12 Most Common Bathroom Finishes To Know Before Remodeling

Kenneth Wilson

10 Most Common Bathroom Finishes To Know Before Remodeling

While the finish of your bathroom fixtures is a minor detail, this is a huge factor that can affect the overall aesthetic of your new bathroom. Some people think that the finish is just for design, but each one actually has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If you search online, it can be overwhelming to see the different options available. It comes in various styles and colors, which should be considered carefully to complement the rest of the decoration and materials used for the flooring and walls. To help you find the right look for your bathroom fixtures, here are the most common finishes so you don’t have to research them one-by-one.


One of the most popular finishes for bathroom fixtures is chrome. It creates a shiny surface which is and can easily complement different bathroom styles, accessories, and decorations. The neutral and bright metallic tone of this finish gives off a clean look, perfect for those who prefer a modern and minimalist vibe.

It is applied to the base metal of the fixture by bonding it to a layer of nickel. Chrome is durable and resistant to scratches and damages, especially when polished. But since it is only a finish, it can only protect the surface and not prevent the fixture from cracking or corroding inside.

Another reason why it’s commonly used in bathrooms is that it is easy to clean. However, it is not resistant to fingerprints and water spots. If you don’t wipe the surface when it’s wet, it will eventually look horrible with all the water spots. This finish will also eventually tarnish, so make sure to regularly clean it.

Aside from its toughness and ease of maintenance, it is also affordable. In fact, it is one of the most inexpensive ones. This finish is also easy to find, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time sourcing this for your bathroom remodel.


If you want to stray away from the usual chrome and stainless steel look, another popular finish is brass. It has a golden tone which creates a high-end and luxurious look but at an affordable price. 

This finish is perfect for those who want to create a sharp contrast when they have white or neutral-colored walls and floors. There are two types of brass finish that can be used for bathroom fixtures: polished brass and satin brass.

Polished Brass

Polished brass is more common since it offers a vintage aesthetic that goes well with traditional, eclectic, and even modern bathrooms. It also matches with different accessories and decorations. This is highly durable and can be used to protect the metal of the fixtures from tarnishing. Polished brass is easy to clean but it requires regular upkeep to prevent it from losing its luster. It needs to be polished to keep it from tarnishing, maintaining its shininess.

Satin Brass

If polished brass is too bright and shiny for you, satin brass has a brushed-gold look, making it look elegant and classy. It has a nice, bold accent color but is muted, so it’s not as showy as polished brass. It is also durable and would work well with traditional and modern bathroom styles. This finish would also be suitable with either light or dark-colored walls and floors.

One advantage of satin brass is that the water spots or fingerprints are less visible because of its matte finish. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to find and would be harder to get decorations and accessories that match its finish. Both brass finishes are also more expensive than chrome and nickel, but polished brass will be more affordable. 


If you like the chrome or stainless steel look but prefer a more durable and long-lasting finish, then a good alternative is nickel. There are two types of nickel finishes: polished nickel and brushed nickel.

Polished Nickel

Similar to chrome, polished nickel has a smooth and shiny look, but it has a darker shade. Depending on the lighting, this finish sometimes seems to be changing color, bringing out a golden tone that you won’t find in chrome. This makes it suitable for various bathroom styles such as traditional, modern, contemporary, and eclectic. Polished nickel is actually brass coated in nickel, which explains the golden hue. Because of its unique look, it can be hard to find decorations and accessories that match its color. 

But this finish is durable and easy to clean, which you will need to regularly to maintain the polished look. It is also one of the most expensive finishes, compared to chrome, brass, and even brushed nickel. 

Brushed Nickel

If you want a finish that creates a softer and warmer atmosphere, then you should go with brushed nickel. It still has a metallic look but it has a matte finish, which means it will hide fingerprints and water spots better than polished nickel as well as easier to clean. It’s also easy to find and match with decorations and accessories but it won’t go well with stainless steel. 

This finish will work with various styles because it has a subtle tone, but because it is less shiny, it blends than accentuates the fixtures. It won’t stand out or become a statement piece, which means you’ll need a different decoration or accessory to become the focal point of your bathroom. But if you prefer a seamless and more uniform look, then this is a great finish for your fixtures.

Brushed nickel is one of the toughest finishes, more durable than chrome and oil-rubbed bronze. It is also more affordable than polished nickel, but it will still be more expensive than chrome.


Similar to brass, bronze finishes are great for bathrooms with vintage or antique designs. It has a darker hue than brass and comes in different looks and textures. If you get a bronze finish with clear epoxy or physical vapor deposition (PVD) coatings, it will chemically bond to the surface of the fixture’s metal, which will make it scratch- and corrosion-resistant. There are two types of bronze finishes: oil-rubbed bronze and satin bronze.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze

With oil-rubbed bronze, your bathroom will have a more traditional feel. It has a darker finish as it is chemically darkened to look more vintage. This finish goes well with timeless and classic bathroom aesthetics as well as with Mediterranean or Tuscan bathroom styles.

This finish is durable and easy to clean. You also won’t have to worry about water spots or fingerprints ruining the beautiful finish. The color is also easy to match with other decorations and accessories. If ever you can’t find some, you can use a brass darkening agent to match them. Oil-rubbed bronze is also easy to find in stores, but it will be more expensive than chrome or nickel. 

Satin Bronze

If you want a smoother finish, satin bronze has a color between oil-rubbed bronze and copper. Since it has a subtler color, it is more versatile and would work well with various bathroom settings. Similar to oil-rubbed bronze, it would work well with traditional, Mediterranean, and eclectic bathroom styles.

Satin bronze is also durable and easy to clean. It won’t show fingerprints or water spots, but it is more expensive than oil-rubbed bronze. You will also have a more difficult time finding these in stores as well as matching the color with other decorations and accessories.


Copper is a bold finish that would complement with walls, flooring, and countertops with a subtler finish such as marble. It has a rich color that creates an elegant atmosphere and would work well with farmhouse, steampunk, industrial, eclectic, and Tuscan bathroom styles. 

Some of the advantages of copper are that it has natural antimicrobial properties and can “self-repair” over time. When it gets scratches, these will turn darker and eventually blend in with the patina. This means the scratch will naturally fade as the copper gets exposed to oxidation and develops a patina. Even if it’s not as durable as other finishes and not as scratch-resistant, at least you won’t have to worry about the appearance.

Copper will also require more maintenance than chrome or bronze, but it will be easier to find. You will just have a difficult time matching it with other accessories and decorations.


What other finish will embody luxury more than gold? It is a shiny and bold color that is suitable for eclectic, contemporary, or modern bathroom styles. The rich tone also makes the bathroom an inviting and warm space.

As expected, gold is an expensive finish. The price will depend on whether you will use mineral coatings combined with karat gold or used gold-colored metal. If you do use pure gold, it will not tarnish or corrode. It is also resistant to moisture and can withstand high temperatures. This makes it one of the most durable finishes.

When it is a combination of metals, then expect that it will eventually tarnish. You can use nickel to make it more durable, but if you want the tougher finish, you will need to use more gold.

Matte Black

The most different finish of all is matte black. Compared to the shiny and polished look of the other finishes, it has a dark and bold color that creates a striking contrast in the bathroom. This classy look works well with modern, contemporary, eclectic, and minimalist bathroom styles.

With matte black, you will surely highlight the fixtures of your bathroom. That’s why if you want to make a minor improvement to the overall aesthetic of your bathroom, changing your fixtures to matte black already has a huge effect. It makes a statement piece or focal point, which brings the room together.

Not only does it look stunning and trendy, but it is also easy to clean and maintain. It does not show fingerprints, water spots, and even dirt. Matte black also complements different accessories and decorations, but you will probably have a hard time matching the colors. There are probably not a lot of stores that sell matte fixtures with matte black, which makes it hard to find. It is also more expensive than other finishes such as chrome or nickel.

Kenneth Wilson
February 1, 2021
Bathroom Remodeling, Ideas & Inspiration

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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