The Differences Between Stainless Steel And Brass Valves

Before starting any major plumbing project, knowing the exact parts and materials you need to complete the project will prevent work interruptions and hassle during installation. The days of simple plumbing systems with all-brass pipes and valves are over. Now, plumbers use a variety of materials, including brass, stainless steel, and PVC. The differences between metal and PVC fittings make choosing between them easy. But what about the different metal options? Since pipes are so simple, this article covers the differences between the two most common metal fittings, brass and stainless steel valves, to fully showcase the differences between these materials.


If price is your top concern, you may have all but written off the use of stainless steel valves. Using stainless steel valves can certainly add to the cost of your project when they are first installed. Producing brass valves is significantly easier than producing stainless steel valves because brass is a much softer metal. Manufacturers can sell brass valves for much less than stainless steel ones while keeping the same profit margins. So, then, are stainless steel valves worth the extra cost? Due to their exceptional corrosion and rust resistance and ability to take intense levels of heat without warping, stainless steel valves last longer in extreme environments, reducing project costs over time. If your project involves hot or corrosive liquids, stainless steel valves are likely cheaper in the long run.


Since brass is a softer metal than stainless steel, installing brass fittings is easier than installing steel ones. Brass is easy to weld, so even a novice plumber can install brass valves easily. Installing stainless steel, on the other hand, requires more skill and experience. If you have never welded before but are determined to install a plumbing system without professional support, brass valves are your best option. If you have extensive plumbing experience, choosing stainless steel valves can lead to better project outcomes, including increased longevity, corrosion resistance, and user safety.


Not all plumbing installations need to meet the same safety standards. If your project doesn't involve potable water, salt water, or industrial chemicals, brass valves will likely work for decades without showing excessive amounts of wear. Other projects need valves that don't corrode easily or contain potentially dangerous materials. Almost all brass contains some amount of lead (usually up to eight percent), and the Environmental Protection Agency has stated that no level of lead in drinking water is safe. So, if your plumbing installation is designed to carry potable water, stainless steel valves are a far better choice than brass valves. Corrosion becomes a safety issue when working with chemicals that could corrode holes into brass valves, causing burst pipes and toxic messes, and in marine environments, where exposure to salt water can destroy essential plumbing systems on ships.