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Plumbing Finishes Guide

A Guide to Plumbing Finishes


ChromePopular since the 1930's, chrome is one of the most popular choices of finishes at Vintage Tub & Bath. Chromium plating (chrome) is a sophisticated tarnish-resistant finish. To create this finish, solid brass fixtures are electroplated with chromium. To maintain its original shine, chrome should be cleaned frequently with a damp cloth. DO NOT use an abrasive cleaner, as this could eat away the finish.


BrassBrass has been a common finish since the nineteenth century. It is a warm but relatively high maintenance finish, requiring frequent gentle polishing with a soft cloth to keep it shiny.

  • Uncoated brass will tarnish in time (brown spots), even with constant polishing.
  • Super-coated brass will ensure a lasting shine without the need of polishing.

  • Nickel

    Matte NickelDue to its resistance to tarnish, nickel was the preferred finish from the 1880's up to the 1930's until chrome was introduced. Satin nickel, matte nickel, and brushed nickel are considered very dull compared to the shinnier look of polished nickel. Nickel can be cleaned with a damp cloth. DO NOT use an abrasive cleaner.

  • Satin nickel has a very slight soft gold tone and is very similar to the nickel coin.
  • Matte nickel has low reflective properties and can be compared to stainless steel.
  • Brushed nickel can be described by taking a brillo pad and brushing it onto chrome.
  • Polished nickel is more shinny than its counterparts and reflects warmer colors, like a goldish hue.

  • Oil Rubbed Bronze

    Oil Rubbed BronzeOil rubbed bronze is a black, charcoal-colored living finish (changes over time). Oil rubbed bronze will change with use as it will become shiny where it is touched. To treat oil rubbed bronze, occasionally apply light machine oil to deepen the color and sheen of the untouched portions of the product. Cover the metal parts with oil entirely, allow the oil to stand for a few minutes, then gently rub off the excess with a clean cloth. Oil Rubbed Bronze differs among manufacturers so keep this in mind if getting a close match is important to you. Click Here for more information on how to get a closer match.