Do faucets with ceramic valve worth the price?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by curious, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. curious

    curious New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Hello -
    I'm shopping for new faucet for bathroom. I like the 8" wide spread in antique finish. There is a lot of price difference between the regular brand and the brands "sold by interior designers"! The Delta faucet from Home Depot costs about $200, while the similar one from California faucet costs about $600!! I was told by a designer that the California faucet uses "ceramic valve" which is much better than what Delta uses. (I don't know what Delta uses.) And Delta might leak in a year. Is this true? Does it really worth the outrageous price to use this valve? I definitely don't want to spend that much. But I'm a bit unsure if I should go with Delta due to the designer's comment. Any advice on the brands? Thanks in advance.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,416
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
  3. designers and comissions

    remember that the designer
    might be pushing the 600 faucet because
    thier could be a comission in it for him

    he probably knows very little about the workings of
    any faucet, but whats only in "style " with the rich an infamous.

    If you buy the Delta, you wont go wrong.

    Spend the 400 dollar saveings by takeing your wife
    out for a nice dinner, ask the designer if he knows
    of any good restraunts.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2005
  4. curious

    curious New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    Thanks!

    Thank you both! The faucet poll is great, Terry! And I do agree I think designer is probably focus on what looks nice first. I trust plumbers' opinions when it comes to faucets. You guys probably fixed a lot of faucets and know which brands have what problems!
    I still don't know what the ceramic valve does that's better than regular valve for faucets. If anyone could help on this that would be great.
    Btw, I'm a female. And I can take my husband on a nice dinner. :) Thanks for the suggestion. :)
  5. take him to Mcdonalds

    If you saved him 400 , let him know
    about it , then get yourself something nice...

    IMHO --all the ceranamic cartridge is about is just another varation on

    the DELTA design....a copy of the Dellta basic PATENT...

    I believe its two peices of ceranamic slideing across each other

    instead of a cartridge slideing across a rubber gasket like in the

    Delta design..... to shut off the water ....


    the ceranimac is suppposed to in theory
    last forever and will never wear out...
    and maybe it will last forever,
    but if it dont , you are probably in trouble


    but the Delta will on average last about 25+ years ,
    and is very, very easy to repair
    so what more do you want??

    a night out danceing on the town??
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,257
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    faucets

    All of the better faucets now use ceramic discs, not just the $600 ones. In fact the $600, or more, faucet may be using the mechanism from a $150 faucet and you are really paying the difference for the fancy handles and spout. I personally do not use Delta or Moen widespread faucets because the plastic parts have a tendency to break somewhat easily.
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I don't remember that any plumber on any internet forum I have seen ever criticized a Delta faucet. Their seat and spring design is time-proven. Now, it is rubber and every 5 to 10 years will need to be replaced. Maybe more often if heavily used. Changing seats is very easy. In theory ceramic seats should last a lifetime; but there are good ones and bad ones, just like everything else. And a cartridge will be $10 to $30 compared to a buck for a Delta seat.

    It is very important to get a faucet you like the looks of.. It's your house and you have to look at it. But cost vs. style vs reliability all have to be balanced out and then make your choice.

    Look how many people paid a design showroom outrageous prices for Broadway faucets, and now Broadway has just said "adios, amigos; good luck finding any parts!"
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I should add that if you want a Delta faucet with ceramic disc valves, some of the "Teck" series have that.

    I mentioned how I love the Delta seats. I should also mention I have not always been in love with Delta's designs. Just personal taste. I have not chosen any Delta faucets in my own house. Yes, Moen and American Standard make nice faucets as well. Many folks are sold on PricePfister, but they are not my favorite. Have we made your choice easier? !!
  9. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Faucets

    I agree with you guys too.
    Delta is a good choice.
  10. the delta design....

    others copy the DELTA design now that the patent has
    run out on it.....that has to tell you something...


    today, I repaired a 1975 delta single
    handle tub and shower faucet

    working in hard well water....

    Installed a new ball, new springs , and washers, new cam....

    all the new parts basically plastic,
    exactly like what was in the unit since 1975

    and I would guess it will be around for another 20 years or so...
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    the fiberglas shower unit it was in looked like it was
    about ready to fall apart, but the faucet is good to go again...



    I guarantee that Price Fister, Kohler,
    Moen and American standard would
    have all been a nightmare to repair ,

    that is if you could still get them apart,
    then find parts for them (this week)
    .











    .
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,257
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    delta

    I hope the new ball was not plastic. That was not one of their better decisions.
  12. thats ture

    yes , you are right, it was s SS ball I used, my mistake..

    what I took out was an old plastic one...75 vinatge..

    waht I rememeber about the troubles they were
    having were with the single handle 400 kitchen faucets.
    weating out on the old palstic ball...

    i ondt recall that the single handle tub faucets ever caused
    any major greif
  13. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Faucets

    Mark, I echo your thoughts about the Delta.
    It's always been a good replacement faucet.
    Was a brass ball, then the got competitive and used the plastic one, but you could always use ss replacement balls.
    They changed the shape of the washers and springs one time.
    So easy to repair.......
  14. curious

    curious New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Sammamish, WA
    What're seat and spring in faucet?

    Thank you all for the recommendations! Special thanks for info on series of Delta faucet that use ceramic disc.

    I don't like the Delta design as much as the designer brand. The handles of the victorian style I'm looking at is rather short. I like the longer handles better. But when considering the price, I'm ok to live with the not-as-nice design. I'd rather save money. :)

    I'm puzzled by the plumber terms - seat and spring. :confused: What are they??

    Mark, perhaps you could have museum of all vintage parts and fixtures you have. :p Just kidding!!!
  15. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The Delta seat is a small cup shaped rubber piece which is flat on the bottom and has hole thru the the middle. What we would call the bottom of the seat faces UP, and the spring presses it against either a ball or flat bottomed cartridge. As the ball or cartridge is turned to the ON position, a hole lines up over the middle of the seat and water passes through. Although it is a rubber piece, which will not last indefinitely, the design is such that the wear on the rubber is way less than the twisting and tearing that a flat compression washer undergoes. Hence the longevity. It is a design which has been in use for I believe 40 years or more, and is very reliable. As someone mentioned, since the patent ran out, several brands including Glacier Bay, Economy, and EZ Flo have copied it. Valley also cloned it many years ago.
  16. valley faucets

    Jimbo, I totally forgot about Valley faucets....


    They actually took the Delta Patent and improved on it somewhat.....
    in many ways they were tougher than the Deltas.

    their are many many valley faucets still working great since
    the mid 70s around here in very hard water.....

    the only problem with them was their marketing, and I believe
    that they are now out of business, correct??

    Or I just dont see them around here much.
  17. Peevee

    Peevee New Member

    Messages:
    44
    I would take a delta over any brand out there. They are very easy to work on and replacements parts are available anywhere. :)
  18. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Delta is a time proven product name and definitely trusted. You can find Glacier Bay in Wal-mart with ceramic valves... three things sell me... price, good looks and brand name. I'm not one to go to a designer to pay them to tell me that something looks good.... I ain't totally blind. IMHO... the old standards in the plumbing industry are all good and dependable... delta, kohler, american standard, price fister, and even moen. Most of the time I can hardly see any rhyme or reason for the wild price differences.
  19. Will_Holding

    Will_Holding New Member

    Messages:
    5
    There are a number of factors that determine the market price for faucets, but rather than throwing out generalizations, take a look at the specifics of the California vs. other brands.

    For the purposes of this comparison, let's use the most common California faucet, one I've installed plenty of : the Venice Series ($280 street price) vs. the Moen Monticello and the Delta of your choice (although the previous posters were all referring to the Delta single-control "ball-type" models.

    The California faucet has a classical styling from a standard pattern that has been copied from the high end (Dornbracht) to the low end Wang-Fu chromed plastic big box specials. Stylistically, you could get something that looked similar from $50 to $1100, so why buy the California?

    The plating is excellent. The base metal is brass. Many others (like your Delta) are zinc-aluminum alloy castings (Zamak). Sometimes this is referred to as "white" or "pot" metal. The advantage is that it's cheap to die-cast the parts, much more so than casting and/or machining brass. The cross handles of the California faucets are individually machined and silver soldered in place so that they don't come loose (like the Rafael ones used to do). Fit and finish of the California products I've worked with I would rate a 9 out of 10.

    Let's talk about those valves. Yes, the Californias use ceramic valves. And Ceramic valves can be damaged, but it's unusual. The material is so hard that it's self-cleaning, and impervious to just about anything mineral in your water. If you try to force the thing shut on a gob of solder, yeah, you could possibly damage the insert or cartridge, but that's more your plumber's fault than a design flaw. Ceramic valves are not expensive in and of themselves, the $60 A/S Cadet had a ceramic valve, so you do the math.

    Some faucets have failure "modes". Time to mention that Moen Monticello. That faucet was offered with porcelain lever handles originally, so the cartridge had a coupling on top that was designed to break away. Unfortunately, they broke a bit too easily and I had many callbacks replacing them. Moen did provide replacement parts for free, but I had to pay for the labor. Not a big deal if you can do it yourself, but if you have to call a plumber just once you've effectively doubled the cost of that faucet.

    And that brings us to Delta- and why I decided to "butt into" this thread. While it's true that most plumbers love Delta, ask yourself if that's a good thing for YOU, the consumer! Why do the plumbers love Delta?

    a) Faucets are cheap and common enough to be worthwhile stocking a few.
    b) Replacement parts are cheap and already on the truck if not in toolbox.
    c) Plumber makes more money from you for his effort if he doesn't have to go get parts (since he already has them).

    He's going to charge you his $150 or whatever for the service call regardless, and it's easy to change a Delta cartridge- it takes me about two minutes flat, and most of that is getting the little setscrew out of the arm.

    Now, let's do the actual math, assuming you paid actually $600 for your antiqued copper, was it? California faucet vs. $200 for a big-box cheapie. Chances are that finish in the latter is clear polymer powdercoat over a copper plated zinc base (lifespan roughtly five years befrore it starts blistering) and let's assume the much better California only has a lifespan of 15 years. Also, we'll assume the compression stops or nylon stops in the cheapie faucet never fail within it's lifespan. So, just on finish, and adding in the labor costs, over 15 years:

    California: 600 + 150 install /15 years = $50 annual cost
    Cheapie: 200 + 150 install + 200 + 150 replacement (5yr) + 200 + 150 replacement (10yr) = $70 annual cost FOR AN INFERIOR FAUCET!!!

    In other words, you just paid 40% more for a faucet that doesn't look or feel as good as the better quality product.

    I have been a renovator for 20 years, had an office in a plumbing showroom and sold plumbing fixtures for 8 years, and owned my company for 12 years. I specialize in bath remodeling, and the MOST COMMON mistake I see my customers make is to buy a similar looking, inferior quality product. If you are doing a bath in your basement, maybe a Price-Pfister is right for you. But if you are building a $30K bathroom and pick a Delta Monitor because your plumber recommended it, you are not budgeting adequately for your fixtures. And even for a middle-to-low end bathroom, cheaper initially does not always mean cheaper in the long run, as demonstrated above.

    So, your plumber may recommend Delta for your kitchen sink faucet, but you may well find he owns a Hansa. If you aren't interested in learning about the types of faucets and the myriad of manufacturing types and finishes that determine the final price, find somebody you trust that sells a variety of products to assist you. Contrary to the overtone of some of the above threads, your interior designer was probably NOT ripping you off, but providing you valuable insight as to how you could get close to the $$$(Dornbracht) style and quality for a $$(California) price. Oh, and I'd say I'm impartial except I ran across this thread while ordering Californias- for MYSELF.

    Note that some faucets use other valves as someone noted above, for example Harrington is built on Grohe Valves and Sheryl Wagner is famously (or rather infamously) built on Chicago compression stops. If you know this you can order replacement parts in the future from the valve manufacturer, otherwise order a spare cartridge "just in case"- it'll save you headache later in the event that one leaks.

    But make no mistake about it, a cheap faucet doesn't save you money in the long run unless you are selling your house. Quality of the Californias is very good, exceptional when you account for the price. Nobody above mentioned this, I assume from their comments that they don't have experience with this particular brand. By their argument, everyone should buy a Hyundai and then go out to dinner with the money they saved over (insert brand of your car here if you don't have a Hyundai). This might work for some people, but if you consider the extended cost of ownership or you have an eye for quality or an appreciation for the tactile feel of a good lavatory faucet, this might not be the best plan for you.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2006
  20. Will_Holding

    Will_Holding New Member

    Messages:
    5
    There are a number of factors that determine the market price for faucets, but rather than throwing out generalizations, take a look at the specifics of the California vs. other brands.

    For the purposes of this comparison, let's use the most common California faucet, one I've installed plenty of : the Venice Series ($280 street price) vs. the Moen Monticello and the Delta of youre choice (although the previous posters were all referring to the Delta single-control "ball-type" models.

    The California faucet has a classcal styling from a standard pattern that has been copied from the high end (Dornbracht) to the low end Wang-Fu chromed plastic big box specials. stylistically, you could get something that looked similar from $50 to $1100, so why buy the California?

    The plating is excellent. The base metal is brass. Many others (like your Delta) are zinc-aluminum alloy castings (Zamak). Sometimes this is referred to as "white" or "pot" metal. The advantage is that it's cheap to die-cast the parts, much more so than casting and/or machining brass. The cross handles of the California faucets are individually machined and silver soldered in place so that they don't come loose (like the Rafael ones used to). Fit and finish of the California products I've worked with I would rate a 9 out of 10.

    Let's talk about those valves. Yes, the Californias use ceramic valves. And Ceramic valves can be damaged, but it's unusual. The material is so hard that it's self-cleaning, and impervious to just about anything mineral in your water. If you try to force the thing shut on a gob of solder, yeah, you could possibly damage the insert or cartridge, but that's more your plumber's fault than a design flaw. Ceramic valves are not expensive in and of themselves, the $60 A/S Cadet had a ceramic valve, so you do the math.

    Some faucets have failure "modes". Time to mention that Moen Monticello. That faucet was offered with porcelain lever handles originally, so the cartridge had a coupling on top that was designed to break away. Unfortunately, they broke a bit too easily and I had many callbacks replacing them. Moen did provide replacement parts for free, but I had to pay for the labor. Not a big deal if you can do it yourself, but if you have to call a plumber just once you've effectively doubled the cost of that faucet.

    And that brings us to Delta- and why I decided to "butt into" this thread. While it's true that most plumbers love Delta, ask yourself if that's a good thing for YOU, the consumer! Why do the plumbers love Delta?

    a) Faucets are cheap and common enough to be worthwhile stocking a few.
    b) Replacement parts are cheap and already on the truck if not in toolbox.
    c) Plumber makes more money from you for his effort if he doesn't have to go get parts (since he already has them).

    He's going to charge you his $150 or whatever for the service call regardless, and it's easy to change a Delta cartridge- it takes me about two minutes flat, and most of that is getting the little setscrew out of the arm.

    Now, let's do the actual math, assuming you paid actually $600 for your antiqued copper, was it? California faucet vs. $200 for a big-box cheapie. Chances are that finish in the latter is clear polymer powdercoat over a copper plated zinc base (lifespan roughtly five years befrore it starts blistering) and let's assume the much better California only has a lifespan of 15 years. Also, we'll assume the compression stops or nylon stops in the cheapie faucet never fail within it's lifespan. So, just on finish, and adding in the labor costs, over 15 years:

    California: 600 + 150 install /15 years = $50 annual cost
    Cheapie: 200 + 150 install + 200 + 150 replacement (5yr) + 200 + 150 replacement (10yr) = $70 annual cost FOR AN INFERIOR FAUCET!!!

    In other words, you just paid 40% more for a faucet that doesn't look or feel as good as the better quality product.

    I have been a renovator for 20 years, had an office in a plumbing showroom and sold plumbing fixtures for 8 years, and owned my company for 12 years. I specialize in bath remodeling, and the MOST COMMON mistake I see my customers make is to buy a similar looking, inferior quality product. If you are doing a bath in your basement, maybe a Price-Pfister is right for you. But if you are building a $30K bathroom and pick a Delta Monitor because your plumber recommended it, you are not budgeting adequately for your fixtures. And even for a middle-to-low end bathroom, cheaper initially does not always mean cheaper in the long run, as demonstrated above.

    So, your plumber may recommend Delta for your kitchen sink faucet, but you may well find he owns a Hansa. If you aren't interested in learning about the types of faucets and the myriad of manufacturing types and finishes that determine the final price, find somebody you trust that sells a variety of products to assist you. Contrary to the overtone of some of the above threads, your interior designer was probably NOT ripping you off, but providing you valuable insight as to how you could get close to the $$$(Dornbracht) style and quality for a $$(California) price. Oh, and I'd say I'm impartial except I ran across this thread while ordering Californias- for MYSELF.

    Note that some faucets use other valves as someone noted above, for example Harrington is built on Grohe Valves and Sherly Wagner is famously (or rather infamously) built on Chicago compression stops. If you know this you can order replacement parts in the future from the valve manufacturer, otherwise order a spare cartridge "just in case"- it'll save you headache later in the event that one leaks.

    But make no mistake about it, a cheap faucet doesn't save you money in the long run unless you are selling your house. Quality of the Californias is very good, exceptional when you account for the price. Nobody above mentioned this, I assume from their comments that they don't have experience with this particular brand. By their argument, everyone should buy a Hyundai and then go out to dinner with the money they saved over a Honda. This might work for some people, but if you consider the extended cost of ownership or you have an eye for quality or an appreciation for the tactile feel of a good lavatory faucet, this might not be the best plan for you.
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