Satin this, brushed that, figuring out the right terminology can be tough. How are you supposed to know? Every manufacturer has a unique lingo that adds more confusion to the mix. There are 2 or 3 different sheen options for one finish, and then there are more than 50 different finish options to decipher. Each manufacturer has its own mix for each finish which also means that no two manufacturers are identical and matching hardware finishes can be challenging. We want to help you understand the differences between your options for finishes and how they compare.
Finishes have different hues on a warm/cool scale that, believe it or not, can clash if you’re not careful. We’re going to break this down for you as simply as we can. Warmer colors almost have a yellow/orange/red undertone to them, whereas cooler colors have a blue/green/grey undertone. The lighting in a room can also have a major effect on the way paint looks in your home, in turn, affecting the overall look of the hardware you select. If you have warmer, more yellow lighting in your home, a warmer hued piece of hardware may suit the project better than a cooler one. Knowing which tone to go with can really improve the turnout of a project.
Our more popular finishes can be challenging to pick apart from one another so below, we’ve explained how their hues may be described best. Manufacturers have a color code that they use to help with ordering multiple items in the same color.
Just like the bottom of a soda can, it’s on the cool side of the scale. Aluminum finishes have a bluish hue to the general silver color they appear to be.
Bright and yellow in color, tends to lean cooler on the scale. Brass is classically seen in older homes and compliment a wide variety of wood species as well as paint colors and now is also becoming very popular in newer, modern homes.
Warmer on the scale than Brass typically. Tends to have more of an orange tone to it. Oil Rubbed Bronze is dark in color, almost chocolatey brown, but can vary from almost black to Bronze with Copper highlights. Champagne is the lightest version of a Bronze finish offered.
Bright and shiny often comes to mind when considering the term “Chrome”. We like to describe it as a brighter, whiter silver hue. It’s also colder on the scale.
Much more orange than Brass or Bronze. Copper is warm and inviting and it’s more of a traditional finish.
Yellow in color, bright and warm in hue.
Warmer and somewhat darker in silver shade variation than Chrome would be. You can put a Nickel knob next to a Chrome knob and see that it has a hint of yellow to it whereas Chrome will almost look blue or white.
Much darker in color. Cold in hue and grey in color.
Almost identical to Nickel, Stainless Steel is just a hair darker than Nickel is. Looking at the two from a distance, you might not notice the difference at all.
As we mentioned before, each manufacturer is going to have their own variation of each color and two of the same finishes/sheen from different manufacturers may not be identical which can make matching hardware finishes difficult. More recognizable finish/color options such as Black, White, Tan, and Brown are available as well as an array of bright colors like Red, Green and Blue.
The Skinny on Sheen
Selecting the right sheen for your hardware can become confusing when you see two items that look almost identical but have different verbiage in their description. Depending on the manufacturer, two identical sheen descriptions may also look different in person. Manufacturers also have codes to help make ordering easier. Below are the sheen options and how we would explain the way they look and how they compare to each other.
Looks tarnished or aged but has a protective lacquer to prevent further tarnishing. These pieces look like they have spent time unfinished and now they will remain that way.
Two terms, basically identical in meaning. There is very little to no reflective shine to these pieces. They are meant to absorb light rather than refract it. Some Matte finishes have a mild shine to them but next to a Satin or Polished sheen, they are soft and may also have a protective matte lacquer coating.
Some of the manufacturers we carry have glass or acrylic pieces that are labelled as frosted. This is to resemble a frosted over piece of glass, like your windshield in the winter. It is supposed to make the glass look cloudy or smoky, rather than clear.
A satin finish is meant to soften the appearance of your hardware and eliminate the mirror-like reflection you might see in Polished pieces. Different manufacturers have different terms for Satin finish such as brushed, burnished, or even dull. You oftentimes can see the “brush strokes” on the pieces ordered. Depending on the manufacturer, satin or brushed sheen may have a clear lacquer to give it a protective coating and prevent scratching.
High gloss, reflective shine. Polished finishes are very shiny and mirror-like.
Traditionally, Unlacquered finishes left the metal exposed, allowing it to patina and darken over time. Patina is the oxidation of metal over time creating a brown or green film over the exposed metal. Unlacquered metal such as brass is generally polished but is unfinished and raw metal.
More About Matching Hardware Finishes
Matching hardware finishes to current hardware is common goal of the average homeowner on our site. We try as often as possible to simplify the process. Knowing information like this can make it easier for you and help to decide what goes best in your home and which hues match others or which ones will truly shine.
Amerock has released new finishes to help with matching faucets in up and coming trends. Stainless Steel is easier to match than most other finishes. Matte Black is trending and is on the coattails of classic finishes like Satin Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze and works with almost every color scheme. Brass finishes go great with both dark and light cabinets and are bright options to draw attention. Mixing and matching hardware is starting to become more common as well as split finishes. Give your home a multidimensional feel by bringing finishes like black and brass together. Copper is working its way back up the ladder and is a gorgeous addition to any home. Copper pairs well with both light and dark paint colors like black, grey, navy blue and white. Lighter wood finishes like oak and maple look great when paired with darker finished hardware like Oil Rubbed Bronze, Graphite and Black. Nickel and Chrome look beautiful and stand out against darker wood finishes like cherry, espresso, and walnut.
Remembering that lighting can affect the way hardware looks can help keep your finishes from clashing. Warmer lighting gives a room an overall yellow glow that may turn your gorgeous dove grey paint into a greenish color that is less than ideal. Cooler lighting brings bright white light into your room and brings out much more natural tones in color. It is easy to change the lighting in your home, simply look at the temperature guide above and find bulbs to fit in the color spectrum you desire.