Redoing shower - PEX and new valve?

madymo3dMarch 6, 2013

I'm almost finished demo of a 36x36 shower with an acrylic pan. A contractor who came by for a tile estimate said I might as well update the valve to a thermostatic (current one is from 1999). I did not know the valve was specific to the trim, so in order to update the valve I must now choose a trim before I can put the tile backer board on. So now the project is stalled until I find a trim I like at a price I like.

First question is given the price differential of let's say $150 to $400, am I just paying for a better looking trim or a better quality valve too? For simplicity, let's assume both are the same brand. Frankly, I don't see myself paying $400 for a knob, escutcheon, shower head and valve unless the valve is 2x better (however "better" is defined) and material/finish is night and day compared to the $150 set.
Second question is I was considering putting in a shutoff valve for each supply line then using PEX for the remainder plumbing. Any opinions about using PEX? Ease is my main motivation, I've never sweated copper pipes. I've read installed properly, PEX is reliable, but the fact that hose clamps fail all the time in cars doesn't give me high confidence that PEX crimp will last indefinitely. I understand operating conditions are different, but still, it's a crimp under pressure.
I know I'm hard to please, but I'm more of a function over form kind of person so paying a huge premium for looks makes little sense to me personally, but I don't want a new shower to look cheap either.

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The only PEX connections that I'd trust in an enclosed stud bay are expansion connections. I use a tool to expand the ends of the tubing, slip the expanded PEX over the fitting, then the memory of the PEX causes it to contract, sealing around the fitting.

But that's me.

Sweating copper isn't difficult. It should't be a worry since you have a contractor doing the work.

As to adding shutoff valves, if you want no-kidding valves that are independent from the valve, then you can certainly do that. I prefer full-port, 90-degree throw valves for water supply on/off valves. They look similar to this:

As an alternative you can also look for a valve with "stops". Stops are shutoff valves that are integral to the valve itself. If you ever need to work on the valve or replace the cartridge, you remove the trim cover, use a screwdriver to close the stops (one hot, one cold), and that shuts water off to the valve.

Yes, a lot of times you are paying for trend and style. If your current valve and trim kit are fine, you can simply refurbish/update the valve with a repair kit if they are available for your valve.

If you want to replace the valve simply for something new, then sure, anything goes.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 1:27PM
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