Is a PVD Faucet Finish Worth the Extra Cost?

Is a  pvd faucet worth the extra cost kohler pvd faucets in mutliple finishes Is a  pvd faucet worth the extra cost kohler pvd faucets in mutliple finishes

When it comes to home design, it’s about appearances as much as it is about safety, durability, and quality. With so many options available for both kitchen and bathroom fixtures, you may be wondering what PVD is, and whether or not you need it. PVD is actually the strongest and most durable finish on the market and is absolutely something you could consider if you’re concerned about making sure your fixtures last for as long as possible. 

What Is PVD Finish?

According to Sink Legs, PVD stands for “Physical Vapor Deposition.” It’s a finishing process that’s conducted in a high-tech vacuum chamber, utilizing metals such as Titanium, and a high-temperature gas called Plasma. “This results in a hard, long-lasting surface that’s resistant to attack by many household chemicals, and completely immune to metallic corrosion making it the near-ideal finish for bathroom and kitchen fixtures,” they explained. 

“PVD stands for Physical Vapor Deposition. PVD Coating refers to a variety of thin-film deposition techniques where a solid material is vaporized in a vacuum environment and deposited on substrates as a pure material or alloy composition coating,” Semicore, an expert in vacuum deposition explains. 

“As the process transfers the coating material as a single atom or on the molecular level, it can provide extremely pure and high-performance coatings which for many applications can be preferable to other methods used. At the heart of every microchip, and semiconductor device, durable protective film, optical lens, solar panel, and many medical devices, PVD Coatings provide crucial performance attributes for the final product. Whether the coating needs to be extremely thin, pure, durable or clean, PVD provides the solution.”

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Should I Buy A Faucet With PVD Finish?

Given that PVD is known for ultimate durability, resisting corrosion, scratching and tarnishing, PVD finishes are ideal for kitchen and bathroom faucets if you anticipate frequent usage. If you want your fixtures to maintain their original color and shine, PVD might be the right option.

PVD is also a great idea if you’re remodeling your home and planning to stay there long-term. Rather than having to replace your fixtures as they start to wear, a PVD finish will help resist the buildup of pesky problems like soap scum, or mineral deposits. In addition, PVD is generally considered pretty eco-friendly, given that it elongates the life of a fixture, and is a toxin-free process that does not produce hazardous waste.

Is PVD Durable?

To put it shortly — yes. According to PVD Coatings, PVD is a super-hard finish that is “by far” the most durable available today. 

Does PVD Coating Fade?

Generally no, or at least not as fast as other coatings might. According to John Desmond, PVD both increases a product’s longevity, and also reduces the maintenance required for it. 

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What Are The Cons To PVD Finish?

The main drawback of a PVD finish is the price. While it is certainly cost-effective over time, initially, it’s an investment. PVD finishes will typically start over $500, so it might not make sense if you’re just looking to make a cosmetic update to your home, or if you’re putting your home up for sale. In addition, PVD finishes, while strong, are not completely spot-resistant. This means that they will require a bit more maintenance to keep clean.  

What Are The Alternatives To PVD Finishes?

If you’re worried about the spotting issue, continual fingerprint marks on the fixture, or if you’re looking for something a bit more cost-effective, there are other options out there. 

If PVD isn’t exactly what you need, manufacturers offer their own versions of durable finishes, such as Moen's Spot Resist™ or Delta Faucet's SpotShield® which include antimicrobial protection as well. Spot resistant finishes are not the same as PVD, and though they do not offer the same degree of durability, they are a less expensive, but still effective, alternative. 

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Which Faucet Manufacturers Use PVD?

Though most manufacturers offer PVD under their own brand names, there are a few popular brands that use PVD on some of their products.

  • Kohler – Vibrant 
  • Delta – Brilliance
  • Brizo – Brilliance
  • Moen – LifeShine
  • California Faucets – All Premium Finishes are PVD
  • Hansgrohe – LifeLong Finish
  • Grohe - StarLight

How Is PVD Made?

Without getting too technical, PVD is a process that you definitely can’t DIY. According to California Faucets, it goes like this: “Chrome-plated parts are cleaned to remove polished compounds, grease, oil or fingerprints prior to loading into a vacuum chamber. Once a low vacuum is achieved, the parts are cleaned on a molecular level using gas ions. Next, an electrical arc is used to evaporate metal from a solid metal target. Depending on the process, different pure metal targets are used. The metal vapor is immediately ionized (given a positive charge) and accelerated to the negatively charged parts (faucets). Result: The metal is molecularly bonded to the faucet parts and forms a thin, highly adhered metallic layer,” they explain.

They continue: “During the metal deposition cycle, various gases are introduced and reacted with the metallic layer. The combination of the metal and gas produces various colors depending on the metal and gas used. The final deposited layer, or color layer, is extremely durable and highly brilliant in color.”

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What Base Materials Are Ideal For PVD Coating?

Before you get too sold on making sure every fixture in your home is coated with PVD, you might want to consider which materials are a proper base for the finish.

According to Bend Plating PVD Coatings, some work better than others. “Some base materials adhere better with the metal deposition than others. In order to achieve the most durable and most attractive metal finishing, it’s essential to choose the right process,” they explain. “Depending on the material, nickel or chrome electroplating may be required for the best outcome. Some materials take the PVD coating directly better than others.” They list the following as ideal: 
  • Titanium, Graphite, Stainless Steel – Can be coated without base layers.
  • Steel, Brass, and Copper – Typically nickel/chromium electroplated before PVD processing for better corrosion resistance, but can be applied directly.
  • Plastics, Aluminum, Zinc Castings – Typically uses the Low-Temperature Arc Vapor Deposition (LTAVD) process.

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PVD Coating vs. Electroplating: Which Should You Do?

Another way to achieve a durable finish is through electroplating. According to NCT Technique Surfaces, the two differ in a few ways. First, when a product is electroplated, it is put in a tank of solution containing the material to be deposited. The negative pole of the power supply is attached to the product, and the positive pole is attached to the material you want to deposit. When power is applied, the product is evenly covered in the material desired.

“The electroplating technology is a low energy form of plating. Because it is a low energy electrochemical process, ions arrive at the substrate with relatively low energy and deposit on the surface. Large edge build-ups are common and uncontrollable in this process,” they explain. “The part geometry can also effect the deposit's uniformity. Channels and crevices are very difficult to electroplate without receiving a large build-up on the outer edges.”

On the other hand, PVD coating is a vacuum deposition process that’s more affordable. Coatings can be deposited in high room temperature and provide a more even finish. In addition, the adhesion is up to 6x greater in some cases. A wider choice of materials is available, and there are no harmful chemicals to dispose of. As far as the price goes, however, PVD and Electroplating can be very similar in some cases.

If you're designing your kitchen or your bathroom, consider a PVD faucet finish. Not only are they durable and don't fade over time, but they're aesthetically pleasing and can easily match the rest of your home design. In the renovation process and deciding on what works and what doesn't, simply do some research on your faucet and if a PVD finish works for you and your budget.