If you're remodeling your bathroom, choosing your fixtures could seem like the least of your worries. But your fixtures make a big difference in how your bathroom will look when it's finished.
A well-planned choice will provide the perfect accent to your bathroom, while a less well-suited set of fixtures will lessen the impact of your decoration. In addition, some metals are more high-maintenance than others--and how often you need to clean can make a significant day-to-day difference. Here's a breakdown of the most common types of fixtures on the market.
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6 Common Types of Bathroom Fixtures
Chrome Bathroom Fixtures
Chrome was made popular in the 1930's, and it remains one of the most popular choices for bathroom fixtures today. Modern chrome fixtures are usually made with a layer of chrome electroplated onto an underlayer of brass. The reasons for its popularity are numerous: it's a lovely silvery color, it's tarnish-resistant, and it's usually an economical choice. However, chrome must be cleaned often to keep that beautiful shiny glow. In addition, it can show some wear and tear over time.
Stainless Steel Bathroom Fixtures
Stainless steel isn't as shiny as chrome, but it's rugged, long-lasting, and affordable. Stainless steel plates won't tarnish or corrode, and they're made from a solid mix of chromium and steel alloys--no plating involved. Many people love stainless steel because it goes with a wide variety of decors. It does have its drawbacks, however. It can get scratched, and may rust at the site of the scratch. It loses its shine over time as well.
Brass Bathroom Fixtures
Brass gives a beautiful and distinct look. It's not an adaptable metal like stainless steel--brass stands out, and it won't go with every bathroom design. Still, if you want to make a statement with your fixtures, brass just might be the right choice for you. Brass fixtures are made from a single metal, with no mixing or plating. This means that, unlike electroplated fixtures such as chrome, the top layer can't erode over time. They're usually a more expensive choice, however, and they do tarnish.
Brushed Nickel Bathroom Fixtures
These tend to be more expensive, but they're also easier to take care of. Brushed nickel is made of a layer of nickel electroplated onto a layer of brass. Unlike brass, stainless steel, and chrome, brushed-nickel fixtures don't register water spots and fingerprint smudges as well--so you won't have to constantly wipe them down to maintain that shiny look. They don't tarnish, and rarely show scratches. However, the nickel plating can wear down over time.
Bronze Bathroom Fixtures
No two bronze fixtures are alike, as the forging process gives the metal irregularities that make them unique. Bronze fixtures are often coated with finishes that are exposed to the environment--they can rub off where the fixtures are often touched, darken where they are not, and change color when exposed to some materials. Those who like bronze love this "living" aspect of the fixtures.
Copper Bathroom Fixtures
Copper fixtures give a stunning, unique look that goes well with antique décor. Copper is naturally antibacterial; while bacteria can live for days on stainless steel and other metals, they can survive on copper for only a few hours. Many people prefer copper for its antibacterial properties. It will tarnish to a light green color, which can be removed with the proper cleaning products or prevented with the right coating. Copper tends to be on the pricier side.
If you're interested in a new look for your bathroom but don't have the budget for a full-scale redesign, changing your fixtures is a great way to change the look of your bathroom for less. Update tired stainless steel fixtures with shiny chrome or smudge-free brushed nickel. Add an antique feel with copper, or a pricier look with brass. For a bigger change, switch your towel and shower curtain colors or change movable furniture such as shelves and cabinets. This will make it possible to update your bathroom's look without breaking your budget.
However, it's also important to make sure that the fixtures you choose don't clash with your décor. If you prefer clean lines and a smooth, contemporary look, choose a silvery, shiny metal such as stainless steel, nickel, or chrome. Copper and bronze are ideal for antique bathrooms, and can definitely give your bathroom a one-of-a-kind look. Take your time shopping for fixtures, and you're sure to find some that fit your décor and lifestyle.