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Knobs and Pulls 101 - Finishes


At KnobDepot we know that most people are doing their kitchen or bathroom for the very first time and, therefore, may have little or no prior knowledge of what hardware options they have and what pitfalls they may face in choosing the right hardware. It is for that reason that we at KnobDepot have provided this brief introduction to hardware decision making; however, we always recommend that you seek the guidance of an experienced kitchen designer or the opinion of an experienced cabinet installer who can make the appropriate recommendations whenever possible.


Probably one of the most difficult decisions that most people will make when making selections for their new kitchen or bathroom cabinetry is the finish they will choose for the cabinet hardware. Not only must you select a finish that blends well with the cabinets, appliances and overall style of the kitchen or bathroom you have created, but you also want the hardware to make a very positive impact on the look of your cabinetry. Please be aware, there is no hard and fast rule on what finish you must use given the finish on your cabinets and appliances. And, generally speaking, there is no harm in getting outside opinions. But this is a decision you will live with for years so proceed with caution.

We have listed some of the most common finish descriptions below in order for you to see how vast the selection is and how confusing it can sometimes be to evaluate and select a finish you will like once installed on your cabinets.

Nickel: Satin Nickel, Brushed Nickel, Polished Nickel, Black Nickel

Bronze: Brushed Bronze, Caramel Bronze, Dark Bronze, German Bronze, Gilded Bronze, Light Bronze, Oil Rubbed Bronze

Black: Black Nickel, Flat Black, Matte Black, Patine Black, Rustic Black, Satin Black

Chrome: Dull Chrome, Matte Chrome, Polished Chrome, Satin Chrome

Brass: Antique Brass, Burnished Brass, Polished Brass, Satin Brass, Weathered Brass

Gold: Brushed Gold, Champagne, Golden Champagne, Honey Bronze, Satin Gold

Be aware that there are shade variations, especially in the Bronze and Gold categories, and that some finishes (Nickel, Bronze, Chrome, Gold) also come in a "Brushed" finish which means there are very fine lines in the finish. "Satin" finish generally means that the finish has a shine to it. e.g. Satin Nickel has a smooth shiny finish while Brushed Nickel is the same color but the finish contains very fine brush lines. Same rule applies to Stainless Steel and Brushed Stainless Steel finishes.

One rule we must stress when selecting a finish is to avoid ordering your hardware from two different manufacturers whenever possible. Different brands have their hardware manufactured in different factories and, therefore, the finished items can vary in color or shine from manufacturer to manufacturer even though the finish name is identical. Take "Oil Rubbed Bronze" for example. This popular finish can vary from a light brown with gold highlights to a dark, near black, finish depending upon the brand you select. Ordering your knobs in Oil Rubbed Bronze from one manufacturer and the handles in Oil Rubbed Bronze from a different manufacturer will end in disaster 99% of the time.

The photos on the KnobDepot website are of good quality and, in most cases, you will be able to ascertain whether or not the finish is what you are looking for from the photos. However, when you are unsure as to whether you will like the finish you are thinking of ordering or whether it will blend well with the room, the best solution is to order a sample piece before you place a full order which can get costly should you decide to ship all the pieces back. KnobDepot offers a Free Sample program for most brands.

Next article A Guide to Installing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

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