Quality Materials

Quality Materials

Quality, in the home improvement industry, is defined as superiority of kind, or a grade of excellence.  Materials are usually graded as economy, mid-range, or high-end (premium) quality.

Economy Grade

These products should be avoided at all costs.  The life expectancy of economy grade products is very short—usually around two times shorter than mid-range quality products.

Examples of economy grade are

  1. cabinets that are constructed solely using particleboard
  2. plumbing fixtures that are constructed with plastic components
  3. lumber that has a high content of knots, checks, and other imperfections
  4. bathtubs constructed with lightweight steel (less than 20 gauge)
  5. electrical outlets and switches you find in those deep bins at the home improvement stores for 50 cents (plastic construction but not guaranteed to withstand extreme heat)

Mid-Range Grade

These products tend to incorporate many of the economy grade constructions but introduce some elements to strengthen the product to increase its life expectancy.  Many of these products will be sufficient for home improvement projects, but there are exceptions.  More on that later.

Examples of mid-range grade are

  1. cabinets with hardwood frames and particleboard sides, drawers, and bottoms
  2. plumbing fixtures that are constructed with plastics and extruded alloys together
  3. lumber that contains less imperfections than economy grade lumber
  4. bathtubs constructed with lightweight steel but which have styrofoam-type or wood reinforcements
  5. electrical outlets and switches that contain a stronger thermoplastic but are not rated professional.

High-End, or Premium, Grade

A product of this grade is constructed with the best possible materials for its application.  It usually carries a lifetime or other similar extended period warranty.  This is the product quality area in which we see new materials innovations, such as composite decking.

Examples of high-end quality products are

  1. cabinets using hardwood frames and either hardwood plywoods or solid hardwoods for sides, drawers, and bottoms
  2. plumbing fixtures constructed with all brass or copper interiors with non-corrosive metals for exteriors
  3. lumber that is void of knots, checks, or other imperfections and are structurally rated
  4. bathtubs constructed with 20 gauge or greater steel and steel reinforcement
  5. electrical devices are that rated for industrial use applications, outlets and switches with tamper-proof features and high temperature thermoplastics

Why Is Quality Important?

In plumbing, plastics are okay for some uses, but they are inferior for use as moving parts or parts which are under mechanical stresses such as turning, pulling, and sliding.  Water is an amazing substance and will dissolve anything, given enough time.  When you add minerals to it the erosive power increases.  Using plastics for faucets and valves is just bad chemistry.

For electrical devices such as outlets and switches, high quality is the only answer.  Electricity produces a lot of heat and if the materials used to make the device are inferior, that heat will transfer to materials surrounding the device, which in turn can cause fires.

Structural materials are little more complex because of the amount of data on different types of materials. You need to understand the characteristics of the material and its intended use.  For example, lumber with imperfections can increase the chances of failure in structural members.  Never use cracked or warped lumber to build stud walls and roof rafters.

High-end quality materials should always be used in these three applications:  plumbing, electrical, and structural.   Other home improvement needs can sometimes be met with mid-range quality materials, but never skimp in these three areas. It does not matter how good of a Do-It-Yourself’er you are, or how good your contractor is, if the materials are inferior, the finished project will also be inferior. It might not show up immediately, but it will show up…..guaranteed!

Learn more about pricing in my article, What Is A Good Price?

Posted November 7, 2018 by admin in Planning