Serving Wichita and the
surrounding areas since 1994.

Notes from a Remodeling & General Contractor for the Wichita, KS Area

Plumbing Supplies: Professional Wholesalers vs. Box Stores

Have you ever compared the plumbing parts between a professional wholesale supplier and a typical big box store and wondered about the price difference for what appears to be the same brand name products? You are not alone. Let’s discuss the differences.

Why choose professional grade over big box store?

Many products produced by manufacturers for box stores (e.g. Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, etc.) are of a lower quality in order to achieve certain price points, and manufacturers may even admit to a difference between box store parts and professional grade parts. While it may seem more cost-effective up front to purchase a faucet or toilet with a lower price point, you might just be kicking yourself when that same product needs replaced in a few short years.

How to spot quality differences in plumbing supplies

When shopping for plumbing products such as toilets, sink faucets, and shower faucets and accessories, you may find the same brands carried in both the box stores and professional supply stores. However, it is important to notice the differences in model and SKU numbers between the two stores. While a faucet’s brand and overall appearance may mirror what you’d find in a big box store, take a closer look. Box store parts for faucets, shower heads, and toilets are often made of plastic. In a professional supply store, these same internal parts will be made of full metal, ceramic, or brass, resulting in a longer product life.

Typical differences between box store and professional grade plumbing supplies

  • Faucet Drains: Many box store faucets are made with plastic drains instead of metal
  • Faucet Cartridges: Some come with plastic or stainless cartridges instead of the ceramic and brass material found in professional grade
  • Shower valves: Escutcheon plates tend to be plastic (box store) instead of metal (professional grade)
  • Toilets: Box store toilets will include plastic internal components (such as flush level actuators) instead of the metal components found in professional grade toilets. In addition, box store toilets can be missing the inside glazing found in professional supply toilets.
  • Material Weight: It is not uncommon for a noticeable difference in material weight.

Professional plumbing supply stores can offer regional advice

A reputable plumbing wholesale supplier (such as Phoenix Supply or Ferguson in the Wichita, KS metro area) is knowledgeable about local water conditions, city codes, and popular products for the region. They know the manufacturers well and know who will stand behind their products. When it comes to faucets, your local professional supplier can tell you if the internal parts are solid brass or simply brass-plated.

What’s the bottom line?

Wherever you decide to purchase plumbing supplies, do your research and know what you are buying. In a big box store, you will have to sort through cheap, lower quality fixtures to find the high quality faucets. Be sure to choose higher quality products with longer warranties and skip the plastic fittings.

With any S&A Construction project, we always recommend professional grade over box store because low quality parts may fail after just five years of use. Many of our remodeling customers prefer to save money in the long run and purchase from Phoenix Supply in the Wichita, KS area for this reason.

Looking to remodel your bathroom or kitchen in the Wichita, KS area?

If you are looking to remodel your bathroom or kitchen in the Wichita, KS metro area (including McPherson, Hutchinson, and Newton) consider S&A Construction, a BBB A+ rated professional. Give us a call at (316) 558-8422 or request a free quote.