Will the color of stainless steel fade?

June 18, 2020
In this post, you'll read:Stainless steel is known to have anti-corrosion elements within it. Most color stainless steel would not lose its color. Notice that I used the word "most." Stainless steel, however, will lose a touch of its color depending on the circumstance.

Table of Contents

Stainless Steel is among the most widely used metal alloys from construction to the manufacturing of products. This phenomenon’s main reason is its unique physical properties, including a high corrosion resistance value, resistance to high and low temperatures, ductility, and sheer strength.

This is an image of stainless steel decorative sheet.

The metal is also known for its makeup from various other environmentally friendly materials that are 100% recyclable. This simple fact attracts a wide range of consumers and other manufacturers that form this extremely versatile metal alloy into different goods and products that we often see and use every day.

Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel is made in different styles and colors. Metallic silver is already an attractive design for stainless steel metal, but imagine it in different colors and styles with the same characteristics as regular stainless steel. The metal increased its popularity with the arrival of Color Stainless Steel Decorative Sheets. It is used in every country at-large, from shopping malls, hotels, building decoration, cabinets, elevators, and many other products. Stainless Steel has even found its way to your household.

Even with its distinct characteristics from other metals used, stainless steel has its problems that consumers always ask. Color stainless steel sheets may be the new face of stainless steel, but consumers, such as yourself, would wonder, “will the color of Stainless Steel fade?” before purchasing it.

To answer your question: stainless steel is known to have anti-corrosion elements within it. Most color stainless steel would not lose its color. Notice that I used the word “most.” Stainless steel, however, will lose a touch of its color depending on the circumstance.

Here are several reasons that may affect the color of your color stainless steel.


This is an image of stainless steel bathroom cabinet.

Stainless steel isn’t 100% rust-free. There is a possibility of getting rusty when atmospheric acidity exceeds that of stainless steel under certain conditions. Some grades of stainless steel turn oxidized easily in areas where coastal salinity or humidity is high.

Rust and corrosion will drastically affect your stainless steel. You will begin to observe that the metal is slowly being tarnished on a microscopic level but appears stainless. Although surface color coating can enhance its corrosion resistance,

leaving your metal in an environment that is damp and humid without adequate maintenance will further damage it, resulting in loss of color.

You might want to consider using strong anti-corrosive stainless steel, such as 316 grade if you plan to place this metal in an area that is both high in humidity and dampness.

Cleaning Products

Stainless Steel will add a splash of sophistication to people’s homes, may it be through their household fixtures or their furniture. Consumers who value the exterior look of their stainless steels would always want to consider cleaning them, and lucky for you stainless steel objects are easy to maintain.

Regardless of its easy maintenance, you must still be careful when cleaning it. Here are some tips you need to consider when cleaning:

  • Using abrasive materials will scratch our steel’s surface and slowly remove the oxide layer that prevents it from corrosion.
  • Bleach and liquid cleaners that contain chlorine will stain your stainless steel to some extent. Use the right cleaning product.
  • Never leave strong acid or alkali corrosive substances on your stainless steel that will result in color fade after some time.
  • Regularly clean your household products that have stainless steel with warm water and non-abrasive cloth.
  • Dishwashing liquid acts as a non-abrasive cleaner that does not affect the stainless steel’s overall exterior, unlike the use of bleach and other chlorine-mixed cleaning products.

Following these tips would extend your silver stainless steel life and even your colored decorative stainless steel. One general cleaning stainless steel method is to use distilled white vinegar, a dash of olive oil, and two microfiber cloths. This simple method would protect the steel and leave a shine on it fairly easily and quickly.

Time of Color Coating

The introduction of coloring stainless steel was around the year 1972, with the coloring method Inco-Process. Today, there are several other methods that color coats stainless steel that goes beyond its typical metallic silver hue.

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) allows a wider variety of colors that can coat stainless steel. PVD enables the steel to obtain improved friction property, durability and allows for long-lasting color.

There are cases where stainless steel is placed into a process of PVD color coating without enough time. That results in an unstable plating layer and an increased risk of color fading. The longer the color coating process of stainless steel, the thicker the oxide layer allows the metal to obtain a better quality color output reducing the risk of fading over time.

Unaccounted External Factors

The metallic silver of stainless steel makes it the perfect aesthetic that embodies industry and modernization. It’s polished look and variety of surface finishings makes it extremely attractive.

Despite all of the stainless steel’s properties, external factors will affect your stainless steel, particularly those that are color-coated. Improper use of stainless steel like scratching will forever damage the exterior of the metal.

Exposure to the sun and even rain will damage its color and slowly fade over time. Ignorant use of corrosive liquids that contain bromine, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide will also lead to severe color fading.

High Temperatures

Stainless Steel is known to have a very high melting point between 1400 degrees Celsius to 1530 degrees celsius. The high melting point of stainless steel does not guarantee that it is not affected when exposed to high temperatures for some time. Being exposed to high temperatures will decrease the stainless steel’s ability to resist corrosion and lose its protective oxide layer over time.

The prevention of surface damage caused by long exposure to high temperatures can easily be done. The following table is a summary of the maximum operating temperature of stainless steel in different grades.

GradeMaximum operating temperature

I have one suggestion for welding enthusiast. Please never do welding on stainless steel color sheets. The high temperature of welding would quickly cause the color layer to peel off and get faded.

This is an image of welding.

Final Thoughts

Stainless steel is undeniably a useful metal alloy. Its advantageous physical properties include high corrosion resistance, high and low-temperature resistance, recyclability, strength, and aesthetic that allowed this metal to be widely used.

The variety of surface finishing is the most distinct stainless steel characteristic, from a clean matte finish to a brushed up and engraved surface finishing. This metal is now often being used by architects, interior designers, and urban furniture. The different color coatings of stainless steel add that spice of elegance and sophistication to wherever it is being installed, from automation, transportation to household appliances, and even in the energy industry.

With all that was mentioned, this inexpensive metal alloy may even with its properties, may still be damaged and affected if not maintained. You do not want to purchase a color-coated stainless steel sheet that loses its color over time due to mishandling.

The primary protection you can provide is not washing your stainless steel using decontamination powder or metal fibers that will damage both the surface oxide film and wipe the color off, resulting in a faded look.

As a responsible consumer, you should also watch out for counterfeit materials. There is a variety of stainless steel in the market. 201-grade stainless steel is known to have rust much more quickly compared to 304-grade stainless steel. Dishonest manufactures would sometimes use 201-grade stainless steel and coat it with mirror polishing to sell as 304 grade. I strongly recommend that a spectrum report including a detailed percentage of chemical components must be provided from the seller.

This is a stainless steel chemical component report.

It would be best to consider a series of factors before buying from a manufacturer, which will bring you a quality purchase. Please focus on the color fading of decorative color-coated stainless steel. That would be unlikely to occur with proper maintenance and knowledge before you start to purchase.

Hi, I am Linda, FTSSS blog writer . I have been working on stainless steel  since I graduated from university. How time flies!  13 years have slipped away from me. ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish.’ I am walking steadily on the road of seeking knowledge every day.

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