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Brass Kitchen Faucet - The Pros Prefer a “Pure” Brass Kitchen Faucet

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You will spend more for a pure brass kitchen faucet, but its beauty, durability, and everyday performance will make it worth every penny.

Ask a plumber. Ask an architect. Ask a chef. Ask a real estate agent or professional appraiser. All the professionals will tell you, without hesitation, nothing beats a “pure” brass kitchen faucet. Durable, reliable, and beautiful, a brass kitchen faucet probably will last longer than the building in which the plumber installs it. The advantage of a brass kitchen faucet comes from its natural resistance to rust and corrosion, its sturdiness and friction-free operation. Just as importantly, even a weekend do-it-yourselfer easily can maintain and repair his kitchen plumbing.

A brass kitchen faucet is practically indestructible. Brass does not rust; it fiercely resists corrosion and hard water deposits. Until the middle of the twentieth century, ship builders used nothing but brass for blocks, cleats, and deck hardware, because neither extreme temperatures nor saltwater seriously harm brass. The purists still insist on all-brass fittings for their ocean-going vessels, because no metal—not even high-tech alloys—outlasts or out-performs brass. Common sense dictates if brass works well on a big boat, it certainly will work well in a little house. In the east and Midwest, many classic craftsman bungalows and row-houses still have the original brass faucets built-in during the 1920’s. Those century-old brass faucets still command the highest prices at antique auctions and salvage houses. A brass kitchen faucet simply will not wear out.

The basics of brass kitchen faucet construction
Metallurgy matters. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Copper alone is too soft and pliable for plumbing fixtures, so zinc tempers its strength. Until the turn of the twenty-first century, most brass kitchen faucets also were tempered with lead to improve the threads’ precision. Concerns about health hazards from lead prompted restrictions on its use, inspiring manufacturers to substitute iron, aluminum, silicon, or manganese. Plumbers agree that iron and aluminum alloys hold-up best in everyday use.

As you shop for a brass kitchen faucet, remember that the quality of the brass alloy largely determines the price. Prices rise as copper content in the brass increases. Naturally, prices also rise as designs become more complex or ornate, the finish qualities improve, and the manufacturer invests more time and material in high-quality workmanship. Naturally, quality and materials in the finishes also affect prices. The more attractive and durable the finish, the higher the price.

Kitchen faucet fashions change approximately as often as hem-lengths in women’s dresses. Just as you can identify a ceramic-finish faucet from the 1920s and an avocado green refrigerator from the 1960s, you will be able to identify a satin-nickel finish faucet from 2005. Avoid sticking your plumbing in its epoch and reducing its value. Select a high-copper brass-zinc-aluminum alloy fashioned in a simple, classic design and protected with a clear-coat epoxy finish—elegant and timeless.

Select a high end brass kitchen faucet.
Style, safety, and durability matter. Buy the best brass kitchen faucet you can afford, not only because it will give the best service, but also because you can expect a handsome return on your investment if you choose to sell your home. Experts estimate that homeowners realize at least a 3-to-1 ROI on their kitchen upgrades.

The quality and reliability of your brass kitchen faucet are built-into the parts you cannot see—the materials and workmanship in the valves. Whether you prefer one handle or two, select a faucet with a ceramic disc valve, because it will operate more smoothly and easily than any metal alternative, and it will close tighter to prevent leaks. Just as importantly, it will last longer. Most ceramic disc faucets come with lifetime warranties. The plumbing codes now mandate safety and water-conservation features. Make sure your new brass kitchen faucet has flow restriction, so that it delivers no more than 2.5 gallons per minute. Also make certain your new faucet has a scald-guard or temperature-limit feature.

Experts recommend that you shop the big-box home improvement stores to learn about styles and brands, taking every opportunity to touch and play with the plumbing. Cross-examine the people clad in aprons and vests, gathering all the information you can. Experts strongly discourage you, however, from buying your brass kitchen faucet from a giant retailer or designer showroom. They especially caution against buying plumbing products from Ikea, because most of the fittings are metric, incompatible with American inlets, productive of installation nightmares. Once you have selected your faucet, buy it from a local family-owned plumbing supply house, where you will find the best product knowledge, the best service, and the best values.

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