First impressions. We all know how important they are in business or when meeting someone new, but many times their importance is discounted when it comes to how tenants or customers view your building.

One of the ways people build first impression is by the condition of your metal, stone and wood surfaces on the outside and inside of your building. Nowhere are these surfaces put in the spotlight more than your building entrance and lobby areas.

The good news is that these surfaces are meant to last a lifetime and can almost always be restored to a like-new condition. Their looks can even be changed to bring a building more up to date with the latest design trends, all without having to replace or remove the existing surface. This can be music to a facility engineer's ears when ownership wants you to update the building without spending excessive amounts of money and time to do a full remodel.


Metal is used a lot in and around elevators because of its ability to hold up over time with hundreds of people touching and rubbing up against it every day. However, like most surfaces, it doesn't resist scrapes and scratches.

In many case, the best option is to have the metal restored by a metal refinishing company. Once the metal is restored, a clear-coat lacquer is applied to protect against tarnishing, fingerprints and scratches. The end result is you receive a new metal appearance at a fraction of the cost it would be to replace it.

Many buildings are now looking for ways to update the look of the metal in their buildings without the expense of replacing it. That's why oxidizing — the chemical process of changing appearance of metal to an antique oil-rubbed bronze color is becoming so popular. This relatively simple process can dramatically change the metal's appearance and update the look of the entire building.

Also, with new advances in coating technology, any type of metal, wood, glass or plastic can be converted to a polished or satin stainless steel look. This can save a building thousands of dollars in conversion costs, and the results can be dramatic.


Nothing looks quite as impressive as a beautifully polished stone floor in a building. Two of the major benefits of stone are its ability to reflect light and its durability. However, stone floors can develop scratches from the grit that's carried on shoes, acting like sandpaper. Watermarks can also appear from liquids containing acids, which will greatly reduce the reflectivity of the surface.

Stone is designed to last the lifetime of your building, and in most cases it can be brought back to a like-new condition by an experienced stone specialist, even after years of neglect.

Highly polished stone floors can become a slip-and-fall hazard if liquid is spilled or on a rainy day around building entrances. But thanks to new technology, stone floors can have that polished glossy finish along with a high slip coefficient that will actually reduce the number of slips and falls, while lowering your maintenance costs.


Wood can bring a sense of warmth and richness to a building that no other architectural surface can match. As an architectural accent, wood is often used in elevator cabs, floors, reception desks, conference tables, trim and doors which are areas that traditionally get the most abuse in commercial buildings. Combine that with the fact that wood is not as durable as metal or stone, and you can see why many buildings have wood restoration companies on speed dial.

There are really three types of wood refinishing. There is a touch-up, which is good for small scratches or something that won't be seen up close. The second option would be a refinish process, which would include a touch-up plus adding a tint or clear coat. This works well for fading or minor scratches.

The third option is a full restoration, which would consist of stripping or sanding off the old finish, repairing damaged areas, staining and recoating the wood. This option is a lot more labor intensive than the other two options but still considerably less than replacing the wood. Be sure to ask your vendor which is right for you or for a sample.

What to look for

Many vendors offer monthly maintenance programs, which are great because it insures that your building stays looking its best, and the cost is able to be spread out equally over an entire year. When selecting a vendor to restore or maintain your metal, stone or wood, be sure and ask a few key questions.

  • How long have you been in business, and will you provide references?
  • Can you provide a schedule of what items are being refinished on the monthly maintenance program?
  • Is there a guarantee if I don’t like the way the refinishing looks?
  • Can you tell me about your safety and training, since you will be bringing chemicals and power tools into the building?
  • Can you tell me about your company's LEED products and processes? (If your building is LEED certified.)

The next time you take a look at your metal, stone and wood, make sure it makes a good first impression. If it doesn't, contact a qualified vendor to help your building shine.