The finish on the faucets and accessories will be brushed nickel. But my tub mixing valve, drain, showerhead and toilet handle are all chrome. How do I address all that, and does this mean changing the entire mixing valve in the wall as well?
Q: Thanks for all the free plumbing advice you have given me over the years! I'm installing new faucets and towel bars in my master bathroom.
The finish on the faucets and accessories will be brushed nickel. But my tub mixing valve, drain, showerhead and toilet handle are all chrome. How do I address all that, and does this mean changing the entire mixing valve in the wall as well? I don't want to make this a big job. -- Sam, Nevada.
A: Brushed nickel is now a great choice. It has a warm appearance, and because the finish is "brushed," the faucets and towel bars will have a soft matte finish that can help hide water spots and fingerprints.
Brushed-nickel finishes for plumbing fixtures have been around for decades, but the earlier versions did not hold up as well as chrome. So, nickel finishes went away for a while, but with new durable plating technology available, brushed nickel is coming back strong.
Now, let's get back to your question. First, the toilet handle, showerhead, shower arm and tub-drain trip lever should not be a big issue to replace, since they are normally easy-to-install plumbing accessories. The mixing valve may be a little tougher, depending on the make, model and age of the valve.
Contact the manufacturer and see if it has a brushed-nickel-finish trim kit available for your mixing valve. If so, you should be able to replace just the exposed trim, and keep your present valve body in the wall. If not, you may have to change the entire mixing valve, and that can end up costing you a lot.
Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call," the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.