Brushed or satin nickel finishes have a softer, less shiny look than chrome or stainless steel, which makes nickel appealing for transitional kitchen designs.
Most kitchen faucets come in a range of finish choices, typically some color of metal. In the silver family, options include chrome, nickel, stainless steel, platinum and pewter. For a warmer tone, you can try brass, gold, bronze or copper. Metallic finishes can be either polished, brushed or satin, depending on whether you want a bold shine or more muted gleam.
Non-metallic options include white, black and biscuit in either enamel or epoxy.
The 2008 Style Barometer survey by the National Kitchen & Bath Association found that satin nickel was the most popular finish for kitchen faucets, according to a panel of kitchen and bath dealers and designers. Stainless steel and bronze came in second and third, respectively.
Nickel (shown above) has all the durability of chrome, plus it stands up to scratches and water spots a little better than its shinier counterpart. It also provides a more toned down, softer look. Nickel finishes are generally more expensive than chrome, and work well in transitional style kitchens. Satin and brushed nickel generally have a similar appearance; manufacturers simply use different terminology.
Chrome adds sparkle to a bar or entertainment faucet.
Chrome is durable, inexpensive and easy to maintain. Polished chrome provides a shiny, lustrous look that fits in well with contemporary kitchens—in fact, chrome has become more popular in the United States as contemporary kitchen styles have gained ground. You can also find softer chrome finishes, such as matte or brushed, which can go with most kitchen styles.
Courtesy of Moen
Oil-rubbed bronze is slightly darker than brushed or polished bronze.
Oil-rubbed bronze has had a surge in popularity, and this finish is a little darker than brushed bronze. (In fact, oil-rubbed bronze varies in shade from brand to brand, being nearly black in some lines.) Bronze finishes are usually a little more expensive than nickel and brass, and are often used in country, rustic, Old World and traditional style kitchens.
Courtesy of Delta
Like chrome, stainless steel is durable and easy to maintain. Stainless doesn't show spots as easily as chrome, but it also costs more, typically comparable to nickel. Stainless has the advantage of matching and blending with a stainless steel sink and stainless steel appliances.