February 28, 2013

What’s in a Faucet? Choosing the Right One!

Many people ask us why the huge price range with bathroom & kitchen faucets … and why is the allowance as part of a bathroom renovation often far greater than what I see faucets priced online for?

What is in a faucet
There are few considerations:

1. Is the faucet you saw advertised online certified for use in Canada?  Many are, but a lot are not … if in doubt ask.

2. Does the price you see include the rough-in valve (for a shower faucet that has pressure balance and possibly thermostatic controls)?  This is the part behind the fancy trim & lever or dial that controls the water temperature and/or pressure.  In many cases this is significantly more expensive than the trim alone and often it is hard to tell from an online store which valve you need and how much it costs.  These are far from being universal so the one to match a specific choice of trim needs to be ordered.

3. Does the rough-in valve which comes with your chosen trim have built in stop valves i.e. can the water be turned off at the valve or would the water need to be turned off at the mains in event of a plumbing repair?  You may save on the cost of the valve, but incur extra plumbing costs to install shut off valves for the shower.

4. Can a replacement cartridge for your shower faucet be easily sourced when it eventually wears out.  These valves and cartridges are not universal … even within each manufacturer’s range there are specific valves/cartridges for specific faucets.

5. Like anything that is in part influenced by design, a look which is more dated is often less expensive compared to something very contemporary … basic rule of supply & demand.

6. Can I easily obtain parts or return a faulty item from my chosen supplier or is this pretty much a one way deal?  What do I need to pay in shipping costs, especially if the product has to be returned?  We always deal local so this is never an issue.

7. What level of guarantee does the manufacturer offer?

8. Lastly of course is the quality of the faucet itself; is it all metal or a mix of plastic & metal?  Is the cartridge ceramic or plastic?  Does the mechanism of the lever / dial have a tight & well constructed feel or is it cheap and loose?  Does the valve body easily allow for varying depths of tile/backer-board or will the plumber have to make adjustments of their own?


These are just some of the pointers to bear in mind when shopping for bathroom or kitchen faucets.  We will always recommend products where these are not issues.