Which Metal Is Your Favorite?

Metal finishes are important design considerations in your home.  Look around:  metal is used in faucets, lighting, accessories, furniture, staircase balusters, appliances, sinks, and shower heads; there is probably something metal in every room of your home!   Brass, copper, chrome, nickel, gold-plated, oil-rubbed metals, wrought iron, matte or shiny finish, a smooth satin sheen or  texture----these are among your choices, available in all price ranges.  It is also important to blend your finishes with the rest of the elements in the room.  You can mix finishes within a room but be careful doing this.  Make sure the overall design flows and is harmonious.    Choose an oil-rubbed finish if your home is more of the rustic style.  If you are more into the sleek, modern look, go with chrome.  Your choices include:

Chrome is a very popular choice for hardware finish.  It offers a sleek, clean look with a lot of shine.  When it comes to shine, no other finish can offer the brilliance that chrome does.  Chrome's versatility is what makes it one of the most popular finishes.  It looks good with most styles and it is easy to clean and maintain.  Chrome is also inexpensive and very easy to find.  On the downside, chrome shows water spots and finger prints because of its high shine. 

Polished brass is a long-time favorite.  A polished brass faucet can give a bathroom or kitchen a vintage look.  Brass is coming back into style and looks great in modern, traditional and eclectic settings.  Some of the advantages of brass are it is a very durable finish, it's easy to clean and easy to find.  One disadvantage is that it is more expensive than chrome or brushed nickel.

A nice twist on polished brass, the brushed-gold look has a lot of class. It's bold without being too showy. Don't be surprised if you see a lot more of this color in the future.  Satin brass is very durable and offers a nice accent color without the polished look.  It is also a matte finish, so it doesn't show finger prints or water spots easily.  On the disadvantages side, it is expensive and hard to find.  It could also be difficult to match other accessories to satin brass.  Satin brass looks best in modern and contemporary styles.

A great aesthetic alternative to standard chrome and brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze gives the room a more traditional look and feel.
Working on a budget? if you don't want to purchase all the matching accessories and you have other brass items in your bathroom, such as an old light switch plate or cabinet knobs, you can always use a brass darkening solution to make all the hardware match.  It can be more expensive than other finishes, but it is very durable and won't show fingerprints or water marks.  Oil rubbed bronze works best in a Tuscan or traditional setting.

Copper is unmistakable and bold. It gives the room a rich feeling, especially when mixed with a subtler material, such as marble on a countertop.  Copper has natural antibacterial properties. It's fairly easy to find and also has the ability to "heal" itself. Over a short period of time, a scratch in copper will become darker and eventually blend with the patina.  A shiny copper finish might require a little more maintenance than brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and chrome, but if you let it age naturally, copper will develop a beautiful patina. It's harder to match accessories and other fixtures to copper, and it's not as durable as other finishes.  It works best in farmhouse and Tuscan styles.

Satin bronze has a nice, smooth finish that's in between copper and oil-rubbed bronze. Having a subtler color gives this finish more flexibility for different room styles and settings.  Durable and easy to clean and maintain, this is a great alternative to copper and a lighter option than oil-rubbed bronze. Water spots and fingerprints won't show.  On the down side, it can be hard to find and hard to match other fixtures to it.  Satin bronze looks best in traditional as well as eclectic styles.

If you like a smooth, shiny finish but are tired of chrome, try polished nickel. It's darker than chrome, and with different levels of lighting, it can appear to change in color.  Some advantages are it is a durable, easy to clean finish and a great alternative to brushed nickel.  It is harder to find and more expensive than chrome, but like chrome, it works well in pretty much any style.

The soft metallic look of brushed nickel has stood the test of time.  This is one of the most durable finishes; it has a tendency to keep its finish longer than oil-rubbed bronze and chrome. It doesn't show wear, fingerprints or water spots. It's easy to clean, easy to find and easy to match with accessories and other fixtures. It's relatively inexpensive. Brushed nickel tends to be pricier than chrome but does not cost as much as oil-rubbed bronze.  One of the only disadvantages is that it does not coordinate well with stainless steel due to the sheen differences.  Brushed nickel will work with almost any style.

Black faucets are becoming increasingly more popular in bathrooms and kitchens, because of their ability to match other items, such as cabinets, vanities and accent pieces. If you want to make a classy statement matte black may be the perfect finish for you.  It is easy to clean and does not show dirt, fingerprints or water spots. It can be hard to find and is expensive compared with more popular finishes, such as chrome and brushed nickel.  Matte black tends to work with eclectic styles.

Looking for a clean, brilliant finish? Go with a white as a contrasting statement piece or something that blends beautifully in an all-white kitchen or bathroom. The white finish comes from durable plastic or porcelain.  It is easy to clean and does not show water spots or fingerprints.  Porcelain fixtures are more fragile than metal, which makes them more prone to chipping. Porcelain can be expensive, too.  White works well with farmhouse and modern decors. 

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