If you have hard water in your home, you understand how frustrating it is to constantly battle water spots on your faucets. The high amount of minerals in the water leaves unsightly white spots everywhere and can eventually stain the surface. If you've tried everything and are still battling hard water, it might be time to hide the spots by changing faucets. But what is the best faucet finish for hard water? We've done the research to bring you the answer.
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Any matte faucet finish will hide hard water spots better than a glossy, shiny finish. The white, crusty spots are more disguised on these surfaces. Look for brushed or satin nickel, brass, or bronze. Even though the spots are less apparent on these finishes, make sure to clean your faucets frequently to fight against stains.
Your faucets are important, so we want to help you keep them looking their best. Keep reading for an explanation of the different types of faucet finishes, how to eliminate hard water build-up, how to prevent stains, and more.
What's the best faucet finish for hard water?
Hard water is a term used to describe water with a high degree of dissolved minerals. Most often, these minerals are calcium and magnesium. They get into the water at the source and can be eradicated through a softening process, which usually includes using salt.
Though hard water is considered safe to drink, it can be hard on plumbing and water equipment. Eventually, if the water has enough mineral material in it, the mechanisms can break down and get clogged. Most people prefer soft water over hard water because mineral-heavy water doesn't foam with soap and can leave your skin feeling dry.
When looking for faucet finishes that work well with hard water, we're looking for materials that don't show water spots and are easy to clean. For this, a matte finish is best. Matte finishes include anything described as brushed or satin. Watermarks are more likely to blend in with the matte materials.
Polished finishes, on the other hand, are generally shiny. Watermarks are white and crusty-looking, which means they stand out on shiny surfaces. They require frequent cleaning and polishing to retain their shine.
Looking for more types of faucet finishes? Check out this article: 18 Bathroom Faucet Styles (By Finishes, Handle Options, & Installation).
Brushed or satin finishes come in a variety of metals including nickel, stainless steel, bronze, and brass. Our favorite finish for hard water is brushed nickel, like the faucet below.
Brushed nickel is named for the way it's finished. A wire brush creates abrasions on the nickel, taking away its luster. These abrasions vary from finish to finish, so you could get a completely different look. Brushed nickel is actually a plating over a different metal (usually zinc or brass), so sometimes abrasions that are deep enough can reveal some of the gold colors underneath.
Satin nickel looks very similar to brushed nickel, differing mostly in the way it's made. Instead of a wire brush to take away its luster, the nickel goes through a process called electrolysis. It is generally more affordable than brushed nickel. It is less shiny than other metals but still looks bright and clean.
Silver finishes are easier to coordinate with a variety of decor schemes. For instance, any cool-toned bathroom (white, blue, silver, etc.) will look good with silver hardware. If you're going for a warmer or more colorful look, however, you might be interested in gold metal finishes.
The bathroom below, for instance, is full of white, gray, silver, and black. The designer used the faucets to contrast with these cool colors, and it looks great. The faucets give the room plenty of color.
For homes with hard water, satin gold -- either brass or bronze -- looks beautiful. They show less water buildup than polished gold and make the bathroom more colorful than matte silver.
This brushed brass finish still provides plenty of shine without being overwhelming.
Which faucet is easiest to clean?
Another reason matte faucets are best for hard water is that they're easier to clean. Trying to clean polished metal can be frustrating because of how streaky it is. Matte materials, on the other hand, resist streaks. Satin or brushed metal can be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner.
One other note: avoid black matte faucets if you have perpetually hard water. Even though they are matte, the white marks will be highlighted against the dark surface.
Another important factor in choosing a faucet is size and style. Read this article for more information: How Far Should Bathroom Faucets Extend?
How do you protect your hard water faucets (to prevent stains)?
The best way to prevent actual stains is to clean your faucets frequently. Though this is inconvenient, it's better than having to fight stubborn stains later. Use a general bathroom cleaning solution at least weekly.
Another way to prevent hard water stains on faucets is to immediately dry them after use. Stains and marks occur when the water dries. The evaporation process dries up the water but leaves the minerals. Wiping it away also eliminates the minerals. Unfortunately, it's difficult to reach all the parts of the faucet that get wet. Plus, it's inconvenient to have to wipe off the faucet each time you use it.
Do you have a water softener for your home? A water softener is a machine that uses salt to fight against the mineral build-up in the water. If you use well water, you should strongly consider a quality water softener. If you use your municipality's water, a softener shouldn't be necessary.
Have you recently noticed harder water in your home? It might be that your softener isn't working. Ask a professional plumber to take a look at it.
How do you get rid of hard water build-up?
A safe, natural way to eliminate hard water build-up is a solution of water, vinegar, dish soap, and lemon juice. In a spray bottle, mix the vinegar and water at a one to one ratio, then add a splash of lemon juice (to offset the minerals) and a drop of dish soap. Spray the solution on the faucets and let it sit for up to twenty minutes, depending on the severity of the marks. Then, scrub the faucet with a rag or sponge. Don't use an abrasive scrubber, as this can damage the finish on your faucet.
Sometimes, the mineral build-up in the mouth of the faucet can lead to water that's pressurized in odd ways, making it so that water sprays out incorrectly. Fix this problem by unscrewing the mouth of the faucet and letting it sit in a bowl of the solution described above. The vinegar and lemon juice will eat through the calcium. Even more beneficially, these substances will help prevent future build-up.
If you'd prefer, there are products on the market that are designed to eliminate calcium and magnesium build-up, like the one below. Always follow the directions on the product for the best results.
If you're continually fighting hard water spots and build-up, consider installing matte-finished faucets. Look for brushed or satin nickel, brass, or bronze. Make sure to clean the faucet frequently so that these build-ups don't become stains. Whenever possible, dry the hard water quickly so that the minerals can't stick to the surface.
We hope this article has helped you make an educated decision on which faucets to install in your home. Good luck!