The good news: In their zeal to bring new products to market, fixture manufacturers have created more finish options than Lady Gaga has costumes. Thanks to modern protective clear-coat sealers, even not-so-expensive faucets can boast of lifetime warranties for their finishes.
The bad news: You'll have to choose from a mind-scrambling cornucopia of possibilities that include polished chrome (the long-standing industry stalwart), brushed chrome, polished nickel, brushed nickel, hammered nickel, stainless steel, bronze, brushed bronze, oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass, black, white and decorative ceramic.
Let's not overlook gold, which today might be considered an investment as well as a decorative preference.
If the choices give you sensory overload, try these decision-making tips:
Forget the metal and concentrate on the look. Visit a showroom where all the finishes are on display, and select the one you fall in love with.
Coordinate all your finishes in each bathroom so that your hard surfaces—including towel bars, lighting fixtures and door hardware—have the same finish.
Polished finishes are elegant but require constant upkeep to keep them looking sparkly
Brushed finishes are better at hiding water spots and fingerprints, which is great if you have kids