The bathroom and kitchen industries have been dominated by coloured tapware, sinks and accessories for the past few years, namely black - and for good reason. Black suits a variety of design styles from traditional to modern, it's striking against natural woods and marble, it's cost effective, and provides an easy way to instantly modernise a room. It is also readily available as most plumbing places now stock black bathroom tapware along with classic chrome. As such, we believe that black is here to stay, and the interior design and bathroom renovation experts agree.
However there are different ways black products can be made. Each comes with their own pros and cons, so deciding which type is best for you can be tricky. That's why we have created this guide to compare the two most common approaches, PVD (physical vapour deposition) and electroplating, so you can pick which is best for you and your bathroom.
What Is PVD?
PVD (physical vapour deposition) refers to a thin film deposition technique where a solid material is vaporised in a vacuum environment and deposited on substrates as a pure material or alloy composition coating.
As the process transfers the coating material in the form of a single atom or molecule, it provides extremely pure and high-performance coatings which are preferable in specialised applications, compared to other methods of adding colour. PVD provides the best solution in situations where the coating needs to be extremely thin, pure, durable and clean.
PVD coated products also have a huge variety of uses because they are resistant to tarnishing and corrosion. They are widely used in the aerospace, construction, marine and automotive industries, as well as in medical and surgical products that are to be implanted in the human body, due to the reliability of the PVD finish. It is also used for decorative purposes in items such as watches, door handles, tapware, bathroom accessories, shower fittings, cutlery and much more.
The PVD process results in a uniform deposit of the coating material and gives improved adhesion up to six times greater that other methods in some cases. PVD is also environmentally friendly as the process leaves no harmful chemicals to dispose of, meaning that it's a sustainable way of producing quality coloured products. This is important to us at The Sink Warehouse and is one of the main reasons we are stocking PVD coated tapware and accessories for the bathroom and kitchen. We have found that these products have a superior durability and resistance to wear, which is why we are using it in our new gun metal range.
What is Electroplating?
The method of electroplating harnesses electrical energy to apply one material onto another, often to give a product properties that it does not have, such as corrosion resistance.
When a product is electroplated, it is placed into a tank of solution containing the material to be deposited. The cathode (negative pole) of the power supply is attached to the product to be plated. The anode (positive pole) of the power supply is attached to the material to be deposit. When the power is applied, the negatively charged product attracts the positive ions of the material to be deposited (from the plating solution). The anode material will then replenish coating material.
Electroplating technology is a low energy way to add colour coatings to products because ions arrive at the substrate with relatively low energy and then deposit on the surface.
In use since the 1800s, electroplating is commonly applied for aesthetic purposes to plate items with expensive metals such as silver and gold. This is done in decorative products like jewellery, watches and coins. It is also utilised in computer and phone circuits to improve electrical conductivity, and uses copper, chromium and nickel to prevent corrosion of building materials such as iron and steel. In fact, this is how stainless steel is produced. Other than in our stainless steel sinks, we utilise electroplating to produce a sophisticated matte black finish on our black bathroom tapware, accessories and kitchen tapware. This is the most common process for adding colour in the plumbing industry and has been used for many years.
PVD is a relatively new process for giving products a black finish compared to electroplating, and companies will often use electroplating by default because this is what has always been used.
Whilst it is a respectable method for coating products, it has drawbacks in that it is likely to fade if it isn't taken care of properly. Taking care of your electroplated black tapware means wiping with a microfibre cloth after use and avoiding cleaning products other than mild soapy water. The less you look after it, unfortunately the quicker it will fade. PVD offers an alternative to electroplating that is much stronger and longer-lasting and will not fade over time. The PVD finish is designed to ensure you get the most out of your black products and enjoy them with confidence.
PVD finishes are available in a brushed black finish which is called gun metal black, as well as brushed nickel which is carving out its own niche in the industry. However the PVD finish does not have a matte option, only brushed black. We prefer it because of its durability and environmental sustainability. But either way you choose, you can't go wrong with beautiful black bathroom tapware and accessories in your bathroom.