Balustrades are a good fencing option for your balcony, deck, or poolside. They are beautifully shiny, stylish, long lasting, and easy to maintain. Many people assume that stainless steel doesn’t corrode or rust, so it can be puzzling when you notice those deep orange specks on your railings. It’s easy to get rid of them though, so don’t be too worried.
Stainless steel doesn’t need much attention. Usually, it gets a little dusty, and it will probably get dewy thanks to overnight condensation. You can keep your balustrade clean by wiping it with a soft cloth as needed. A little moisture will get rid of any dust or spills.
If you’re near the ocean, the balcony will probably have a light film of salt sediment carried by the breeze. A damp cloth will get rid of that as well, but use gentle motions so that the salt doesn’t scrape the metal. Salt is a mild abrasive, so those fine specks of sea salt can do some damage if you don’t handle them with care.
Balustrades made of stainless steel usually have an attractive sheen, but they can get dull and grey if you don’t maintain them. Wash them with warm water and mild detergent to keep them shiny. After washing, rinse them carefully with warm, clean water.
If you like, you can dry them with a soft cloth to prevent water marks and liquid stains. Another way to prevent these watermarks is to use a sponge to rinse, rather than pouring the clean water directly on the balustrade.
Sponge the railings until all the soap is gone and the rinsing water runs clear. This might actually take longer than splash rinsing and manually drying, since you’d have to keep wringing out the sponge in the now soapy bucket and changing it out for cleaner water.
The trouble with shiny surfaces is that generally unobtrusive stains will be seen more clearly. Steel, like glass, will soon be covered with annoying fingerprints. If you can’t ignore them, remove them with soap and warm water. You can also use alcohol, methylated spirit, or acetone to remove the finger marks.
Once the stains are gone, rinse the balustrade with warm water and wipe the railings dry. Occasionally, your balcony will get stained with dirt that is more stubborn. It might be a discoloured section from an unknown contaminant or a food stain that wasn’t dealt with as soon as it happened and has now overstayed its welcome.
You may be tempted to scrub it off, but abrasives will scratch and dull your balustrade. Use a mild cleaning solution like Jif or any other cleaner that is made specifically for stainless steel. Dip a sponge, an old rag, or a fibre brush into the cleaning solution and apply it on the stain.
In place of a fibre brush, you can use an old toothbrush, since the bristles will have frayed and softened with time. You can also use brushes that have natural bristles, or a soft nylon cloth that is a little tougher than cotton or sponge. Once the dirt is gone, rinse and wipe dry.
In addition to salt deposits, your balustrade may get lime stains if your household uses hard water, or if the rain has a rich mineral content. To get rid of this, make your own cleaning mixture using vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio. Use a sponge or cloth to apply this mixture on the balusters and let it soak for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry out.
Once the lime has loosened, clean it off with a soft brush, then rinse with soft water and wipe dry. Make sure the water has no mineral deposits, or you’ll undo all your cleaning work. For grease and oil stains, use a soft brush or cloth dipped in trichloroethane, acetone, or alcohol.
When the grimy stains are all gone, use soap and warm water to remove all the traces of the organic solvent you just used, then rinse and dry the balustrade. As for those frustrating but inevitable spots of rust, you can get rid of them with a 1:9 solution of nitric acid and water.
Acids are risky substances, so wear gloves as you prepare the mixture, and use a glass container that will not be worn through by the acid. The water you use should be warm, and you should let the cleaning mixture stay on the railings for thirty minutes to an hour.
Once the corrosion has faded, rinse the railings using a lot of warm water to get rid of all the acid. When you finish, pour any leftover cleaning fluid down an outdoor drain and flush out those drains thoroughly using lots of clean water. This avoids corroding your pipes. With these simple tips, your stainless steel balustrades will stay shiny and clean for years.