Brushed Nickel vs. Stainless Steel: Which Is Better?

When it comes to choosing a finish for your faucets, cabinet hardware, and appliances throughout your home, many people often opt for a cohesive plan with consistent finishes. However, some finishes look strikingly similar to each other. Take brushed nickel and stainless steel, for example. 

They nearly mirror each other in appearance, save for a few minor differences. So, is one better? Should you choose one over the other? Or does it matter? We’re here to answer all of these questions in hopes of helping you determine which one is better for your home, so stick around to learn more!

Is Stainless Steel Better Than Brushed Nickel?

Stainless steel and brushed nickel are two popular finishes in the faucet industry, not to mention in many other industries across the board. For ease of comparison, take a look at the chart below.

Brushed NickelStainless Steel
CompositionCopper, zinc, or nickelBetween 10.5 and 28% chromium, iron, and carbon
Finishing processWire brush or similar brushing tool to create textureProcess of electroplating
Color Goldish brown undertonesSlightly blue undertones
Shine Semi-gloss or matteShiny, metallic
Spot resistanceMore resistant to water spotsLess resistant to water spots
Maintenance More challenging to maintainEasier to maintain
Rust resistanceLess rust and corrosion resistanceBetter rust and corrosion resistance
Cost Less expensiveMore expensive
Stainless Steel Faucets

Although the chart gives us a brief overview of the primary differences between the two, let’s take a closer look at a few areas. 


Brushed nickel and stainless steel closely mimic each other in their overall appearance. Both finishes are popular picks in both residential and commercial settings. However, despite the closeness in appearance, there is a color difference. 

Stainless steel presents a slightly blueish tone, which offers a cool, sleek appearance. On the other hand, brushed nickel offers a brownish-gold earthy tone, which lends well to warmer themes. 

Finishing Process

Brushed nickel faucets undergo a specific finishing process to achieve the final result. These fixtures are made up of copper, zinc, or nickel. Manufacturers finish the faucet by brushing the faucet with wire brushes or a similar tool to create a textured appearance. 

On the other hand, stainless steel is an alloy of carbon and iron. It usually has between 10.5 and 28 percent chromium, iron, and carbon. However, stainless steel faucets typically aren’t solid stainless steel. Instead, the base of the fixture consists of a steel or brass material that undergoes electroplating. This process involves plating one type of metal with another to eliminate the possibility of corrosion. 


Moen 7594SRS Arbor One-Handle Pulldown Kitchen Faucet Featuring Power Boost and Reflex, Spot Resist Stainless

Brushed nickel is surprisingly easy to clean. The textured surface hides water spots and fingerprints well, yet it isn’t difficult to clean, despite the ridged surface. 

All it takes is a small amount of mild soap and water for basic cleaning, with a touch of vinegar and baking soda to tackle hard water stains. Lemon juice works wonders for tarnished brushed nickel fixtures. 

Because of its reflective surface, stainless steel clearly shows fingerprints and water spots. This can make the surface appear dirty or worn, so it requires frequent cleaning. Like cleaning brushed nickel, all it takes is mild dish detergent, warm water, and a soft cloth.  


The overall durability of the faucet hinges on the brand and the overall quality of its composition. However, as a general rule of thumb, stainless steel tends to be more durable than brushed nickel. In addition, it offers better rust and corrosion resistance, which can wreak havoc on faucets. 


For the most part, stainless steel fixtures are pricier than brushed nickel faucets. Since stainless steel tends to be the more durable choice, it is often more expensive than the latter. However, brushed nickel offers solid durability at a lower price. 

What Is The Difference Between Stainless Steel And Brushed Nickel?

Kraus KPF-2620SFS Oletto Kitchen Faucet, 16 Inch, Spot Free Stainless Steel

Brushed nickel and stainless steel are often confused for the same color, but they actually have different underlying tones. Whereas brushed nickel features a warm, golden, almost brownish tint, stainless steel offers a cooler, faintly blue hue. 

Additionally, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice a difference in the feel of the surfaces. Because of the finishing process brushed nickel fixtures undergo, they end up with a textured surface. On the other hand, stainless steel fixtures tend to be smooth and glossy. 

Do Stainless Steel And Brushed Nickel Match?

Stainless steel and brushed nickel can complement each other quite well. However, it is recommended to use the same finish throughout your design if possible if you want the fixtures to match seamlessly. 

However, they mix well, so the alternating finishes shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. For example, a brushed nickel faucet blends with a stainless steel sink similarly to a stainless steel faucet. Brushed nickel tends to have a more muted finish than most stainless steel faucets, but the two work well together. 

1 thought on “Brushed Nickel vs. Stainless Steel: Which Is Better?”

  1. You have not been shopping lately. Brushed nickel kitchen faucet $548, Stainless steel same function and better looking, $49.98


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