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Why Architects Should Decide Upon a Surface Finish in the Design Stage

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

Surface Finish in the Design Stage

Metals polishing, whether for industrial or architectural purposes, is a downstream process; often, the penultimate or ultimate stage before fabrication or installation. Generally, it is the fabricator who directly interfaces with the polisher prior to the fabrication of a storefront, an atrium, a pressure vessel, or a railing system. However, the deciding upon a surface finish should occur upstream in the design phase of a project.

Mechanical engineers and contractors are more likely to consider surface finishes in their design phase because the industrial markets face more oversight from regulatory bodies. In other words, mechanical systems must abide by strict regulatory guidelines whether the end-use is pharmaceutical, petrochemical, or nuclear.

This post deals primarily with why architects and other design professional should incorporate surface finishing/polishing into their design equation. By considering this crucial variable early in the process, architects will be able to reduce time to installation and costs while also avoiding any potential practical headaches.

As part of its offerings, Diamond Brite Metals routinely consults with architects and design professionals on aesthetical and practical applications of certain surfaces finishes for their projects. In 2015, Diamond Brite Metals further expanded its footprint in New York City when the company became heavily involved with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) construction throughout the city. During one specific project, Diamond Brite Metals worked with the architect, raw material supplier, and fabricator in the design and construction of the South Ferry Subway Station entrance. The issue in this instance was deciding upon an aesthetical pleasing appearance while ensuring surface integrity against adverse environmental forces. Balancing these two variables required Diamond Brite Metals to work intimately in each stage of the design and construction process to ensure that the ultimate surface finish could be achieved.

Aesthetics, surface integrity, and ease of maintenance are three variables that all architects and design professionals must consider when choosing a surface finish. In 2013, Diamond Brite Metals helped the New York/New Jersey Port Authority (Port Authority) in its retrofitting of bollards for Newark Airport. Again, the architects and planners wanted the bollards to have an aesthetically pleasing appearance; however, Diamond Brite Metals had to advise against a #8 mirror finish due to its high maintenance standard. The bollards were to be placed in a highly trafficked area making them susceptible to incidental contact. DBM helped the Port Authority in selecting a non-directional finish which allows for easy maintenance in the case of a scratch or ding.

While there are multiple stages in the design and construction process, architects must think in next steps to ensure that their designs are aesthetical and practically possible. Diamond Brite Metals will continue to be the educational resource for metals polishing for both architects and mechanical contractors.

Diamond Brite Metals is the country’s most comprehensive metals polisher. We specialize in polishing all product lines, flat rolled and long products, to all finishes. For an RFQ, please reach out to our sales department at For architectural projects, please reach out to our Business Development Associate Darragh Harten at



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