Find out what sets these two classic fixture finishes apart to help you choose the best look and feel for your kitchen or bath.

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Brushed nickel hides water marks and fingerprints better than chrome.

Fingerprints are the bane of kitchen and bathroom fixtures. So are those small white marks that show up when water dries on metal surfaces. Fortunately, the textured nature of a brushed finish can hide these spots, smudges, and splotches quite well. Bright and shiny chrome, however, tends to intensify such everyday blemishes, requiring more persistence to keep it gleaming. Try this cleaning hack: Rub a piece of waxed paper over chrome fixtures so that the unnoticeable residue left behind prevents water spots and fingerprints from showing.

Chrome requires more maintenance.

A soft metal that can be scratched easily, chrome requires a bit more TLC than its more matte competitor. When cleaning, avoid chemical cleaners such as ammonia-based products or bleach and harsh scrubbers like steel wool. Opt instead for simple soap and water or a one-to-one ratio of white vinegar and water (this will work on brushed nickel as well). Apply with soft cleaning supplies like a cotton cloth or non-abrasive sponge; for hard-to-reach crevices, an old soft toothbrush can come in handy. Then rinse and dry. Chrome polish will kick the shine up a notch, but make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Brushed nickel provides a more durable finish.

Brushed nickel is one of the most durable finishes available, and tends to keep its appearance up longer than chrome. The finish is etched with a metal brush to create the matte sheen and then coated with a lacquer to protect it from wear. Most wear comes from incorrect cleaning over time. Skip abrasive cleaners that can damage brushed nickel and alter the matte finish, opting for gentle solutions and cloth or soft sponges.

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