Brushed Nickel vs. Polished Chrome

Although we are often recognised for our product visual, for us it is all about celebrating the finish first. This is what changes the character of a product, helps it fit with the rest of the scheme and provides the user with a textural feedback during use.

Our passion for pushing the boundaries and creating the most exquisite of looks goes all the way back to ’76 and Herman, our founder and our metal finishing mentor.

Learning from him, we have gone on to create over 20 finishes that are available on all our products, some of which, we are proud to say, still use his original secret formulas.

So, in a new mini-series we wanted to look at some of these most requested of looks, give you some guidance on the differences and what to bear in mind before selecting.
First up it is a couple of our silver finishes.

At the more competitive end of our spectrum these two finishes offer great value and present their own individual characters.

A quick background on Brushed Nickel & Polished Chrome

Brushed Nickel

Despite being based on a classic material we are always blown away by how much the character of Nickel is changed just by delicately brushing its surface.

Brushed Nickel is one of those universal finishes that we all come across when looking at taps and shower offerings – so is there any difference between them?

Up until the invention of chromium plating, Nickel was the default decorative finish for all brassware, but it was surpassed by Chrome because this provided a more durable surface, with greater resistance to chemicals.

We will talk a little more about chemical resistance in the Care section below. More poignant to our question however is durability, which can be directly related to the thickness of material applied to the product.

Take a closer look at the surfaces and you will see that some manufacturers’ brushing appears deeper and ‘scratchier’ than others.

This tends to be because it has not been ‘filled in’ as much by the top layer of Nickel, therefore leaving you with less sacrificial thickness to deal with scratching and polishing during use.

For us there is no option but to apply the thickest layer we can, not only to increase durability, but also to leave the most delicate, soft brush strokes we can and in doing so deliver the refined aesthetic that we think defines our finish from the rest.

For any creatives selecting products on behalf of their clients, please be mindful of the rise of nickel allergy in our society.

In these cases, both of our nickel finishes should be avoided, but you should also be careful of Chrome surfaces as sufferers are often just as affected by this material.

Polished Chrome
The staple of the industry – smooth, clean, and robust. Although chrome can be used to hide a multitude of sins, you can be sure that underneath our surface it is solid brass through-and-through. Polished Chrome, the finish that we are all familiar with. So why has it become such a ubiquitous finish for all taps and showers?

Applied over the top of a nickel layer this finish not only provides durable protection, but its shiny surfaces allow water to run off them and thus the speed of mineral build-up and water spots left after evaporation of standing water are reduced.

Polished Chrome can also be applied over the top of many materials that are cheaper and easier to work with than brass. The thick and reflective surface is also wonderful at filling in imperfections and visually smoothing off edges.

It is for these reasons that volume manufacturers turn to chrome to allow them to drive costs down.

Because we only work with lead free brass however you are assured that you still receive the same level of material quality on one of our Polished Chrome products as you do with any of our finishes.

For any creatives selecting products on behalf of their clients please do be mindful of the rise of chromium allergy in our society.

In these cases, you should also be careful of nickel surfaces as suffers are often just as effected by this material.
Care & Maintenance of Brushed Nickel
Whilst we do not refer to it as a live finish, without cleaning, Nickel will darken very gently in time as it oxidises with the air.

Any chemical left to sit on its surface for an extended period will help to accelerate this process.

You should be particularly mindful therefore of applying cleaning solutions through spray bottles when working on surfaces surrounding nickel products such as walls, counters, basins, and baths as these bottles dispense a cloud of solution that can easily and almost invisibly settle on your products.

Best practice is to spray into a cloth instead and apply this to the surface, however if you forget then we suggest throwing plenty of water over your taps and dry them to ensure any chemical has been diluted and the subsequent standing water has not been left to evaporate and leave calcium marks on the product.

Of course, with Brushed Nickel being more delicate than Chrome, you should avoid any abrasive cloths and sponges and stick solely with microfibres and warm water with a pump or two of liquid hand soap as your regular cleaning go-to’s.

Aside from this Brushed Nickel is quite a resilient finish and would only require the standard six-monthly application of a lemon juice solution with a soft toothbrush and plenty of flushing to dissolve and remove any calcium and mineral build-ups.
Care & Maintenance of Polished Chrome
Having great chemical resistance does mean that Polished Chrome can handle more aggressive cleaning solutions.

We do still recommend however that you stick to microfibre cloths and warm water with a pump or two of liquid hand soap as your regular cleaning go-to’s.

The use of microfibre cloths is of particular importance here as, although chromium surfaces are quite strong, they are easily scratched by scouring pads and even sponges.

This will quickly dull your mirror finish and in time will wear through the finish to the copper-based coat below. Although water does run off Polished Chrome you should still put some time aside every 6 months to remove any calcium and mineral patches that have built up in joints.

The easiest and most efficient way to do this is to mix a 50/50 solution of lemon juice and water and apply it to the build-up with a soft toothbrush.

Agitate and leave to stand for a minute or so and then simply wipe any build-up away with a microfibre cloth. Follow up with a quick flush of water and a towel dry and your surfaces will be restored to their shiny, water repelling, best.