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Polished Nickel vs Polished Chrome Finish: Which is Right for You?

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When shopping for bathroom fixtures, it can be hard to know where to begin, as so many of the finishes look the same and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them all.

In this polished nickel vs polished chrome finish showdown, we’ll help you make the best choice for your bathroom or kitchen!

Polished chrome and polished nickel can be particularly tricky to tell apart. Don’t worry, though – we’ve put together a handy guide to help you out!

What is Polished Nickel Finish?

Polished nickel is created when nickel plating is combined with base metal and is then polished until it develops a mirror-like quality. The shiny metal is warm-toned and looks amazing in traditionally styled rooms. Over time, it can develop a cloudy finish which creates a gorgeous vintage look.


Polished nickel is very high quality. It is a long-lasting and durable finish that will make any fitting look upscale and lavish.


Polished nickel tends to be more expensive than other finishes. Due to it being a particularly hard-wearing finish, you need to be willing to splash the cash a little more if this is what you’re looking for. It is also harder to come by than other finishes and therefore you are partly paying for its exclusivity.

What is Polished Chrome Finish?

Polished chrome is when chrome plating is applied to brass or steel that is then polished until it becomes highly reflective. It is a cool-toned metal with a very sleek and clean finish. It is very corrosion-resistant which means you don’t have to worry about replacing polished chrome hardware after a short time.


Polished chrome is very versatile. It looks great in many different homes and settings. It lends itself well to both classic and contemporary rooms, making it a safe choice if you are lost on what kind of hardware finish you should look for.


Polished chrome needs regular cleaning. Due to its super reflective finish, stains and marks show up on polished chrome quite quickly. If you have a polished chrome light switch, you will likely regularly be cleaning fingerprint marks off of it.

If you want chrome, but want to do a bit more research, check out our chrome vs brushed nickel finish guide.

How Can I Determine the Difference Between Polished Nickel and Polished Chrome?

The easiest way to tell the difference between polished chrome and polished nickel is by the tone of the metal. It is very warm-toned and has a golden hue. Polished chrome on the other hand is very cool-toned and is very obviously silver.

These are two of the most popular types of bathroom fixture finishes. Both kinds make for excellent and high-quality finishes, so whatever you choose will really come down to personal preference.

Polished Nickel vs Polished Chrome Finish: Which One Should You Choose?

Deciding between polished chrome and polished nickel can be really difficult considering the two finishes are so similar. However, there are some factors to take into consideration before you decide on a finish.

Color Palette and Design Style

Color palette and design style are the main factors that you need to consider before choosing what finish you would like for your fixtures. Whether your room is more contemporary or more classic will have a big impact on what finish you should go for.

On top of this, you need to work out if the rooms that you are designing have more of a warm-tone or cool-tone color palette.

Polished Nickel

As we’ve already covered, polished nickel is a warm-toned metal and therefore looks great in rooms with cozy color palettes. It looks right at home amongst oranges and reds, as well as creams and browns.

The finish can become cloudy over time and take on a slightly matte appearance, which gives the metal a very classic feel. This makes polished nickel a wonderful addition to any traditional home space. Polished nickel looks particularly impressive as cabinet hardware and door handles.

Polished Chrome

Polished chrome is a bright and reflective silver metal. Its cool tones make it a wonderful hardware addition to all kinds of rooms, and it looks particularly striking against both black and white surfaces. Polished chrome works particularly well in modern spaces due to its sleek and stylish finish.

How to Maintain Polished Nickel and Polished Chrome

Both polished chrome and nickel are pretty easy metals to take care of. Neither metal requires a particularly high level of maintenance as they do not tarnish.

To clean the metals, simply use lukewarm soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe down your fixtures. Then, use a microfiber cloth to dry the fixtures.

Due to the durability of both metals, you will only have to do this every few months for products with a nickel finish.

You may need to do this slightly more often for chrome finishes as watermarks and fingerprint marks show up more easily on these products. However, it does not need to become part of your daily cleaning routine.


Is Polished Nickel Out Of Style?

Absolutely not! While it creates a more vintage look, the metal looks great in many home spaces. Retro aesthetics are back in and, therefore, this finish is right on trend! It may not look as sleek as chrome fixtures, however, it rarely looks dated or tired.

Is Polished Nickel More Expensive Than Chrome?

In most cases, yes. This is mostly down to the fact that the manufacturing process for producing polished nickel is a bit more complex than the manufacturing process for producing polished chrome. However, it is a very durable metal and therefore we believe that it is worth the slightly higher price tag compared to its competitors.

Does Vinegar Damage Polished Nickel?

It can if pure vinegar comes into contact with the metal. However, if it is diluted down, vinegar in small quantities can be used as an excellent cleaning solution for the metal. If there are any particularly stubborn watermarks that are refusing to budge, vinegar diluted in warm water is a great help!

Does Polished Chrome Tarnish?

Like any metal, polished chrome can eventually tarnish over time. However, for the most part, it is pretty resistant to tarnishing. The only real issue with polished chrome is that marks can appear on the metal quite easily.

Watermarks and fingerprint marks are the offenders in this case. If you want to avoid regular cleaning, a nickel finish may be a better option as these marks do not show up as easily.

Alternatively, you could be tactical of what rooms you have chrome finishes in. You might want to avoid polished chrome finishes in bathrooms and kitchens as towel bars, bathroom taps and faucets will all be prone to showing watermarks. Instead, you could opt for polished chrome fixtures in bedrooms or living rooms.

Final Decision: Polished Nickel vs Polished Chrome Finish

We know that anytime you renovate part of your home or buy a new fixture, it’s a big decision. They’re expensive and will last a while so you want to make sure you get it right.

I hope this polished nickel vs polished chrome finish guide was helpful to you!

If you need more guidance, check out our other faucet finish comparisons:

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