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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, it's time to replace fixtures in the bathrooms. The trend seems to be brushed nickel and they also sell a lot of towel racks and light fixtures that match.
Saying that, does the brushed nickel finish on plumbing fixtures consist of nickel plating over brass (w/o the chrome on top like the typical plating process), or is it a cast stainless steel and not a plated brass? Nickel plating is yellowish, which these fixtures are not, and also nickel plating typically tarnishes which is why it is almost always topped with chrome.

Are the nickel fixtures clear coated to prevent this, or? I'm basically just curious on what they're selling.
Also, it seems like I read a few yrs back the nickel fixtures were more prone to leaking? I did a search on this and didn't find anything useful.

TIA
 

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The 'brushed nickle' is not nickle. Looks like a stainless steel plating with a brushed finish.

I've installed dozens (of not hundreds) of these in the last few years--they hold up well with no tarnishing or yellowing that would be typical of real nickle.
 

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Doing it myself
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They're also not clear coated. The finish is subject to scratching, etc, and if you don't clean it, it'll show water spots just like your chrome does if you don't clean it.

I prefer chrome, and will probably always stay with chrome.
 

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Mold!! Let's kill it!
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What you are looking at is truely nickel plating over a base material. Whether it's brass or some other material may depend on the quality of the fixture. Stainless cannot be plated onto some other material. Only base materials can be plated onto other metals. Stainless is an alloy, so you can't plate it onto something, however, you could plate nickel onto stainless. Brushed stainless, brushed chrome and brushed nickel are all distinctive finishes and can be told apart from each other, although stainless steel alloys with high nickel content are more difficult to distinguish. Most nickel plated finishes that I've seen on household fixtures are clear coated with a polyurethane to help prevent spotting and for wear resistance. The mechanical guts in faucets are ususally the same regardless of finish, so I don't know why one finish would be more prone to leak problems over another.
 

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Civil Engineer
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Alow me to quote from the National Metal Finishing Company:

NICKEL:

Bright Nickel Plating:
Bright nickel plating baths use combinations of organic chemical additives to achieve bright nickel deposits. Bright nickel is used under decorative chrome and other final finishes to cover small defects such as polishing lines and to provide luster. Nickel can also be used as a final finish for certain applications, such as in the plumbing, lighting, and furniture industries.

Matte (Pearl) Nickel Plating:
Matte nickel plating is a uniform finish that is semi-lustrous with low reflectivity. It is also referred to as pearl or velour nickel; it does not have the lines or grainy appearance found in traditional satin nickel finishes. Matte nickel is usually coated with chrome, black nickel or another final finish. It is used in the plumbing, optical, lighting, and automotive industries.
Satin (Brushed) Nickel Plating:
Satin nickel plating is a nickel finish that is semi-lustrous with some reflectivity. It is also referred to as brushed nickel; it does have lines or a grainy appearance that is applied by mechanically polishing the surface before or after the nickel plating. It is used in the plumbing, lighting, and furniture industries.



Bright Black Nickel Plating:
Black nickel is plated over bright nickel to give a lustrous black appearance. It is brighter than black chrome and covers recessed areas better. Since the black nickel coating is quite thin, corrosion resistance is somewhat limited. To improve corrosion protection, the black nickel or bright nickel may be applied over electroless nickel, but the black color may not hold up in severe environments. It is used for optical components, gun sights and components, lighting and plumbing fixtures and some automotive parts.



Matte Black Nickel Plating:
Black nickel is plated over matte nickel to give a grayish, non-reflective appearance. It is slightly brighter than black chrome and covers recessed areas better. Since the black nickel coating is quite thin, corrosion resistance is somewhat limited. To improve corrosion protection, the matte nickel may be applied over electroless nickel, but the black color may not hold up in severe environments. It is used for optical components, gun sights and components, lighting and plumbing fixtures and some automotive parts.





From reading other manufacturer's sites, it appears that brushed nickel is always an applied finish, which gets its appearance from a mechanical technique used on the plated product. The nickel can apparently be applied over virtually any metal, as there were examples of brushed nickel over copper shown.

I am the owner of several Kohler faucets (this is NOT an advertisement for Kohler, although I have been very happy with the faucets). Two of them are brushed nickel finish, one is chrome. We have had two of them for at least fifteen years, one of them is brushed nickel, one is chrome. Neither has tarnished, chipped, flaked or in any way deteriorated, despite virtually no care. Neither has leaked. I cannot say whether competing manufacturers offer similar quality levels.
 

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Stuck in the 70's
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Ok, it's time to replace fixtures in the bathrooms. The trend seems to be brushed nickel.....
Just my two cents, but that in itself is a reason not to do it. Three years from now when it looks dated you'll be kicking yourself for not going with classic chrome.
 
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