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Definition of "architectural quality" stainless steel handrail

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Our company is doing a construction project that requires an "architectural quality" stainless steel handrail. What does architectural quality mean? Can a mill finish or any other type of finish be considered architectural quality?

Victoria Shirley
- Lafayette, Colorado


July 7, 2008

Generally a mill finish would not be considered an acceptable "architectural" finish unless you use a bright annealed finish that has been buffed to a mirror finish. "Architectural" finishes are often ASTM A480 [link is to spec at TechStreet] No. 4 or a No. 8 finishes with any welded joints blended in so that they are no visible. These two finishes are quite different in appearance so you should ask for a clear definition and a visual standard so there is no confusion about the requirements. A No. 4 finish could be fine or smooth so it is important to know which is preferred. A finer finish is more expensive but it also provides much better corrosion resistance than a rough finish. There is no ASTM standard for aesthetic finishes on tube or pipe but it is standard practice for the stainless steel industry to use the definitions in ASTM A480 [link is to spec at TechStreet].

Catherine Houska
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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