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If you're shopping for a new bathroom faucet, it's not just the style that's important; it's also the finish. It seems that almost everywhere, the faucet finish of choice is chrome. That could lead you to assume that chrome is what you should get. But if you've ever been somewhere where you actually noticed the faucet, it was probably because it had an intriguing finish that caught your eye.

Don't get me wrong, chrome is awesome! It wouldn't continue to be the most-popular selling finish if it didn't have its advantages. Its neutrality seems to make it an appropriate fit in any environment. It's attractive, durable, inexpensive, won't tarnish, and is simple to clean with soap and water. What more could you want?

Well, if you dare to break from the crowd, you'll quickly discover several new options. The first thing you'll notice is that any metal finish is either going to be polished like chrome to a brilliant shine; or given a softer, brushed/satin finish. The coatings themselves are applied by various techniques: electromagnetism, chemical baths, or a process called Physical Vapor Deposition, or PVD - by far, the most often used method to permanently and evenly deposit a thin layer of metal on the faucet exterior. Each manufacturer has its own set of color blends and uses its own application techniques to create a variety of finishes.

Whatever degree of shine you prefer, the care for any color finish is the same. Simply avoid abrasive cleansers, ammonia, bleach, and coarse pads. A mild soap with water and a soft cloth is all you need.

So what are the other finish choices?

Nickel faucets can be found both polished and brushed. For a luster similar to chrome, but with a golden aura, try the highly-buffed nickel. However, the second-most popular style sold today is nickel with a brushed appearance; and with good reason. It has a pleasing, subtle, golden tone; and its softness masks any random smudges or water spots.

The demand for bronze and copper continues to grow. Satin bronze offers a soft, matte appearance with a significant golden hue. More often, though, bronze is sold in an oil-rubbed finish. This tone can range from a medium chocolate color to nearly black, usually with streaks of copper randomly peeking through. Copper itself can be found brightly polished like a shiny new penny, or in various stages of aged darkness. The attraction to these two finishes is their classical nuance.

To really add a bit of sparkle to the bath; a bright, glossy, brass faucet should do the trick. For a subtler approach, there are satin brass models available. The same goes for gold finishes which can be highly polished or in various muted shades of gold; many with hints of other infused colors as well.

Beyond the metallic effect, powder-coated finishes should be considered. These are typically found in matte black or white; but fun, bright colors are beginning to sneak onto the market.

Which finish is right for your bath? You are the expert. As for mixing and matching with the sink, counter, or other fixtures in the room; it's all a matter of your taste. If you want all the fixtures to closely match, consider buying all from the same manufacturer, as tones will vary between brands. If you like contrast, use a dark finish faucet against a light-colored sink, or vice-versa. If you prefer a soft look, go for a brushed finish. Make your bath your own, from start to faucet finish!