Satin Nickel Vs Brushed Nickel: Which Finish Is Better?

Satin Nickel Vs Brushed Nickel

There are a lot of options when it comes to metal finishes. Nickel is one of the most popular of these finishes. If you are decorating or redecorating your home, one of the easiest ways to change the feel of a room, like a bathroom, or kitchen, is by changing the hardware and fixtures.

The difference between satin nickel vs. brushed nickel is in the finishing technique. Satin nickel is a nickel-plated piece of metal that has been dulled down. Sometimes, with an added coat of lacquer. Brushed nickel is plated and then brushed with a metal brush consistently to give it a more unique finish.

So which one is better? Well, that might be a matter of preference, however, we intend on examining the pros and cons of each.

What is Nickel?

Nickel is a strong dense metal, that gives off a fine appearance, similar to stainless steel. You can make other metals and alloys, stronger, by plating them with nickel. The nickel element can be found in many things in nature, such as rock deposits, plants, even meteorites contain nickel. It looks great and comes in more than one type of finish.

Why are Nickle Finishes Popular?

Nickel is a classic finish, that has remained popular, for obvious reasons. The metal itself is corrosion resistant. This makes it a perfect plating for water fixtures. Nickel plating is typically used on brass, steel, and aluminum.

Popular uses for nickel finish:

  • Kitchen faucets
  • Doorknobs
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Kitchen fixtures
  • Cabinet hardware
  • Lighting fixtures

These are just a few examples, of popular items with nickel finishes. They look great in bathrooms and kitchens. They also look great on things like exterior house numbers, machined parts, and metal light switch plates. The possibilities are endless when it comes to metal finishes. You can upgrade just about anything, by adding a nice looking finish such as nickel.

The Difference Between Satin and Brushed Nickel

There are quite a few differences, between satin and brushed nickel. Besides the obvious of looking different, satin costs a little bit less. Brushed nickel takes some maintenance to maintain its appearance, while satin, requires very little.

To help you understand the differences, we have compiled this comparison chart.


Satin Nickel Finish

Brushed Nickel Finish

Cost Satin nickel finishes are usually a little less expensive. Brushed nickel is more expensive.
Finish Satin has a dull finish that does not show as many blemishes. Brushed nickel can show things like fingerprints, scratches, and water spots.
Maintenance Satin finishes require very little maintenance. Brushed nickel must be wiped down often.
Application Satin uses an electrolysis process, sometimes, with lacquering. Brushed nickel uses a coating and a wire brush etching process.
Tint Satin has a slight rose gold type tint to it. The brushed nickel has a nice gray finish.
Appearance The satin finish has a dull look that could be considered vintage looking. Brushed nickel gives off a more unique, crafted look, due to the etchings.

A few more differences:

  • Satin can have more than one look. One being a more dark matt finish, and the other being a semi-matt finish.
  • Brushed nickel has a brushed brown or gray metallic look to it, rather than a uniform looking finish.
  • Satin is more common in residential hardware, such as doorknobs, sink fixtures, and lighting fixtures.
  • Brushed nickel is more common in commercial settings, such as restaurants, and commercial bathrooms.

Why Do Some Satin Finishes Look Shinier Than Others?

This has to do completely with the final finishing process. If the satin is not lacquered, then it will have a more dull looking result. There a lot of cases where you may want a completely dull finish.

Some satin fishes have a final lacquer, that makes them appear slightly shinier. These finishes look great when placed near other hardware or appliances that have more of a sheen to them.

Which is Better, Satin or Brushed Nickel?

This may seem like a matter of preference, but there are some reasons you may want satin, over brushed nickel. If you want your home to have a more unified look, you may want to replace them, so that they all have the same finish.

Satin nickel has a thicker amount of plating. This can make it somewhat more durable. If you are going for that shiny stainless steel type look, but want the sheen to look a little duller, you may consider using satin nickel. Brushed nickel has a thinner layer of nickel plating, and in some cases can scratch and look damaged with heavy use.

A lot of people consider brushed nickel, to have a more interesting look, that could make all the difference, in a room that you want to stand out.

Design Tips for Satin Nickel

We have a few design tips for using satin nickel. In the end, it is ultimately a choice of preference, however, these tips might help give you some ideas.

Tips for using satin nickel finishes:

  • If your household, or establishment has a lot of hands, that use your hardware, you may consider using satin. Its easier to keep it clean and doesn’t show quite as many fingerprints.
  • Satin has a more vintage, or traditional look to it. It is great for ranch themes or farmhouse themes.
  • Satin nickel plated items are more common and are easier to find. It has more sustainability than brushed nickel items.
  • Since satin finishes are not as shiny as stainless steel, you may want to use that to your advantage, if you are working with a more traditional design.

Design Tips for Brushed Nickel

Just like with the satin nickel finish, brushed nickel has its place in the world. Here are some designs tips, to give you an idea of how brushed nickel could work for you.

Tips for using brushed nickel finishes:

  • Brushed nickel has a more unique look to it. It shows a little more craftsmanship than a satin finish. Consider this when you want something to look fancy.
  • If you are going for a modern look, then brushed nickel will be the finish of choice. It is used in most modern commercial settings and looks good in new style homes.
  • The brushed etching, makes light and shadows bounce off of it more than a dull satin finish does. This can make for a more interesting looking piece.
  • Go with your gut feeling. We all have our own tastes, and for you, that may be brushed nickel plating, over satin nickel.

When it comes down to it, both of these finishes look great. Whether you are going for a traditional or modern design, you will find what you’re looking for, with nickel-plated finishes.

Related Questions

Is nickel plating the same as stainless steel?

They are not the same. Nickel-plated finishes are not as durable as stainless steel. Nickel-plated items cost less and will show more defects than stainless steel. Stainless steel is great for heavy-use kitchens.

What other items use nickel plating?

Nickel plating is used in a lot of other items, besides household items. Such as automotive parts, exterior hardware, and brewery fittings. It is also used on appliances and other specialty items.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of home enthusiasts who enjoy sharing decorating, home improvement, and housekeeping tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for advice on styling your living room or the next DIY project, we've got you covered.

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