How-tos & Guides

Brass vs. Stainless-Steel Fixtures: A Comprehensive Guide

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September 16, 2022
Kallista Design

When looking for a new faucet, there’s a lot to consider between material, function, and style. Whether you need the perfect fixture for your culinary creations or daily bathroom routines, you deserve a product that is both visually appealing and long-lasting.

During your search, you’ve likely noticed the availability of brass vs. stainless-steel fixtures. Both of these materials are found in bathrooms and kitchens around the world, but is one more suitable for specific purposes? Do they differ in durability and style?

Brass faucet and stainless steel faucet.

As the leading provider of plumbing solutions for bathrooms and kitchens for more than 40 years, KALLISTA offers the finest brassware and stainless steel fixtures. Discover which material is best suited for your design and functionality needs.

What Is Brass?

Known for its durability and warm coloring, brass has a long history dating back to the Victorian era. Currently, it’s experiencing a resurgence in design circles, with Unlacquered Brass providing warm, inviting tones in modern and traditional settings.

Unlacquered brass faucet spouts.

As an alloy metal, brass is made primarily from copper and zinc. Compositions can range from 50-37% zinc to 50-63% copper, with other additives that allow it to be shaped into unique fixtures.

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel sink with apron front.

Stainless steel is an alloy comprised primarily of iron with a combination of other metals such as nickel, manganese, carbon, and chromium. The best quality stainless steel is type 304 with an 18% chromium and 8% nickel content.

We utilize 16-gauge stainless steel to execute our kitchen sink designs for remarkable strength and durability. Some of the designs feature an organic-inspired, hand-hammered pattern with distressed finishes sealed to resist fingerprints and smudges and to keep surfaces lustrous.

Stainless steel kitchen sink and faucet setup

We also offer solid metal kitchen faucets in a brushed Stainless finish, reflecting the beloved visual qualities of stainless steel appliances in an updated texture.

Durability of Brass vs. Stainless Steel

Both brass and stainless steel are long-lasting choices for your home. Let’s take a deeper dive into what each material has to offer.

How Long Does Brass Last?

Brass is a renowned material for plumbing fixtures, celebrated for its longevity. When buying a brass faucet, confirm that it is a solid brass body. Many entry-level faucets claiming brass construction are actually plastic bodies with brass plating, which wears off easily, especially when exposed to hard water.

Considered an industry gold standard, many KALLISTA luxury faucets, fixtures, and hardware designs are constructed from solid brass to ensure years of performance, strength, and durability.

Solid brass fixtures are known to last for decades, remaining resilient to corrosion, rust, scratches, and cracking. Brass fixtures may tarnish over time, particularly depending on the chosen finish—or lack thereof. Over time, Unlacquered Brass bathroom faucets develop a unique patina and can be polished back to their original luster if desired.

How Long Does Stainless Steel Last?

Stainless steel is an extremely durable material that can last well over 10 years. Due to its reliability and clean appearance, stainless steel fixtures are commonly found in commercial settings for the food processing and hospitality industries.

Antimicrobial Properties of Brass vs. Stainless Steel

Copper alloy metals, like brass and bronze, have the ability to kill harmful germs and bacteria efficiently—usually within two hours of contact. Researchers have found that copper alloys can destroy bacteria such as E. coli, MRSA, Staph, and VRE. Stainless steel, on the other hand, does not contain any inherent antibacterial properties.

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Cleaning and Upkeep for Brass vs. Stainless Steel Fittings

How to care for your brass vs. stainless steel bathroom accessories depends largely on the finish you choose and your surrounding environment. Water conditions vary widely by location, and chemicals and minerals in the air and water can have an adverse effect on the finish of your products.

In addition, success with cleaners and procedures is dependent upon such factors as the hardness and temperature of the water, using exact measurements of ingredients, changes in cleaning formulas, and the condition of the product being cleaned. Since there are variations within these factors, KALLISTA cannot guarantee the effectiveness of any methods mentioned.

Unlacquered Brass Care Guidelines

Unlacuqered brass fixture

Rinse away traces of soap and gently dry with a clean, soft cloth after each use. If you wish to remove the patina and restore the brass to its original shine, simply apply brass polishing compound with a soft cloth. It is not recommended to use abrasive cleaners or solvents on Unlacquered Brass.

How to Care for a Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel workstation sink

It is recommended that stainless steel sinks be cleaned at least once a week. Keep the use of cleaners to a minimum and rinse immediately after use; do not let the cleaners sit on the sink surface for long periods of time. Rinsing and wiping down stainless steel sinks after each use will prevent soap buildup.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Stainless Steel

There are some chemicals that can cause stainless steel to corrode, such as chlorides. If you use a cleaner that contains chloride, rinse the surface immediately.

Avoid using metal scouring pads on stainless steel as rust stains will appear. Make sure to keep rusty utensils out of the sink as well. It is advisable not to use a rubber mat underneath a stainless steel sink, because the organic particles under the mat may decay and cause the sink to stain.

Whenever possible, avoid soaking dishes for an extended period of time and do not leave coffee grounds, tea bags, or pottery with a rough bottom in the sink.

Which Finishes and Colors Are Available In Stainless Steel vs. Brass?

Various styles of brass and stainless steel fixtures.

Offered in a decadent range of artisan-inspired hues, KALLISTA signature finishes instantly transform faucets and fixtures into stunning, one-of-a-kind showpieces. Created in complex layers to allow the color to penetrate the metal, each finish is crafted to elevate the feel of a space with a touchable quality and dramatic aesthetic.

From unlacquered to powder-coated to physical vapor deposition (PVD) and beyond, KALLISTA finishes will bring beauty into your environment.

Unlacquered Brass

Aged unlacquered brass faucets developing a patina.

Brass with an unlacquered finish, or living finish, is brass in its purest form without a protective coating to prevent it from aging. The deep, golden color of Unlacquered Brass offers an organic and natural beauty. After a short time of exposure to the environment, Unlacquered Brass shower fixtures will develop a unique patina.

Stainless PVD Finish

Color swatch for a stainless steel faucet.
Stainless PVD Swatch

With solid metal construction, several KALLISTA kitchen faucets are offered in a Stainless PVD brushed finish, imparting a smooth-to-the-touch, slightly textured effect, serving as a true reflection of the stainless steel finish of sink and appliance surfaces.

The PVD coating ensures the finish is long-lasting and durable to withstand the rigors of daily use. Achieve the beauty of stainless steel kitchen faucets by choosing KALLISTA’s signature Stainless finish.

Aesthetic Appeal of Unlacquered Brass vs. Stainless Steel Faucets

Whether you’re choosing a fixture for a sleek modern kitchen or a traditional powder room, both brass and stainless steel offer pleasing visuals.

Versatility of Unlacquered Brass for Interior Design

At KALLISTA, we utilize our signature Unlacquered Brass finish across many of our designer collections to create unique options for traditional and modern fixtures.

In its unlacquered state, high-quality brass develops a characteristic, golden hue which complements natural stones such as marble; warms up a black and white palette to keep it from feeling too cold; complements deep blue and olive green colors for a gorgeous, unparalleled look; and lends a soft, classic feel when paired with creams and greys. In fact, brass is so timeless that it can add a striking contrast in almost any environment or design style.

Modern kitchen with unlacquered brass fixtures.

When paired with smooth forms and monochrome color schemes, Unlacquered Brass kitchen faucets stand out as sleek decorative pieces.

Unlacquered brass faucet with a traditional cross handle design.

In charming interiors, such as a townhouse kitchen or rustic bathroom, Unlacquered Brass glows with radiance to further brighten an already welcoming environment.

Stainless Steel for Clean, Timeless Designs

The soothing, cool tones of stainless steel complement an array of design styles and offer a refined character that is both clean and crisp.

Luxury kitchen with a polished and distressed stainless steel sink.
Stainless steel undermount sink

Stainless steel sinks from KALLISTA range from hand-hammered and polished surfaces to brushed and muted. Choose a hand-hammered apron-front sink for a statement piece or a matte undermount workstation with accessories for ultimate functionality.

Is There Lead In Brass vs. Stainless Steel Fittings?

Historically, a significant amount of brass faucets contained alarming amounts of lead. However, after an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act went into effect in 2014, all brass faucets in the United States must contain no “more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.”

Stainless steel can also contain small amounts of lead. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Trace concentrations of lead may be contained in stainless steel as an impurity.”

Despite trace amounts of lead content, new brass and stainless steel products are considered safe to use in your home as long as they meet EPA standards.

Final Thoughts About Stainless Steel vs. Brass Faucets

Both materials are durable and aesthetically pleasing in different ways. At the end of the day, one is not objectively better than the other. No matter which one you choose, you’ll enjoy a high-quality and durable product.

Now that you know more about the pros and cons of brass vs. stainless steel kitchen accessories, you’re one step closer to bringing your design vision to life. Whether you’re looking for solid brass fixtures for your bathroom sanctuary or stainless steel sinks for your dream kitchen, KALLISTA has the best solutions in both form and function.

FAQs About Brass vs. Stainless Steel

What is the difference between brass and stainless steel fixtures?

The main difference between brass and stainless steel is the composition. While both are alloy metals, brass primarily consists of copper and zinc, while stainless steel mostly contains iron, chromium, carbon, and manganese.

They also differ visually. Natural brass tends to appear golden or bronze, while stainless steel has a silver or chrome-like appearance.

Does stainless steel rust?

As the name implies, stainless steel remains “stainless” because it is generally resistant to corrosion. While stainless steel is not completely impervious to rusting, it takes extreme conditions and long periods of time for rust to occur. In most residential or commercial environments, the alloying elements in stainless steel prevent it from rusting for decades.

Does brass rust?

Brass does not rust, as it contains no iron compounds. However, Unlacquered Brass can tarnish over time when exposed to oxygen. This is known as a “patina” and is a completely unique and organic process that cannot be replicated in any manufacturing process.

If you prefer a shining fixture, you may polish Unlacquered Brass to remove the patina.

Do stainless steel or brass fixtures last longer?

Both stainless steel and brass have design life expectancies of several decades. When used and cared for properly, brass and stainless steel fixtures can up to 50 years or longer.

Is brass better than stainless steel for plumbing?

Brass is known as the gold standard in the plumbing industry for its ability to resist corrosion, absorb heat, and accept welds.

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