Updating your bathroom’s fixtures and accessories can change the entire look of the space. When it comes to your bathroom’s handles and pulls, door hardware, sink, shower, and tub faucets, towel bars and hooks, lighting and mirrors, there’s an almost endless number of choices. This month, we break down the differences between metal types and finishes and which options go best with which bathroom styles.
Types of Metals
The most common types of metals used in bathrooms are bronze, brass, copper, chrome, and stainless steel. Where the customization comes in is with the finish. The metal finish refers to the way the metal is treated to give it a specific color, texture, and shine. The most common metal finishes are matte, oil-rubbed, brushed, hammered, polished, antiqued, and satin. Here are some of the most popular combinations of metal types and finishes for modern bathrooms.
All About That Brass
If you’ve finally removed all the shiny gold accents from your 1980’s-era home, you might be wondering how in the world it’s back in style again, but scroll through any interior design website and you’ll likely see bathrooms featuring gold faucets and cabinet pulls. Gold fixtures are made from brass and finished in a variety of shades and textures.
This “new” gold comes in styles such as Brushed Gold, Champagne Gold, and Satin Brass. But regardless of the name, the effect is refined and elegant, understated and warm. Brass fixtures can create a high-end look at a reasonable price. The subdued shades of gold look stunning when paired with black, navy blue, off-white, or grey. Brass also stands up to moisture and works well in both contemporary and traditional spaces. Some of the most popular brass finishes are matte black, matte gold, oil-rubbed brass, hammered gold, and polished brass.
Sure, it’s durable and has natural anti-microbial properties, but these aren’t the only reasons copper’s been used for thousands of years; it’s also beautiful and pairs well with other metals, like bronze. Copper is a living metal, which means the finish will patina, or age, over time. This appearance adds an old-world charm to any design style and works especially well in Rustic and Transitional spaces. If you want a statement piece in your bathroom remodel, consider a copper freestanding tub or a walk-in shower with exposed copper pipes. While it’s more expensive than other metals, the splurge might be worth it, especially if you’re looking for easy maintenance materials.
Some of the most popular Copper finishes are oil-rubbed copper, hammered copper, polished copper, and brushed copper.
The (New) Bronze Age
Bronze is created by mixing copper and tin and is one of the oldest materials used in hardware. It enjoyed a resurgence in bathroom designs of the late 1990s, when plumbing fixtures shifted from being strictly functional to a design focal point. Today, its distinctive coloring and durability make it a trendy choice for high-end bathroom remodels. While it stands up well to moisture, it’s a higher maintenance choice that does require polishing.
Bronze fixtures pair well with the neutral colors in traditional and contemporary spaces. They’re also ideal for creating a rustic or industrial chic vibe. Some of the most popular bronze finishes are oil-rubbed bronze, brushed bronze, hammered bronze, polished bronze, satin bronze, and champagne bronze.
[Read: 6 Design Tips for Mixing Metals]
Chrome, nickel, and stainless steel are all “cool” metals, although Chrome is the only naturally occurring metal used in bathroom fixtures. Chrome has been a popular bathroom fixture finish for decades because it offers multiple benefits. It’s durable, scratch-resistant, and easy to maintain. It also complements virtually any design style and is inexpensive compared to other metals. While its surface is durable, the interior of a chrome fixture can crack or corrode. The most popular chrome finishes are polished chrome, brushed chrome, hammered chrome, and satin chrome.
Made of Stainless Steel
If you’re looking for a cool metal that can withstand years of use, stainless steel might be your best bet. This metal alloy is created by mixing iron, chromium, and nickel, which makes it stronger than a single metal alone.; it’s corrosion-, scratch-, and tarnish-resistant. That’s why stainless steel appliances, cookware, and cutlery are so popular. It’s also easy to clean and, if you prefer a more muted appearance, not as shiny as chrome. Matte and brushed are the most popular finishes for stainless steel fixtures.
If I Had a Nickel…
Nickel is a naturally occurring metal, but rather than being used on its own, it’s primarily used to create metal alloys, like stainless steel. Depending on the finish, it can have a cool, silver look or a rich, golden tone that’s very different from chrome. Brushed and matte nickel finishes conceal fingerprints and watermarks better than traditional nickel. One of the newest trends in bathroom finishes is hammered nickel, because of its classic style and rough texture. Polished nickel, which is darker than chrome, is also popular for durability and easy maintenance. Nickel fixtures pair well with transitional and contemporary bathrooms.
A Quick Guide to Popular Finishes
Matte: Matte finishes are flat and soft. They can be any color from jet black to bronze. Matte black is having a major moment right now. Matte black faucets, pulls, and handles are trending in bathrooms across the country. Not only do they look great but they’re easy to clean and go with any design style. Matte black also plays well with other metals.
Satin: Similar to a brushed finish, but without visible brushstrokes. Satin is smooth with a subtle texture and a rich, warm quality. Conceals fingerprints and watermarks.
Polished: A lustrous, reflective, shiny finish that can highlight fingerprints and watermarks.
Brushed: Has paintbrush-like grooves and a matte appearance. The subtle texture helps camouflage fingerprints.
Hand- or oil-rubbed: Created by rubbing premium oils onto the surface of a metal to give it an aged appearance.
Hammered: This finish has many tiny dents and imperfections that give it a highly textured appearance.
Have an idea of what your dream bathroom looks like? Bring it to life with the help of a Design Consultant! Schedule your free, in-home design consultation here.