Hardware:zinc vs solid brass? Is it worth the extra $$$

dinajoMarch 19, 2009

I noticed several manufacturers make the same hardware... with huge difference in pricing. Now I realize why one knob is $2 and the other is $11 (Top Knobs, more expensive, for example)... One is made of zinc alloy and the other more expensive version is solid brass with finish. The brass is much heavier and more solid (have some samples). My question is: is it worth the extra $. We're using knobs on doors and handles on the drawers. I'm leaning toward the heavier hardware, thinking of long-term wear, but there is a big difference in pricing for almost 40 pieces of hardware(especially for the pulls). Thoughts?

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Is this your forever house? Are the knobs a classic knob you'll love and never want to change out?

I used pulls I got on ebay that are an alloy, and they're still super-heavy and good quality. They may not last as long brass (and that's a maybe), but I know they'll last as long as I live in the house. I had 77 pulls to order, so it was definitely worth the cost savings to go cheaper. I could even afford to buy a few extra, just in case :)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:20PM
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This is a really good question. And hard to get answered at a store. I asked at HD, but for door knobs (we're renovating our whole house), and I innocently asked what was the difference between the $14 and the $45 handle. Well, one fellow looked at me like I was a cross between an idiot and the scum of the earth. "You get what you pay for", was his erudite answer. Thankyou- anyhow I was looking for my basement, and I have three bedrooms, a family room, a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and linen closet down there, and those rooms are rarely used- I didn't need top of the line, if the $14 one was going to be sufficient (It looked nice). Anyhow, I went and bought knobs for the linen/storage closet/bathroom and two bedrooms- I also wanted to make sure it was a line that wouldn't be discontinued soon as we're DIY and I want to pay as we go. They work fine.

Anyhow, back to the kitchen- my DH says that when mankind has destroyed the earth, the only thing left will be brass long after all the rest of us have long gone. Don't think you'll still be needing your knobs by then- (but if they're brass- they'll still be fine! :>) If your design is fairly simple, I'd say go for the zinc- I did have a filigree type knob (and I'm going to assume it was zinc) break off a closet door(but it was probably 30+ yr old). I would say that all the knobs/handles in my house (that are in the process of gradually being replaced) are probably zinc- and they are 40+ years old.

Now, if I had to choose between two that were close in price, and looked the same, I'd go for the solid brass- but only you know how close you are to your budget. YOu could always order a few extra zinc ones for high traffic locations- ie you could replace the knob under the sink 5 times and still be ahead!)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:23PM
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My two cents...

Cheap-looking and cheap-feeling hardware can eally ruin a whole project. That doesn't mean you have to spend a lot, it is dependent upon the shape and finish of the pieces.

Because they are affixed to a door or drawerfront, weight ceases to be a determining factor. Ordinarily we consider heavier, more substantial things to be better quality. Your interaction with pulls and knobs does not provide us with that feedback though beacuse we are not lifting them, so what we do is imagine that something that feels full and substantial to our fingers is heavy and indeed good quality.

That feeling comes from the shape of the item, and without removing the piece from the cabinetry, it is impossible to tell the difference between solid gold and hollow plated tin (if the finish is good enough).

So, if I were you I would look for a great finish and a shape which "felt like high quality"., and be less concerned with price. From a wear perspective, both zinc and brass have great track records. Because cabinet fittings get lots of use and handling, tarnish/oxidation is less of a concern than it might be in some other items.

You might find that brass is more expensive due in part to the price of copper, a primary componenet of it. I would think that a lot of the brass pieces that are for sale right now were made when metals were quite highly priced.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:29PM
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