Design Home Decor Concepts

Brushed Nickel VS Chrome, What’s the Difference?

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Whether you wish to change the bathroom fixtures or make a visual upgrade for the kitchen hardware, you will be faced with multiple finish choices. Some of the most popular and reliable choices for faucets, cabinet pulls, or towel bars include chrome and brushed nickel. These metal finishes appear to be quite similar at a first glance, but further inspection reveals some key differences between them.

Understanding the distinctive characteristics of both brushed nickel and chrome will help you make a smarter choice to meet your aesthetic preference and budget requirements. The style of the finish used plays a major role when it comes to the final look of the hardware and fixtures used throughout your home. There are advantages and drawbacks for each type of metal finish so check them out down below to figure what exactly is the difference between brushed nickel and chrome.

1. Aesthetics

Chrome finishes stand out a little more compared to brushed nickel. The reason is simply that it offers a polished shine that contrasts with brushed nickel’s subtle metallic sheen. Chrome faucets reflect light quite strongly so they’re typically more popular for bathrooms compared to the matte, dull shine of brushed nickel fittings. The appearance of chrome finishes seems to suggest an extra “clean” vibe due to the bright shine.

Kitchen designs will often appear more elegant and refined when you’re using brushed nickel hardware. The muted shine of this finish type lends its beauty well to this area. It’s a solid choice if you prefer a more subdued look. However, there’s no strict design rule that you need to follow because it’s still a matter of personal preferences. Polished chrome can be just as attractive for kitchen fixtures if you like the more modern appearance of this finish style.

2. Visual match

Both brushed nickel and chrome finishes can be considered highly versatile. They form great combinations with other materials and finishes as well as various accessories in the bathroom or the kitchen. One aspect worth noting is that it’s generally recommended to pair brushed nickel with a warm color scheme while integrating chrome with cooler colors. Making a harmonious visual match when it comes to metal finishes can help you achieve the desired look and feel of the room.

Cozy warm tones of red or yellow mix nicely together with brushed nickel hardware. This is thanks to the style of this metal finish. It seems warmer due to the matte texture while chrome appears to be a better fit when combined with greens, blues, and other cool color tones. In conclusion, stick to brushed nickel fixtures if you favor a more traditional aesthetics while modern designs work better when you add cool chrome hardware.

3. Durability

If you’re concerned about durability, brushed nickel might be a more reliable choice. It’s superior to chrome in terms of general damage resistance. Both materials offer corrosion resistance. When properly cleaned and maintained, you can safely enjoy solid durability from either chrome or brushed nickel hardware. Keep in mind that different applications of these metal finishes could provide distinctive results when it comes to long-term durability.

Brushed nickel shows a whitish tarnish after some time, especially if you’re using the metal finish for bathroom fixtures. Good cleaning practices will protect the material in the long run. It’s also recommended to try a special polish or paste wax to rejuvenate the look of aged brushed nickel fittings. Chrome requires proper cleaning as well while you should pay extra attention to avoid scratching the material. It can become vulnerable to corrosion when damaged or applied improperly.

4. Maintenance

Water marks and fingerprints will inevitably appear on both types of metal finishes. Thanks to its ability to hide smudges and fingerprints more effectively, brushed nickel is easier to maintain in top shape. Chrome fixtures could require more frequent cleaning. The good news is that chrome’s shine can simplify the cleaning process. A quick wipe using the right substance or tool might be the only thing needed to maintain this metal finish.

Strong chemicals can be damaging to soft metals. It’s an important risk to avoid when it comes to chrome fixtures because they can sometimes be harder to keep clean. No matter how tempting it would seem to bring out ammonia-based products, you should steer clear of them because harsh treatments can damage chrome hardware in the long run. Try to avoid excessive scrubbing of the surface as well. Both finishes are susceptible to abrasive cleaning tools like steel wool. Opt for soft sponges instead to protect the long-term look of brushed nickel and chrome.

5. Cost Differences Between Brushed Nickel and Chrome

Although there’s not a significant cost difference between the two, chrome will usually come out on top when it comes to affordability. There are larger price variations between brands and styles. Brushed nickel fixtures are typically a bit more expensive because the manufacturing process is more labor-intensive. Achieving that trademark matte shine and characteristic texture requires extra effort and precision. In general, chrome and brushed nickel are both more budget-friendly options compared to other types of finishes.

Other Finish Options

Even after seeing the key differences between brushed nickel and chrome, many homeowners can still feel undecided. If that’s the case, we recommend looking through more available options for metal finishes to see how they compare to chrome and brushed nickel. Just because these two are the most popular, it doesn’t mean that you have to restrict yourself. Check out other excellent metal finish types that could be more suitable for your needs.

  • Brass

If you prefer a vintage aesthetic and a warmer color tone, there’s no better option than brass. This type of metal finish can easily stand out in any room. It goes well together with a minimalistic white color palette but can also look gorgeous with bold shades of navy blue or forest green.

  • Copper

Popular in industrial designs, copper fixtures can show off some attractive qualities in many types of rooms. This metal finish is recommended for warm or neutral color schemes. Fixtures and hardware will make a greater visual impact together with copper pipes that contribute to the overall decorative effect.

  • Bronze

Bronze brings an elegant touch to enhance the ambiance of any room. This is a fairly popular metal finish that provides solid variation when it comes to colors. Oil-rubbed bronze is a favorite option for many homeowners thanks to its dark, rustic vibe. If you’re looking to decorate your home in a Tuscan design style, this type of bronze finish appears simply stunning.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

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