Brushed Nickel vs. Chrome: What Is The Difference?

Brushed Nickel vs. Chrome What Is The Difference

Whether you’re choosing a finish for your entire house, cabinet pulls and all, or selecting a finish to match your current color palette, the options are endless (or it seems like it). From the warm, amber hues of copper to the cold, blue tones of chrome, there’s something to match any aesthetic. 

Brushed nickel and chrome are two popular finishes in this lengthy list of options. Although they’re not the most trendy picks, both remain standard choices for many homeowners. So, what’s the difference? Are they the same thing?

We’re here to explain the differences between chrome and brushed nickel, so stick around to learn more!

What Is Brushed Nickel?

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Brushed nickel is a common finish for hardware, faucets, and other kitchen and bathroom fixtures. It’s a type of soft metal finish featuring a brushed look. Instead of the smooth, glossy surfaces, you’ll find with other finishes (like chrome), brushed nickel has a textured, semi-satin finish. 

The surface of brushed nickel isn’t overly shiny, but it isn’t matte either. Its gloss levels fall somewhere in between the two, as it catches the light, but doesn’t act like a mirror. It’s a popular pick for those seeking a more muted, quietly elegant finish. 

Brushed nickel is highly versatile and pairs well with a variety of themes and aesthetics. 

Pros And Cons

As you narrow your scope to your top faucet finish, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. A few notable pros and cons include:

Pros

  • Exceptionally durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Compatible with most other accessories and fixtures
  • Easy to clean
  • Hides water spots and fingerprints well

Cons

  • May not coordinate well with stainless steel

What Is Chrome?

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Chrome finishes feature a more edgy appearance that is extremely shiny. Unlike the muted tones of brushed nickel, chrome features a bright, almost mirror-like surface. Despite the name, chrome finishes aren’t made of pure chromium since actual chromium is considered carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and therefore a health hazard.

So, to create the finish, manufacturers plate the base metal (often brass or steel) in a thin coating of chrome via an electroplating process. To create the classic chrome appearance, they polish the surface extensively to develop the mirrored effect.

However, some manufacturers may use chromium veneer to create the finished product. It depends on what brand you buy from. 

Chrome is considered a higher-end finish, and although it isn’t the most popular finish nowadays, it’s still a go-to pick for many homeowners.

Pros And Cons

Like brushed nickel, chrome finishes feature a few benefits and drawbacks. A few of the notable advantages and disadvantages of chrome finishes include:

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Shiny, reflective surface
  • Pairs well with almost any aesthetic
  • Variety of modern style faucets
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • High-end look

Cons

  • Requires more upkeep to maintain the glossy surface
  • Prone to scratches
  • Can be pricey
  • Fingerprints and dirt are clearly visible

What Is The Difference: Brushed Nickel vs. Chrome

Chrome Faucet

Although brushed nickel and chrome are similar, they’re not the same thing by any means. Well, aside from the fact that the surface might be made of the same material. However, the looks of the finished result differ considerably, among other factors. 

So, let’s take a look at the two, head-to-head, in a few categories. 

Surface Shine

If a bright, glossy finish is what you’re looking for, chrome is definitely the way to go. Chrome features a much shinier surface than brushed nickel, which can almost seem dull compared to chrome. 

However, since not everyone wants an ultra-shiny faucet, brushed nickel is an excellent pick for more muted tones. The shine is still there, but it’s not as “in your face” as chrome is. 

Undertones

While we’re at it, let’s consider the undertones of each finish. While chrome tends to have a cold, blue tint, brushed nickel has a warmer undertone. Chrome pairs excellently with cool colors, but may clash with warm colors. 

On the other hand, brushed nickel complements warmer color palettes. That said, brushed nickel can pair well with cool colors as well. So, if you’re unsure of which direction you want to take your color scheme, brushed nickel is a great choice. 

Pricing

In terms of pricing, brushed nickel and chrome aren’t much different. Chrome is commonly associated with more expensive, higher-end faucets, but it isn’t always true, as you can find mid-range options in both finishes. 

The difference in pricing is fairly minimal, with some brands and styles costing less than others. In some cases, the two finishes are made of the same material, but it ultimately depends on the particular model in question. 

Maintenance

There’s a clear winner in this category. Chrome tends to be the finicky finish, requiring extensive upkeep to maintain the reflective surface. However, even though you’ll have to do regular maintenance, cleaning chrome fixtures is ultra simple. 

On the flip side, brushed nickel is easy. The textured surface hides dirt spots and fingerprints beautifully, so you don’t have to constantly wipe down the surface. Of course, you’ll still have to clean this finish regularly, but not as frequently as chrome fixtures. 

Durability

Chrome and brushed nickel are arguably similar in terms of durability. Although brushed nickel finishes tend to hold up longer than chrome finishes, they’re prone to tarnishing. Chrome tends to wear out faster than brushed nickel, but it can vary. 

Some brands use cheap, poor-quality materials, which will lead to faster decay on either finish. On the other hand, other brands use high-quality, pricey materials, which hold up much longer. It really comes down to the brand and their overall attention to quality.

Generally, the quality reflects in the price you pay. As with most things, you get what you pay for. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Brushed Nickel And Brushed Chrome The Same?

No, brushed nickel and brushed chrome aren’t the same. While brushed chrome features a blueish undertone, brushed nickel has a warmer undertone. However, they share the same textured surface, but the coloring is completely different. 

Which Lasts Longer, Brushed Nickel Or Chrome?

Brushed nickel generally holds up longer than chrome. The surface is extremely durable and retains its finish long after chrome begins to wear out. If you want a finish that can withstand the test of time, brushed nickel might be the better choice of the two. 

Which Is More Modern, Brushed Nickel Or Chrome?

Brushed nickel and chrome are finishes of the past. While each finish had its moment in the spotlight, neither holds first place among popular or trendy finishes nowadays. That said, you’ll still find both in the top ten finish options. 

Out of the duo, chrome seems to be the more modern choice, as it offers clean, reflective lines that pair well with modern and contemporary spaces.