November 28, 2018

Metal Finish Options: The Essential Differences

Selecting the metal finish for plumbing and hardware products should be an easy final step at the end of a remodeling project, right? Not so much. In fact, this decision often leaves many homeowners scratching their heads. We named some of the most popular finish options on the market and compared them to iron out (no pun intended!) any confusion when heading to the showroom for your home improvement final touches.

Chrome vs. Nickel

(GRAFF’s Sospiro Contemporary Bridge Bar/Prep Faucet in Polished Chrome).


Homeowners often come to us asking for a finish that looks “silver”. Well, we have good news for you (or bad news, if you’re indecisive): you have plenty of choices!

Chrome is one of the most popular choices for plumbing fixtures thanks to its inexpensive price point (often the most affordable finish option) and durability. Chrome is shiny and brilliantly reflects the light in your kitchen or bathroom for an eye-catching delight. This material resists corrosion and rust, making it a practical choice that will last for several years. The only complaint we hear about chrome is that it tends to show water spots and fingerprints. If that’s a pet peeve of yours, there’s more options for you.

(Native Trails’ Santorini Copper Bathtub in Brushed Nickel).


Brushed nickel gets its slightly matte appearance from being treated with a wire brush. We’re seeing more and more clients navigate towards a brushed nickel finish, and for good reason. This finish has a luxurious, almost hand-crafted aesthetic that hides water spots and fingerprints well. Brushed nickel looks fabulous in homes that boast a traditional or transitional design, earth tones or warmer palettes. Brushed nickel is a style that has stood the test of time and also tends to offer a mid-range price point, giving you a bit of flexibility in your home improvement project. In a nutshell: it’s a great fit for many homes!

(KALLISTA’s Brushed Nickel faucets bring a classic aesthetic to a contemporary or transitional home).


(Ashley Norton Hardware’s Colonial Lever in Polished Nickel).


You’ll find plenty of products with a polished finish, as well. The difference between brushed and polished is simply that a product with a polished finish isn’t treated to have a texture, the way brushed materials are.

Polished nickel looks very similar to chrome, but when you place them side by side, you’ll notice that polished nickel has a warmer tone than chrome. We find that clients will turn to polished nickel when they like the look of chrome, but are seeking a warmer tone or perhaps they previously had chrome fixtures and desire an upgrade. Polished nickel tends to show water spots and fingerprints much like chrome, and it does tend to require a bit more maintenance than chrome does.


(California Faucets’ DAVOLI Series Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet in Oil Rubbed Bronze.)


A bronze finish is a fantastic choice to add a warmer final touch to your home improvement project. While various manufacturers will have their own unique options that will vary in color, oil-rubbed bronze is a common one that is treated with a solution to give the base metal a dark, rustic feel that plays well with a Mediterranean or Tuscan-style home. Many homeowners who are seeking a traditional aesthetic in their space will turn to oil-rubbed bronze for an aged look. Moodier than chrome or nickel, this finish may stand at a higher price point, and hides water spots and fingerprints well, making oil-rubbed bronze a low-maintenance choice.


(KALLISTA’s ‘Unlacquered Brass’ faucet options offer a stunning simplicity.


If you’re seeking a “gold” appearance, brass is the finish you’re looking for! Brass offers a stunning, vintage aesthetic and demands attention in whatever space it’s placed in. Brass looks fantastic in rooms with a white or grey palette, and compliments navy blue with a beauty that’s simply unparalleled.

(This faucet from Newport Brass’ East Linear collection is featured in Satin Brass).


You might notice that home products with a satin finish will look similar to products with a polished finish. However, there is a slight difference! A satin finish will appear more matte than a polished finish, but will lack the texture that a brushed finish offers. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and what you want to see in your space. Feeling torn? A helpful tip for choosing the right option is to take home a few accessories with slightly different finishes and see what you like the best. You don’t have to commit!

Don’t Sweat It!

(We have dozens of options here in our showroom in downtown Lafayette. If you don’t see the one you want, we can order it for you!)


While we’ve summarized some of the most popular finish options on the market, there still remains an enormous variety of finish options to choose from, and you’ll notice that many manufacturers will create their own finishes unique to their brand. If you’re still feeling stuck, our designers are prepared to answer your questions and help guide you in the right direction. The silver lining of having so many options to choose from is that you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for to add the perfect final touch to your home. Come by and explore!

Douglah Designs Luxury Design And Remodeling


Douglah Designs, a premier home remodeling studio, manages every design and construction facet of your project. Our 3,000-square-foot showroom, Luxe Home, sits in the heart of Lafayette. We offer luxury home essentials, including cabinets, plumbing fixtures, tiles, lighting, and more. Homeowners, designers, architects, and contractors in the East Bay trust us for stylish, high-quality brands and professional in-store support.

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