Choosing Your Finish: Are Stainless Steel and Brushed Nickel the Same?

When it comes to constructing or remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, there are a range of plumbing products to choose from, and each comes with several finish options. The finish of a fixture can often make or break the design of an entire room, so you should take some time when considering it. Finishes can range from classic (like Chrome) to exotic (like GROHE’s new Rose Gold option), but two of the more common styles among the group are Brushed Nickel and Stainless Steel.

Brushed Nickel and Stainless Steel are similar in appearance, yet both have certain distinct qualities.

Brushed Nickel (top) and Stainless Steel (bottom) are similar in appearance, yet both have certain distinct qualities.

These two finishes are popular choices, particularly for faucets, due to their timeless beauty and their ability to fit in well with any other color in the room, be it a kitchen or a bathroom. But which finish is better? Both Stainless Steel and Brushed Nickel are sturdy and vibrant, and their functionalities in most cases are similar. When it comes down to it, the choice between the two depends on the situation and your personal preference; there are, however, a few factors that can help narrow down your options.


When deciding on which finish to go with on a fixture, you first need to establish whether or not there are any other fixtures in the room it needs to match. There is nothing worse than his and hers sinks with two clearly different finishes on the faucets; the same goes for shower systems. You don’t want Stainless Steel trims with Chrome or Brushed Nickel showerheads and shower arms. When similar plumbing products are in close proximity, the same finish is key.

On the other hand, let’s say that you are redoing two separate rooms in your house, and you would like all of your finishes to be somewhat similar. In this case, putting a Stainless Steel faucet in one room and a Brushed Nickel shower system in the other is acceptable, mainly because the two finishes are similar enough in appearance to be included together throughout your home, as long as they don’t end up side-by-side.


The difference between Brushed Nickel and Stainless Steel can change depending on the brand you are looking at, and this is where the decision process can get tricky. For instance, Hansgrohe’s Steel Optik and Brushed Nickel are very similar to each other and could be easily interchanged without most people noticing. On the other hand, Danze’s Stainless Steel is more “blue,” whereas their Brushed Nickel is more “brown.”

In situations like these, we always suggest you contact a professional (like SUPPLY.com’s team of product experts) for assistance, because sometimes online color swatches aren’t true to color. When given the choice, it is often easier to stick with the same finish in the same brand, but if you are willing to put in the research, you could come out with great fixtures in matching finishes across multiple brands at a lower price.

Products like this Brushed Nickel faucet from Moen's Spot Resist lineup, have grime-repellent finishes

Certain products, like this Brushed Nickel faucet from Moen’s Spot Resist lineup, have grime-repellent finishes.

Spot Resistance

Another question buyers often ask when deciding on a finish is how easy the material is to clean. If fingerprints are an issue, Brushed Nickel would be the better fit, since it has a warmer tone than Stainless Steel, which would better disguise any blemishes. If you want to take cleanliness one step further, however, certain brands offer specialized finishes that actively resist unwanted discoloration, like Moen’s Spot Resist lineup (available for both Brushed Nickel and Stainless Steel).


In terms of price, the Stainless Steel options across most brands are going to be the more expensive finish compared to Brushed Nickel because they are considered higher end. People are willing to pay more for Stainless Steel because it does not corrode or rust as easily as other finishes.

Additional Information

A common myth is that when you purchase a Stainless Steel faucet or shower system, the entire fixture itself is Stainless Steel. That’s why people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars more on a single item. However, not all fixtures are completely steel. In fact, across several brands only the finish is Stainless Steel, while the inner workings are actually brass.

For example, the shower trims in the Delta Tesla line are Stainless Steel in finish, but have solid brass forged bodies. The rough in valves that go with these units are also made of brass. Having a brass interior with a finish of a different material does not make the item work worse, and it also does not lessen the quality of the finish. However, it helps to know if you are paying for only the finish or the material. Whether or not something is brass in construction with a Stainless Steel or Brushed Nickel finish will always be displayed on the specification sheets, and it will be up to the buyer to decide which finish to choose.

Decided on the perfect finish for you? Get your product at SUPPLY.com today!