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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 03:18:12 PM   #1
ATB88
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Default Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

So, my recent search for a decent brushed Al interior trim set has, for the most part, gone pretty poorly. It really seems like most of the sets out there at this point are pretty dinged up, and buying new is crazy person money.

This post is a bit hairbrained, but, has anyone ever looked into how difficult it would be to refinish brushed Al trim pieces that have dents/nicks in them? Sandpaper? Steel wool? Are these terrible ideas? I guess it comes down to understanding how the brushed finish is applied to these pieces to begin with. Anyone know how BMW does it?

I know that people have found 3M wrap that looks decent, but I'd really rather refinished metal if possible..

P.S. shameless PSA -- would also settle for buying someone's set that's in nice shape for significantly more than the standard rougher condition ebay sets go for.. see my WTB ad lol: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=601803
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 04:08:25 PM   #2
FK
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

TBH I think it's a very thin layer of brushed metal finish that's epoxied on to a plastic trim piece and that makes sense since it has to contour pretty aggressively. You could try using steel wool but the lack of material thickness means that if you went to aggressive it would cause noticeable flaws.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 04:44:03 PM   #3
Paulo M
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

Whatever you do, don’t try to replicate brushed aluminum with a wrap
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 04:47:40 PM   #4
Texaz3
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

Yeah, don't even get me started on prices for ZCP alu trim.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 06:26:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

Brushed aluminum wrap looks great. My wife's car is wrapped that way.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 06:39:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

If you plan on driving the car and not garaging it 24-7, find a used set with the least minor imperfections. The nicks from the seat belt will happen no matter how careful one is. Better that it not 100% perfect, so it does not become constant worry.

Aluminum wrap on actual aluminum is a big no no. The wrap can look good, if done properly, in a car where the standard trim already looks like crap and aluminum trim was not an option. A wrap would be a last resort, imo.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 06:43:59 PM   #7
Steve M3
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FK View Post
TBH I think it's a very thin layer of brushed metal finish that's epoxied on to a plastic trim piece and that makes sense since it has to contour pretty aggressively. You could try using steel wool but the lack of material thickness means that if you went to aggressive it would cause noticeable flaws.
That's exactly what it is and it's pretty fragile. They accidently dented mine when doing my airbag and ordered a new piece for me. When the tech pulled the old piece off he folded it up without much effort to show me how easy it was to damage.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 06:45:51 PM   #8
Paulo M
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

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Originally Posted by fastmonbbs View Post
Brushed aluminum wrap looks great. My wife's car is wrapped that way.
What was the trim underneath the wrap? Condition?

Owning a car equipped with original brushed aluminum...then having it wrapped in fake brushed aluminum would be a huge let down. Depth, feel, and overall finish is far from the same.

Find used good condition brushed aluminum and have it clear bra’d if you’re too concerned about it’s condition. I’ve had mine for years and it looks just as good as the day I bought it. I’m just careful with my interior.
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Old Tue, Sep-18-2018, 08:37:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

Definitely don't try refinishing it. The trim (like many aluminum products out there) is anodized aluminum. This anodized coating on the trim is a very thin layer. Anodizing can be done in any color, but for this trim it is a lighter silver color than the aluminum base used. Sanding or altering the trim in any way will damage this coating causing the aluminum to show its natural, dull grey color. This is why the brushing in the trim contrasts with the bright silver color, because that part of the anodizing was removed when the trim was brushed at the factory.
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Old Wed, Sep-19-2018, 04:02:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Re-Finishing Brushed Al?

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Originally Posted by Paulo M View Post
What was the trim underneath the wrap? Condition?

Owning a car equipped with original brushed aluminum...then having it wrapped in fake brushed aluminum would be a huge let down. Depth, feel, and overall finish is far from the same.

Find used good condition brushed aluminum and have it clear bra’d if you’re too concerned about it’s condition. I’ve had mine for years and it looks just as good as the day I bought it. I’m just careful with my interior.
If you clear bra you get rid of the Depth, feel, and overall finish. Might as well wrap it lol. On the other hand, you could just clear bra high impact areas and call it good.
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Discussing Re-Finishing Brushed Al? in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)