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Our guide to tapware finishes

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Selecting tapware, particularly the tapware finish, is a vital part of any renovation or new build, and one of my favourite parts of the design process. With so many options available for finishes, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. A lot of my clients also worry about these finishes dating overtime, but trends are telling us that all these finishes are here to stay. The most important thing is to ensure that you love the finish and that it works with the colours and materials selected for the space. If you're not sure where to start, we have put together a guide to the most popular finishes that we use, so you can make the right decision for your home!

1 | Chrome

Chrome is the most well-known finish and what most people think of when it comes to tapware. It's a timeless finish, with a huge variety of options available for styles and shapes to suit everyone's taste. It's also the cheapest finish, therefore it makes a great option for those on a budget. Chrome can easily compliment all styles and colour palettes, making it the most versatile finish.

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2 | Brushed nickel

Brushed nickel is similar to a stainless steel look, making it a great option for contemporary, coastal or industrial style homes. However, its neutral tone means that it actually pairs well with any colour scheme or material palette, making it almost as versatile as chrome.

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3 | Matt black

Matt black has become an incredibly popular choice for anyone wanting to make a statement with their tapware. Matt black tapware works perfectly in modern or industrial style homes, but can also work in classic style homes if used in traditional shaped tapware. You can use black tapware to create really striking monochrome spaces by pairing it with whites and greys. However, black is actually incredibly versatile and works well with most palettes so you can also pair it with timbers, patterns and colours!

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4 | Gunmetal

If you're after a finish that creates more of a statement than brushed nickel but is more subtle than matt black, then gunmetal is the perfect option for you. It's a great option for contemporary or industrial style homes, and pairs well with most colours, timbers and patterns. However, some gunmetal finishes tend to be cooler or warmer than others, so make sure you view all your tile and joinery samples together with your tapware!

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5 | Brushed brass/gold

Brushed brass/gold works beautifully to create warm, soft and feminine interiors, it works great in a range of styles including contemporary, traditional and coastal. Brushed brass/gold tapware pairs nicely with warmer tones and timbers, as well as bright whites and natural stone. Some brushed brass/gold tapware can also be an organic / living finish which will change and patina over time. If selecting a living finish, you will need to consider the maintenance required to keep this finish looking nice for as long as possible, and how this will look as it wears.

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6 | Rose gold or champagne

Both rose gold and champagne are similar to brushed brass/gold but with more of a rose/pink undertone instead of yellow undertones. While it still works wells in all settings that a brushed brass/gold would, the rose undertones makes the tapware feel a bit softer and a bit more contemporary. This allows it to pair well with cooler greys where a brushed brass/gold might feel too contrasting.

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7 | Copper

This is another similar finish to a brushed brass/gold, however, copper has an orange undertone instead that makes it a bright and fun finish. Copper works well in industrial, country and contemporary homes. Being quite bright, a copper finish can be used to create a statement with your tapware. It pairs nicely with warmer tones, but can create a fun contrast with cooler tones and other colours.

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8 | Brushed bronze

Brushed bronze is another finish that can work for traditional, contemporary, industrial, coastal, or country style homes. Being a dark metallic brown, brushed bronze has a beautiful warmth to it that works well with warmer tones and timbers. It's a great alternative to black if you want your tapware to make a statement without it feeling too monochromatic and modern. Brushed bronze is also available as an organic / living finish.

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9 | White

White tapware can be used to create a very subtle 'white on white' interior that suits both contemporary and traditional style, and can help to make spaces appear more spacious. On the other hand, you can pair white tapware with darker tones to create contrast. This allows you to create monochromatic rooms like you would with black tapware on a white background, but with a twist! White can work well with any colour scheme and material palette.

Additional tips

Consider how your tapware finish flows with the rest of the home - particularly if you are only renovating one room, or hoping to use different finishes in different rooms. I personally don't love mixing different metallic finishes, to the point where I would even avoid pairing a brass or copper kitchen mixer with a stainless sink, opting for white or black sink instead. I also think that using the same tapware throughout gives the home more cohesiveness and continuity.

However, you can get away with it if the rooms are far apart (like a ground floor bathroom to first floor bathroom) or if you want to use a special finish in one feature room only (like a kitchen, powder room or ensuite). In this case, I would recommend to pick one feature finish and use either chrome or brushed nickel to the rest of the home.

If you were hoping to match everything else in your home to your tapware, keep in mind that it can sometimes be difficult (or very expensive) to find door/joinery handles, feature lights, shower screen hardware, heated towel rails, toilet buttons, etc. in some of these finishes - particularly the rose gold, copper and bronze. You may therefore need to consider using a different finish for those areas. In these cases, we often use either matt black and/or white to pair with the tapware finish.

It's important to keep in mind that the same finish can vary slightly between suppliers even if they have the same name. Where you can, I recommend to buy as much as possible from the one supplier to ensure they will all match perfectly. When buying from a different supplier or trying to match your tapware finish to lights, handles, etc. make sure you take a sample of the tapware finish with you to view together.

Lastly, if you're not sure where to start, here are some of our most used tapware brands,

- ABI Interiors

- Phoenix

- Meir

- Faucet Strommen

- Brodware

I hope this has been helpful! If you are looking to build or renovate and would like some help, you can get in contact with us using the link below:

Have a wonderful week,

Nina xx

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