A Guide to Cabinet Hardware Finishes

A guide to Cabinet Hardware Finishes

Getting the right finish for your kitchen cabinets can make the difference between a good and a great space. The right finish offsets other design choices in your kitchen. For example, you can match your appliances to your hardware finish to create a sophisticated, coordinated look. Alternatively, you can use your kitchen cabinet hardware finishes to show off your fun-loving personality, choosing a bright metal or unique design.

When planning your new hardware finishes, you want to keep a number of different factors in mind, including:

  • The advantages of using finish
  • Style of finish
  • Where in the kitchen it should go
  • What styles it works with
  • Any limiting factors

You should do your research ahead of time. Know which finishes work with the colors in your kitchen, and ask questions to determine any drawbacks to a certain style.

Caring for and Picking Out Your Kitchen Hardware

Caring for decorative hardware purchased from Cliffside Industries is easy. Use only a soft cloth dampened with water for cleaning. The most important thing to remember is never to apply any chemicals or abrasive cleaners, including all kinds of soap or detergent. Using these products damages the protective lacquer and may change the appearance of the piece. Any use of chemicals, abrasives or soaps will void your warranty.

For customers who have homes near the ocean, Cliffside recommends choosing non-metal items such as marble or wood for your projects. Salt air acts as an abrasive, and quickly erodes the lacquer coating. If you absolutely need (or desire) metal hardware, Cliffside recommends solid stainless steel, or certain solid brass finishes such as Black, Polished Brass, or Polished Chrome. Note that, even in optimum indoor conditions, no Cliffside finish has a lifetime guarantee under any circumstances.

Due to the makeup of materials, colors and finishes will vary from lot to lot. Cliffside strives to minimize variation, but some manufacturing processes make this unavoidable:

  • Marble and stone are products of nature. These items will always vary in color; no returns will be accepted due to color variations.
  • The same applies to custom-made products, such as glass.
  • Due to order volume, handpicking colors is not offered.

The finishes that vary most are marked with an asterisk (*) below.

The digital images displayed on this website and by our dealers have the most accurate color possible. However, due to differences in computer monitors, Cliffside Industries cannot be held responsible for variations in color between the actual product, your screen, and your printed literature.

Read on for the hardware finish guide that will take your kitchen from good to great.

The 10 Most Popular Hardware Finishes From Our Signature Lines

Our signature lines feature a wide variety of hardware finishes. The most popular colors range from warm to cool, bright to dark and polished to burnished. Here’s how to choose the best one for your kitchen.

Antique Brass*

Antique Brass Information

Pros: The Antique Brass look goes with a wide variety of styles. It’s not as jarring as polished brass, but you can pair brighter oxidized brass with antique when picking out cabinet or armoire hinges. You’ll still get a matching look. Antique Brass is also very durable, because it’s crafted from strong materials like pewter and lead crystal.

Style: Antique Brass is stylish and more sophisticated than polished brass. It is has a classic look that’s attractive to all types of tastes.

Where it’s best suited: This style works for pulls or knobs, and it goes best with lighter-colored cabinets, so the color will stick out.

What styles it works with: Antique Brass has an aged look that’s appealing for kitchens with a country or less-contemporary design.

Avoid: Getting too match-y between the cabinet color and hardware, which can cause the components to blend together.


Pros: Black is a strong color that won’t get lost in your kitchen. Black knobs and handles make a statement. They convey boldness and just a bit of sass. The color’s versatility means it can match a number of kitchen styles.

Style: Black handles, knobs and other kitchen cabinet accoutrements go with nearly anything. They have a clean look to them, and they’re subtle enough that they don’t draw attention from the cabinet itself.

Where it’s best suited: Black stands out against white or other light cabinetry. However, some people even prefer Black on dark wood or painted cabinets, seeing its simplicity as the perfect way to offset a bold cabinet color.

What styles it works with: Black cabinet hardware pairs well with contemporary or traditional designs.

Avoid: Getting Black hardware if you have very young children, as it is easy to see sticky finger marks.


Pros: With a deep gray color that’s reminiscent of stone, an Iron finish goes well with a wide variety of styles. The tone of the hardware sometimes appears black, depending what item you choose. Some people love these wide variances, finding them a charming way to hold visual interest throughout a kitchen.

Style: Iron works best in a more traditional kitchen. Unfortunately, it’s not bold enough for most contemporary designs.

Where it’s best suited: Iron sits nicely against cabinetry with a dark stain. It’s also ideal next to a glazed finish, with its rugged finish contrasting beautifully with the smooth. Our Iron pieces have foundations of solid brass, which helps them stand up to the harsh conditions in kitchens or bathrooms.

What styles it works with: Kitchens that have a classic feel can bump their design pedigree up a notch with Iron hardware. Iron finish will stay in style for years, even if you get the kitchen redone.

Avoid: Using abrasive cleaners with iron, which can strip the finish.

Old Antique*

Old antique hardware finishes give a distinctive look

Pros: Old Antique has a purely unique color that’s unlike any other finish. Your kitchen will get a more distinctive and individual look when you use old antique hardware finishes. The deep color becomes a draw in itself.

Style: Old Antique offers a way to pull elements from other areas of the room together. You can paint your crown molding or an entryway door the same color to unify the room.

Where it’s best suited: The finish looks best on knobs in lighter-colored kitchens. The Old Antique look will remain in style for years, so there’s no cause to worry about having to replace your hardware.

What styles it works with: Less-contemporary designs generally look best with old antique.

Avoid: Abrasive cleaners that can strip the metal of its finish. Instead, use warm water and soap.

Old Copper*

Pros: Old Copper has a singular finish unlike anything else in our Signature Line. If you want something no one else will have, Old Copper is a special find. It has an antique feel that’s reminiscent of copper pots that were once staples in every kitchen and now are used for decoration.

Style: The words “funky” and “unique” come to mind when describing Old Copper. People who like to stand out will love this finish. The color has a bit of sass you may not usually associate with kitchen cabinets.

Where it’s best suited: Copper’s unique red tone works great on handles for kitchen cabinetry, because most other finishes are dark. If you have a copper island or taps and faucets, this finish will bring the room together.

What styles it works with: Another very versatile hardware finish, Old Copper looks at home with both contemporary and classic designs.

Avoid: Watermarks and tarnishing by frequently wiping down your Old Copper hardware.

Polished Brass

Pros: Bright and cheerful, this finish adds a spark to any kitchen. It’s a pretty shade that goes with both dark and light cabinetry. For those who prefer vibrant tones to muted ones, Polished Brass has just the right look.

Style: Brass is brash. With a color that’s similar to gold, Polished Brass will stand out on every surface. It’s trendy, too. There’s been a recent surge in interest in polished brass kitchen hardware.

Where it’s best suited: Kitchens with bright colors, such as painted or stained cabinets, can get a wonderful contrast and pop from Polished Brass hardware finishes.

What styles it works with: Polished brass provides a shiny focal point for country-style kitchens or those designed with a rustic flair.

Avoid: Trying too hard to match colors with polished brass. It’s okay if other metals creep into your kitchen design as well, such as stainless steel appliances or copper cookware.

Polished Chrome

Polished Chrome helps any kitchen shine

Pros: Like polished brass, Polished Chrome is brassy, bright and helps any kitchen shine. Kitchens often have chrome faucets, hinges and more. Adding chrome hardware finishes gives the room a uniform look. Polished chrome also nicely contrasts with other metals used around the room.

Style: Polished Chrome has a modern look, but it’s also conservative. You will find chrome in many kitchens, because it’s such a safe pick. It goes with nearly any cabinet surface.

Where it’s best suited: For knobs and handles in the kitchen, many people consider brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze before settling on Polished Chrome. Why? Because it’s so sleek and clean. Any room with polished chrome instantly looks sleeker.

What styles it works with: Modern, contemporary homes tend to favor Polished Chrome.

Avoid: Watermarks by wiping down surfaces frequently.

Polished Nickel

Pros: Nickel is among the most durable of metals. It doesn’t weather or rust, making it a popular choice for cabinet hardware finishes. You can trust it will not need to be touched up as frequently as other metals.

Style: The glossy shine of Polished Nickel offsets nicely against nearly any color but especially darker ones. Compared to Chrome and Brass, Polished Nickel has an understated color, making it ideal for a kitchen where you want the hardware to blend rather than command attention.

Where it’s best suited: Polished Nickel fits into the scheme of kitchens with many other stylistic details, such as chandeliers or glass-door cabinets, because it is more understated.

What styles it works with: There’s almost no style that doesn’t work with Polished Nickel. It’s the chameleon of cabinet hardware finishes.

Avoid: Placing it near stainless steel, as the two surfaces can clash.

Silver Satin

Pros: Slightly more understated than Polished Chrome, Silver Satin complements almost every color of cabinetry. It’s a little softer than polished nickel, too. Not all metal tones look good near stainless steel, but Silver Satin does.

Style: If you like the look of chrome but find it too shiny, Silver Satin may be your answer.

Where it’s best suited: The metal contrasts beautifully against cherry cabinetry, a popular combination among many of our customers. This choice is also far more durable than most other metals. If you have young children, Silver Satin is among the best finishes to use, resisting fingerprints and sticky hands.

What styles it works with: Silver Satin works well in utilitarian kitchens that still want some style. You generally won’t find it in a gourmet kitchen, though it’s very reliable.

Avoid: Placing Silver Satin next to Brushed Nickel, since they’re nearly but not quite the same tone.

Venetian Bronze*

Pros: Venetian Bronze blends well with dark drawers, if you prefer to avoid color contrasts. It’s darker than many of our other finishes but it also reflects light better than Old Antique.

Style: Venetian Bronze is often confused with oil-rubbed bronze. The former has a lighter color and a less-oily feel, with a matte finish.

Where it’s best suited: The distinctive finish of our Venetian Bronze deeply offsets light colors, if you are looking for knobs decorative knobs.

What styles it works with: Venetian Bronze blends well in kitchens with a classic, rustic or country style.

Avoid: Panicking if the hardware oxidizes. This naturally occurs over time, and will only change the color slightly.

Rustic Hardware Finishes

Our rustic hardware finishes give traditional metals such as iron and bronze an aged look. The result is hardware that looks as though it’s been around for decades, but functions as though it’s brand new. You can use rustic hardware in kitchens that have both classic and rustic looks, for a fun twist on traditional hardware.

Antique Iron*

Antique Iron Finish interesting imperfections

Pros: The imperfections in this gorgeous finish make it extremely interesting to look at. Strong and sturdy, Antique Iron can give you a great alternative to Polished Chrome or Stainless Steel to soften the look of your kitchen.

Style: Antique Iron has a sophisticated, entirely unique look.

Where it’s best suited: You should use Antique Iron when you’re not sure if you want light or dark hardware. It can take on the appearance of both, depending on the lighting.

What styles it works with: Antique iron looks at home in rustic or country kitchens, though we also know people who use it with contemporary kitchens to great effect.

Avoid: Mixing it up with wrought iron — those are two completely different finishes.

Antique Silver*

Pros: Antique Silver has a beautiful “aging” pattern that sets it apart from traditional silver. Replacing chrome hardware with Antique Silver represents a definite step up. Along with Antique Iron and Bronze, Antique Silver has been blended, rather than plated, in an effort to increase durability.

Style: Antique Silver is a shabby chic style. When you want to give a bit more sophistication to an older kitchen or drab décor, you can’t go wrong with Antique Silver.

Where it’s best suited: Use Antique Silver in situations where you may have had chrome to begin with, such as hinges or handles on darker cabinets. It looks especially good next to dark cabinets.

What styles it works with: Like everything in our Rustic Hardware collection, Antique Silver fits best in a classic or country kitchen, with traditional decorating touches all over the room.

Avoid: If you do not like bright gray, which is what this color equates to.


Pros: The hardware will stand out well against a light stain. It’s quite dark, and the natural imperfections in our Rustic Hardware series add visual interest. Bronze is also quite strong.

Style: Bronze looks natural in any area where you’d consider using copper. It lacks copper’s reddish glare, which is appealing to many people.

Where it’s best suited: You can replace all your hardware with Bronze for a bold look, or just use it as an accent color on hinges or a few handles.

What styles it works with: Bronze pairs best with classic, rustic, farmhouse and other traditional styles.

Avoid: Trying to match new Bronze pieces to existing ones. It can be hard to get them to line up.

Rustic Antique*

Pros: This stunning finish is a blend of brass and zinc. No two Rustic Antique pieces are the same, because the materials mesh differently every time they’re combined. The results are visually quite impressive.

Style: Rustic Antique is less conservative than our other Rustic finishes. It’s a good choice for those whose personal style is more daring.

Where it’s best suited: Use Rustic Antique in situations where you want to make a statement. It will always stand out, so skip it if you need something muted.

What styles it works with: You can use Rustic Antique with rustic or classic styles, of course, but it can also work with contemporary because of its snazzy coloring.

Avoid: Abrasive cleaners that can ruin its finish.

Additional Hardware Finishes

Beyond our Signature Line and Rustic Hardware finishes, we also offer four other options.

Stainless Steel

Pros: Stainless Steel offers a clean and sharp look to your cabinetry. It’s extremely durable, and in fact, is among the strongest pieces we offer.

Style: Among the many kitchen cabinet hardware colors, Stainless Steel has one of the sharpest colors. It goes with nearly everything.

Where it’s best suited: In kitchens with dark colors, Stainless Steel hardware stands out. It is practical and familiar to most people. You can use it for handles, hinges or accent knobs.

What styles it works with: Stainless Steel goes best with contemporary and modern design.

Avoid: Getting too match-y in kitchens with Stainless Steel appliances.

Nickel Chrome

Pros: Nickel Chrome has a matte-style finish that looks good against any sort of cabinet stain. It’s much darker than Polished Nickel but has its same durability.

Style: Nickel Chrome is more muted than most of our additional finishes.

Where it’s best suited: It works best in contrast to soft colors, helping your hardware to stand out.

What styles it works with: Rustic and classic kitchens will benefit from the addition of Nickel Chrome hardware finishes, because they’re dark and sophisticated, a winning combination.

Avoid: Aggressive scrubbing of the surface, which can strip the color.

Old Silver*

Pros: This utterly unmatched tone is made from solid brass, making it both attractive and durable. You won’t find any other finish like it.

Style: Old Silver looks almost like it’s been scuffed, giving it an antique feel. It has character and adds visual interest to any cabinetry.

Where it’s best suited: Old Silver makes an excellent handle on a cabinet where you store antique pieces or as knobs on a buffet with your treasured china.

What styles it works with: Old Silver works well in any style kitchen. Though it’s perhaps best-suited to rustic looks, it can also give a modern kitchen a fun, kitschy vibe.

Avoid: Trying to match Old Silver to other finishes, since it’s so unique.

Satin Brass

Pros: Satin Brass has a lighter tint than many of our other finishes, and is a strong material that will stand the test of time.

Style: Satin Brass is bright and shiny, giving it a cheerful coloring.

Where it’s best suited: On dark kitchen cabinetry and islands, where it stands out beautifully.

What styles it works with: Satin Brass goes better with a modern look than a rustic one.

Avoid: Trying to match similarly colored brass accessories, which aren’t really needed.

Find the Best Cabinet Hardware for Your Home Today

Which cabinet hardware would look best in your home? Armed with these ideas, you can start figuring out what type of style you’d like to add. Contact us today if you want additional assistance on pricing or to answer any questions about our hardware finishes.

How to Install Cabinet Hardware

A quick way to update a kitchen is to switch out the hardware. Though drawers and pulls tend to be small, they make a significant impact on the overall appearance of the room. Installing new hardware isn’t complicated. Use ordinary tools and materials to create an extraordinary new look.

Reusing Old Holes

If you purchase new hardware that matches the holes of the existing pulls and knobs, the replacement process takes minutes.

  • Start by using a screwdriver to remove screws on the inside of the doors and drawers.
  • Line up each new piece of hardware with its holes, and put in the screws.
  • Tighten the screws well, and you’re done.

Some old-style pieces of hardware might have nuts and washers holding them on.

  • Loosen and remove the nut, slip off the washer and pull off the knob or pull.
  • If the new hardware has the same fastening system, insert the bolt through the original hole.
  • Slide the washer all the way up, then twist the nut on tightly.

Creating New Holes

Sometimes the hardware you really want doesn’t match the existing holes. That’s not a problem — it just takes a few extra steps.

  • After removing old hardware, determine the spots for the new holes. Many hardware and home improvement stores sell templates that guide you to properly position new holes so they’re both functional and pleasing to the eye. Using a template, mark the spots for your new holes and drill them out.
  • It’s easier to camouflage the old holes before you put up the new hardware. You have far better access for filling and covering holes up.
  • Use wood putty to fill them completely.
  • Remove any excess filler with a putty knife.
  • Let the putty dry. Depending upon the size of your hole, this can take a few hours or the entire day.
  • Lightly sand the area with 150-grit paper to make sure it’s smooth.
  • If the hole is gone, prime the area and then cover with paint or finish.
  • If you can still see the hole, repeat the wood putty application process.
  • When the paint or finish has dried, screw your beautiful new hardware into the new holes you made.

Replacing cabinet hardware can make a dramatic difference. With minimal work and expense, you’ve refreshed and updated the room’s appearance.

Color me shocked

So I’ve stumbled on this website called Design-Seeds. A website “for all who love color”, the site derives a collection of bold and striking design color palettes from a series of gorgeous photographs. I must say that I am absolutely enamored with this page now. It’s seriously awesome. I was inspired to toss up some of their great photo palettes with some of our colored cabinet hardware because: A) the palettes are all gorgeous; and B) the hardware coordinates perfectly with them!

Artichoke Tones

This palette, inspired by a photograph of a purple artichoke, combines shades of lavender and mauve with a deep olive-green to create a unique color combination. This happens to gel perfectly with Cliffside’s amethyst crystal cabinet knobs, the most famous of which is featured prominently on the cover of our 25th anniversary ‘Fine Hardware Collections’ catalog. See for yourself!

Artichoke Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Artichoke Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Cliffside's M995 crystal knob in Amethyst with a Polished Chrome base
Cliffside's M995 crystal knob in Amethyst with a Polished Chrome base

Decadent Tones

Now, keep in mind that the hardware I’m showing here is one of Cliffside’s Arizona series stone knobs. These knobs vary widely in size and shape, and they definitely do NOT all look like this particular piece. But this color palette, drawn from a photograph of a simply delicious-looking beverage, reminded me almost instantly of the coppery tones of the rust-colored base and the swirls of orange and brown running lazily through the surface of the stone.

Decadent Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
The Arizona series stone knobs (large size) with a rust base (all knobs will vary in color, size, and shape)
The Arizona series stone knobs (large size) with a rust base (all knobs will vary in color, size, and shape)

Vineyard Tones

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been to a vineyard. I like wine, but I’ve never been to a place where wine is made. This picture, however, makes me reconsider how high on my priority list getting to one will be. The contrast in colors is stunning, with vibrant green contrasting with light and dark browns. Cliffside’s Old Antique finish, one of two oil-rubbed bronze colors that we offer, is a near-perfect match for the brown posts that create focal points in this otherwise light and misty photograph, and it’s truly a rich combination of hues.

Vineyard Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Vineyard Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Cliffside's IBCL ice-box style cabinet latch in Old Antique
Cliffside's IBCL ice-box style cabinet latch in Old Antique

Dairy Tones

Truly, an absolutely breathtaking combination of colors from a picture that, at first glance, looks almost painstakingly neutral. For being able to find colors in the most minute and hidden of places, I am terribly jealous of designers who do this with ease. The yellowing beige color in this palette is a near-perfect likeness of a lot of Cliffside’s beige marble knobs crafted in Italy from the Perlato Sicilia species. The texture of the marble also looks somewhat like the texture in the photograph, which drew me to make this match.

Dairy Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Dairy Tones (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
The PM5 marble cabinet knob in Perlato Sicilia beige
The PM5 marble cabinet knob in Perlato Sicilia beige

Santorini View

I love the Mediterranean. I’ve been to Italy. A lot of our hardware, like the marble knob above and our line of solid brass cabinet hinges, comes from Italy. But I haven’t yet gotten to Greece, and this photo of Santorini, Greece, makes me disappointed in myself for that. I mean, who wouldn’t love a view like that? Better yet, who wouldn’t love a blue like that!? The colors are absolutely incredible, and I can just imagine a kitchen full of cabinets with an ocean view – cabinets painted the pale color of fresh off-white sand and decorated with blue crystal hardware. Astounding. Just simply over the top. Wow.

Santorini View (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Santorini View (photo courtesy of design-seeds.com)
Cliffside's M995 crystal knob, again, in blue with a Silver Satin base finish
Cliffside's M995 crystal knob, again, in blue with a Silver Satin base finish


I have to thank Jessica at Design-Seeds for providing me for all of these wonderful color inspirations. A shout to our dealer NuKitchens of Norwalk, Connecticut: it was on their blog that I first saw palettes from Design-Seeds. And finally, I decided to make a couple palettes of my own. Maybe someone will see these and we’ll end up making someone’s kitchen or bathroom colors from right here on our blog. Just remember: you can get the hardware for the cabinets from Cliffside Industries. Enjoy!




For more information about the variety of finishes Cliffside Industries has to offer, you can visit our finish information page or our color guide.

A Cliffside carol

M30 colored crystals, re-purposed as glittering Christmas decorations...?
M30 colored crystals, re-purposed as glittering Christmas decorations...?

A jaunty Christmas tune, in celebration of the holiday season!

This year’s “Fa-la-la-la-blog” is sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”

Verse I

We went to find some knobs
For cab’nets we had bought
We scoured and searched the stores
But found not what we sought

Then on the Internet
We found the Cliffside site
The solid brass was everywhere,
And crystals gleamed so bright!


Oh! Cliffside knobs, hinges, pulls,
Latches for your home,
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Cliffside knobs, hinges, pulls,
Latches for your home
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Verse II

We bought a brand-new fridge
And paneled it with pine,
Next to our cabinets,
The workmanship was fine

But opening the doors
Became a problem ’til
The appliance handle from Cliffside
Made our new fridge a thrill!


Oh! Cliffside knobshingespulls,
Latches for your home,
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Cliffside knobs, hinges, pulls,
Latches for your home
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Verse III

We chose a hardware suite
Sedona? Stainless steel?”
So many choices there
We couldn’t choose our feel

But then we hit the mark
The perfect kitchen look
The Classic Suite on doors and drawers
And Rope in the breakfast nook!


Oh! Cliffside knobshingespulls,
Latches for your home,
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Cliffside knobs, hinges, pulls,
Latches for your home
The finest hardware in the land
And anywhere you roam!

Happy Holidays to You and Yours from the entire Cliffside Family!

New product introduction: SP-5

Cliffside's four SP scroll pulls in Silver Satin
Cliffside's four SP scroll pulls in Silver Satin

The final new 5″cc solid brass cabinet pull to be introduced is the SP-5. With its decorative scroll design, the SP-5, shown at right with the other Scroll Suite pulls in Silver Satin, adds a traditional touch to any cabinet. The most versatile Cliffside collection, the Scroll Suite contains several of our top-ten selling items and can coordinate with any cabinet style, as it is available in 10 distinctive finishes.

Because the scroll pull is now available in four sizes, you have the ability to coordinate the hardware throughout an entire room, an entire floor, or an entire home. The 3″cc SP-3, part of Cliffside’s line for many years, can be used on small cabinet drawers or on custom furniture where an elegant and graceful look is desired. For kitchen cabinets, especially those that are ceiling-height, or wide drawer fronts, the new SP-5 is an ideal fit. For tall pantry doors, small appliances like dishwashers, and pull-0ut freezer drawers, the SP-8 fits your design requirements, while the SP-12 appliance handle is a perfect size for large refrigerators pulls with panel kits.

As we approach the holidays, Cliffside Industries is very thankful for the addition of our new 5″cc pulls in all five styles; they are now in stock and available to ship in all 10 of our signature finishes. For more information, contact our customer service department or visit our website to purchase today!