When shopping for new faucets for your kitchen or bath, it’s a good idea to keep the old adage “you get what you pay for” firmly planted in the back of your head. It’s easy to suffer from sticker shock when pricing out options, but remember that quality plumbing fixtures last the life of your home, whereas low-cost alternatives quickly lead you back to the hardware store searching for a replacement.
The challenge, then, is determining which products are imposters and which are the genuine article. In this post we’ll cover some basic tips for selecting the ideal fixtures for your bath or kitchen renovation.
Be a fan of heavy metal
Fixtures featuring solid-brass bodies last longer and require less care and maintenance, particularly if you live in a region with hard water. Typically you can tell an all brass body straight away just by picking up the unit in your hands. Solid brass will be much heavier compared to other metals.
If you absolutely can’t afford brass, die-cast zinc-alloys are your next best bet. Look for a model that features an electroplated chrome finish as the electroplating process bonds the finish to the body for longer durability. Never install a plastic fixture unless it’s for a very rustic application such as an outdoor or garage utility sink.
Brand names matter
With some goods, like clothing, paying for a designer label is just like lighting a fire with a $100 bill, but when it comes to plumbing supplies, the extra money you spend goes directly into quality.
Delta, Peerless, Moen, Brizo, Kohler…these are the names you can trust. If you don’t recognize the manufacturer’s name on the box, you could be taking a big roll of the dice. Off-brand faucets are generally poorly made, and it can be challenging to find parts when they inevitably start to leak.
Bear in mind that a quality plumbing supply showroom will feature unique styles from high-end boutique brands that build excellent fixtures.
Check warranty details on the valve
There are four different types of valves used in controlling water flow in faucets: compression, sleeve-cartridge, ball and ceramic-disk. Each style has its own particular set of pros and cons but ceramic-disk is typically regarded as the top technology.
Regardless of the type you choose, check the guarantee to see the length of time the valve is covered for to get a basic idea of how long it might be until you’ll need to replace parts.
A longer warranty almost always translates into a higher quality valve as manufacturers prefer your faucet to be leak free well past the expiration date of your guarantee.
Shop where the pros go
Dropping by the Home Depot to grab new washers is perfectly fine, but big box hardware stores are not necessarily the best place for buying fixtures.
Plumbing supply wholesalers know the manufacturers and how well they stand behind their products. They also have insights into what local contractors are currently buying—a great indicator of the models that are ideal for your area.
Sales staff in a plumbing showroom are much more likely to be experts in the field and therefore capable of properly answering any questions you may have.
Whichever fixtures you choose, remember that longevity really does matter. Pay now or pay later—these really are the only two options.