It’s a common misconception that polishing is the same as “waxing” – however, they accomplish very different things! Polishing corrects surface imperfections (textured and/or scratched surfaces) by leveling the surface so light bounces off in straight lines. Waxing involves sealing a surface (and to some extent, filling imperfections) to prevent oxidization and corrosion – this is a temporary effect, however, because filling agents are often stripped away during washes.
Metal polishing is a multi-step process consisting of the use of consecutively finer grits of sandpaper, buffing wheels, and specialty polishing compounds to achieve the best possible results. The initial sanding steps are the most critical to the polishing process; however, many polishers reduce or eliminate these important (but time-consuming) steps to reduce costs, which typically results in sub-standard finishing.
Spectrum’s pricing includes all the necessary sanding and polishing steps to achieve the best clarity and brightest finish. Lower pricing can be achieved, but at the cost of fewer sanding and/or polishing passes—resulting in lower quality results. This is not our preferred practice, but we will always work with our customers to meet their budget requirements.
Producing exceptional finishes
Producing an exceptional mirror finish can require as many as 12 stages of cleaning, sanding, cutting, and colouring. We currently offer brushed and mirror finishes on metals including aluminum, stainless steel, brass, copper, and more. Some important steps in our process are listed below:
Acid washing is commonly seen as a way to restore the brightness of aluminum; however, while acid washing can remove contaminants and oxidation from aluminum, many acids can harm the metal and cause etching. At best, the aluminum will be cleaned and brightened, but will soon turn white. Afterwards, it takes a lot of hard work to bring a true shine back to the metal; in many cases, the use of an aluminum-safe acid wash is simply the first step to achieving a top-quality finish.
To smooth out as many dents and divots as possible, Spectrum utilizes a minimum of two sanding passes before proceeding to buffing. A number of high-speed sanding passes may be used to take out the harshest marking, followed by multiple stages of random-orbit sanding to produce a soft, smooth canvas for our polishing specialists.
After sanding, we begin finishing by applying a cutting compound with a stiff buffing wheel. These stages aid in further smoothing any small imperfections in the work surface and begin to add a lustre to the metal.
Colouring (or finishing) make up the final stages of metal polishing; these buffing operations maximize shine and produce a mirror-like finish.
It’s important to keep in mind that use of aggressive (high/low pH) chemicals like acids, degreasers, and road salt can cause metal to etch or oxidize, which will change the physical structure of the polished surface and reduce clarity. In addition, contaminated brushes and cloths can cause scratches (especially on soft and sensitive aluminum or brass), which will reduce the smoothness of the polished surface and increase the likelihood of chemical contaminants oxidizing it. Spectrum takes pride in using high quality polishing compounds without fillers to provide the brightest, clearest, and longest lasting shines possible but we cannot take responsibility for – or warranty finishes – once they leave our shop.
For more information on our products or to request an estimate, please contact us using the form below. Attaching clear pictures of each side of your project will help us provide an accurate service estimate.
13923 156 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6V 1J1
Office: (587) 635-4060