lustrous appearance.

At Unity Metal, we manufacture various stainless steel railings. We can supply you with all railing components, including cables, glass frames, handrails, and other hardware and fittings. Contact us to request a free quote today!

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