What Material Is Best For Faucets?


Believe it or not, there was a time in the not so far off past (well, before the internet) where there was a risk that every time you wanted to gulp down a nice cold beverage after a hot day mowing the lawn, or during school hours after getting smoked in the face 150 times by a dodge ball that you may have been in more danger than you thought you were.

The reason…Lead. No, not lead, like you’re supposed to do with your teenage daughter away from boys. Lead. The harmful type of metal that can affect your body in ways you don’t want your body to be affected.

Thankfully now of days, with advancements in our modern science and technology we have discovered that lead…is in fact dead. Most plumbing now of days, by law, has to contain no more than 0.02% lead in any piping, and that’s no different from faucets. You’ll even see “Lead-free” stamped on a lot of the packaging.

Now with that out of the way…What is the best type of material for faucets? The short and sweet to that is, it depends on you. There are many different materials now of days that your faucet can be made of that will spruce your up your kitchen.

They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, finishes. There are even touch less options, pull down sprayer options and other attachments. So how can ‘you’ possibly be a factor? Let me give you a run down of the materials that are used in today’s plumbing, why they are good, what could be wrong with them, why cost might be a factor and more!

Materials

Faucets can come in some very unique and different materials, hell you could diy one out of wood if you’re creative enough, although I wouldn’t recommend it.

The basics are brass, plastic, zinc alloy, stainless steel and even copper if you’re feeling boujee.

Brass

Brass – Probably one of the most commonly used material for faucets out there. It often times gets mistaken for stainless steel because of a stainless steel finish they put on. Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper combined.

Pros:

  • Very beautiful material to work with, can spruce your kitchen up to give it an old vintage look to it.
  • Best rated for corrosion resistance in comparison to all other faucets out there.
  • Very durable to work with.
  • Probably the MOST important pro that exists with brass is it is an anti bacterial material. The alloys of this metal (which includes copper and zinc) will naturally kill off unwanted bacteria from spreading around and getting onto your hands.

In my previous blog post I touched on why keeping your cleaning area is important and different methods you can use to do so!

Cons:

  • Before the discovery of lead being bad for health, a lot more lead was used with the alloys of copper and zinc, in combination creating brass
  • Although a lot more heavily regulated today, lead can still be used in faucets. In Canada 0.25% is allowed where water is potable (drinkable) and in America 8% as long is it doesn’t have more than 11 ppb (parts per billion)
  • Over time, brass will erode. The result: A greenish shade will apear on your faucet in a sort of scum build up and will need to either be restored or replaced.

Brass is probably aesthetically one of my favorite faucets to see in a home, or office space. The look and feel from it is really just incomparable. I’m a fan of a lot of the more antique’y look in things around the house, so for me this is definitely a must have.

Copper

Pros:

  • A very attractive material to work with. Buy a copper faucet and it likely be the center of your bathroom or kitchen.
  • Being an alloy that is used alongside zinc to create brass, it alone can also possess anti-bacterial properties.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Durable material.
  • Recyclable.
  • Will hold value even after it breaks, being that it’s copper.

Cons:

  • Can be a quite expensive option if you’re looking into buying a nice faucet.
  • Most likely will need to be paired with a copper sink. (Possible to still look good without though)
  • Not as common as your brass or stainless steel options.

Next to brass, this one is also one of my more favored styles of faucets out there. With it’s sleek look, it can turn any room of your house where you wash dishes, hands or anything else into a nice place to be. Copper tends to add a dash of class that none of the other materials can quite reach. If you’re feeling boujee, copper’s the way to go.

Stainless Steel

Pros:

  • Stainless steel faucets are lightweight and durable, they are also a very nice aesthetic touch to your kitchen or bathroom, providing a very modern look.
  • Very easy to clean. Just a quick spit shine is all that’s needed for these faucets to be sparkling.
  • Can be pricey, but for the most part you’re looking at an affordable material.
  • Lead-Free.
  • Doesn’t rust, erode, corrode or break down in humidity as other alloys do eventually, causing a longer lasting faucet.
  • Longer lasting faucet means buying replacements less often and more money in your pocket.

Cons:

  • Although very easily cleaned, stainless steel can provide a surface that germs can accumulate on easily. Even if killed, their DNA can still stay on the faucet and get passed around.
  • Water spots can occur after drops have dried.
  • Might be tough matching your stainless steel faucet with your stainless steel sink, especially if made from different manufacturers.
  • Anything sharp, or tough whether is a cleaning tool or your rough hands if you’re a handy man, the stainless steel faucet (or anything stainless steel for that matter) is very easily scratch-able, and should be cautiously taken care of.

Another really good material to have in your kitchen or bathroom. I like this one more for it’s easy cleaning surface and usually you can find these at a pretty ‘easy-going’ price.

Zinc Alloy

Pros:

  • Some of the cheapest faucets you can find.
  • Can look good for being so cheap and your ballin’ on a budget.

Cons:

  • Some of the cheapest faucets you can find. One of the least durable materials out there for a faucet.
  • Can break down in as little as five years.
  • Electroplated finish will eventually wear off and cause corrosion.

Great faucet for the budget friendly consumer. You’re really not going to put a dent in your wallet, and it will at least give you a longer life span than plastic will.

Plastic

Pros:

  • Very cheap.
  • Can look good.
  • Usually very easy to install.
  • Lightweight.
  • Lead-Free.

Cons:

  • Not durable in the slightest. High replaceabillity rate. (If George W. can make up words, I can too.)
  • The lower spectrum of plastic faucets you could buy feel and look really cheap.
  • Leaks happen more often which could cause more serious damage if left unnoticed too long.

My recommendation is to stay as far away as humanly possible from this type of faucet. If you’re absolutely in a pickle and have very little money in your bank account, still avoid, you will find that you are going to be replacing them often. Even some of the 100 dollar faucets that are made of plastic just can’t compare to the other, more durable materials out there.

I will say however, there is one and only one really good use for a faucet of this inferior magnitude, and that is in a showroom of some sort, or a house viewing where the primary purpose is to update the look of a space a little bit (maybe there’s a faucet from the 1970’s that’s an absolute eye sore) and to do it cheaply, then this is a great option.

In these scenarios, people coming in to view these spaces most likely won’t use or even touch the faucet so there isn’t really a cause for concern of it breaking.

Summary

When it comes to the wonderful world of faucets and tapestry, you really cannot go wrong. At the end of the day it all comes down to you. Your specific style, interest and needs, there really is a faucet for every one.

The fact that most of these can be recycled at the end of there life span is also a huge plus in today’s day and age or that you can even make some money by resale is a definite plus.

Tyler Takacs

My name is Tyler, I live in Ontario Canada and enjoy learning about common plumbing issues in the household. I have spent just over three years in the trades as a plumbers apprentice, but am now onto a less physical job. I still enjoy studying and learning about my own house's plumbing as well as finding ways to help others with their issues.

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