Posted on February 02 2017
When you're shopping for Shower Heads, one of the most important features to look for is the Shower Finishes.
There are a variety of reasons why you may want one Finish over the other, which include:
- Matching other Bathroom Fixtures
What you'll come to find is that not all Shower Heads are available in all Finishes. After all, there are so many different types of Finishes, it just wouldn't be feasible. What you will see, however, is that there are essentially 4 core Finishes, some with slight variations, which we'll cover in this article. But before we get started, allow me to debunk some Finish myths.
- Finish Names Do Not Represent What Material The Product Is Made Of
- Not All Finishes Are As Durable As Others
- Finishes Vary From Company To Company
Now that we've cleared that up, let's jump in to the different types of Finishes.
Chrome Shower Head
Far and away the most popular Finish on the market, Chrome is known for it's super reflective, metallic look. And no, it's not necessarily made of Chrome. Rather, it has a Chrome like look. It's really the one Finish that has proven to be timeless. Plus, for those on more of a budget, you'll find that Chrome is the least expensive of the Finish options.
In recent years, Chrome has become the go-to Finish for Modern design. While on the flip side, it's also a safe bet for just about any home who just wants something simple and sturdy. Keep in mind, though it looks great clean, Chrome can be a burden to the eyes once it gets a few rounds of water spots. So make sure to wipe it down routinely!
Chrome shower head Finish Recap:
- Price: $
- Style: Transitional - Modern
- Durability: Medium
Polished Brass (Gold Shower Head)
Very similar to Chrome, Polished Brass is highly reflective. However, it's Gold color gives this Finish a very bold look. Not to disappoint, but there isn't a wide variety of Shower Heads still available in this Finish. That's because it's popularity has waned over the years, with the glory days of Polished Brass being in the 80's and 90's.
Polished Brass is also one of the first Finishes that companies started to make with the revolutionary Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Finish technology. Without getting too technical, the PVD Finish allows manufacturer's to create an extremely hard and durable Finish, despite it being extremely thin. Pardon the pun, but it's become the Gold Standard when it comes to finishing Home Hardware, from Shower Heads to Door Knobs.
You'll find companies like Moen, Kohler and Delta offer it. Look for Moen's "LifeShine" Finish and Kohler's "Vibrant" Finish to know which Finishes are in fact PVD.
Polished Brass Finish Recap:
- Price: $$
- Style: Traditional
- Durability: High
Brushed Nickel Shower Head
Quickly becoming one of the most popular Finishes, Brushed Nickel is defined by it's grayish color and matte look. It's more neutral look allows it to span many different design styles, from Traditional to Modern.
One of the big draws to Brushed Nickel is just how well it holds up to hard water, and not showing water spots like Chrome does. This is a Finish that is available in PVD by a variety of companies.
BUT, you'll find that not all Brushed Nickel looks the same. For one, it's a more labor intensive process so some companies try to make it cheaper than others, often giving it a plastic-like sheen. On top of that, some companies don't just offer "Brushed Nickel", rather close relatives which include:
- Satin Nickel
- Spot Resist Brushed Nickel (Moen exclusive)
- SpotShield Brushed Nickel (Delta exclusive)
So, make sure you know what you want. A good rule of thumb is to not only choose a reputable Faucet Manufacturer, but to use that manufacturer for all of your fixtures throughout your bathroom.
Brushed Nickel Recap:
- Price: $$
- Style: Traditional - Transitional - Modern
- Durability: High
Oil Rubbed Bronze
With it's warm and earthy brown color, Oil Rubbed Bronze is perfect for those going for a more traditional, rustic design. It's called "rubbed" because once the Bronze Finish is applied there are literaly people or machines, rubbing the finish to bring through Copper tones.
While this makes it a truly unique finish, it does come with some warnings. For one, Oil Rubbed Bronze is one of the highest priced Finishes because it is so labor intensive. Additionally, this is a Finish that you won't find in PVD. That's because it's such a intricate Finish that a the PVD process wouldn't work well. So, it is not as resilient of a Finish as the previously mentioned Finishes.
Moreover, since it is so unique, this Finish varies greatly from one manufacturer to the next. Some manufacturer's Oil Rubbed Bronze is lighter, other's darker. So, if you're looking to match Oil Rubbed Bronze throughout the home, you'll especially want to stick with one manufacturer, even more so than with Brushed Nickel.
Oil Rubbed Bronze is also called:
- Tuscan Bronze (Price Pfister)
- Mediterranean Bronze (Moen)
- Venetian Bronze (Delta)
Don't worry, if you're diligent and try to stick with one manufacturer, you won't be in a dilemma with Finishes that don't match.
Where I've seen most people get tripped up is with Moen's Oil Rubbed Bronze and Moen's Mediterranean Bronze. The Oil Rubbed Bronze is a lighter brown color with darker tones throughout, while Mediterranean Bronze is almost dark black with broad strokes of Copper coming through.
Oil Rubbed Bronze Recap:
- Price: $$$
- Style: Traditional
- Durability: Low
Honorable Mention Finishes
Yes, there are a wealth of Finishes that we won't cover here. Some honorable mentions are:
- Matte Black
- Antique Copper
- Antique Brass
- Brushed Chrome
- Polished Nickel
- Champagne Bronze
These Finishes are more niche and carry with them a higher price point as a result However, they do exist and companies like Kohler are very well known for their quality and breadth of Finishes.
Ultimately, you want to look for what Price you're comfortable with, how much wear and tear the Fixture is going to experience and the design style you're going for. Once you have that in line, you'll be able to go for the Finish that best suits your needs.