The Professional Locksmith Dictionary defines a finish as “a material, coloring and/or texturing specification”. Much like a paint on a car or stain on wood, a finish describes the appearance of door hardware, no matter it’s type or form factor(s). When specifying and ordering hardware, it is important to properly identify finishes. Standardization, therefore, is paramount. Standardization of finishes is largely accomplished in the door hardware industry and elsewhere through the us of “finish codes”.
Finish codes first gained widespread usage and popularity with ANSI’s “US Finish Codes” or “US Codes”. US finish codes are typically prefaced with US and then followed by numbers and in some instances a letter. This is not always the case, however. For example, US03, US3, 03, and 3 have all been used by manufacturers to describe a bright brass finish. US finish codes are limited, however, in that they are only able to describe the color of the material and nothing more (the sole exceptions being US32, bright or polished stainless steel, and US32D, brushed or satin stainless steel).
BHMA decided to take finish codes a step further by creating their own codes, also commonly referred to as “BHMA Numbers” or “BHMA Finish Codes”. These finish codes, originally detailed in BHMA’s Standard 1301, describe, among other things, color AND the base material used. Behind each finish is a base material, or what the item is made of. Examples of base materials include steel, brass, bronze, and aluminum.
So, for example, a US3 and a BHMA 605 might be equivalent in terms of appearance, bright brass in this case, but 605 also tells us it that the base material is brass. Other equivalents to US3 are 632, which is a bright brass finish plated on steel, and 666, which is bright brass finish plated on aluminum.
ANSI and BHMA eventually decided to work together in maintaining and updating BHMA’s finish codes. Today this standard is known as ANSI/BHMA A156.18 Materials and Finishes. While this standard is necessary step going forward, there is no escaping the lasting influence and usage of US finish codes. It is therefore important to know both finish code standards as well as properly cross-reference them.
US and ANSI/BHMA Finish Code Cross-Reference Chart Use this PDF chart to cross-reference popular US and ANSI/BHMA finish codes. This chart includes all ANSI/BHMA base materials related to the finishes covered.