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Forge Hardware News / Hardware Update

What is the difference between brass finishes in cabinet hardware such as polished brass, brushed brass, and satin brass?

What is the difference between brass finishes in cabinet hardware such as polished brass, brushed brass, and satin brass?

Below we explain the subtle difference between the various finishes found in brass cabinet hardware such as brass cabinet knobs, brass drawer pulls, brass appliance handles, and brass kitchen fixtures.

Selecting hardware for your project can be overwhelming enough, right? I mean it's the jewelry of the home, it is so important, but there are so many options and who has the time? You just finished selecting countertops, cabinet styles, you sorted through hundreds of tones of grey (or white or navy!) paint. It seems like the final stretch, you are almost done. Your cabinets are arriving next week (exciting!), and then you realize...no hardware. No hardware! You haven't selected your hardware, and you think well, where do I start? 

Nowadays, it is quite possible that your options will be chrome, polished nickel, satin nickel, matte black, oil rubbed bronze, or last but not least, brass. And so you decide to go with brass because who can resist all the beautiful brass hardware on Pinterest against the gorgeous gray or navy background of a perfectly finished cabinet surface? Then you realize, brass is not just brass there is an overwhelming number of brass finishes, which is where we come in.

We're here to provide you with an easy and quick primer on the main brass finishes. Hopefully, we can at least we can save you time with that step!

By way of summary, we will describe three brass finishes below: (1) Polished Brass, (2) Brushed Brass, and (3) Satin Brass. We will also discuss a bit of champagne bronze which is technically not called brass but it has soared in popularity among brass lovers.

Polished Brass 

Polished Brass Bar Drawer Pulls

Pictured: Lew's Hardware Bar Pulls in Polished Brass

Lew's Hardware's drawer pulls and knobs are a perfect example (pictured above). Polished brass most often means it is solid brass that has been polished and finished with a lacquer to prevent tarnishing and patina over time. Polished brass tends to be bright and shiny, and very reflective.

Now, I should note that unlike the Lew's Hardware knobs and handles pictured above, which are solid brass, a similar finish is often found in hardware made of other metal alloys. The metal is sometimes electroplated and similarly finished with a lacquer. Though not as heavy as brass, other metals can also have a beautiful finish, which will often be called polished brass. In such a case, it will be due to the similarity of the finish to polished brass, but it may not be solid brass. Such is the case with our gorgeous Luna Brass Cabinet Handles pictured below:

Polished Brass Drawer Pulls

Pictured: Luna Brass Cabinet Handles

Brushed Brass

 Brushed brass is one of the most popular finishes of the past few years and its popularity can be easily explained: this finish is modern and can make a statement without being flashy, and it can be bright and warm at the same time. Now, as to what the finish looks like, brushed brass tends to have tiny brush marks throughout, as it someone slightly wiped the surface with steel wool. Again, Lew's Hardware is a great example of the perfect finish. These designer pulls offered in a squared t-bar and round version flaunts that brushed finish for a modern and elegant look.

Lew's Hardware Brushed Brass Drawer Pulls


Lewis Dolin  

Brushed Brass Mid-Century Cabinet Knob

 Pictured: McCobb Style Mid-Century Brass Cabinet Knob

Satin Brass

Last but not least, another popular finish that has many fans in the design world, satin brass. Though the term is used interchangeably with brushed brass due to their similarities, satin brass is, in fact, a bit different from brushed brass, mainly because it does not feature the distinctive brush marks that characterize the brushed brass finish. Ultimately, we see customers use the two finishes interchangeably because you usually have to look at brushed brass very closely to find that it's not satin brass.

Our Luxe collection is a perfect example of the beauty the satin brass finish has to offer. The Luxe collection features a wide range of sizes, many matching knobs and two sizes of satin brass appliance handles. 

Forge Hardware Studio Satin Brass

Now, it's important to note that not all satin brasses are created equal. While the finish is matte and beautiful on all satin brass hardware, the tone of the brass itself can have slight variations among different collections so it's important to always either use items from the same collection or send us a quick email (of chat!) so we can point you to all the matching items. For example, the Freestone collection has a  different satin brass tone than the Luxe collection above, even though they are both made with satin brass finish.

Forge Hardware Studio Satin Brass Kitchen Handles


As you can see, satin brass is not shiny, it is sort of matte and offers the perfect balance of gleam. Satin brass is soft, which you will notice when you enter the room, and you will notice it for the right reasons: because it looks perfect against every background color, navy, white, gray, you name it! Satin brass is the cabinet hardware that makes a subtle statement: it's bold and also elegant.

Satin brass is often finished with a top coat/lacquer so that the beautiful finish is maintained through time. For that reason, satin brass finishes often do not patina. This is not to be confused with the living finish of plain brass, which may look similar but will patina over time since that is what brass naturally does. It may be difficult to tell whether your brass item will patina or not, therefore sometimes it is important to ask the manufacturer or supplier whether the item is lacquered (if this is important to your vision for the project). In our case, all items are lacquered unless the title or descriptions specifically states that the item is unlacquered.

Last but not least, we bring you our forever loved Texture collection of satin brass knurled drawer pulls, knobs and appliance handles, which has a satin brass finish that resembles the Luxe collection discussed above. 

Forge Hardware Studio Texture Knurled Brass Drawer Pulls

Now, although this post is meant to cover brass finishes, we did want to quickly cover a very popular finish that is also a designer favorite. The Delta faucet trademark finish called "Champagne Bronze" is a favorite and it has been for some time now. It's a beautiful brass-resembling finish but a little warmer to go well with the champagne bronze finish found in Delta's beautiful faucets. The champagne bronze finish is also fairly matte and modern. 


Delta Champagne Bronze Drawer Pulls Knobs


Below you will see some more examples of this beautiful finish, which by the way also goes well with Brizo's beautiful Luxe Gold. 

Champagne Bronze Forge Hardware Studio

The above Luna pulls come in a beautiful finish that matches the Delta Champagne Bronze faucets and can be used in bathrooms and kitchen renovations alike. 


champagne bronze bar drawer pulls


In addition to the beautiful Dash collection picture in the picture above, we have many other items in the champagne bronze finish to give you many options in the event you are trying to fins cabinetry hardware to match your new fantastic faucet. You can click here, to see more champagne bronze eye candy.

Thank you for reading our post and we hope it proves helpful in selecting the perfect brass cabinet hardware for your project!


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