Shop 4 Classics

Finish Tips

Finish plays an important role when selecting plumbing and hardware. Aesthetics and ease of maintenance are key criterion for selecting the appropriate finish for your application. At Shop 4 Classics you have a wide assortment of finishes to choose from, including brass, chrome, nickel, copper, pewter, and oil-rubbed bronze. We are sure that you will find the perfect match for your home.

Polished Brass


Brass has been a common finish since the nineteenth century. It is a warm but relatively high maintenance finish, requiring frequent polishing to keep it shiny. Even with constant polishing, unprotected brass will tarnish (brown spots) in time. For some, the tarnish is desirable. Natural brass is supposed to tarnish so obsessive renovators might prefer unprotected brass.

Shop 4 Classics sells polishes that will help preserve brass but most of us prefer a lower maintenance, more permanent solution. Manufacturers use many techniques to protect brass and relieve maintenance responsibilities. Supercoating is one such technique. Supercoating is a two-part epoxy that is applied electrostatically and baked on to insure a lasting shine. Supercoat protective finish is perfect for those who appreciate the look of brass but wish to avoid the necessity of polishing. Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is another technique for protecting brass. PVD polished brass is a tarnish-resistant, scratch-resistant, and corrosion-resistant finish. PVD is a process that makes the brass finish an integral part of the faucet. These techniques help to protect the finish but to maintain the shine, brass must be gently cleaned with a soft cloth after use to remove water spots, soap film, and fingerprints.

Polished Nickel


Because it was not as susceptible to tarnish as brass, nickel was the preferred finish from the 1880’s up until chrome came onto the scene in the 1930's. Its popularity waned as chrome became the favorite alternative to brass. However, nickel has experienced a resurgence in recent years. Nickel finishes range from the more chrome-like polished nickel finish to the more stainless steel-like matte nickel finish. Polished nickel is a smooth lustrous finish. It is sometimes brushed to create matte or satin nickel finishes. The brushing highlights the beauty of the nickel and creates a low maintenance finish which hides scratches, fingerprints, and water spots.

Brushed Nickel

While nickel is less susceptible to tarnish than is brass, it is not naturally impervious to tarnish. The same techniques that are used to prevent brass from tarnishing can be used to protect nickel. If tarnish is a concern, check to make certain that the nickel finish is protected or choose chrome.


Chromium plating (chrome) became popular in the 1930's and continues to be one of our most popular finishes. Chrome is a sophisticated tarnish-resistant finish. Solid brass fixtures are electroplated with chrome to provide a finish that lasts. Like brass, however, chrome requires frequent cleanings to maintain its shine.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a combination of steel alloys and chromium (chrome). It shines like silver when new but its appearance can dull over time. With proper care and maintenance, though, this corrosion and rust resistant finish can last a lifetime. Stainless steel has been a popular choice in kitchen applications for many years.

Stainless Steel
Black Cast Iron

Cast Iron Finishes

Cast iron is an alloy of iron that is shaped by heating to a molten state and casting in a mold. Cast iron will rust if exposed to moisture. It is normally painted or powder coated to seal as well as introduce color. Traditionally, cast iron clawfoot tubs are painted white while most cast iron hardware is powder coated to a flat black finish.

Gray Aluminum

Aluminum Finishes

Aluminum is a silvery metallic element that is lightweight, durable, economical, and rust resistant. Cast aluminum vent covers are often painted or finished with a baked on powder coat. Colors can range from traditional flat black to contemporary silver. Aluminum finished in faux bronze and brass colors provide an economical alternative to more expensive metal finishes such as bronze patina or polished brass.

Silver Aluminum
Antique Brass

Distressed Finishes

Distressed finishes are the result of a renewed interest in vintage hardware and plumbing. Antiques can be expensive and difficult to find. Shop 4 Classics carries high quality antique reproductions that are economical, easier to install than the originals, conform to modern codes, and are available to order today.

Antique Pewter
Antique Copper
Weathered and antiqued finishes such as weathered copper, antique copper, antique brass, antique bronze, old bronze and antique pewter are chemically treated to age them. The result is a piece that looks as though it has been installed and in use for many, many years.
Timeless Bronze
Oil Rubbed Bronze
Oil rubbed bronze is a handsome charcoal-colored finish. Our Oil rubbed bronze is a remarkable flat finish that is sure to draw attention. It is no wonder why this finish is a popular choice for faucets, showers, and door hardware. Plumbing items finished in oil rubbed bronze often are protected but door hardware, copper basins, and other items are typically left unprotected to allow the item to gracefully wear with repeated handling. See Living Finishes.
Oil Rubbed Bronze
Bronze Patina

Authentic Bronze Finishes

Make your home part of the great American experience with 100% solid bronze. Bronze is a weather resistant alloy which requires little care to maintain its beauty. The casting process leaves a rugged texture that lends distinction to each piece.

Natural Bronze
Silver Nickel

Patinas are applied to create a variety of attractive living finishes. Color variations and wear should be expected. By exposing the natural shades of the oxidizing bronze, the aging of the finish will enhance the beauty of the product.

Inspired by the rugged beauty of the American outdoors, bronze patina is an attractive dark brown finish. In contrast, natural bronze is a light golden honey color. Silver nickel is a bright silver finish that is sometimes described as white bronze.

Light Oil Rubbed Bronze
Dark Oil Rubbed Bronze
Cast bronze has been the hallmark of prestigious homes throughout history. Oil rubbed and hand-fired antique patinas transform bronze with warmth and beauty. Light oil rubbed bronze is a traditional patina that is hand rubbed to an opaque brown color tone. Dark oil rubbed bronze is a black oxide that is hand rubbed to a rich dark color tone. For some, antique burnished bronze is the best of both worlds. Antique burnished bronze is a layered finish that is chemically treated to provide a mottled, marble effect ranging from copper to black. Satin nickel white bronze is white bronze that is oxidized and then brushed to reveal a satin silver finish on the surface.
Antique Burnished Bronze
Dark Bronze

Dark Bronze on Brass

Dark bronze is a powder coat finish that is applied to solid brass. Powder coating is a two part finishing technique. Dry paint (powder) is electrostatically applied to the part. The part is then baked in an oven so the powder melts and bonds to the surface to form a continuous film. Powder coating produces a hard finish that when properly maintained will not crack, chip, or peel. The dark bronze powder coat finish is a glossy black color.

Living Finishes

Living finishes have no protective coatings. They are designed to change with time and use. The finish may rub off where it is frequently used and darken where it is not. This is considered to be the normal evolution of the finish and is not a defect. No two items will be identical and any item or liquid that comes into contact with the finish can affect the color. Over time, living finishes will vary in color and tone, adding character and uniqueness.

Living Finish

Final Thoughts

Actual finish can vary from product to product. Choosing items from the same manufacturer ensures the best finish match. We make every effort to represent finishes as accurately as possible but due to the limitations and settings on your computer monitor, the colors you see on your screen may not be a perfect reproduction of the actual product finish. Screen images are intended as a guide only and should not be regarded as an absolute match.

Please Note: Plumber's putty should not be used for installation of finished items. Use of plumber's putty, detergents or abrasive cleansers will void the warranty of the finish as they cause deterioration and/or scratching of the finish. We recommend non-abrasive, non-corrosive cleaners and a soft cloth for polishing and routine cleaning.