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Retail vs. Contractor Grade Fixtures... what's the big deal?

The main difference between contractor-grade (bought from plumbing suppliers)and retail-grade (also known as builder-grade, on the shelf at home improvement stores or on-line) plumbing fixtures is the quality of the materials used inside the faucets. Quality equals durability.

Even when it’s the same make and model, you can usually feel a difference in the weight of the two. The retail version will be lighter because they tend to use plastic instead of metal (brass or stainless steel) for the mechanical pieces.

The internal mechanics of a faucet is what works the hardest, and is what will need to be repaired or replaced. Retail-grade fixtures tend to wear out faster and need attention sooner than contractor-grade version.

Many of the well-known plumbing fixtures manufacturers purposely make different versions (or grades) of their products in different price points. There are A- and B-grade versions, and sometimes that rating will appear on the box or in the model number.

And that’s another key to comparing apples to apples. If you see the same fixture in two price points, check the model or part numbers. Those numbers will be slightly different, denoting the difference in in quality and durability which equals price.

Service Difference Equals Peace of Mind

We understand why you may want the cheaper model rather than your contractor’s recommended fixtures that cost more. But there are important factors to consider.

Your contractor or plumbing supplier knows the product inventory well. During your selection process, these experts can narrow down your choices based on your needs and tastes. This kind of customer service and advice saves you time, and quite possibly some money.

Contractors prefer to buy from trusted plumbing suppliers because they can rely on delivery schedules and good follow-up from them on any possible warranty issues down the road.

And this is a key factor for reputable contractors. They stand behind their work, which includes products, installation and warranty. When they install a good quality product, they know the chances of having to deal with problems later on are greatly reduced. It’s better for you and the contractor to do it right the first time, so using the good stuff benefits everyone.

The best question to ask yourself about faucets is: How long do you want it to last?

If you’re fixing a house to sell, builder-grade serves the purpose. If you’re remodelling for a home you plan to stay in for a long time, contractor-grade reduces problems and gives you the long-lasting quality and efficiency you deserve.


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