Polished Nickel vs Chrome

These cool metals are making a welcome comeback. Before you commit, read our guide to the pros and cons.

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The initial “trendiness” of warm metal architectural finishes has evolved into something significantly more enduring in recent years. Blingy coppers and golds have given way to more liveable finishes imbued with depth and longevity. But while the popularity of rich bronze and antique brass shows no signs of abating, lately we’ve been noticing fresh enthusiasm for finishes from the cooler side of the colour spectrum. Chrome and nickel are returning to the spotlight, but which is best? This is a question our customer services team are being asked with increasing frequency. On the face of it, especially if you are only looking at images on a screen, chrome and nickel can be hard to tell apart. So, to help you make the right choice for you and your home, we’ve created this short guide.
Polished Chrome  
Chrome, aka chromium, is a plated finish that you’ll probably remember from the taps in your childhood homes, and perhaps the homes of your grandparents, too. It has long been revered as a safe choice, not to mention one of the most affordable finishes available.   

As long as you buy from a reputable manufacturer that electroplates chrome onto solid brass, the finish should last well without any peeling or flaking. Rusting or oxidisation will only occur if the product is poorly plated or badly damaged/scratched subsequently.   

Chrome has a slightly blue tint, and the finish is very bright, almost mirror-like. For these reasons, it is often used in contemporary homes with cool colour schemes. Chrome’s main selling point is that the finish looks the same whichever manufacturer you choose, thus matching chrome products from different sources is rarely problematic.  

One negative of chrome is its lack of design appeal. This is entirely subjective, but chrome has been so ubiquitous for so long that it has become almost invisible.     
Polished Nickel  
Polished Nickel is a timeless finish that will never lose its shine – literally. Again, it’s a matter of opinion, but we believe Polished Nickel to be a more sophisticated choice than chrome. Traditionally, it has been favoured in elegant townhouses and grand country homes, but it can also look fresh and striking in a contemporary setting.   

Like chrome, nickel is a plated finish, applied to a base metal (ideally solid brass) and then polished. It has yellow undertones, and a deeper finish that goes well with soft neutrals and warm colour schemes. Think of it as a mellow silvery finish, compared to the bright reflectiveness of chrome.  

Price-wise, products finished in high quality Polished Nickel will usually cost more than chrome, but not more than metals that require hand-finishing, such as antique or aged brass. Nickel is an easy to clean and durable finish that is marginally less susceptible to fingerprint marks than chrome. A lint-free cloth is all you’ll need to maintain shine.  

At Corston, we’re always going to be a little biased towards Polished Nickel; a finish we have embraced in our portfolio since the company began. Demand has been rocketing in recent months and, in response, we have added Polished Nickel sockets and light switches to our current offering of handles, hooks and lighting.