As well as being a mainstay material in furniture manufacturing for centuries, metal has become an even more important element of the modern design industry of late. Barely-there wireframe tables (like the newly arrived Nido Nesting Coffee Table), monolithic metal blocks and metal-trimmed headboards, sideboards and wall panels are the hottest furniture pieces to have on account of their slick, contemporary aesthetic and unique finishes. And that’s to say nothing of a home’s countless, less obvious metal finishes – lighting, handles, hooks, knobs, wall sockets, switches, hinges et al.
Discover the metal which is right for your space with our comprehensive metal finishes guide.
Polished brass is one of the most popular of brass’ many finishes and styles. Available as a solid or plate finish, brass can be easily cast and is malleable enough for intricate metalwork designs. Its anti-corrosive qualities make it a useful metal as it doesn’t rust easily.
Brushed brass exhibits all of the characteristics of polished brass but is distinguished by a “streaked” finish which is created by hand- or machine-rubbing it with an abrasive brush, belt or pad. This adds texture and dulls the brass’ gold colour.
Antique brass is created when an acid excelerator is applied to speed up the ageing process. This results in a dulled lustre, darkened hue and notable “streaks”. Antique brass comes in a variety of shades dependent on the manufacturer’s desired aesthetic.
Relatively corrosion-resistant, bronze is an ancient metal alloy comprising of copper and tin. Left unlacquered it will oxidise to its trademark deep brown patina; when lacquered it retains its original subtle golden hue and shine. Regularly used for sculptures, hardware and artistic furniture.
The oldest metal worked by people, copper has been used since around 8000 BC. The reddish-gold metal is known for its malleability and tendency to patinate to a unique turquoise verdigris when exposed to air or seawater. Copper furniture and homeware will likely be copper-plated over a solid metal such as brass or steel.
An element metal, nickel is considered a super metal, being used as the strengthening agent of many alloys. Characteristically, it is hard and resistant to corrosion. Its warm silver hue is attractive and inviting, suiting traditional designs. Nickel is often plated over iron and brass to give a more refined or silver finish respectively.
Polished stainless steel
Stainless steel is a solid, silver metal comprised of steel and chromium. With a brighter lustre than steel (but duller than chrome) and being extremely resistant to corrosion, rust or stains, it is virtually indestructible and a useful metal for furniture production. Traditionally used for cutlery, stainless steel has become a regular choice for furniture thanks to its subtle deep silver hue.
Brushed stainless steel
Brushed stainless steel exhibits all of the characteristics of polished stainless steel but is distinguished by a “streaked” finish which is created by hand- or machine-rubbing it with an abrasive material. Stainless steel’s low maintenance reputation manifests itself even more in its brushed form as fingerprints, marks and scratches are not as easily detected.
Chrome (short for chromium) is another element metal used in furniture production as a metal plate finish – a thin metallic layer which is applied to solid metal via electroplating techniques. As well as being corrosion-resistant, it is highly prized for its bluish tone, mirror finish aesthetic and ultra-bright lustre.
Showcasing the same structural characteristics as its polished counterpart (although with a duller lustre), satin chrome features a matte finish which is the result of the metal being sand blasted. Its uniform finish is very forgiving meaning it works well in high-traffic areas.
Blackened steel is solid steel whose surface chemical make up has been altered – or black oxidised – using a chemical blackening agent, resulting in a change of colour and increased resistance to corrosion. Its darkened, semi-matte finish renders it an easy upkeep metal.
Discover which metal colour is for you in our Metal Furniture: Which colour is for you? article.