Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass? You may have encountered stainless steel and brass metal faucets during comparison shopping as these two are the most popular, if not highly in demand, faucet materials available in the market. Brass and Stainless-Steel fixtures are commonly used in kitchen fixtures and bathroom faucets. Are you wondering why they’re the popular choice, what’s the difference between the two, and what’s the better option? Read on to find out!
Stainless steel is dense, hot water tolerant, and easier to upkeep while brass is durable, corrosion-resistant, easier to mold, and does not disintegrate.
The Difference in Durability of Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass
Brass and stainless steel are undeniably two of the best and most durable faucet and plumbing materials for your home or establishment. Let’s find out the difference between the two in terms of longevity to help you decide which one to grab.
What is Stainless Steel?
- Stainless steel is an alloy metal predominantly made of iron. However, it can also contain other metals, including copper, zinc, nickel, carbon, manganese, and chromium.
The 304 and 316 stainless steel are the most excellent type due to their metallic component, namely 18% chrome, and 8-10% nickel making them the best faucet material. Nickel is responsible for its crystalline characteristics, which contribute to its superior durability and malleability. Chromium, on the other hand, contributes to its rust-resistant traits.
The 316 stainless steel is marine-grade steel known for its superior resistance to rusting, pitting, and smudging even when exposed to hard water, acidic or salt environments. It’s reinforced with 2-3% Molybdenum making it acid resistant.
Both types are austenitic steels making them non-magnetic and impervious to heat treatment which could result in the involuntary hardening of steel. However, the 304 stainless steel material is commonly used in faucet production because it’s easier to process, softer, and way cheaper than 316. Other than that, both materials are generally identical.
What is Brass?
Brass alloys are primarily composed of copper and zinc. Its combination usually ranges from 37-50% of zinc alloys or 63-50% of copper. It may contain a minimal number of other additives to strengthen its malleability.
Brass fixtures are produced using different manufacturing methods such as cast, die-cut, forged, and wrought. Its relatively low melting point characteristics make it relatively soft and cast tolerant. This makes it easy to process through machines but compact enough to withstand the daily wear and tear and complicated water-related processes.
Faucets were traditionally made from brass. Alpha Brass faucet, commonly comes in a yellow hue, contains 60% copper and 30% zinc and a combination of other materials such as antimony or iron for dezincification, nickel for reinforced strength, and improved grain structure. It also contains aluminum making stainless steel resist corrosion.
The only drawback with brass faucets is their lead content, and even when tagged as lead-free, they are not truly 100% lead-free. It was an old common practice to fuse lead to brass to strengthen its malleability. Before 2014, manufacturing companies are allowed to use up to 8% lead on their products and advertise them as lead-free. Later, lead was banned from faucets and other plumbing hardware due to its harmful effects. Now, the maximum lead content allowed for making faucets and plumbing fixtures is 0.25%.
In today’s faucet brass, manufacturers use other additives to maintain brass’ malleability to avoid conflict with the restrictions implemented against lead-containing products.
Durability and Longevity of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel ranks as the best choice in terms of physical durability and longevity. It’s undeniably long-lasting and surpasses the quality of other materials. It has an expected usability of more than 10 years and could even last longer with proper maintenance and careful handling.
Stainless steel is naturally tolerant to heat. Its higher melting point property makes it tarnish-resistant and considered corrosion-resistant. Its crystalline structure and scratch-resistant property require less maintenance to the point where smudges are easy to wipe off.
Moreover, stainless steel is widely used in medical and healthcare settings, pharmaceutical industries, and food processing factories due to its extremely hygienic property. Aside from its naturally appealing lustrous look, it flaunts an easy-to-clean and smooth surface, which is responsible for its pore less characteristics. Along with its rust and corrosion-resistant property, these characteristics prevents grime and dirt buildup, which are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and other microorganisms.
The major advantage of stainless steel over brass material is that it’s 100% lead-free, as in no trace of lead added and other potentially harmful substances. Beyond aesthetic appeal and durability, it provides safety to users so that no trace of lead will mix with the tap water flow that passes through your faucets.
The only drawback is that stainless steel is denser and only melts at a higher temperature, which makes it more complicated to cast and process in a machine.
Durability and Longevity of Brass Faucets
Brass is used as a common material for faucet production since the earliest days. It’s particularly famous for its durability, and ability to withstand daily wear and tear, including cracks and chipping.
Brass alloys highly resist corrosion and rusting, which is vital, especially in areas with hard water. The high mineral content in hard water triggers faucets to corrode more quickly thus it’s necessary to use durable faucet material from the get-go. Compared to other metals, brass is fire-resistant, tolerates hot water better, and repels corrosive sources better.
Another perk of choosing brass fixtures is that it’s easy to find spare parts for plumbing and fixtures due to its massive popularity as a more commonly used alloy, its long history, and its high demand. So it’s easy to find replacement parts whenever you need one.
Using brass material is also a cost-effective move since it’s easy to install and maintain. Since it’s commonly used in plumbing and fixture, it’s easy to find a professional installer who knows how to do the process. In terms of production, brass is easier to mold and bend than iron and steel due to its malleable property.
To get the optimum benefits of a brass faucet, make sure to buy only the ones composed of solid brass faucet bodies. Just because it’s tagged as brass doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re legit brass faucet bodies from the inside out. Some products in the market claim to be made of brass but are plastic faucet bodies and fixtures with brass plating only. Brass-plated plastic faucets are less durable, and vulnerable to hard water, which results in the chipping of their brass plating. Moreover, plastic faucets easily crack when exposed to heat.
The only drawback with modern brass faucets is that they tarnish over some time, especially the non-finished ones. Choose the ones with a better finish to get the best aesthetic look that will complement your interior style.
Maintenance and Care of Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass
The required maintenance and care for plumbing and bathroom fixtures widely depend on the materials, the coating used, and the surrounding where they’re installed. The water and air quality in the surroundings directly impact the product’s maintenance and care needs.
Other factors that affect the finish and longevity of your faucet, plumbing, and bathroom fixtures include water temperature, cleaning agents, cleaning formula used, and the method of cleaning applied.
Below are some maintenance tips and cleaning guidelines to help you maximize the beauty, functionality, and durability of your stainless and brass faucets.
Maintenance Tips for Brass
There are two (2) types of brass faucets. Each brass offers charming and incomparable durability. However, each type requires different cleaning and maintenance requirements, such as:
Unlacquered Solid Brass
The unlacquered solid brass, also known as the living finish, is brass in its unadulterated, original form. It contains no coating to protect it from natural aging.
Unlacquered brass flaunts a natural deep golden hue, which gives off a classical and organic beauty. After some time and with usage, its color tarnishes into a genuine patina perfect for that timeless antiquated vibe.
What’s great about unlacquered solid brass is that it requires minimal maintenance and will naturally transform into its organic beauty over time. To upkeep your unlacquered brass plumbing, bathroom faucets, and accessories, just rinse traces of soap and gently wipe it with a clean, soft cloth until dry.
If you prefer its original deep golden yellow color, apply a brass polishing agent using a clean, soft cloth. Do not use strong abrasive cleaning compounds, solvents, and other strong bleach as it can damage its quality.
Lacquered brass contains an electrophoretic finish which protects it against tarnishing and natural aging. Its coating helps maintains its gleaming, yellow-toned color and prevents fingerprint stains, water spots, and smudges. Other coating includes chrome, nickel, gold, copper, and paint. However, these will eventually chip off over time.
Maintenance Tips for Stainless Steel
Stainless steel fixtures, faucets, and bathroom accessories are easier to maintain than brass. It naturally has shiny characteristics giving off a modern, sterile, and fresh look. The disadvantage of its lustrous finish is that it tends to show water spots and fingerprints.
It is recommended to rinse and wipe stainless steel products, faucets, and bathroom accessories every after use to avoid soap buildup. Avoid using harsh cleaners and bleach to prevent damage and for stainless steel sinks, do not let cleaning chemicals and detergents sit for hours. Just keep your stainless-steel fixtures dry by wiping them with a clean, dry, and soft cloth.
If you want to retain the gleaming shine of your stainless-steel faucets, you can use white vinegar. Just wipe it into your stainless-steel fixture to remove the spots.
Aesthetic Beauty of Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass
Brass and stainless steel offer a unique and exquisite look to any interior design. They may differ in the vibe they emanate so you have to choose which one best suits your theme and needs.
Stainless Silver for a Clean, Modern, and Minimalist Look
Stainless steel flaunts sleek characteristics which give off a clean and well-maintained look. Its glossy exterior comes in two undertones- warm grey and yellow. Both colors emanate warmth, and a cozy, and modern feel. Additionally, they also offer a welcoming and relaxing aura that complements almost any type of interior style and design.
Brass for a Vintage and Timeless Style
Brass primarily offers a posh, and vintage look. But over the years, brass fixtures were developed to become more versatile and suit most modern interior styles and themes. Today, you can choose brass products with retro designs, antique-look, and contemporary coatings complete with extra unique designs on the faucet body.
Brass is also flexible. Its deep bronze hue connotes antiquity. If you want it to be modern looking, you can choose the ones decorated with thin parallel lines in its faucet bodies to give the illusion of depth and dimension.
The deep golden hue of unlacquered brass integrates well with natural stones. It gives warmth to the black and white color combination, provides exquisite detail to blue tones and olive-green shades, and exudes a timeless classic aura on the cream and grey palette. Brass is an ageless beauty that brings forth contrast in almost any design.
Self-disinfecting Feature of Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass
Stainless steel does not contain any antimicrobial properties. However, its sleek and smooth finish paired with its non-corrosive and rust-resistant properties makes it easy to clean. The absence of crevices and pores also helps in ensuring that no microorganism can harbor and multiply in wrinkled and chipped-off areas.
On the other hand, brass, being an alloy, naturally contains an antimicrobial property that kills different microorganisms typically within 2 hours of its initial contact. It kills a wide variety of germs and bacteria including E. Coli, MRSA, Staph, and VRE.
Stainless steel faucets and brass faucets differ in various aspects not just their chemical makeup. They differ in terms of durability, aesthetic impact, cleaning and maintenance requirements, and other features.
There is no better option because the decision depends on your needs and preference. Both are the best faucet types in their respective advantages, and both have their drawbacks.
Whatever faucet you choose, may it bring the best in your interior design, offer the same functionality that you’ve been looking for, and meet your overall requirements. Let our guide help you identify the difference between stainless steel faucets and brass and help you decide at the end.
FAQ About Stainless Steel Faucet VS Brass
Stainless steel is named "stainless" because it is generally resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel is not completely immune to rust, but it takes extreme conditions and long periods of time for rust to occur if it is desired.
Brass does not rust, it does not contain iron compounds. However, brass that has not been plated/polished or painted will lose its luster over time when exposed to oxygen. This is called "bronzing" and is a unique organic process.
If you like shiny fixtures, you can buy polished faucets, or if you need wholesale contact Faucetu, the best manufacturer in China.
Both stainless steel and brass are designed to have a life expectancy of decades. With proper use and care, brass and stainless steel fixtures can last 50 years or more.
Yes, Brass resists corrosion, absorbs heat and accepts welds better.
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