In its most rudimentary form, chrome is the technique of electroplating layers of chromium onto any metal object. It is an exceedingly popular material in many industries, most noticeably the automotive industry, who use chrome to finish wheels, accessories and other components on vehicles.
Chrome is also an extremely popular finish on household accessories, not least in plumbing, where visible fittings are often finished in chrome – its many advantages making it a perfect choice for bathrooms.
Firstly, chrome is far more pleasing aesthetically than other plumbing fitting materials. If cleaned regularly, chrome can remain a smart, shiny, modern looking fixture for a number of years.
Secondly, chrome is relatively easy to care for, providing you make the time to clean them on a regular basis. A quick wipe clean every few days will ensure that all of your fittings retain a sparkle. Chrome is also impervious to scratches and protects against corrosion – provided that the layer is thick enough and has been professionally applied. It also has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. This means that freezing water in pipes and fittings is unlikely to occur.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, chrome fittings are relatively cheap in comparison to other materials for plumbing fittings. Whether plating is done by a company or yourself, chrome finish is much less of an expense that any other forms of plating including copper and silver.
While the advantages of chrome plumbing fittings are certainly impressive, there are some less so enticing facts that all prospective buyers should be aware of before making any decisions.
Firstly, if the chrome fittings are not cleaned enough and/or water marks are left to dry naturally, limescale can often form. If this happens and is scoured off, cracks can often appear in the chrome, especially if the layer is too thin. This means that the protection from corrosion has been compromised.
Secondly, the process of chrome plating is particularly harmful to both workers and the surrounding environment. Some countries have strict regulations in place when it comes to chrome plating. Once set, chrome is no longer harmful but the process itself produces chromium trioxide, which is dangerously carcinogenic. If you are looking to reduce harm to your environment, perhaps consider another material for your plumbing fittings.
When weighing up the pros and cons, it is important to consider your circumstances. If your priority for your plumbing fittings is for them to be visually pleasing, then chrome may be for you. If you are short on cash but want to still maintain a sharp, modern look with your fittings, then consider chrome. There is a reason why its popularity has failed to diminish over the last few decades.
However, be aware of its disadvantages, especially the tendency for limescale to form. If you do not clean the chrome regularly, you will not only end up with a much less attractive fittings but other, more difficult problems are likely to arise, which could end up costing you more money than expected.
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