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How to Choose a Bathroom Faucet

Bathroom Faucet Finishes
These lend an air of old-fashioned to the bathroom.
These lend an air of old-fashioned to the bathroom.

Your bathroom faucet has a function, but that's probably not your only concern. It needs to look good, too. Because it sees a lot of action over the course of a day, week or year, a bathroom faucet should be well-made inside and out. You've seen different faucet finishes like nickel or chrome, but the color and shine don't tell you the whole story. The way a finish is applied will have a lot to do with how long it looks good once you actually start using it.

Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is one of the best finishes around. It chemically bonds decorative surface finishes like bronze to the base metal underneath, making this finish stronger and more scratch-resistant. PVD-treated faucets will cost a little more, but they'll look good longer. Chrome is another durable finish. One caveat here: Any finish will be vulnerable to rough treatment if exposed to corrosives like drain cleaner, or subjected to aggressive scouring. The best practice is to look for a PVD or other quality finish and treat it with respect.

Let's take a look at some of the decorative and unusual finishes your likely to see in the design showrooms.

  • Polished chrome - It's shiny and clean-looking and a classic choice that's long lasting and works well with lots of different décor styles. Whether you're going traditional or contemporary, chrome is a safe bet.
  • Bronze - Rustic, romantic or traditional, bronze can be evocative as well as functional, but be careful to choose a PVD-applied product for longevity.
  • Nickel - Nickel fixtures are available in a polished finish that has the shiny appearance of chrome and also in a brushed finish that looks warm and soft.
  • Brass or goldtone - Both of these faucet finishes can be an elegant touch in a bathroom, but definitely integrate best if they match the faucets on the tub and even the handle on the toilet. Look for brass or goldtone finishes with an extended or lifetime warranty.
  • Specialty finishes - Black, colored, mixed metal, textured and other finishes can all be dramatic focal points in a bathroom, but as with brass and goldtone finishes, make sure you're getting a quality product that will look as good in five years as it does the day you take it out of the box. Rely on brand names you recognize, and check the warranty before you buy.

Your design vision and personal preferences will play a big role in the faucet style and finish you choose. If you hate water spots, go for a matte finish faucet that will conceal those distinctive smudges. If you think functionality and cleanliness are key, polished chrome may be the no-nonsense choice for you.