What Is a Satin Nickel Finish?

Written by j. lang wood
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What Is a Satin Nickel Finish?
Satin nickel finishes are often used on kitchen cabinet hardware. (David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Many homeowners who are researching household products may come across a variety of hardware, plumbing fixtures, lighting and other metal objects that come with a satin nickel finish. Satin nickel is a popular finish that fits in well with today's kitchen and bath decor It offers a metallic finish without the bright glossiness of brass or gold, yet is more subtle than the chrome or stainless steel look.

Description of Satin Nickel Finishes

Nickel finishes are shiny, silvery and metallic. Satin nickel is a silver finish with a muted shine yet still has some reflectivity. It is sometimes called brushed nickel because it often has brush lines or a grainy appearance on the surface, but the lines are not always present. Instead, the metal has a "frosty" or pearlescent appearance. Many plumbing, lighting and furniture hardware feature satin nickel finishes.

How The Satin Nickel Finish Is Produced

There are many variations in satin nickel finish available on the market produced by a variety of processes. Satin nickel is sometimes made by mechanically polishing the silver surface of the metal, either before or after plating. This creates a brushed appearance after plating. The pearlescent quality is achieved by special additives in the plating bath, and no lining of the metal is apparent.

Caring For A Satin Nickel Finish

Satin nickel finishes should get the same kind of care you would give to any metal finish. Wipe the surface with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dirt and fingerprints. Avoid using harsh abrasives, window cleaning solutions, bleach or chemical compounds to clean the metal, which can remove protective coatings or scratch the metal. Do not use abrasive pads to remove stains or dirt. Satin nickel will tarnish more easily than chrome and should be protected with a coat of clear paste waste to resist moisture from the air or through contact with hands.

Problems With Satin Nickel Finishes

Though nickel is corrosion-resistant, older satin nickel finishes may lose part of the protective lacquer applied by the manufacturer. This can allow oxidation of the metal to appear, which may look like tarnish. This will buff out with a soft cloth or a commercial metal cleaner available at your local supermarket or hardware store. Using abrasive products on a satin nickel finish will accelerate damage to the plating surface and increase its tendency to tarnish and discolour.

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