Architecture, construction and metalwork as a whole are all as equally concerned about aesthetic value as they are about practicality and structural stability. It's why painting San Francisco's golden gate bridge is a constant maintenance job and why cast iron cookware should be regularly seasoned; it prevents the metal from rust and corrosion, whilst also maintaining its visual appeal.
Whilst aluminium is thankfully rust-proof, polishing is still a highly rewarding activity. By keeping the surfaces of your aluminium angles, bars, tubes etc. in good order (either before or after construction) you can keep it stronger and looking like new. In this beginner's guide to polishing aluminium, we'll go over the basic 'must-knows' and hidden tips that are guaranteed to give any piece of aluminium that mirror shine, chrome-style finish.
Whilst dish soap and water is fine for removing dirt, food or waste products that have gotten stuck onto its surface, a solution that's better suited for your particular alloy will deliver even better results. This article from Cleanipedia has a variety of homely concoctions for cleaning aluminium thoroughly, and we definetly recommend giving some of them a try. Just remember to test out any homemade cleaning products on a small area (ideally an inner, non-visible part) first to check their suitability, and make sure your aluminium is thoroughly dried before you polish.
All you need is the right chemical, sodium hydroxide, which just happens to be available in most hardware and cleaning shops. There are plenty of great guides that take you through the process of de-anodizing aluminium, just remember that if the metal comes out looking horribly scratched and worse looking than before, that's normal!
Whichever you use, one of the more preferred polishing techniques is to using a microfiber cloth to apply it to select areas, before using circular motions to work it in. Another way is to use a buffing pad, buffer brush or a mechanical buffer to reach a professional level shine. Many hardware stores sell full polishing kits that contain all these products, plus a few awesome little extras, but once you've mastered the art you can even start to put together and recommend your own home-brewed kits.