How difficult to repair scratches on new stainless sink?

mudhouse_gwMarch 17, 2014

On another recent thread I've posted that I'm considering the Kohler Vault stainless sink, probably their apron front style, for the laminate counters we're planning.

I'm a hopeless bargain hunter, and the Vault sinks are pricey. I've seen stainless sinks for sale on eBay for reduced prices, because they're scratched (sometimes dented/bent, but I would avoid those.)

DH and I used to work with iron, so we have a variety of grinders, sanders, etc, but I have no idea how hard it would be to repair/restore a scratched stainless sink.

Can anyone tell me how hard this would be to accomplish? What equipment would we need?

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It's a whole lot easier to scratch it up some more and learn to live with the patina! Keeping any stainless surface shiny and glossy is a no win proposition. Especially a sink. A brushed finish is much easier to live with than a shiny finish.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:57PM
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I agree about the patina that comes from problem there!

I would not be above using some abrasive over the scratched area (scratch it up some more, as you said) if it would be an acceptable camouflage. But I've never tried that on a pricey sink (even a damaged Vault is still hundreds of dollars.) So my lack of knowledge makes me nervous.

I thought I remembered one of the fabricators who post here mentioning that refinishing stainless isn't too difficult, for those with the equipment and experience. Since we made our living for many years working with mild steel, I was just curious what might be involved, to do it "right."

We used wire wheels to polish the fire scale off our hand forged iron, but that's a much rougher process. I don't have any experience dealing with the niceties of a manufactured stainless surface.

It's the scavenger in me, I just can't help wondering...! Maybe I should drag home a $10 stainless sink from the Restore and have at it with a variety of tools, to see what's possible. Hmmm.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:34PM
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I have the Kohler Vault sink. I got it a few years back because I really love the way it looks. And I still do. But just wanted to let you know that because of the sharp corners, the corners get dirty REALLY easy and they're a pain to clean. I have to get a toothpick to get all the way into the corner. I'm considering getting a different sink because of it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Stainless sinks will never be pristine. Embrace the patina.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:25PM
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Thank you skigyrl177, that's good to know. I haven't seen that mentioned in any reviews, but it could be those folks haven't lived it with for a long time.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Get a small random orbital sander and go at it with progressively finer grits. Scotch Brite pads work well too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 3:55PM
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This is my clipping from sherrilynn:

about any stainless steel sink. I recently had a huge compliment from my brother, a builder of high end homes. He was very impressed at how good my sink always looks. He is not a fan at ALL with SS. He prefers porcelain, which chips.
I asked him why he was so impressed with my sink and hates SS? It was because he has had to replace multiple high end sinks before closing because a workman or someone would have used a new homeowners SS sink and caused a 'scratch' in the bottom of the sink. The new homeowners would insist on a brand new sink before they would close.We all know that we can tolerate the damage that we do to our stuff, but not anyone else! When you spend well over a $1,000 to $1,800 for a sink, of COURSE you want it to be unblemished!

Well, I told him my 'secret' to keeping my 12" deep single basin Franke sink looking good. I've used this 'method' on ALL of my sinks and I just love it! My sink glows because of the 'patina' that it now has...and yours can, too. The finish looks better each time you use my method, too.

I use my sink! I also have a large family that I cook for and use some commercial size, heavy pans. Guests sometimes want to help in the kitchen, or teens, and they bang up the bottom, scratching the sink, and it will look just awful when they're done. They always apologize because they think they've ruined my sink. Never fear. I can 'fix' it in as little as 3 minutes from start to finish.

I've now trained my teens on how to help me maintain a good looking sink. AND if they scratch it, they restore it! It's that simple.

Here's what I do. About every other day, I use Bar Keepers Friend and one of the green scrubby pads that you can buy just about anywhere. It will keep average use to your sink 'maintained' between 'restoration' cleanings.

When there are scuffs and deeper scratches in the sink, I use sandpaper to wet-sand the metal in different grades of paper to restore the sinks. I prefer the black 'wet or dry' sandpaper by Norton that you buy at HD. I already have about 3" squares in multiple grades already cut out and in a baggy under my sink, so I'm ready when I need to 'do this'.

I start with about 150 grit working on the problem areas when I get to them, then work up to at least a 400 grit. I use small circular pattern and overlap all of my work. I never just 'rub' a scuff or scratch in a straight pattern; I always blend my work.

I start in the furthest back left corner and work across the back of the sink moving left to right, just as you would work if you were writing on lined paper. I do the entire sink bottom, then move to the sides. I start with 150 grit paper, then change to 220, then 320, then 400. I rinse the sink after each grit paper is used. Sometimes I use a little soap or BKF depending on my needs so I can move faster with the paper. Once you try it, you will understand what I mean.

I finish off with a good soapy rinse with a rag, then apply a 'finish' of Franke Inox cleaner or a wiping coat of vegetable oil. I have even used Rain-X to help repel spots. I'm just out of it right now and have been using up products I have under the sink. I use 'whatever' to just help the sink repel water right down the drain a.s.a.p..

My brother now had one of his guys using my method on their Franke sinks before final walk thru before closing on a new home. Guess what? They're not having to replace sinks anymore.

After you clean your sink a few times, your sink will start to gain a beautiful patina and smoothness to the finish and you will start to love stainless steel. I also use this method on my $10,000 Thermador Range top. It glows. I just love it.

I've been saving this for when I need it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:00PM
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Thank you Trebuchet, that solution sounds workable.

And thanks also debrak2008, for posting sherrilynn's method. Her detailed explanation is very helpful! And it's reassuring to know she does this on her Thermador range top as well.

It seems logical there's a way to improve a scratched stainless surface (after all, the surface of a stainless sink is already brushed/scratched, just in a uniformly pleasing direction.)

I had a stainless sink in our last house, and I understand everyone's comments about embracing the patina. My question was more about the possibility of salvaging a heavily scratched high-quality sink, being sold at a very discounted price. If I find the right candidate, and I could correct the appearance somewhat, I'd have no problem living with a sink that had a less than pristine appearance. (It won't stay perfect anyway.)

Thanks for helping me think this through. I'll keep an eye out for good candidates, maybe I can get a deal and just apply a little elbow grease.

Ever notice how much an approaching kitchen reno encourages you to consider creative compromise? :-)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:11PM
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sherilynn's method sounds like it would take a lot longer than "3 minutes from start to finish" ... ??

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 10:08PM
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