Things You May Not Know About Finishes

Chrome finishingsFinishes are more than an aesthetic detail, yet we probably have never taken the time to learn how the products in our industry achieve their finish and why one may be more durable than another. We know chrome is tougher than gold, but why?

The Finish manual explains the different finishes and how they are produced. Below are 5 things you may not know, but I encourage you to read the manual. If you haven’t done so yet, sign up for our new Recognition Programs and take the test to earn your merit badge. When you pass the test, you will be recognized on our website as being proficient in Finishes.

1. The quality of the finish often represents the entire value of the product. We often hear, I can buy a kitchen faucet for $200, so why is your’s so much more? Well, finish is one of those reasons. Luxury plumbing and kitchen hardware products often use more expensive metals with more layers. Learn how each manufacturer in your showroom produces their finish – how many layers they use and what metals make up those layers – because not all chrome finishes are created equal.

2. chrome1Certain finishes may be more suited to different uses depending on their location.  Light, water, chemicals, and atmosphere affect finishes. For example, what finish do     you recommend for a client’s outdoor shower? I remember a customer that wanted gold bathroom faucets for her twin, 5-year-old boys. Would you recommend this finish for product that was going to get a lot of use and abuse?

3. Advise clients to protect fixtures during construction by explaining the potential damage that results from dust, vapor and chemicals used during the building process that can cause the finishes to discolor or tarnish.

Finishes require common sense care, but you would be surprised at the number of contractors unaware that polished nickel cannot take the same abuse as stainless steel. I have even seen decorative shower drain covers ruined by tile installers cleaning grout haze with acid.

4. The hardness and integrity of the final plating layer determine the durability of electroplated surfaces. Satin chrome is tough, but the abrading process that produces the satin surface exposes the top layer to more atmospheric oxidation, so in fact it is not as hardwearing as polished chrome.

5. Physical Vapor Disposition, PVD, is the most durable finish to date. It is 23 times more scratch resistant than chrome and is not affected by exposure to ultraviolet light. Today, numerous, long lasting finishes are available, making our kitchen and bathrooms personalized and functional, but with all of these choices, it is even more important to comprehend the metal finish process and the performance of each.

Understanding finishes, how they are produced, and which may better perform in a particular installation, not only makes us more knowledgeable in our careers, but also more valuable to our clients.