What's the Showroom Difference?

kitchen scene with apron front sink

What is the difference between showroom products vs big box?

Is there really a difference?


Sure, that faucet online for that price is appealing. It looks similar to the style you're looking for and it has some decent reviews. 

Before you add to cart, you should consider stopping by your local lighting and plumbing showroom for a hands-on experience. No, all fixtures are not created equal!

In this blog, our showroom experts share their insider knowledge of the differences between buying from a showroom vs the big box!



Kitchen Sinks

You may be familiar with the gauges of stainless steel sinks, but have you considered the composition of stainless steel? Here is the breakdown from a manufacturer of stainless steel sinks like Elkay.

  • Type 301 stainless is typically comprised of 16% chromium and 6% nickel
  • Type 304 stainless is typically comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel
  • Type 316 stainless is typically comprised of 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% molybdenum

The higher the nickel, the more corrosion-resistant the material. Type 316 stainless is best suited for outdoor applications. 

It's not just about gauge! The type of stainless is also important. Consider this when shopping for your new kitchen sink.

Do you remember your grandmother's cast iron sink? Or an enameled porcelain sink, perhaps. You might associate that sink with chipping, staining, and scratching. 

Did you know that Koher's cast iron has that same look, but it's no longer your grandmother's sink. In fact, it's guaranteed not to chip, crack, or burn! You should take a moment to experience this sink in-person at one of our showrooms. It's nothing like you may remember!


Faucets & drains

Have you ever held the drain that comes with a big box store faucet? The weight difference alone would shock you if you were holding a higher-quality faucet’s drain piece in the other hand. You’re usually getting a slightly-smaller-diameter, plastic drain that plumbers just love. (Sarcasm intended.) With a showroom-quality faucet, you get a metal, sturdy drain that will look the same year after year. I’m sure you’ve seen (or owned) a drain that is loosing its finish or even peeling. There’s a key indicator that it just wasn’t built to last.


The weight comparison of a moderate or high-end faucet - kitchen or bath - is shocking as compared to an online special or big box faucet. Manufactures like Brizo and Kohler pride themselves in constructing their higher-end faucets from solid brass. Now keep in mind a lot of manufacturers also sell to home centers. We like to respect their business strategy to sell to every buyer and every situation. Tiffany sells a $2,000 diamond necklace and a $80,000 diamond necklace just the same. We think your new build or remodel is better suited with high-quality faucets. 

(Or you can combine your love for diamonds [Swarovski] and plumbing like pictured below? Yes, this is a legitimate faucet.)

brizo sink faucet



We cannot definitively tell you that the vitreous china is different from a home center’s toilet vs a showroom, but we can confirm that the internal parts and pieces are the majority of the time. We won’t name names, but one manufacturer often sends dissatisfied-with-the-big-box customers the showroom’s direction. To which we’re happy to service! 

Did you know that not all brands glaze their entire trap way? Have you ever felt rough china? For example, the underside of your toilet tank lid. Imagine that same rough china on the inside of your toilet’s trap way. That’s right, the s-shaped pipe that your *ahem* waste travels down. With a smooth glaze, waste has no trouble gliding through that trap way!

toilet trapway When shopping in a showroom, you get a knowledgeable consultant that can show you cool features of toilets that you didn’t know you needed - like Kohler’s Corbelle toilet. You can choose a tank that slowly releases your favorite tablet cleaner with every flush! It also has a special glaze that repels dirt for a longer-lasting clean. Even the canister flushing system is a feature in itself.



Custom showers simply aren't achievable anywhere but a showroom. At a showroom, you'll have experts that can add up the gallons per minute that you require and tell you what's possible with your valve. The on/off mechanism that's behind your wall can only handle a certain amount of water. Thinking of body sprays? A rain head from your ceiling? Multiple shower heads? Go to the showroom. We'll spare explaining the difference between a true thermostatic valve and pressure-balance valve for another blog later.






ul certified logo

Have you seen this logo before? That means that the product has been inspected for safety issues, overall quality, and has been tested for longevity. UL has a crew of engineers that are up to speed on lighting and LED technology, so they have an important say in what is safe and what is not. You'd be surprised how often this is overlooked by online shoppers! It is not a requirement for manufacturers to UL certify their products. Only upstanding manufacturers will go through the process of UL listing their products.

When shopping for a bath vanity light, you might see a type of UL listing for "damp locations". This means it has been tested to see if it can withstand the humidity levels that a bathroom can produce. There are many different types of listings for UL, but overall, this just means you're buying a safe and legitimate light fixture.


Weight has been mentioned before. And we will mention it again, here.

Have you visited a store like IKEA? People either love or hate that we've turned to flat-packed particle board over solid-wood, hand-built furniture. We like to think of inexpensive lighting similarly. It's lighter, it's cheaper, and it's a lot less durable. So you won't be (or will be - no judgements - but we don't recommend) swinging from your chandelier, but think about your exterior lighting. Have you seen your neighbor's outdoor wall lantern turn into different finish in one season? Let's avoid becoming that neighbor! A lot of showroom brands have revamped their exterior finishes - some even boasting a 3 or 5 year warranty to prove it! 

Showroom lighting offers real metal like stainless and glass instead of plastic. Material matters.

If you're interested in choosing new lighting for your home, take a peek at our blog "Choosing the Right Lighting".



Service Matters


Where did you come from?

With manufacturers cracking down on their policies regarding warranties, it's smart to purchase from a place that buys directly from the supplier. Until you put that item in the cart and whip out a credit card, you don't really know where it's coming from when it comes to places like Amazon. It could be a legit reseller, or it could be Steve down the street who is trying to get his money back with a case of buyer's remorse. Manufacturers know this, too!

Those reviews look great! Too great. They could be. There are even articles like this one from CNBC,  that help you decipher what is real and what is fake. It's clear that customers are raising an eyebrow to online reviews in general. 

Imagine this:  You buy online to save a few bucks. It's a kitchen faucet. It arrives with missing pieces. Off you go to return and reorder. (Amazon did make that part pretty simple.) Now you're stuck with a plumber's trip fee since he arrived and found out that he couldn't install the faucet due to the missing pieces. The new arrives in the mail a week later. Oops. That one is the wrong finish in the right box! That $20 you may have saved just cost an extra $150 plus gas. Yikes!

Sound like a nightmare? It is! We've seen it happen!


Service after the Sale

We like to call ourselves a one-stop-shop. Plumbing and lighting all in one place!

Builders and remodelers love to send their clients to a showroom since we already have established relationships with the electricians and plumbers they work with. They're most likely grabbing their supplies (and maybe a coffee) from our supply counter every morning. It's convenient when you can keep all of your selections with one company. One contact.

This leads to service after the sale. Our showrooms genuinely get excited for your project right along with you! We want to see your project completed and you, the customer, satisfied with the result. Issue down the road? Just give us a ring. We can point you in the right direction if it's a warranty issue or provide the receipt you misplaced from a year ago. 



Specifying lighting and plumbing fixtures ain't easy. Have you ever tried picking these things out by yourself? Our showroom staff are trained by the American Lighting Association. They understand the creative aspect and the technical specifications of what they're suggesting to customers. At least monthly, our showrooms engage in manufacturer training. These manufacturers want us to sell their products which means we'd better know how to do so!


Go ahead and start your wish list today!

Want to book your appointment online? Click "Shop Now" and then simply scroll to the bottom of the page to fill out a quick form. 

We look forward to helping you!



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