June 30, 2003 - When people redo their kitchens, more and more are choosing stainless steel appliances. They're high style, but as lots of people have found, they're also high maintenance. Consumer Reports tested a new type of finish that gives you the stainless-steel look without the cleaning hassle.
Like many people with stainless steel appliances, Edwin Gaines says it takes a lot of muscle to keep the surfaces smudge free, especially with a 5-year-old around, "I'm very happy with it. It's just keeping it up is the problem. Keeping it clean, maintaining it."
Consumer Reports sees the same smudgy problem in its labs.
Tobie Stanger, with Consumer Report, says some refrigerators are now coming with a new finish that eliminates the smudge problem, it's vinyl-coated metal, "It's slightly darker than stainless steel and it has sort of a matte finish, and it doesn't take fingerprints the way this does."
This refrigerator with the new finish is by Kenmore. And other companies are offering the new finish, including LG, the new name for the Goldstar brand.
Tobie Stanger says that besides virtually eliminating fingerprints, the new finish offers another advantage, "magnets will stick on this surface. Not on stainless steel."
If, like Edwin, you have stainless-steel appliances, you're out of luck as far as the magnets go, but there is help for the fingerprints. Consumer Reports says use a stainless steel cleaner. It removes prints and leave behind a slightly oily coating which helps keep fingerprints away.
You'll find different appliance makers have different names for stainless and vinyl-coated metal finish. GE calls it titanium, at Whirlpool it's Satina, and Kenmore calls its vinyl-coated finish ultra-satin.