Chrome vs Satin Nickel

LinelleMarch 22, 2014

Are you guys sick of my questions yet? :)

So, I probably need to decide whether to go with chrome or satin nickel for my metal finishes. Unless I can mix them, which throws a third option into the mix.

I like the look of chrome but am worried about spotting. However, this bathroom will not get heavy use and so spotting won't happen a lot (famous last words). I've lived with shiny brass and managed to keep the spots at bay. Still it's a consideration. Or is it?

The bathroom door handle (lever) is satin nickel, as they are throughout the house. I will have a tub/shower combo system, vanity faucet, over the mirror (or sconce, unlikely) lights. Possibly a metal framed medicine cabinet so that the mirror doesn't erode.

I don't really care. But I should probably decide and narrow my choices.

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If budget isn't a consideration, go with satin nickel to match the rest of your house. When buying fixtures for our (on going) master bath remodel, we found that nickel was about 30% higher than chrome, so we went with chrome so we could put our money into other items.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 7:33PM
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Jewel, I hear ya about the additional cost for satin nickel. The only "rest of my house" element that in any way impacts my choices in this bathroom is the door handle. I'm not of the school who keeps everything consistent throughout the house. However, I don't have any chrome to speak of, although the lower price does speak to me.

How are you doing with spotting on the chrome?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I'll let ya know in a few weeks -- it's not been installed yet, but the contractor tells me the plumber is scheduled to come Monday. It'll be a while yet before the bathroom is ready for use, though, as the shower enclosure is still about 3 weeks out, then we have painting to do...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 8:03PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

We have brushed Nickel in our kitchen and I wish I had chrome. At the time, 8 years ago when we did our kitchen remodel, I was thrilled to see faucets that were NOT chrome, which I had grown up with and had lived with for over 60 years. But everything in that kitchen is a "soft" finish. Soapstone counters, tumbled marble backsplash, satin finish cabinets, brushed stainless oven, etc. When you look into the kitchen it is the CHROME teapot on the stovetop that grabs your eye.

When we did our master bath and I went to a showroom to see the wonderful jewelry of plumbing I fell in love with the perfect, mirror like, chrome finishes. They didn't look like my old builder grade Moen faucets. Chrome can handle almost any cleaner. My husband is very good about wiping off his sink faucet after he uses it. I'm getting lazy in my old age, so I just clean them once a week. Any of the soap scum/mineral deposit cleaners will work on chrome. We have hard water here. If you let a drop of water dry it will leave a spot...on any finish.

With the help of a designer, we mixed finishes using chrome faucets and schluter brushed stainless edges on our backsplash. They don't compete for attention. The chrome sparkles the way a mirror does.

Once an architect told me that he doesn't use non glare glass on artwork. "You need that sparkle in a room".

The wonderful bonus (aside from costing less) is that the chrome finish will match among companies, whereas the other finishes vary greatly from mfg to mfg. Try matching two brushed nickels. My newer kitchen filtered water dispenser does not match my faucet. OBTW, Barkeepers Friend will do bad things to Kohler brushed nickel sink drains, so whatever you decide to use, be sure to check on the approved cleaners for that finish from that manufacturer.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:42PM
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As Babka says, a chrome finish on good quality faucets can turn them into bathroom bling.

You may also want to consider your color scheme - perhaps it's more obvious if you compare the two finishes side-by-side, but polished nickel has a warm/brown tone while polished chrome is cool/blue.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:58PM
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We did satin nickel in our master bath and chrome in the hall bath. If I were doing it again, I would do all chrome. I prefer the clean look of chrome, and have had no issues with spotting. I don't know what possessed me to get the nickel.

It wouldn't bother me at all to have a different door handle.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:01PM
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Babka, thanks so much! It's good to hear you've been successful with a mix. I would love to be able to do that. My door handles are staying brushed nickel. I'd like my faucet and shower components to be chrome. I guess I have to think about light trim and towel bars, etc.

I'm not inherently a matchy person, but I'm not very confident I understand the rules of mixing.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:02PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Dreaming of the UP- I don't see chrome as cool/blue. I have it in a black/white/red bathroom and it is mirror like. Polished stainless steel (ala spoons and forks) is cooler/blue to me. But then, we all see things differently, so you gotta go with what appeals to YOU.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Babka-another thank you for the info on chrome, especially the (lack of) spotting. I also have satin nickel in the kitchen and want some bling in our mbr remodel.

And linelle-I never get tired of reading your questions. You crack me up! I think mixing the finishes will be fine, especially as it sounds like you're not anal (pardon the expression on this, the *bathroom forum*) about it . . .

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:41PM
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On rereading this, thought of something kinda funny. You mention the brushed nickel door knobs. IMO, you can go with whatever bathroom faucet finish you like, even if it doesn't match the door knobs or the faucets in the kitchen. I'm definitely not a "the whole house has to match" guy.

The funny part is that back in the 1950's, it apparently was important to match the door knobs, in a new house at least. In my tract development, all the homes have a sort of copper-tone finish on the door knobs and hinges, except on the bathroom and kitchen side of the doors, where they are chrome. The hinges were also chrome (they are on the bathroom and kitchen side for both doors), although I replaced them because they were pitted and rusty. I'm assuming the homes all had chrome faucets originally. And it's not like they took two knob sets and just split them, because the locking button is on both chrome ones. Strange, eh? I'm wondering if it's possible to order a split finish on lock sets these days?

I'm in the process of replacing the doors in the house and they will all have the same finish on both sides. A little quirk that will be lost in my home, although not quite. The same thing was done with the two pocket doors going into the eat-in kitchen - the little finger grippy things on the door - kitchen side is chrome while other side is the copper tone. I replaced both doors but kept the same finger grips.

This post was edited by DreamingoftheUP on Sun, Mar 23, 14 at 6:22

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:14AM
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When I replaced all my door handles back in around 2008 I was getting rid of the cheapest builder's grade shiny brass. I thought I was very hip adding all the satin nickel. Never mind that I installed them all upside down. Hey, they still worked that way. It wasn't until about a year later when I had the entire interior of my house painted that the painter gently pointed it out to me and reinstalled them. It's still not obvious to me which way is up.

You guys are great!!! And now I'm sure I want chrome faucet and tub/shower system. The rest will have to sort itself out on a case-by-case basis.

I'm not a cool/blue person. My color scheme, at this writing, will be gray tile (two shades), carrara counters, stained vanity (species and stain to be determined) and cream walls. I love warm grays and don't consider them cool as long as they don't have blue in them. I don't want gray on the walls, and will probably stick with my current wall color (SW Antique White).

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:17AM
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we have nickel or stainless door handles and chrome in both master and guest bath. at first I thought that if they didn't match it would present a problem but after seeing it there's not contest - they both suit themselves very well where they are. love the shiny sparkly chrome in the bath.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:27AM
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Chrome is so easy to clean. I've just gone through the same decision making process and I'm sticking with chrome. My neighbor recently showed me all the bathrooms she remodeled just over a year ago. She used high end faucet brands in Nickel and isn't happy with the way they are wearing and regrets some of her choices.

All the door hardware in my Spanish style house is black/bronze, but most of the bathrooms have chrome faucets. I spent some time on Houzz looking closely at the finishes in bathrooms and a large percentage had faucets, hardware and lights in different finishes.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 3:08PM
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Linelle, "It's still not obvious to me which way is up."

I've always said that I may not know right from left, but I always know up from down, lol!

Chrome is a cool color, Nickel is a warm every so slightly gold silver color. Stainless steel is sort of in between in my experience. Kohler's stainless steel is ever so slightly warmer than my chrome. I was shocked the first time I saw Kohler's brushed nickel because it was so golden, but not like brass.

In my Kitchen/bathroom door, I have 2 different colored handles. Black on the kitchen side, and something called silver something. These are Amtek handles and can be mixed and matched. In this same bath all the silver finishes are on the cool side except for the polished stainless steel grab bars. The drawer knobs from Amerock are the "satin nickel" but they are a cool color and looks great with my chrome. The mirror is another brushed finish from Hubbardton Forge, and again in a cool finish and looks great with the chrome. The black knobs on another piece and the black hinges all look good with my chrome. I like the mixture of the metal textures in my room. My only regret is that my sconces don't match the mirror finish (but they blend).

If I were to go with brushed nickel I would use accent metals that are warm like antique brass or bronze. I would not mix with the cool metals.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:21PM
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enduring, it never occurred to me that your sconces and mirror trim don't match. They look good together. Although chrome may officially be cool in tone, to me it's basic and universal and doesn't look too intentional.

Notice I didn't say not trendy. :) But it's kinda what I'm thinking.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:36PM
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I used chrome because I wanted shine and the bluer base with blue gray walls and a dark-stained vanity. I had a hard time finding an overhead light fixture in chrome though. Most were too ornate or contemporary or not good quality. Lightingdirect was a good source.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:39PM
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