Brushed and satin nickel are two mediums often used in household hardware such as kitchen cabinet knobs, pulls, and handles. Nickel is popular because it is quite durable, has excellent structural stability, and is aesthetically beautiful. Additionally, nickel tends to be an attractive choice among designers looking for sustainable materials because it is widely collected and easily recycled. Understanding the difference between brushed nickel vs satin nickel can be confusing, especially because the terms are often used interchangeably. Once you know what to look for, telling the difference is very simple.
If you take a look at brushed nickel, you’ll notice that it has small etchings or abrasions, all heading in the same direction, which gives the hardware a soft matte finish. A wire brush tool is swiped on the nickel to create that very light, consistent, and single direction grain. This process ultimately removes some of the sheen from the metal, though not so much as with satin nickel, because light does still reflect in the grooved brush strokes of the brushed nickel. Satin nickel, on the other hand, is a plated finish. It is a coating of nickel layered over zinc or brass. Finally, a satin lacquer is applied over the plating for durability. Satin nickel, therefore, has a matte finish as well but no visible abrasions or etchings in the finish.
Durability, Care, & Cost
How do the two stack up against each other when it comes to durability, care, and cost? Well, caring for satin nickel can be a slightly more delicate process; because the nickel is actually metal plating. The durability is determined by the thickness of the plating. So, a thicker finish will be both more durable and more expensive. Otherwise, the two are reasonably comparable in cost. With proper upkeep, they can both look almost new for many years.
So, how does brushed nickel vs satin nickel stack up to each other, is there a clear winner between the two? Not really. As long as you buy a quality satin nickel product, the two are quite comparable in cost, durability, and care. With proper care, you should get many years of reliable use from your beautiful hardware.