Finish Codes of the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA)
Residential door and cabinet hardware manufacturers produce different versions of popular finishes. There is often little or no consistency between producers.
An oil-rubbed bronze finish can be almost black from one firm and medium brown from another. A satin nickel finish can appear to be a satin stainless steel from one company and an antique satin nickel from another. One reason that residential hardware has many variations of the same finish is because hand-finishing occurs and is often applied differently from one item to another.
Door hardware manufacturers that produce commercial, institutional and industrial hardware most often follow exacting finish standards from the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) in the United States that do not allow for unique hand-done finishes. Specifying a specific BHMA finish from different manufacturers for different products ensures that all door hardware will have consistent finishes.
BHMA uses 3 digit numbers that do not include letters. An example is polished chrome 625. Satin Chrome is 626. ‘Satin’ is the correct terminology. ‘Brushed’ is not a technical term.
Individual residential door and hardware manufacturers often use older finish numbers. Examples include US26 for United States polished chrome (C26 for Canadian polished chrome); US26D for United States satin chrome (C26D for Canada).
Residential hardware can be specified in individual ‘living’ finishes. These finishes begin changing almost immediately after the hardware is installed; particularly if located on the exterior of a home. Living finishes are never BHMA.