Chrome vs Stainless Steel Kitchen Faucet: Which is Better?

Regardless of what reason brings you to the store to pick a new faucet, you will be faced with a choice. Choosing a finish for your faucet can be tricky, given the plethora of options available on the market. With chrome and stainless steel holding their places as two of the most popular faucet finishes out there, the choice becomes undoubtedly more challenging.

Chrome vs. Stainless Steel

Chrome and stainless steel are two trendy choices as faucet finishes. Many people have these finishes in their homes. When choosing the perfect finish to complete your kitchen sink, these two are both excellent choices.

Chrome

There are three primary types of chrome finish: polished, satin, and brushed. Polished chrome exudes a high-shine, glossy, and eyecatching finish, while satin-chrome is a slightly muted glossy finish. Brushed chrome tends to be similar to satin chrome, as it features a more matte appearance.

The chrome finish is composed of a layer of nickel that is applied then chrome using an electroplating process. Brass components are polished to reach a mirror finish or brushed for a striation effect.

Next, the parts are put through a multi-stage operation on a conductive rack, where they are cleaned, nickel-plated, and chrome plated. In the electroplating procedure, the pieces are submerged in an electrolyte bath, and an electrical current is sent through the brass part and anode.

The chrome finish is straightforward to care for. All you need to do is wipe the faucet and handles down after each use with a soft and dry cloth. This prevents mineral build-up and water spots. You also can apply a thin wax coating to help protect the finish.

Stainless Steel

Another top-tier choice of finish is stainless steel. There are several common subcategories within this finish, which include arctic stainless and steel Optik.

Stainless steel (unlike Chrome) is an alloy of steel and has at least 10.5% chromium. It is incredibly durable due to its composition and the finishing process that involves polishing and grinding. The final stage of the process gives stainless steel a satiny-smooth appearance.

Chrome pales in comparison to stainless steel’s durability. Stainless steel can withstand heavy use and high water speeds without suffering any wear and tear. Care for this option is just like chrome: wipe down the faucet’s surface and handles with a soft, dry cloth after each use.

Are Stainless Steel And Chrome The Same?

Are Stainless Steel And Chrome The Same

Stainless steel and chrome are not the same. Although they share a similar appearance, they are composed of different materials. Stainless steel tends to be much more durable than chrome and can hold up for a long time. 

Chrome is usually more expensive than stainless steel due to its electroplating process, while stainless steel can meet a wide variety of budget options.

Are Chrome Faucets Out Of Style?

Chrome faucets are not going out of style. In fact, they continue to hold their place as one of the most popular finishes. Chrome-finished faucets provide an effortless touch of elegance with their sparkling and reflective shine.

Is Stainless Steel Going Out Of Style?

No, stainless steel is not going out of style. If anything, stainless steel is gaining in popularity. It is a widely sought-after choice for everything from appliances to sinks to faucets in kitchens and bathrooms.

How Can You Tell If Chrome Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel and chrome are close in appearance but are vastly different. An easy way to tell is to research your faucet. The box should have the material used, but that is ok if you do not have the box.

You can use the model number or serial number to research the faucet, which should help you determine the correct material. Serial or model numbers may be located on the base of the faucet body, the back of the spout, or in another similar location, but it varies based on the manufacturer. 

If you are unsure whether or not your faucet is chrome, there are a few additional methods you can try.

How To Tell The Difference Between Chrome And Stainless Steel?

Determining if your faucet is chrome or stainless steel is easy. One of the quick and easy tests to try on your stainless steel is to use a magnet.

If the magnet sticks, the faucet is not stainless steel because it is not magnetic. Although chrome is not magnetic, the metal substrate usually is, so you may have a chrome finish if the magnet sticks.

Stainless steel vs chrome color, which are different, is another way to tell. Chrome tends to be bright and shiny, while stainless steel is usually a satin finish. This method is not foolproof, though, because some stainless steel faucets are glossy and mirror-like.

Do Stainless Steel Faucets Show Water Spots?

Stainless steel faucets are great at disguising water spots and finger smudges, making them an ideal option for high traffic areas, such as homes with kids. They are very easy to maintain and simply need a quick wipe with a soft, dry cloth to regain their shiny appearance.

Chrome Faucet

The only thing to be aware of when it comes to stainless steel faucet care is to avoid abrasive cleaning techniques. Don’t use rough cleaning products or stiff-bristled brushes on stainless steel, as they will scratch.

Regular cleaning methods for stainless steel are pretty straightforward. There are countless cleaning products available that are tailored to stainless steel care. Many of these products contain chlorides, so make sure you thoroughly rinse the faucet after cleaning to preserve the natural luster of the finish.

DIY cleaning options include baking soda and club soda, both of which are great to boost the shine of the steel. If you use baking soda, combine it with a bit of water to make a paste, then scrub your faucet. Rinse with vinegar, which works to disinfect while removing tough hard water stains. Remember to wipe the tap dry after cleaning with a clean cloth.

Do Chrome Faucets Show Water?

Unfortunately, chrome faucets tend to display any blemishes on the surface. This includes water spots, fingerprints, dirt, and the like. It is relatively easy to clean and should wipe away with a clean, dry cloth.

If you find that the faucet needs more cleaning, there is no need for harsh chemicals. To remove water spots, soap scum, and other gunk, use a solution of equal parts distilled white vinegar and water.

Take a clean cloth and saturate it with the solution. Wrap the saturated cloth around the offending area of the faucet and let it sit for about fifteen minutes. Once it has soaked for a while, remove the cloth and wipe the area clean with a dry cloth to remove any remaining residue.

For the hard-to-reach areas, use an old toothbrush and the vinegar solution. Scrub the areas that are hard to reach, such as the base of the faucet. Be careful not to scrub too hard, though, as you may cause scratches. Wipe the area clean with a dry cloth.

Which Faucet Finish Should I choose?

Choosing a faucet finish that is perfect for you and your home does not have to be complicated. It is important to understand the main differences between the two, including care, pricing, and durability.

To help make your decision a bit easier, use the lists below to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Stainless Steel

Pros

  • Very durable and tends to last longer
  • Fantastic corrosion resistance
  • Great with both high and low-temperature resistance
  • Does not require as much maintenance as chrome
  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable
  • Vast amount of models available

Cons

  • May scratch easily
  • Water spots and fingerprints are visible, although less so than with chrome.

Chrome

Pros

Cons

  • Requires more extensive maintenance to keep the glossy appearance
  • May scratch easily
  • Fingerprints and dirt are obvious
  • Can be expensive

The ultimate decision of chrome, stainless steel, or any other type of finish falls on you as the buyer. There is an abundance of different faucets in both finish options, both of which will deliver a striking finish to your kitchen.

Nickle Faucet

While stainless steel is more affordable, durable, and easy to maintain, chrome provides a shiny and classy-looking finish that you can easily match to other fixtures in your kitchen. However, the final decision comes down to your preferences and what you need for your home.