How to Polish Billet Aluminum

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A form of aluminum, billet aluminum is a light-weight material pressed into bars, accessories and parts used in automobiles and other structures. The metal is also inexpensive. Billet aluminum, like other metals, must be cleaned and maintained regularly to keep dirt and grime from building up on the metal's surface. Failure to keep the metal clean can lead to oxidation. Once clean, polish your billet aluminum item to bring a shine to the metal's surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • 2 Buckets
  • Latex gloves
  • 4 soft, nonabrasive cloths or rags
  • Water hose
  • Degreaser
  • Sandpaper: 320, 400, 600 and 1000-grit
  • Aluminum polish
  • Handheld car buffer
  • 2 Micro-fiber towels
  • Small flat head screwdriver
  • Polishing compound
  • Baby powder or flour (optional)

Cleaning

  • Mix ½ gal. of hot water and 1 cup of dish washing soap in a bucket. Wear latex gloves to keep your hands from getting wet.

  • Dip a soft, nonabrasive cloth or rag in the bucket of soapy water. Wring out excess water. Scrub the item with the soapy cloth or rag until the billet aluminum is dirt-free.

  • Rinse the item with water from a hose. Dry the item with a clean, nonabrasive cloth or towel.

  • Apply 3 tbsp. of a degreaser to the nonabrasive cloth or towel. Wipe the item with the degreaser-soaked cloth or towel.

  • Dry the item with a clean, nonabrasive cloth or towel to remove excess degreaser.

Sanding

  • Fill a bucket with ½ gal. of water from a water hose. Dip a piece of 320-grit sandpaper in the bucket of water.

  • Sand the billet aluminum item with the wet sandpaper. Keep the piece of sandpaper wet at all times. You are scuffing the item's surface. Do not apply too much pressure though.

  • Dip a piece of 400-grit piece of sandpaper in the bucket of water. Sand the billet aluminum with the wet sandpaper. Dip a piece of 600-grit piece of sandpaper in the bucket of water. Sand the item with the wet sandpaper. Dip a piece of 1000-grit piece of sandpaper in the bucket of water. Sand the item with the wet sandpaper to smooth the item's surface. You will notice tiny scratches on the billet aluminum. That's OK.

  • Complete the steps in the "Cleaning" section to remove any sand dust from the billet aluminum.

Polishing

  • Apply 4 tbsp. of an aluminum polish to a soft, nonabrasive cloth or towel. Wipe the billet aluminum with the polish-soaked cloth or towel. The polish should completely coat the item.

  • Buff the item with a hand-held car buffer in an even straight direction to remove any tiny scratches. Keep polishing the billet aluminum until the aluminum polish turns black on the hand-held car buffer's cloth pad.

  • Wipe down the item with a micro-fiber towel. To get into small crevices where the micro-fiber towel won't fit, wrap the towel around a small flat head screwdriver and then wipe the small crevices.

  • Apply 2 tbsp. of a polishing compound to a soft, nonabrasive cloth or towel. Wipe the item with the compound-soaked cloth or towel. Keep polishing until the compound on the cloth or towel turns black.

  • Wipe down the item with a clean micro-fiber towel to remove any access polishing compound.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your billet aluminum item contains oxidation, apply baby powder or flour to a clean, nonabrasive cloth or towel and wipe the item with the cloth or towel before completing Step 1 in the "Polishing" section.

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References

  • Photo Credit manège image by Jacques PALUT from Fotolia.com
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