When it comes time to replace or install new faucet supply lines, you’ll be faced with a variety of different material options. Selecting the right supply line type for your sink’s configuration, water composition, and intended longevity is key. The material you choose and proper installation will impact durability and prevent premature leaks or failures down the road. We’ll walk through the pros and cons of common faucet supply line materials–brass, copper, stainless steel, vinyl, and PEX–to help inform your decision.
Faucet supply lines carry water from the supply valves underneath or behind your sink to the faucet above. Determining the best supply line involves balancing factors like material durability, flexibility, corrosion resistance, and ease of installation for your specific setup. Getting this right the first time prevents unnecessary future plumbing headaches.
Metal Faucet Supply Lines
Metal supply lines like brass, copper, and stainless steel are the most durable options. The rigid structure resists crimping while still offering flexibility. Let’s explore the nuanced differences between each type.
Brass Faucet Supply Lines
Constructed from an alloy of copper and zinc, brass combines the durability of copper with enhanced corrosion resistance. This makes it the most popular faucet supply line material for residential settings.
Brass is rigid enough to maintain its tubular structure well, resisting pinching or crimping during installation and use. This makes it a good option for straightforward sink configurations without twists or turns required in the routing.
You can purchase brass supply lines in the common sizes needed for most residential kitchen and bathroom sink faucets: 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch diameters. This ensures you get just the right flow rate to your faucet.
Copper Faucet Supply Lines
Copper is an extremely durable metal able to withstand many years of use without failure. This has made it the go-to plumbing material for generations.
The main downside of copper as a faucet supply line lies in its gradual corrosion through contact with water minerals and oxygen. This process generates blue-green deposits but also leads to eventual pinhole leaks and drips if not addressed via routine replacement.
On the plus side, copper’s flexibility exceeds that of rigid brass. This comes in handy when navigating tight spaces behind sinks for installation. Just take care not to overbend copper lines, however, as this stress also accelerates corrosion.
Stainless Steel Faucet Supply Lines
Stainless steel combines impressive durability with corrosion resistance for an ideal faucet supply line material. The flexible structure of stainless steel fixtures allows easy maneuvering into place while maintaining form.
Many homeowners opt for stainless steel over brass or copper due to its sleek appearance and simplified DIY installation. But you’ll pay a premium upcharge for these attractive features and need to ensure your selected product has certifications for potable water contact.
While not impervious to corrosion, stainless steel vastly outperforms brass and especially copper. Just take care with stainless connections to copper plumbing; an incompatibility can accelerate corrosion unless properly insulated.
Plastic Faucet Supply Lines
While extremely budget-friendly, plastic supply lines fail to match up to metals in terms of durability. But improved flexibility and insulation properties make variants like PVC and PEX suitable options in some circumstances.
PVC/Vinyl Faucet Supply Lines
The low cost of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic makes it an appealing option for temporary fixes or rental properties. But the rigid structure cracks over time, leading to leaks and drips.
Soft vinyl supply lines offer more flexibility thanks to plasticizers added during manufacturing. This makes installation simpler around obstructions. But the tradeoff again comes in usable lifespan–vinyl grows brittle and prone to failure sooner than rigid PVC pipe.
While cheaper upfront, factoring in replacement costs down the road due to leaks makes PVC or vinyl less cost-effective than longer-lasting metals. But they can serve the purpose for non-critical applications.
PEX Faucet Supply Lines
Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) plastic tubing makes an improved alternative for flexible water lines. PEX ultimately breaks down over years of use but offers up to a decade before replacement needs arise.
The highly flexible and moldable structure bends around virtually any obstruction. This simplifies installation in tight quarters. PEX also insulates against heat transfer better than metal.
While pricier than basic PVC or vinyl, PEX delivers added lifespan that balances out long-term costs. Just ensure certified clamps, fittings, and tubing for potable plumbing uses–not all PEX carries authorization for clean water contact.
Key Considerations For Your Faucet Supply Line
Beyond simply the supply line material itself, a few critical considerations factor into your decision:
Required Flow Rate and Line Sizing
The inner diameter of supply lines determines water flow rate capacity. Kitchen faucets demand higher flow–typically needing 5/8 inch supply lines. Basic bathroom faucets can get by with 1/2 inch lines.
Ensure you select supply tubing sized in accordance with your existing faucet requirements. Undersized supply lines lead to frustratingly low water pressure.
Ease of Installation
Flexible supply lines simplify installation–both for DIY homeowners and professional plumbers. This mostly applies to sink basins with tricky rear-access issues or unique designs.
But for straightforward replacement jobs, durable and rigid brass lines might rank easiest to install. Just ensure accessibility to properly position connections.
Water Composition and Corrosion
Hard water accelerates corrosion of metal supply lines. If you know or suspect high mineral content, choose brass over copper or stainless steel.
Brass and stainless also better withstand sulfate-reducing bacteria. Check your local plumbing codes though–some dictate copper or stainless lines only.
Plastic lines like PEX eliminate corrosion concerns but come with their own drawbacks.
When it comes to selecting your next faucet supply lines, balanced evaluation of cost, durability, and ease-of-installation helps determine the best choice. Factor in the anticipated lifespan based on your water composition too. Prioritize brass or stainless lines for most homes, but leverage flexibility of PEX for challenging configurations.
And don’t simply default to the cheapest vinyl or PVC plastic–the savings fail to stack up considering routine replacement needs. Spend a bit more upfront and choose reliable supply risers that will last over a decade rather than a couple years.