When picking faucets for the bathroom or kitchen, much is to be considered — from function and size to cost and finish. While there are a few other finishes, stainless steel, chrome and brushed nickel seem to lead the pack for popularity and aesthetic flexibility. If you're in the middle of a bathroom or kitchen makeover and your faucet choice is suffering from decision-making fatigue, here's what you need to know when debating chrome or brushed nickel for the bathroom.
Brushed Nickel vs. Chrome: Basics
Renovating on a budget can be tough, and sometimes it's surprising what kind of deals can be found on things like faucets. For budget jobs, chrome finishes are nearly always the budget-beater of the faucet styles — and it's often the easiest to design around as well. Unfortunately, budget-beaters can mean the product is made to lower quality standards than their higher-priced counterparts.
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Chrome is a coating that can be applied with different techniques on varying base metals. If there's a flaw or if it's low-quality, chrome is known to flake and peel over time. Until then, it's easy to clean and works well in countless settings. It's quick to polish for a snazzy look but is also inclined to display fingerprints and water spots, which vexes some people more than others.
Not true of brushed nickel, which tends to be more expensive, particularly if high-quality. However, what you may not realize with brushed nickel is that it's susceptible to corrosion or blemishes over time, as it must be cared for without use of acidic or abrasive cleaning materials. If you care for it well and use manufacturer-approved cleaning procedures, then it's a long-lasting and durable product.
It’s About Price and Aesthetic
There's no right or wrong answer when choosing faucets — it's really about the look you're after and the quality of the product you're buying. Chrome, like stainless steel, will work in nearly any design scenario unless you're going wild with gold and brass in your space. Chrome suits vintage decor, retro styles and even cutting-edge modern spaces, depending on the underlying design of the faucet. It also works well with stainless steel appliances.
One area where brushed nickel tends to lose its oomph is when blending it in a kitchen that has stainless steel appliances. It's not a wrong choice, but the brushed nickel finish may get lost in the space, which may not be what you're going for and could mean the premium you're spending is moot for the finished design. That said, there are many spaces where brushed nickel adds a warm, classic feel, like in a farmhouse kitchen or rustic bathroom decor, as suggested by Allora USA.
Chrome vs. Satin Nickel
Nickel can be a plated finish, just like chrome, so it's important to know if your fixtures are a "finish" or if it's really nickel or stainless steel rather than a coating. Coatings can be applied in many ways, some of which won't have the longevity of others, so it's necessary to ask questions and get to the bottom of the manufacturing process when investing in pricy fixtures.
In that way, chrome and nickel finishes are similar. "Satin" nickel is nickel's natural finish, whereas "brushed nickel" is scoured or treated to get its finish. Nickel's natural color versus the color of chrome is a factor to consider too. Nickel, whatever its finish, is an inherently warmer tone than chrome or steel, which skew toward blue and gray cooler tones versus the slightly yellow, warm base to brushed nickel.
Those underlying tones are why brushed nickel faucets often look so perfect in a country kitchen painted in tones of English creams and soft greens, because the nickel is "warm" versus the cool neutrals of steel and chrome.