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  • Writer's pictureGita Jacobson

The Scoop on Plumbing Fixtures

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

the scoop on plumbing fixtures

Plumbing fixtures play an important role in the final look of your home. They can change the look of your kitchen and bathroom, not to mention get used every day.

With the help of Christine Elderkin-Campos, an AKBD certified designer with NKBA, I’ve put together a list of plumbing fixture insider knowledge, which should help you select the perfect fixtures for your project.

Here's the scoop on plumbing fixtures!

Two different grades of the same product

You may have asked yourself, why go to a showroom and pay higher prices to buy Grohe and Delta fixtures when Home Depot sells the exact same product?

Most fixture companies manufacture mass market collections exclusively for big box chains. Bottom line is these are not the same products, even though they both share the same brand name. If you’re looking for a high quality fixture, go to a showroom.

Products manufactured for big box stores and warehouse chains typically have been “value engineered.” This means that more pieces are made of plastic and less expensive materials. They may look the same as ones sold in designer showrooms, but they are not made of the same quality.

Simple trick - hold a big box store faucet in your hands and then go hold a showroom fixture. You’ll notice the difference in weight. More metal parts = heavier, higher quality product.

Lower prices don’t always get you best results

Many people are attracted to big box stores because of the low prices they offer. However, what most people don’t know is that many designer lines that are sold in showrooms have “entry-level” products that are the exact same quality as their more expensive brands, but are less expensive due to limits in customization. This means you can spend the same you would at a big box store but get a much higher quality product.

Here are some examples of entry level brands and their designer line counterparts:

Entry level: Delta Designer line: Brizo

Entry level: Kohler Designer lines: Kallista & Robern

Entry level: American Standard Designer line: DXV

Entry level: Hansgrohe Designer line: Axor

Be selective on money saving items

When trying to save money on items in a big box store, go with products that are infrequently used and fairly inexpensive to replace if something should go wrong, such as faucets and sinks for the laundry room. Items like garbage disposals, which are used quite frequently, do not have the same quality grind features or in-home warranties that showrooms provide.

Don’t forget about accessories

One area that most people think about after the fact are bathroom accessories! This includes towel hooks, rings and bars, robe hooks and toilet paper holders. Showrooms have the added advantage of providing you matching accessories to your plumbing fixtures. These small details finish off a space and make it feel cohesive and thoughtfully designed.

Big box stores have a set number of accessory options that most times don’t match well to the fixtures in design or finish.

Want to splurge? Here’s a few places to consider.

Are you looking at ways to splurge on plumbing fixtures but not sure where? Here are a few suggestions that have gotten rave reviews from my clients.

For any avid chef, try a workstation sink such as Julien or Galley. They’re not only highly functional but offer that wow-factor in design. You’ll greatly enhance the culinary experience in your kitchen and make it one-of-a-kind.

For that ultimate spa experience in your master bathroom add a steam shower. The health and wellness benefits vastly outweigh the costs and clients rave about them. Any showroom will be able to help you figure out the best steam solution for your space.

Lighted mirrors are also up-and-coming! They provide a modern, integrated look and are highly functional. They’re the perfect touch for a contemporary or modern bathroom. Check out all of the different options from Robern Vitality, Robern Aio, Madeli, and Cordova. Most showrooms will have some of these mirrors on display so you can go check them out!

Happy shopping!

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