Anytime you undertake a remodeling project or begin a fresh design from scratch, the number of choices that you have to make can become overwhelming. Choosing a faucet finish is a decision that may seem trivial, but this small detail can bring a room together or call attention to itself as the odd man out.

With an incredible number of options to choose from, between a variety of finishes and seemingly endless styles, narrowing in on the perfect faucet can be a challenge. Two similar finishes that we get asked about a lot are brushed nickel and stainless steel.

Choosing between brushed nickel vs. stainless steel depends on a variety of factors, so we’ve put together this guide to help walk you through your decision.

First, a little about each finish.

Brushed Nickel

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Brushed nickel is manufactured by running a wire brush over the finish of the faucet. This process etches tiny lines into it to create texture and depth. Watermark’s brushed nickel finish is called Satin Nickel, and the name captures the feel of this beautiful finish that calls to mind the soft movement of satin. 

Satin Chrome

Watermark’s Satin Chrome is the go-to finish for the stainless steel look. The satin finish complements most design styles and has stood the test of time as one of the most popular finishes for both kitchen and bathroom designs. This finish blends well with stainless steel appliances and creates cohesion throughout the kitchen.

How to Decide Between Brushed Nickel or Stainless Steel

A number of factors can influence your choice of faucet finish.

Take Other Finishes Into Account

In a bathroom, you’ll have multiple fixtures for your sink and shower or tub. Making sure that the finishes match each other helps to create cohesion throughout the bathroom. Lighting fixtures also need to be taken into account to ensure that the finish on the faucet doesn’t clash with the finish on the lighting fixtures.

In this bathroom, the stainless steel appearance of this Blue 37 Collection faucet is carried into the shower, creating a seamless look throughout.

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Make sure to also take into account the cabinet hardware. This includes the hinges in both the kitchen and the bathroom. It may not seem like a big deal, but if the finishes don’t match or complement one another, it can create elements that stick out and take away from the overall design.

Consider the Appliances

If you have stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a stainless steel finish on the faucet can pull all of the elements in the room together. A stainless steel finish is the bolder choice, so it will likely draw more attention to itself rather than blending in the design as brushed nickel does.

If you don’t have stainless steel appliances and other elements that complement this finish, it may stand out and detract from the rest of the design.

Appliances that are black or white might benefit from being in the proximity of a brushed nickel faucet. The matte finish of brushed nickel creates a soft look that doesn’t detract from other design elements, including appliances.

Design Aesthetic

While both finishes are beautiful, they tend to complement different aesthetics and serve different design purposes. So understanding your overall vision and desired look will help you decide between brushed nickel and stainless steel.

Soft and Subtle


Brushed nickel has a softer feel and complements traditional designs such as a Tuscan or French country. The matte finish of this Loft 2.0 23 Collection faucet seamlessly blends with a matte countertop, such as soapstone or concrete, to create a cohesive design.

Focus on the Backsplash


The brushed nickel finish is also a great option when there are a lot of other design elements that take center stage. The matte finish helps the faucet blend into the design, so the eye isn’t drawn to too many places at once.

A unique design with a bold backsplash will benefit from subduing other features. In this case, the Blue 37 Collection faucet, the sink, and the countertops all have a matte finish that allows the eye to take in the geometric design of the wall behind them.

A Subtle Standout


Stainless steel’s high-gloss shine works well in kitchens and bathrooms whose design is more understated and neutral. The shine of this Elements 21 Collection faucet brings an element of interest without drawing too much attention away from the tranquility and simplicity of the rest of the space.

Increase Interest


A stainless steel finish can also work in harmony with other attention-grabbing details to increase interest. In this design, the stainless steel of this Beverly 314 Collection faucet complements the unique backsplash and brings its own flair to the design with this faucet from the Watermark Designs Beverly Collection.

Go Masculine


The high-gloss countertop, tiled backsplash and bold lines of this stainless steel faucet create a modern masculine design, featuring the Blue 37 Collection faucet from the Watermark Collection.

Keep Them Looking Beautiful

Brushed nickel and stainless steel options have slightly different care instructions. Following them will help keep your faucets looking beautiful for years to come. 

Brushed nickel, while beautiful, isn’t as durable as stainless steel and may become marred over time. Corrosion as a result of contact with toothpaste or tomato paste, depending on the room, can leave spots of corrosion on the finish of the faucet. If not wiped down quickly with water and a pH balanced soap, the acidic nature of spills and splatters can leave their permanent mark.

Since stainless steel is created using electroplating, a process that layers one metal onto another to create a finish that is extremely corrosion-resistant, simply wiping the faucet down will keep it in excellent condition. There is less of a risk of corrosion from contact with bathroom or kitchen messes.

Consider the Cost

Budget is almost always at the forefront of design decisions. So taking the cost of each finish into consideration may play a role in your final decision. 

Because stainless steel is more durable than brushed nickel, it is also more expensive. If you’re renovating on a budget, there may be other places to spend your money, making brushed nickel the better choice.

Trust the Design

As you design your ideal kitchen or bathroom, you’ll begin to get a feel for the overall look and atmosphere that you want to capture. Trust the design when you make decisions for finishes or fixtures. If the finish doesn’t feel right or you feel like it stands out in a way that detracts from the design, try another!

Editorial Contributors
Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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