Updated: Oct 13, 2020
What Door Hardware Finishes Are There
For your architectural door hardware, the style of finish you select gives the final touch of design in your house. Just like the way clothing can reflect your mood for the day, the tone of your home décor can be set by a hardware finish. Is it bold, lustrous or demure and low luster?
Along with color preference, when choosing a finish for your hardware, there are other considerations to consider. Should it have a natural or organic finish mellowing with age or a life-long finish that never loses its hue from the day you bought it? In Europe, the preference is to buy bare metal in iron, bronze or brass which will mellow with age and patina.
In Australia, the tendency is to buy hardware that has some sort of protective coating, though organic or living finishes are becoming increasingly popular.
Whether you have an old house that hardware is in serious need of renovation or you have a new house and want to incorporate a custom finish to store pieces of hardware, a stylish finish can be a remedy for a variety of sins.
When we talk about architectural hardware, brass, bronze, iron and stainless steel are the four materials that most often come up.
Brass is a copper & zinc alloy. It has a bright, yellowish look, readily tarnishes when subjected to water, and is usually coated with a lacquer coating. The brass colour can be slightly changed by changing the ratios of the metals and treating the finished castings with acids. Knobs and roses are typically brass but are often coated with thin chromium or nickel plating — two popular market choices.
Protective coatings include lacquer, a clear powder-coated surface, or a thin chrome or nickel layer applied using the physical vapour deposition (PVD) process. This process increases surface hardness, resistance to scratches and creates a lifetime warranty against tarnish.
Bronze is usually a copper- and tin alloy. It is less maleable and harder than brass, and can be casted easier. It also oxidises more easily than brass, and can therefore be offered in a wider colour range than brass. Most makers of high-end hardware let the bronze's natural colour make a bold style statement.
For example, silicon bronze contains copper, silicon, and zinc which produces a colour of copper. White bronze consists of copper, manganese, nickel, and zinc which produces a silver colour. Time, touch, and climate can all enhance and alter the bronze patina, creating a unique hue.
Brass and bronze are superior to iron because they are both cast easily, and when formed from a well-made pattern and mould can yield intricate details.
If you want to maintain the brass or bronze look without oxidising it, you should apply modern, organic coating treatments such as anodizing. Anodizing produces a durable, standardised oxide on the sheet, which gives it a smooth, hard skin. A variety of anodised finishes such as black and oxidised bronze are available.
Iron is one of the oldest products produced. Original and replica strap hinges and thumb latches made by blacksmiths are usually used as a pliable metal when exposed to extreme heat. Iron is difficult to cast because it melts at such a high temperature, but with a small percentage of aluminum added to the iron, an alloy is formed that melts at a lower temperature, providing a degree of fluidity in the casting process. This cast iron alloy melts at a low temperature and provides a sharp detailed casting. Cast iron hardware is always finished, because if left in its natural state, it will easily rust. A number of goods are made using die-cast zinc as a base metal. It's cast, machined, and plated with ease.
Stainless steel is an iron product and there are approximately 40 standard types available. Each contains substantial amounts of chromium and a small number of other elements. Most of them also contain nickel. Because it is rust resistant, has a high lustre finish and is easily maintained, stainless steel is a popular choice for architectural hardware.
Cast metals made up usually of scrap metal can be based on steel or aluminum with a mixture of other metals.
Aluminum is now widely used for many applications especially sliding doors, flush pulls, some door furniture. Aluminum is light and can be anodized in various colors to suit frames and features.
A PVD finish is a special finish that is durable and strong. Once it has PVD coating it will never come off unless damaged, chiseled or hammered. PVD is best suited to coastal house hardware where salt air can speed up bleaching.
THE PLATED FINISHES
There are several types of hardware finishes: polished brass, oil-coated bronze, brushed nickel, satin nickel, polished nickel, matt antique brass, burnished antique brass, chrome, satin chrome, zinc, black, gun metal — do I need to go on?
Polished Brass (PB) Using the highest quality brass available, we forge, stamp and cast our own products, which are then polished and lacquered. One of the beautiful characteristics of brass is the way it ages and tarnishes over time. Is there anything more welcoming than a naturally worn old brass handle? To speed up the ageing process, remove the lacquer with paint stripper and polishing. If you’d rather retain its new appearance, the protective lacquer coating needs to remain intact. Clean it regularly with Mr Sheen and a dry soft cloth and be sure to keep it dry.
Antique Brass (AB) To achieve our unique Antique Brass finish, we start with our Polished Brass product and age each item by hand. The aged brass is then rubbed back with a soft cloth to lighten the finish; after which it is baked to set. Once baked, a clear lacquer is applied and allowed to dry before final inspection and packaging. The beauty of this finish lies in its imperfections. The Antique Brass patina is a living finish designed to continually wear and age naturally over time, developing beautiful variations in the depth of colour. With care, this natural looking finish will reward you for many years to come.
Satin Brass (SB) To achieve this durable finish, a forged brass product is lightly linished on a polishing wheel before a clear satin lacquer is applied to protect the surface and maintain the finished appearance for many years to come. Our Satin Brass hardware can be effortlessly paired with your other kitchen and bathroom fittings; creating seamless looks or standing out as a bold statement piece. Keep Satin Brass products dry, and clean regularly with Mr Sheen and a soft dry cloth to keep them looking stunning year-round.
Antique Copper (AC) This distinctive finish is achieved by firstly copper plating and antiquing a brass product. Before setting, the antique finish is carefully rubbed back by hand to lighten the colour and reveal copper highlights, which simulates natural wear. Over time, the clear lacquer coating and antique finish will continue to thin in places due to natural use, revealing more copper highlighting. This copper too will age, creating a true living finish that looks good at all stages of its life.
Matt Black (MB) Our Matt Black finish is achieved via different processes, depending on the product to which it is applied. Some items are powder coated, others are treated with an ageing process. But no matter how it is achieved, the result is both durable and stunning. Matt Black hardware offers a striking contrast on white or timber and has been the cornerstone finish of the popular ‘Hamptons’ look. To keep it looking good, simply clean with Mr Sheen and a soft dry cloth regularly.
Chrome Plate (CP) For those who love a clean, lustrous finish, we chrome plate an extensive range of our brass products to produce a mirrorlike sheen. The finish is both stunning and remarkably durable, requiring only a regular wipe with a clean cloth to maintain its lustre and brightness.
Satin Chrome (SC) Our Satin Chrome finish is created by carefully rubbing back chrome plate to remove its shine. Satin Chrome is a durable finish that requires only regular cleaning with a soft cloth to keep it looking good. The finish has numerous applications; it adds an exquisite modern touch to brass hardware and looks great when paired with stainless steel fittings and appliances.
Rumbled Nickel (RN) Created using traditional finishing methods, solid brass hardware is nickel-plated and aged. Each piece is then ‘rumbled’ with small stones to reveal glimpses of the nickel through the antique finish. The result is a finish that would look equally at home on a medieval door in a French village as on your next contemporary project. Rumbled Nickel is a durable premium finish, which needs only a regular clean with Mr Sheen and a soft dry cloth to maintain its appearance.
Polished Nickel (PN) Brass items are nickel plated then highly polished to create our beautiful Polished Nickel finish. A traditional European finish, Polished Nickel provides a depth of colour that is distinct and invites touch. This durable premium finish should be regularly cleaned with Mr Sheen and a soft dry cloth to maintain its appearance and lustre.
Satin Nickel (SN) A variation on Polished Nickel, Satin Nickel is very lightly brushed to provide a warm finish with barely visible satin lines. This premium durable finish will provide a subtle, sophisticated look to your home and complements a wide range of design themes and palettes. Regularly clean with Mr Sheen and a soft dry cloth to protect the clear satin lacquer applied to this finish.
Antique Finish (AF) This rustic finish is applied to a selected range of our cast iron products. To ensure its integrity, a clear lacquer coating is applied, which should be maintained with regular applications of Mr Sheen on a soft dry cloth. Our Antique Finish should only be used internally, where its life expectancy will be determined by usage, moisture and environment.
Anti-tarnish Brass (PVD) PVD is created by a process called Physical Vapour Deposition, in which a thin layer replicating a brass finish is applied to zinc alloy or stainless steel. The result is a very durable and long lasting finish that requires little or no maintenance.
Gun Metal (GM) Gun Metal is relatively new on the scene and primarily from Zanda.
For every type of design style, there is literally a finish. The natural finish is based on the color of the base metal, for example, brass or bronze. The natural finish can be protected with a life-long finish.
A living finish is a finish that will change over time as oils from your hands and seasons change and react with the finish to create the appearance of patina and age. Oil-rubbed bronze, with a dark rich hue, is a great finish for the Arts and Crafts house.
POWDER COAT FINISH
If it is metal it can be powder coated. However if an object has moving parts that can not be removed for the powder coating process, it is not advisable to powder coat. Powder coat is a type of paint finish. It is applied to metal and baked on. The range of powder coat colors is minimal compared to other paint types. Powder coat is hardwearing and durable. Not all items are suitable for powder coating and we will advise against it.
If it is aluminum it can be anodized.
It's better to stay with one finish when buying hardware for your room design, but to add interest, mix the shape of the hardware used in the space. Nickel-plated iron was popular for kitchens and baths 100 years ago and is still a good choice for a period-inspired look because it holds well in these high-humidity areas.
The most popular finishes today are black, gun metal, satin nickel, satin brass. Regulars are satin chrome, polished chrome, and polished brass.
Most designers stay with one type of finish for the hardware of the room. It is also possible to establish a hardware hierarchy, putting more decorative finishes in the public areas of the home, such as the living room and the dining room, while having more modest hardware finishes in the private areas of the house, such as bathrooms and bedrooms.
At Architectural Design Hardware we offer all finishes and quality door hardware to meet your desire.