Brushed Nickel vs Chrome

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If you're remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, chances are that you're looking at chrome and brushed nickel fittings for your cabinet handles and faucets. If you've already decided on design from choosing the most popular kitchen cabinet handles, now it's time to consider material.

Both of these materials are affordable, durable, and can work in various styles, but what's the difference between brushed nickel vs chrome fixtures?

Here we compare these two types of metal, discovering which look will be the best for your home design!

Brushed Nickel Features

Brushed Nickel has a matte, dull shine

When it comes to brushed nickel vs chrome fittings, the first thing you'll usually notice is the finish. The nickel has a dull, matte shine to it. As such, these fixtures tend to go best with a traditional kitchen design.

Nickel brushed fixtures hide dirt easily

The finishes on these fixtures can help to hide dirt, fingerprints, and water spots more easily. A nickel faucet is finished with a metal wire brush which gives the surface a matte, rough texture. These faucets and handles therefore hide dirt and finger prints well.

Brushed Nickel faucets suit a traditional bathroom or kitchen

This type of hardware is best suited to a traditional home design, complementing the warm colors you usually see in the woody tones of country farmhouse kitchens and other vintage kitchen designs.

brushed popular nickle
Tuscany D Pull Brushed Nickel

It's slightly more expensive

Brushed nickel hardware has a high-end appearance due to the complex finishing process in which the surface is edged with a metal brush. As such, this type of metal hardware is usually more expensive.

A basic brushed nickel faucet from will cost around $90 for a basic design, whereas a chrome faucet equivalent would be around $60.

It tends to tarnish over time

Over time, nickel tends to tarnish and become a milky white color which probably doesn't go with your kitchen's color scheme! If your kitchen or bathroom is very steamy or humid, then the metal tarnishes more quickly.

This tarnishing can be removed with special cleaning techniques and materials, so it's not the end of the world.


Brushed Nickel is very longlasting

Brushed nickel is one of the most durable materials you can get for your bathroom or kitchen fittings, easily winning the nickel vs chrome battle. However, you must clean these fixtures and faucets correctly with soft cloths and delicate cleaning products due to the textured finish.

If you can keep up with the necessary cleaning techniques, this metal will reward you with many years of service!

Chrome Features


Chrome plating has a shiny finish

Chrome faucets have a shiny finish that reflects light, helping them to light up a room. Because of the shiny finish, these faucets and fixtures have a “clean” feel to them which is why they're very popular in bathroom sinks.

Most of us know the shiny trademark look of chrome!

It shows fingerprints and water spots

Because it's so shiny, chrome easily shows dirt, water spots, and fingerprints on its surface. As such, it's not ideal if you're a messy kitchen user, if you live with young children, or if you just don't like cleaning too much.

When it comes to your fittings and fixtures, brushed nickel just hides dirt a lot better.

knobs and pulls
Chrome Knob

Chrome fixtures go well with modern kitchens and bathrooms

Polished chrome faucets and knobs & pulls tend to work very well in modern spaces that have a cool color palette – this is because the metal has a blue tint naturally (similar to stainless steel). Modern spaces with lots of cold colors and metal tend to work well with this type of cabinet handle and hardware.

If you want your space to be filled with warmer earth tones then you're better off with brushed nickel instead.

Polished chrome is the cheapest hardware material

When it comes to the price, you can't beat chrome out of these two options.

Standard basic chrome faucets can cost as little as $60 from stores like Home Depot, whereas you're looking at a price of $90 for the exact same faucet in brushed nickel. Out of these two options, polished chrome is usually cheaper.

It can rust

Chrome is not as durable as nickel or stainless steel – it can rust over time. Improper cleaning with harsh chemicals and/or tough scrubbers can remove the chrome plating, causing rusting and corrosion in the underlying metal.

Of course you can prevent this rust and corrosion with proper cleaning, but it's easy to forget about.

You need to clean & maintain it more often

Your chrome faucets can be susceptible to rust and corrosion, as well as scratching and damaging the finish itself. Avoid harsh cleaners or scrubbing pads when cleaning these fixtures – use a soft cloth and a 1:1 vinegar and water solution.

If you want something lower maintenance, I'd recommend brushed nickel out of these two options.


Why is brushed nickel more expensive than chrome?

Brushed nickel tends to be more expensive than chrome for faucets and fittings because the process use to manufacture it is more complex. To create brushed nickel, a metal brush is used to etch into the nickel finish, helping it to achieve its trademark matte shine and textured, rough surface.

Is brushed nickel going out of style?

Brushed nickel isn't going out of style any time soon. This popular material is perfect for traditional style homes, as well as transitional style homes that take elements of both the new and the old.  Nickel has just the right appearance for many design styles and will keep your kitchen looking fresh and new with minimal effort, so it continues to be a popular choice of faucet finish to this day.

Can you mix brushed nickel and chrome?

Usually, you cannot mix nickel and chrome finishes in the same space. This is because the colors of each do not complement each other.

Chrome is shiny and has a slight blue tint, while brushed nickel is dull and has a brownish yellowish tint.

Generally speaking, nickel finishes are suited to a warmer room, while chrome finishes are suited to a cooler room. If you want to use both of these popular finishes, consider them for different rooms in your home.

Which faucet finish is most durable? (Chrome vs brushed nickel)

When it comes to a home remodel, you're probably thinking about the durability and longevity of your hardware. While all manufacturers are different, you'll usually find that nickel faucets last many more years than their chrome equivalents, making them a more cost-effective option despite their higher price.

Chrome finishes still have the potential to last many years, but with the same amount of maintenance and care, nickel will always last longer.

Brushed Nickel vs Chrome – Which Should You Buy?

When it's time for a remodel, there's no simple choice for which is the best hardware material – both of these materials are very different with their own pros and cons to consider.

If you use your kitchen often and you need a metal that's easy to look after, I would suggest brushed nickel due to its durability and its ability to hide dirt.

On the other hand, if you've got a modern kitchen and hygiene is less of an issue for you, then I would recommend chrome for your remodel due to its cool blue tint, dazzling shine, and unmistakable appearance.

Making the right choice is all about your needs and the aesthetic of the room. But whichever one you choose, we hope you find the one that makes your room pop!

brushed nickel vs chrome
Image credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo
Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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