In this third article in the series on selecting a kitchen faucet we will discuss available finishes.
Chrome is the most common finish but is losing popularity and is now often associated with low end/low priced faucets. The finish is susceptible to spotting. The finish is also easy to damage with common household cleansers and can blister, bubble or peel. Chrome faucets have an applied finish usually over brass or plastic. It is important to understand the underlying structure because plastic, if used in the structure such as neck or handles may have a shorter life than metal. Many big box stores offer faucets with increased plastic and less metal to keep down cost. Often these plastic versions of their faucets may look the same and be difficult to distinguish from the stronger longer lasting version until they break. Finishes applied to brass offer a stronger faucet and the brass is a better base to apply the finish. Brass is a good structural material for faucets but does, however, have some drawbacks in the water channel. See the discussion on lead in future articles.
Brushed Nickel finish is similar to stainless steel and will often complement a stainless steel sink. The color is warmer or more yellow than stainless steel. The brushed nickel is an applied finish and therefore has the same characteristics of the chrome finish. Some manufacturers have developed “spot free” finishes to deal with the tendency of this finish to show water spots.
Oil Rubbed Bronze finish has gained popularity in recent years as designers and consumers are looking for darker faucets to pair with the increasingly popular composite sinks like the ANO German Made granite composite sink. Oil rubbed bronze (ORB) is an applied finish.. ORB finish can also wear off with use. This is both a drawback and a benefit. Many faucets with ORB finished are designed with areas that look worn to enhance this feature. Typically the darker the finish the more resistant it is to wear. When selecting an ORB faucet make sure you look at the component parts; head, neck and body, as they often are different shades.
Stainless Steel faucets have the benefit to being the closest match to stainless steel sinks and other kitchen appliances. Most faucets sold with a stainless steel finish are a stainless steel finish on a brass or plastic structure. With an applied finish you can have the same issue as other applied finishes including peeling and inconsistent color on parts. Eclipse faucets are manufactured from all stainless steel with no finish to wear or peel, consistent color match between parts, and a lead free all stainless steel water channel.