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What you should know about brass plumbing fixtures

Design: Lauren Liess. Photo: Helen Norman

We all know brass fixtures have made a resurgence in popularity, and rightfully so, so today we're taking a look at the different finishes and things you should know about them.

There are a number of types of brass finishes, and they will each live differently. Different suppliers will call them by different marketing names but at the heart of it they are generally one of the following: Lacquered brass, unlacquered brass, oil rubbed brass, polished brass and satin brass.

Image: Hunker

Oil rubbed was quite popular about 15 years ago, but we all know that trends are cyclical, so we'll give you the rundown on this one too. Oil rubbed bronze gets its darkened finish from a chemical treatment to make it look like aged bronze which lends to an antique look. Unlike some of the other finishes we'll take a look at this finish doesn't really show fingerprints and water spots so it's pretty easy to maintain.

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Polished brass is pretty much just what it sounds like, brass that has been polished to a bright shiny finish. This finish also happens to be lacquered so that it keeps its shiny finish longer than most others. This finish will show fingerprints and water spots and overtime and with use the lacquer will eventually dull and you will notice a patina in areas.

Satin brass has a subtly textured and almost brushed like finish, much like brushed stainless steel or nickel. This texture is much more forgiving than a polished finish and helps to conceal water spots and fingerprints.

Yes, we already talked about polished brass being lacquered however not all lacquered brass has to be polished to a gleaming finish. Lacquered brass can also be satin, brushed or even antiqued. The lacquer is there to reduce the appearance of patina (green or brown film produced by oxidation).

DeVol Kitchens

Unlacquered brass is considered to have a living finish. This means that it will mature, tarnish and patina over time. Most people selecting unlacquered brass buy it for this reason, they like the aged appearance and patina. Beware that if your are one of those people that every water spot, fingerprint and sign of wear will bother this is not the finish for you.

Waterstone Faucets

As far as care, the general rule of thumb is regular wiping with a microfiber cloth and use of non-abrasive cleansers to keep your fixtures free from water and deposits. When cleaning lacquered brass you won't want to use harsh chemicals or anything abrasive as it will erode the lacquer much more quickly. If cleaning unlacquered brass, and not attempting to remove the patina, you will clean with a microfiber cloth without the use of household cleaners.


Brass is a classic and no matter what finish you choose to go with the key is understanding how that finish will "live" and how to properly maintain it. Brass is sure to elevate and add warmth to any space.

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