The Best Brass Finishes for Your Kitchen
Brass faucets have emerged as kitchen must-haves, along with farmhouse sinks and open shelving. It’s easy to see why: brass faucets add so much warmth to a kitchen, and they look beautiful in kitchens of every color.
But brass is different from stainless steel or nickel, because of the care required to maintain some brass finishes. If you want brass, the two main options are going au naturel with aged brass or choosing a more stable aged brass finish.
I’ve had this discussion with a lot of my clients, so I want to break down some pros and cons of these different finishes to help you make a decision on which one will be right for your home.
Unlacquered Brass Faucets
This is just what it sounds like: brass that doesn’t have any coating or special sealer to keep it shiny. As it’s used, the faucet will take on a patina of age from fingerprints, oil, and water splashes.
The main advantage to unlacquered brass is that it’s considered a living finish, and it’s embraced by luxury faucet makers including House of Rohl, Waterstone, and Rejuvenation. The disadvantage is cost (it’s expensive) and some people don’t like the dark marks the patina brings. Not only does it react to fingerprints, but it also reacts to water and even acidic foods.
I adore the living finish on my unlacquered brass faucet and the naked brass hardware that I installed in my home kitchen a few years ago (seen above).
But if the randomness of the patina bothers you, you can restore the original finish with a metal polish like Brasso or Bar Keeper’s Friend. California Faucets recommends that before you install an unlacquered brass faucet, take it out of the box two weeks ahead to get the patina started. Polishing the faucet with butcher’s wax before using it will help manage the patina and keep it more even.
Burnished Brass Faucets
A handful of faucet manufacturers offer a burnished brass finish, but it happens to be my favorite! California Faucets achieves a time-worn, “burnished” brass by tumbling their unlacquered brass faucets in a bin of corn kernels. I love how this finish gives you a head start on that “always there” look and helps to hide the inevitable uneven patina from use. My own kitchen faucet is this finish.
Antique Brass Faucets
With antique brass, the maker has added a little bit of patina to slightly darken the finish, and then they seal it to make sure it stays that way. They come in shiny and satin finishes that have a bit softer feel. Either way, antique brass is a great option if you’re busy and don’t want to spend time maintaining your kitchen faucet.
PVD Brass-Look Faucets
Most people are surprised to learn there’s a third option when it comes to faucets that have the warmth of brass. If you like the idea of some patina, but want your faucet to keep its gleam, then you’ll want to consider the PVD finish. Though PVD looks like brass, it’s actually a high-tech process that changes the molecules on the surface of the base metal.
The term PVD, short for physical vapor deposition, came from a technology developed to help cannons operate better. Scientists noticed that they could use the process to change the color of the metal, and eventually, it was applied to faucets.
PVD is the ideal choice if you don’t want ANY change to the finish. The downside is that, for purists, it’s not really brass, but really no one else will know. Our favorite PVD finishes are very good substitutes that will be a durable choice for your kitchen or bath.
A Few of My Favorite Brass Faucets
Kohler Purist Faucet
While this is technically a bathroom faucet, it could work in a kitchen too. Shown in the Vibrant Moderne Brushed Gold PVD finish, it features vintage-inspired cross handles with a sleek modern form. ($709 from Build.com)
Trinsic Pull-Down Single-Handle Kitchen Faucet
This touch control faucet is made with a new ceramic disc technology to make sure it lasts for 5 million uses. It’s done in Delta’s Champagne Bronze finish, which is guaranteed not to change or tarnish. And if it gets left on accidentally, it automatically shuts off after four minutes. ($589 from Allmodern.com)
Henry High-Profile Bar Faucet With Metal Cross Handle
This sturdy one-hole faucet would be perfect in an industrial or farmhouse kitchen. This faucet will keep aging with use unless the Waterworks wax routine (described in the first section of this document) is followed. And the fact that it shares a name with my youngest son doesn’t hurt either. ($2120 from Waterworks.com)
Waterstone 1625-01 Fulton Faucet
This single-hole faucet is designed for the wet bar sink, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use it elsewhere. This sleek unlacquered faucet comes in two brass finishes Tuscan brass, which is warmer, and weathered brass with more patina. ($674 from Build.com)
Rocky Mountain Hardware Kitchen Deck Mount Faucet With Straight Spout
The little T handles drew me to this faucet, along with the spout with its last-minute curve. For some reason, RMH calls their unlacquered brass-look to finish bronze, but it comes in three styles: lightly brushed and high-polished. ($2999 from DoorHardwareUSA.com)
I love California Faucets’ Corsano design for its discreet pull-down sprayer and the fact that the spray is very strong. The line also includes a matching soap dispenser, water spout, and disposal button. This is burnished brass, so it ages over time, lending a vintage feel to the faucet’s modern lines. My picture window, and this brass faucet, almost make washing dishes enjoyable. ($1097 from DecorPlanet.com)