Black chrome and black nickel have a very similar look; so much so that they are often mistaken for each other, and the names ‘black chrome’ and ‘black nickel’ have become interchangeable; however, there are differences between these two types of finishes, which we will look at in greater detail here.
Black nickel hardware, such as light switches and plug outlet sockets, will usually be a type of metal that has been plated with nickel. Regular nickel has a silver, mirror-like finish, but black nickel will have been tinted to give it a darker look.
The resulting finish of black nickel is a high-shine effect that is reflective like a mirror, but it will have a dark gray hue. This gives it a very modern and sleek look that works really well in contemporary interiors.
Black chrome finishes, much like nickel, will be metal plated with chromium that has been chemically altered to give it a black tint. Chrome finishes without black tints have a silver look, which is slightly darker than the finish of nickel.
The undertones of chrome lean towards being slightly blue, though it’s extremely hard to spot this in black chrome. The resulting finish of black chrome is a dark gray, glossy effect.
Differences Between Black Chrome and Black Nickel
The differences between black chrome and black nickel are so minimal that it can be extremely hard to tell them apart, even if you had two pieces of hardware side by side finished in both types of plating.
Chrome and nickel that have not been tinted with black are easier to differentiate because nickel is a paler shade of silver with tones of white, whereas chrome is a darker, almost blue-tinted silver; however, once a black tint effect has been applied, the two plating finishes look almost identical.
Where you may notice a difference is in the availability of types of hardware that black nickel and black chrome come in. For hardware such as light switches or plug outlets, black nickel is a popular finish, while black chrome is almost unheard of for this type of fitting.
Downlighters and other light fittings are more likely to come in a black chrome effect than a black nickel effect. For faucets and plumbing hardware used in bathrooms or kitchens, if you want a glossy black finish, then black chrome is much more common than black nickel, predominantly because it is more durable.
Pros and Cons of Black Chrome and Black Nickel in Interiors
Before investing in metallic hardware or fixtures and fittings, consider the pros and cons.
Classy and modern
The main appeal of black chrome and black nickel finishes for interiors is that they have a classy and modern appeal. You can instantly update the look of a room simply by replacing your old plastic light switches with black nickel light switches.
These are small touches that make a big impact, and attention is drawn to them due to their high-shine mirror-like glossy finish. Black nickel and black chrome finishes look contemporary and sophisticated while still offering a timeless feel.
The style of black nickel and black chrome finishes can work with almost any interior theme, whether that be rustic, industrial, or minimalist.
The glossy effect of these finishes gives a luxury feel, but the dark gray-black shade allows this to come off as quite subtle and understated, so it won’t detract attention from the rest of your space.
It goes with any color
As a neutral color, black nickel and black chrome can work with absolutely any color scheme. This makes both finishes a good choice because you can guarantee that they will work with any future color schemes you choose to use in your home, and you won’t need to replace your black nickel or black chrome fixtures and fittings.
Some metal finishes such as silver or copper will look best with certain colors, whereas black nickel and black copper will look striking alongside any other color.
Both black nickel and black chrome-plated hardware and fixtures and fittings are all available at similar price ranges.
These finishes are comparably priced with other types of finishes, such as brass, copper, silver, and regular nickel and chrome. The present an affordable style of finish that is reasonably priced compared with most other types of metallic finishes.
Shows fingerprints easily
The glossy mirror-like finish of black nickel and black chrome is a huge part of the allure, which makes them both look high end and classy; however, although this is nice to look at, it’s actually not very practical in a busy household because fingerprints show up very easily, leaving marks as soon as anybody touches the finish.
This won’t be a problem on fittings that don’t get handled, such as light fittings, but it can become quite an annoying issue on items that get touched frequently, such as faucets, electricity outlets, and light switches.
Fades over time
One issue that some people find with black chrome and black nickel is that it fades over time. This happens over a period of many years, so it is not easily noticeable.
But it can be obvious if, for example, you have to replace a light switch, and the new light switch is significantly darker than the old ones located nearby. Bear this issue in mind if you want to invest in some metal fixtures and fittings that will last well over a long period of time.
Can’t use chemical cleaners
Chemical cleaners can cause the tint on black nickel and black chrome to fade or become discolored, so it is best to avoid these entirely and instead just use a dry cloth to buff and polish these finishes clean.
If you have black chrome or black nickel faucets that need to be cleaned more thoroughly, you should use soapy water or gentle non-chemical cleaners such as diluted white vinegar or diluted lemon juice.
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