Brushed Nickel vs Satin Nickel: What is The Difference?

Nickel finishes come in various options, from the glossy appearance of polished nickel to the smooth, even appearance of satin nickel. Regardless of the nickel finish you choose, you get a beautiful champagne hue.

Of course, the level of color warmth depends on the density of the nickel, the amount of plating, and the particular finish.

Quick Answer:

Satin Nickel and Brushed Nickel are both nickel finishes used in home decor, each with a slightly different aesthetic. Satin Nickel has a soft, smooth finish with a subtle sheen, giving it a more modern and clean appearance. Brushed Nickel, on the other hand, has a textured, matte finish due to a wire brushing process, offering a more traditional look.

Nickel-finished fixtures artfully complement various aesthetic tastes, including the earthy tones prevalent in home design today. Although nickel finishes aren’t new to the scene, they remain timelessly relevant, lending a beautiful, classic finish to any space.

You’ll find brushed nickel and satin nickel among the several nickel finishes available. Although they look strikingly similar, they’re not the same. How so? Keep reading to find out!

Brushed Nickel Finish

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Brushed nickel remains a trendy favorite among the dozens of finish options for plumbing fixtures. Brushed nickel consists of a nickel plating featuring light abrasions in a singular direction, giving it the brushed appearance.

The brushing creates a more handcrafted, original feel. It allows light and shadow to bounce off the surface, creating a visually exciting fixture. Brushed nickel hides water spots, dirt, and smudges well, making it an appealing choice for bathroom fixtures, where grubby hands regularly come into contact.

Satin Nickel Finish

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Satin nickel is a popular finish for various types of plumbing fixtures, among other things. It’s a nickel-plated deposit with a consistent, non-reflective texture. There aren’t any visible abrasions, like the tiny marks featured on brushed nickel finishes.

Satin nickel can be produced chemically or mechanically and has been in use since the early 1970s. Although it wasn’t very common in plumbing fixtures when it first came out, it has since grown in popularity across the board.  

The smooth, velvety appearance is a sought-after finishing touch for automotive interiors, silverware, plumbing, and hardware. The finish doesn’t reflect light or pick up fingerprints, making it a popular pick for various applications.

Like brushed nickel, satin nickel also hides water spots, smudges, and dirt surprisingly well. So, no need to constantly clean the faucet in an attempt to keep up with tiny fingerprints from a horde of children. It’s a win-win.

Are Satin Nickel And Brushed Nickel The Same?

No, satin nickel and brushed nickel aren’t the same things. The process to achieve the final finish is different, which gives a separate result. Although the two look strikingly similar, you’ll notice a few differences if you look closely.

Finishing Process

Despite the similarity in appearance, the process required to achieve the final result is substantially different.

To start, let’s take a look at the satin nickel finish. The steps to achieve the satin nickel finish are known as electrolysis. It’s the method behind the application of nickel, commonly used for finishing various plumbing fixtures, including faucets.

The process involves plating zinc or brass to create the final look. The primary purpose of the process is to increase its overall durability and bring out a lustrous finish. However, the result of the finish will appear dull without an application of luster lacquer before plating.

On the other hand, consider the brushed nickel finishing process. Brush plating with tools or wire brushes is used to attain lustrous looks. Since a wire brush or special tool is used, the finish has small brush marks. This method is considerably simpler than the electrolysis process but leaves a very similar result.


In general, satin nickel fixtures tend to be more expensive than brushed nickel. However, considering the extensive production process, the added cost makes sense. Creating the brushed nickel finish is considerably easier than satin nickel in the grand scheme of things, hence the lower cost.

Which Is Shinier?

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If a shiny, glossy finish is more your style, brushed nickel is definitely your best pick of the duo. Overall, the appearance is more lustrous, while satin nickel can appear dull compared to brushed nickel.

However, if you want to take it a step up in the shine factor, consider the “Polished Nickel” finish. Polished nickel is commonly available from most brands in various fixtures.

It closely resembles chrome, except it offers a pale gold undertone. The hint of gold gives the nickel a warmer tone than chrome yet still provides a shiny finish.

Is Brushed Nickel Going Out Of Style?

Brushed nickel has been around for decades, serving as a staple in traditional kitchen and bathroom fixtures. After the initial craze for the finish, its popularity faded, sending it into the background like a forgotten finish.

However, the market has shifted in recent years, once again placing brushed nickel in the limelight. Its durability and overall appearance have pushed it to the forefront of finishes once again. Nearly every brand offers a few different fixtures in brushed nickel finishes, and many new construction builds incorporate the finish into the final product.

So, no, brushed nickel isn’t going out of style. If anything, it’s coming back into style.

Is Satin Nickel Going Out Of Style?

Satin Nickel

Satin nickel, like brushed nickel, isn’t new to the scene. The finish has been around for many years, with its original uses in railroad wheels and accessories. Today, satin nickel has become a staple for various high-quality, luxurious items, including silverware and jewelry.

Its sleek, modern, elegant looks provide a timeless appearance. This makes satin nickel a great choice for various applications, whether it’s a kitchen sink or a bathroom faucet. If the smooth appearance of satin nickel meets your aesthetic tastes, go for it!

Although satin nickel and brushed nickel aren’t going out of style, the final pick for what goes in your home is ultimately your choice. So, if you prefer the looks of something that isn’t “in-style,” go for it. These two finishes will likely remain in the spotlight for years to come, offering timeless, tasteful appearances for any application.

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