Best Universal Metal Polishes & Finish Guide 2021

Last Updated on March 2021

There is a wide range of options when it comes to metal finishes and polishes available in the market. This can confuse both experienced and inexperienced fabricators. Besides, polish, buffing, and such other terms are used interchangeably which can increase the confusion.

In this guide, we seek to clear any misunderstandings by reviewing the best polishes in the market, providing a how-to guide for when purchasing the polish, and also answers most FAQs related to metal polishes.

Let’s dive in.

Summary of Our Top 3 Picks

Just in case you don’t have time to go through the entire guide, here’s our pick for the best overall polish, best value polish, and the top honorable mention polish. We’d encourage you to read in entirety to discover all the goods in store for you.

Best overall polish: Chemical guys heavy metal polish restorer

Reasons: It’s best when it comes to heavy-duty metal polishing. It is also applicable to a wide variety of metal surfaces.

Pros: It’s easy to use, contains protective properties, and it cleans and restores metals that are rusted, pitted, or scuffed.

Cons: It’s relatively pricey. Nonetheless, the price is adequately explained by the beautiful metal finish.

Best value polish: Mothers mag & aluminum polish

Reasons: this gentle alternative to high-grit metal polishes is good at keeping the metal trim lustreful.

Pros: Being paste-like, the polish applies well. It’s also gentle enough for routine maintenance, yet strong enough to eliminate minor oxidation and rust.

Cons: it’s not suitable for chrome finishing.

Top honorable mention: Flitz LQ 04535 multi-purpose polish

Reasons(s): Flitz LQ polish is a multi-purpose cleaner that can both polish and protect metals. It’

Pros: s also suitable for other materials, including fiberglass and plastic. The polish is easy to use making it suitable for DIY welding projects and professional purposes.

Cons: It might require a double application and some elbow grease. It also comes in small bottles.

So, Why Should You Trust Us?

Our reviews are based on expert inputs, market research, or practical experience with the reviewed polishes. As such, we provide honest and accurate guides and tips to help you pick the best polish for your needs.

In-Depth Reviews of the Best Metal Polishes for 2021

Best Overall: Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish Restorer

The Chemical guys heavy metal polish restorer is suitable for a wide variety of metal surfaces, including aluminum trim, stainless steel exhaust tips, and chrome bumpers. It removes light oxidation and rust stains in one application, even on billet wheels.

The polish is also good for diamond plate metalwork, where it works even better when topped with a protective seal to overlay the shine.

Chemical Guy’s polisher is great at restoring chrome finishing and worn metal trims. As such, it can do wonders for an old car with a chrome bumper.

Being a heavy-duty polish, it can restore metal finishing regardless of its current state.

On the flip side, it’s a tad pricey – making it less appealing for fabricators with a tight budget. Nonetheless, it’s a great value for your buck. With it, you get a beautiful metal finishing that’s both durable and aesthetic. Besides, the bottle is sure to last a while.

Best Value: Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish

Mother mag & aluminum polish is a gentler alternative to high-grit polishes. It’s suitable for metal polishing maintenance purposes and can be used on a variety of metals, including aluminum and stainless steel.

When used regularly, it protects aluminum finishing and other metal trim from dirt, grime, and fading.

It’s an easy-to-apply formula that works best when applied with a clean, soft cloth and a small-sized amount of elbow grease.

Despite being gentle, the polish can restore luster in mildly rusted or oxidized metals. It’s also ideal for fogged up or scuffed car headlights. However, it should be applied with caution to avoid any damage to the headlights.

Mothers Mag & Aluminum polish results in a mirror-like finishing, all at an affordable price.

On the downside, the polish is not compatible with chrome finishing. Nonetheless, it works well with a variety of metals and metal alloys.

Honorable Mention: Flitz LQ 04535 Multi-Purpose Polish

Flitz LQ 04535 polish is great for fabricators in need of versatile and multi-purpose polishers. It works on plastics, chrome, aluminum, fiberglass, and metal. As such, you can use it to clean metals on your vehicle, kitchen, welding tools, and personal accessories.

The Flitz LQ polisher features a unique and powerful formula that removes water stains, rust, tarnish, and other defects. Still, it’s void of toxins making it safe for use on all surfaces.

In addition, it’s easy to apply – leaving a glossy shine in less time and effort.

Although the small bottle is sure to last you a while, some customers dislike the fact that the polisher is packed in small bottles. Their reason is, the small bottle is bound to run out quickly in cases where the double application is required to achieve a flawless gloss shine. Also, the product requires a little elbow grease for the best results.

Honorable Mention: Brasso Metal Polish

Brasso metal polish is a multi-purpose cleaner that can be used on any metal house around your house, or your motorcycle or car. It’s suitable for copper, aluminum, pewter, chrome, bronze, and stainless steel.

The polish works to clean and polish the metal surface – resulting in a durable and brilliant shine. It achieves a deeper luster that you cannot achieve with a general household cleaner.

Brasso polish is also versatile and easy to use. Just shake the bottle, soak a cloth/sponge, polish your metal, then wipe with a clean (soft) cloth.

On the downside, the polish is not suitable for lacquered or painted surfaces. As such, be careful when polishing metals adjacent to other material finishing. It also has a strong chemical smell like spray paint and might take a lot of rubbing to get your metal clean.

Honorable Mention: Blue Magic 400 Metal Polish Cream

Blue Magic 400 metal polish is gentle, yet it efficiently removes tarnishes and oxidation on your metal surface. It has a thick paste-like texture, and as such, you should stir it thoroughly before use lest risk the cream separating in the container.

Once polished, your metal will remain beautiful & brilliant for longer due to a protective silicone coating left on the metal.

To make the polishing process easier and faster, use the cream with a powdered buffer or polisher.

Unfortunately, the cream contains ammonia, which results in some toxic and strong fumes. That, in turn, makes the use of this polish rather unpleasant.

When applying, be cautious as to not get the cream on your skin. And while the instructions direct you to apply and let it dry before buffing off; the polish is more effective when it’s applied and rubbed and buffed immediately.

Honorable Mention: Simichrome All Metal Polish Tube

Simichrome all-metal polish tube is only 1.76Oz and will efficiently remove all rust stains from your chrome. Being non-abrasive, the formula is safe for use on silver, aluminum, gold, pewter, copper, chrome, magnesium, and stainless steel.

The metal polish is versatile, as such; it can be used on your antiques, household items, motorcycle, and vehicle auto body work; to remove tarnishes and oxidations. Once applied, the polish results in a brilliant, mirror-like finish that’s durable. The finishing is durable as the polish leaves a protective coating on the metal to prevent future stains.

Simichrome polish works fast – as according to the manufacturer, you should see results in 30 seconds after the application.

Unfortunately, the polish contains toxic fumes; and as such, you should use it only in well-ventilated spaces lest risk developing any of the associated health issues. Also, Simichrome only works on uncoated/bare metals.

Honorable Mention: Mothers California Gold Metal Polish

Mothers California gold metal polish is specially designed to clean and polish metals in your vehicle. Being non-abrasive,  it gently cleans, restores, and protects bare metal surfaces – to yield a high-polished shine.

You can apply it on uncoated silver, brass, nickel, aluminum, and billet. It’s the go-to polisher when other polishers on our list fail to make a dent.

You can apply it by hand or with a Mothers Powerball line. In the case of the latter, the product gives more polishing power for a more effective polish/clean. And when applied by hand, it consumes less elbow grease when compared to other polishes on the list.

Unfortunately, the polish only works on bare metals, which limits the metal surfaces you can use it on. It may also contain some grit that can scratch metal surfaces.

Honorable Mention: Turtle Wax Premium Grade Chrome & Metal Polish

This polish safely removes micro scratches and oxidation on soft metals such s aluminum and chrome. It results in a brilliant, mirror-like shine. It also leaves a protective coat on the metal to prevent further tarnishing and oxidation.

Its uniqueness lies in its precision-engineered polishing agents, which makes it effective regardless of the amount of rubbing you do. Therefore, you achieve excellent results with less effort.

Its squeeze bottle makes it easier to dispense the right amount of polish – which minimizes waste.

On the downside, the polish is only for metals on your vehicle. It’s not widely usable on your accessories, kitchen tools, or other metal surfaces.

Honorable Mention: White Diamond Metal Polish with Long Lasting Sealable

White diamond metal polish is formulated for hand polishing brass, stainless steel, aluminum, and chrome to remove discoloration and oxidation. You can also use it to clear your discolored headlights. Here, use a polymer paint protectant to cover the headlights when and after applying the polish.

Once applied, it leaves a durable protective sealant on the metal to prevent future oxidation.

Its uniqueness lies in its vanilla scent, which makes it pleasant to use over other polishes on the list.

Unfortunately, the polish leaves a hazy film on your metal, making it appear dull. Even worse, no amount of rubbing or buffing can clear the film. The polish is also not 100% effective at removing stains on the metal. Also, some metals are not fully protected by the protective seal left behind, which see them begin to tarnish not long after polishing.

Honorable Mention: Meguiar’s Hot Rims Metal Polish

Meguiar’s metal polish is specifically designed for use on vehicle metals. It contains micro-abrasive agents that cut through grime and oxidation while being gentle enough to not scratch the metal surface.

The polish is easy to use as the squeeze bottle helps dispense just the right amount of the product. As such, you can have a high-polished shine on your chrome or aluminum metal in no time. Just dispense a little polish on the metal, rub it into the surface, and then wipe the metal clean.

On the downside, the product can prove challenging to work with. For starters, there are no clear directions on how to get the polish out of the clear tip. Also, the product works differently than others, which can be difficult to get used to. It also congeals in cold water, which makes rinsing after polishing a near-impossible task.

That marks the end of our top picks. Thus, if you’re open to recommendations, select one of the reviewed polishes above and row with it – it will be worth your while.

If not open to recommendations, here’s a guide on how to select the best polish for your needs and budget.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Metal Polish

To select an effective polish, consider the following:

Polish strength

The polish strength corresponds to the number of grits in the formulation. A higher number of grits is good for cleaning and restoring pitted and rusted metals. On their end, a lower number of abrasives are good for metal maintenance purposes. Note, you can switch between higher and lower abrasive polishes based on your needs. I.e., you can start with a higher grit polish to restore your metal, then use a lower grit polish to keep the metal lustreful.

Formulation

Generally, metal polishes are either vicious or runny. The thicker, paste, or wax-like formulation is easier to apply, as it doesn’t runoff or drip down. As such, you can apply the product precisely where you need it.

Also, consider the engineered polishing agents which dictate how had you’ll buff or rub to get the metal clean.

Protection

Most metal polishes provide some degree of long-term protection of your metal. They do so by building up a protective layer (over a number of applications), which helps block dirt & grime to prevent future tarnishing. The protective layer can also prevent pitting; and as such, the metal will retain its shine for longer.

Thus, settle for a metal polish that’s likely to prolong the shine.

Eco-friendliness

Metal polishes are made up of chemicals; however, some contain more toxic ingredients than others. And given that the harmful ingredients can harm the environment as much as your health, you should err on the side of eco-friendly metal polishes. As such, steer clear of petroleum-based products, as they not only smell awful, they are also bad for your health and the environment.

Multi-purpose application

It never hurts to kill “two birds” with one stone, right? As such, you can settle for a metal polish that has multiple applications. That is a product that can clean and restore metal surfaces on your vehicle, motorcycle, kitchen tools, and personal accessories.

Always check the product’s label for its recommended uses.

Quality of the finish

As noted earlier, metal polishes contain varying amounts of abrasives. If the abrasive is too coarse they can potentially damage the metal surface.

Also, watch out for low/poor quality products, as they could cause more harm than good.

Packaging size

Select the size of a bottle or tub of the product based on your needs. For instance, if you’ve many metals to clean and polish, choosing a bigger bottle of the polish is wise.

However, you should keep in mind that some polishes wear down once opened; thus, don’t purchase too much product at once.

Key Questions to Help Make That Final Decision

The following questions will help ease your decision-making process.

#1: What kind of metal am I polishing?

Metals are different. For instance, aluminum has a dull silver finish, which is similar to stainless steel. However, aluminum does oxidize to create a chalky-white residue, whereas stainless steel does not oxidize. As such, the two metals may require different types of metal polishes. For information on the top rated copper metal only polishes [Read our Buyers Guide]

#2: What condition(s) is the metal in?

Is the metal rusted, corroded, or oxidized? Is it scuffed, pitted, or tarnished? See, the condition the metal is in will significantly dictate the type and the amount of polish to be used.

#3: How will I be polishing?

Will you be polishing by hand or with a power tool like an angle grinder? Will you just rub the polish into the metal? Or does the metal requires both buffing and rubbing?

Whatever the scenario, select a metal polish that best fits your needs.

#4: Do I want a fast-drying polish or?

Fast-drying metal polish is easy on or off. On its end, a slow-drying polisher is great for cleaning, restoring, and protecting areas that require more time to polish. Think of areas around the lugs.

And for you who might be wondering whether metal polishes are for you, here are some benefits associated with them.

Benefits of Metal Polishes

Metal polishing is beneficial in that:

  • It improves the aesthetics of your metal surfaces – making them look good.
  • It helps keep the metal in good condition.
  • It helps restore worn or damaged metal surfaces while providing protective measures to prevent future oxidation, tarnishing, and other defects.
  • It helps retain the maximum resale value possible for a relatively longer duration.

Types of Metal Finishes & Polish

Metal polishes can be:

Restorative

Restorative polishes contain high amounts of grit/abrasives, which serve to restore the metal surface to be polished. They are ideal for metal surfaces that have lost their luster. Think of rusted, pitted, or worn metal and chrome details.

Polishing

Polishing metal polishes are the gentler alternatives to the restorative polishes. They are gentle enough for maintenance purposes. That’s because they can be used regularly without damaging the metal to be polished. However, they require little amounts of elbow grease; and won’t restore any damaged metal surface.

Top Players in the Metal Polish Game

The top brands include:

Blue Magic

Blue Magic is based in Cleburne, Texas. It’s been in the game for over 50 years, formulating and manufacturing quality repair products in the automotive industry. Its metal polishes are some of its big lineups and are rated as the best in the current market. Top selling metal polishes include the MTL polish cream.

Mothers

Mothers’ is based in southern California and has been in the game since 1995. It’s a key player in the formulation and manufacture of cleaners, waxes, and polishes for automotive uses. Its top sellers include the Billet metal polish and the Mag & Aluminum polish.

Chemical Guys

Chemical Guys is based in Gardena, California. It has been in the formulation and manufacturing game for more than 50 years. As such, it has perfected its art and science in producing polishing products. The brand is popular for its heavy-duty and eco-friendly formulations, with its top seller being the Heavy Metal Polish Restorer and Protectant.

What about the Pricing?

You can find many basic metal polishes for under $10. These polishes are a mix of poor quality, decent quality, and relatively good quality. If this is your set budget, take note of the formulation especially, its ingredients, as harmful additives can damage your metals.

You can also find numerous metal polishes in the mid-range, which is $10-$20. Most of these polishes will get the job done.

Metal polishes over $20 are clean of the cloth. They are high-quality, eco-friendly, and generally healthier to use. Nonetheless, some products can be overpriced, so be cautious about the hype.

Application Tips

For best results:

  • Wash your metal and the surrounding materials thoroughly before polishing. In so doing, you’ll have superb finished luster while protecting the metal from any damage associated with dirt and grime.
  • As a beginner or for DIY purposes, go for paste-like polishes as they are easier to use, control, and move.
  • For an even finish, apply the polish in small circular strokes.
  • Use a clean cloth, sponge, or applicator to prevent damage.
  • Use small amounts of products mixed with little elbow grease for best results.
  • To restore a rusted, pitted, scuffed or other damage to the metal, use a heavy-duty polishing solution. And for best results, apply using a power tool applicator and seal with a protective coat once done.

FAQs

Here’re answers to the FAQs.

What’s the best way to polish chrome details?

Thoroughly wash and dry the metal to remove any dirt and grime. Next, apply a small amount of the selected metal polish on a clean sponge, cloth, or applicator. Add a little elbow grease and work the polish on the chrome until you achieve the desired luster.

Can I use metal polish to restore the shine of a chrome exhaust pipe?

Yes, you can. Given the exhaust pipe is metal just like any other, you can follow the steps outlined in the previous question to restore its shine.

Bear in mind that exhaust pipes get hot; as such, allow them to cool before commencing the cleaning and polishing results. A hot exhaust pipe after welding can lead to unflattering results.

How often can I polish my metal details?

You can polish your metal details at least twice a year with a mild metal polish. Ensure it’s of high quality and void of harmful additives.

Whatever you do, avoid high-abrasive polishes like a plague, as they can damage your metal finish with repeated use.

Can I use a polishing tool to shine up my metal details?

You can use both hand and tools to polish up metals, including aluminum and chrome. However, power tools are best when using heavy-duty polishes. For upkeep purposes, it’s best to skip power tools. Alternatively, be extra gentle with their use lest risk over-polishing.

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