Polished Nickel vs. Chrome: What Is The Difference?

The world of fixture finishes is expansive: gold, bronze, brass, nickel, chrome, stainless steel, matte black – the list goes on and on. Most of these finishes are available in a number of different products, including faucets, kitchen and bathroom hardware, furniture hardware, etc. 

Quick Answer:

Polished Nickel has a warm, rich hue with a slight golden undertone, while Chrome has a cool, bluish hue and a mirror-like finish. Polished Nickel tends to be less reflective than Chrome and can add a classic, luxurious touch. Chrome, being more modern and durable, is often used in contemporary designs and is generally more resistant to tarnishing.

Among the pool of choices, you’ll find polished nickel and chrome. While the two share a somewhat similar appearance, they aren’t at all the same. This article dives into the nuances between polished nickel and chrome to help you decide which option is better for your home. 

What Is It: Polished Nickel vs. Chrome?

Polished nickel and chrome fixtures are the norms in kitchens and bathrooms. While they look similar, each has different undertones. Polished nickel has a warmer, yellowish undertone, whereas chrome has a cooler, blueish undertone. 

Aside from their overall appearance, there are a few more differences. Let’s take a look at each finish and how it’s created. 

Polished Nickel

Delta Faucet Dryden Single Hole Bathroom Faucet, Single Handle Bathroom Faucet, Diamond Seal Technology, Metal Drain Assembly, Polished Nickel 551-PN-DST

As the name implies, polished nickel features feature nickel plating over the base material. The base material usually varies from brand to brand but could be brass, steel, plastic, or zinc. Brass is the most commonly used base metal. However, if it’s a cheaper faucet, it might be plastic. 

Once the nickel plating is applied to the base material, manufacturers polish the metal to a high shine. This creates a reflective surface that is characteristic of most polished finishes. As we mentioned, the finished result has a warmer undertone, which beautifully complements warmer color palettes. 

Pros And Cons

When it comes to choosing the best finish for your home, the pros and cons of that particular finish are essential considerations. So, without further ado, let’s glance through polished nickel’s notable pros and cons. 


  • Easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Excellent alternative to the pricier brushed nickel finish
  • Complements various settings


  • Pricier than other finishes available
  • Matching accessories can be tricky to find
  • Dirt, dust, and fingerprints are easily visible


Delta Faucet Nicoli Widespread Bathroom Faucet Chrome, Bathroom Faucet 3 Hole, Bathroom Sink Faucet, Drain Assembly, Chrome 35749LF

Chrome is an extremely popular faucet finish. Although it has lost some traction in recent years after being upstaged by finishes like matte black and nickel, it remains one of the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom fixtures and hardware. 

Chrome fixtures are made using a process called electroplating. This process involves dipping the faucet base into melted chromium. The process may vary slightly from one faucet manufacturer to the next, but this is a popular way to create the finish. 

The finished result is a shiny surface reflecting light, creating an eye-catching fixture. 

Pros And Cons

Like polished nickel, chrome finishes come with a few ups and downs. 


  • Tends to be more inexpensive than most finishes
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Easy to find matching accessories and fixtures
  • Beautifully complements almost any style


  • Shows water spots and fingerprints easily
  • Requires more upkeep to ward off water spots/fingerprints

Is Polished Nickel More Expensive Than Chrome?

Generally, polished nickel and chrome tend to be roughly in the same price range. In some scenarios, one may be slightly pricier than the other, but they’re usually about the same price. Both options tend to be more reasonably priced than other finishes, like oil-rubbed bronze or polished brass. 

So, if you favor one finish over the other but are unsure about pricing differences, there’s no need to worry. They should be in the same ballpark for pricing. 

Do Polished Nickel And Chrome Match?

While you could blend polished nickel and chrome in the same space, each finish gives off a different tone, which can disrupt the flow. Polished nickel tends to emanate a warmer, yellowish tone, while chrome almost has blue undertones. 

Polished nickel tends to work best with warmer tones, while chrome beautifully complements cooler colors. However, if you’d like to mix and match the finishes, you certainly can. In some cases, mixing different finishes can add an extra dimension. That said, specific finishes paired together may clash. 

Which One Is Better?

Polished Chrome Faucet

Both finishes offer their fair share of pros and cons. Ultimately, the decision falls to you. If you’re hoping for a faucet or fixture that won’t clearly show fingerprints or dirt, these finishes might not be the best pick for you. High-shine finishes, like polished nickel or chrome, tend to put fingerprints on full display. 

However, if you’re looking for a glossy, eye-catching statement fixture, both finishes are excellent options. Warmer color palettes pair beautifully with polished nickel, while cooler tones perfectly complement chrome. 

While we can’t give a “this finish is always superior” answer, we hope this article helps narrow down your decision. The pros and cons of each finish can be helpful deciding factors, especially if you’re on the fence between the two. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Tell The Difference Between Chrome And Polished Nickel?

Perhaps you’re buying a new fixture or hardware for your home and want it to match the existing fixtures and hardware. You think you have chrome or polished nickel, but you’re unsure which one it is for sure. 

Luckily, telling the difference is easy. While it might be tricky without a side-by-side comparison, simply look at the fixture in direct lighting. If you have chrome fixtures, the surface will appear silvery, with a blueish undertone. If you have polished nickel fixtures, the surface will appear yellowish, with almost a hint of goldish-silvery hues. 

Is Chrome Going Out Of Style?

Chrome is one of the timeless finishes in the massive list of options. While it isn’t the most popular finish anymore, it remains in the top five most popular finishes as of 2022. Read more about its reign as a top finish here.

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