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Comparing Types of Metal Finish for Your Home

Even if it's a simple update like faucets or cabinet knobs, the finish you choose can change the whole look of the room.

By Katina Hazimihalis | Last Updated:02/17/2023
A brushed nickel kitchen faucet with black countertops.

Which Type of Metal Finish Will Work Best in Your Home? 

Recently, brushed nickel has emerged as one of the most popular choices among homeowners. But how does it stack up against longstanding favorites chrome and stainless steel? And is it right for your remodel? We compared each of these different types of metal finishes to see which will work best with various home styles and budgets.

Metal Finish FAQs

How do I choose a metal finish?

What is the most popular metal finish?

Is brushed nickel the same as stainless steel?

Is brushed nickel better than chrome?

A brushed nickel bathroom sink faucet and handles.

What Is Brushed Nickel?

Brushed nickel is nickel that has been finished by etching it with a wire brush or similar tool to give the metal a textured look. This texture gives brushed nickel a warm tone and creates an interesting interaction of light and shadow on the metal’s surface. Brushed nickel is a popular type of metal finish for:

  • Doorknobs
  • House numbers
  • Kitchen faucets
  • Bathroom fittings
  • Cabinet hardware
  • Lighting fixtures
A chrome finished faucet and handle in a double-basin kitchen sink.

What Is Chrome?

While chrome was once used mainly for car parts and other industrial purposes, in recent years it became one of the most popular choices for fixtures and hardware. Chrome resists rust and corrosion well for a relatively low price. However, it requires regular cleaning since its shiny surface makes water spots and fingerprints stand out.

A stainless steel kitchen sink and faucet.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is a classic choice for hardware and fittings because it complements most home styles. Brushed nickel and stainless steel often look very similar, but the difference is in their underlying tone: brushed nickel tends to have a golden or brownish tint while stainless steel has a faintly blue tone. Fixtures made from 100 percent stainless steel can go many years without any sign of rust or corrosion, making them a good long-term investment.

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Brushed Nickel vs. Chrome vs. Stainless Steel: The Face-Off

Now that we know what they are, let’s look at how these different types of metal finishes stack up.


Average Price

The Verdict

Brushed Nickel:

  • Antique or handcrafted look
  • Tones from golden to nearly white
  • Complements warm colors, earth tones, stone and tile
  • Hides water spots and grime well

Faucets: $100 - $300
Hardware: $4 - $12

Brushed nickel is best for:

  • Rooms with a warm color scheme
  • Traditional, Tuscan or French Country-style homes
  • Kitchens with stone, granite or slate counters
  • Remodels with a mid-range budget


  • Modern or industrial look
  • Shiny, sometimes blueish, tone
  • Complements cool colors
  • Resists rust and corrosion

Faucets: $50 - $200
Hardware: $5 - $15

Chrome is best for:

  • Rooms with a cool color scheme
  • Modern, Industrial or Farmhouse-style homes
  • All-white bathrooms or kitchens
  • Remodels on a tighter budget

Stainless Steel:

  • Sophisticated look
  • Shiny with a faintly blue tone
  • Fits seamlessly with most modern appliances
  • Extremely rust- and corrosion-resistant

Faucets: $150 - $400
Hardware: $8 - $16

Stainless steel is best for:

  • Kitchens with updated appliances
  • Rooms with sleek lines and no texture on walls or counters
  • Homeowners who want the shape of fixtures to take center stage
  • Remodels with a high-end budget
*Prices are averages based on manual spot checks. Check your favorite home improvement store for exact pricing in your area.

Have you decided between brushed nickel, chrome or stainless steel for your home? You're one step closer to starting your remodel! Looking for some more remodeling advice? Check out our home inspiration resources.

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