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Experience with buying fixtures online?

by Michael Pattillo last modified Dec 07, 2006 01:43 PM
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Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Michael Pattillo at November 27. 2006

My wife and I are in the final design stages of an extensive renovation, and are about to start making choices about fixtures.  I spent a few hours online and found that the prices from sellers on the web are often far better than anything we can get from retailers locally (DC/NoVA).  My question is, what kind of luck have people had buying tubs, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc., online?  Any great retailers we should know about?  Any horror stories?  We are looking at brands like Duravit, KWC, Dornbracht, and Toto.

Our biggest concern, other than outright fraud, has to do with making sure that things are shipped in a timely fashion, and that the orders are right the first time.  We anticipate that our architect and builder are going to resist us trying to source materials ourselves, mainly on the grounds that they are used to working with certain people who they know can provide the products within the construction timeline. 

Any insight would be much appreciated.

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Ed at November 28. 2006

I can only relay to you what I have experienced firsthand while ordering fixtures/parts for my construction project:

1.  If you purchase from one of those online mega-sites like, be prepared to be inconvenienced.  Most of their items are shipped directly from the manufacturer, so even if you place a single order for multiple items, you will receive the items piecemeal in drips and drabs, which can be very, very inconvenient.  I mean, who wants to take time off of work to receive a doorknob shipment?  Also, they will sell you things that are out of stock or on back-order.  Sure, you can cancel the order, but it's very inconvenient/deceptive if you are in a time urgent situation.

2.  My best plumbing experience was with  Granted, I still haven't actually used their products yet, but I received my entire order literally three days after placing the order without any problems.  My plumber hates their shower valves, so the jury is still out on the quality/ease of installation issue.

3.  My worst plumbing experience by far was with Duravit.  It's unfair to peg the blame on the online e-tailer, since it really wasn't their fault.  For starters, half of my order, all Duravit, was lost in transit.  To make matters worse, the items that were lost were special-order or on back-order.  Duravit does not lift a finger to expedite the order/manufacturing of these items, and these can take upwards of 6 months to manufacture and ship to the States.  Also, because Duravit employs fittings/accessories that are not available in most retail outlets, it takes forever to order/receive replacements.  If you are in a hurry, don't order from Duravit.

4.  My second best experiences have been on eBay.  The prices are good, the transactions are flawless, and the follow-up is generally good.  People on eBay will generally only sell what they actually have in stock.

5.  Being in the DC/MD/NoVa area, you MUST check out the Porcelanosa showroom at 725 Rockville Pike in Rockville, MD (next to the Marlo furniture showroom).  In addition to having some of the most beautiful modern tile, they have wonderful vanities and bathroom fixtures that are comparable in price to Duravit, if not a bit less.  Had I known about them, I would have probably canceled the half of my Duravit order that got lost.

Good luck on your reno!

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Nicole Herold at November 28. 2006

We are also in the final stages of a massive remodel and we bought the overwhelming majority of our products online. No tax, no shipping has saved us a great deal of $.

This list of product purchased online includes: fixtures (2 bathrooms (Danze, Whitehaus), kitchen (Hansgrohe)), ss kitchen sink (Franke), toilets (Toto), light fixtures (Zaneen, Simply Kovacs), barn door hardware (Richard Wilcox from McMaster-Carr), pebble mat tiles (flat black lava stone), and an extractor hood (Frigidaire). I've since started researching and buying products for others and have expanded what I buy due to pricing and variety.

The only problem I ever had was with one of the Zaneen lights. There was a chip in the glass and the online retailer immediately sent us a new one (they acknowledged that this often happens w/this brand/product). Oh. I also got the wrong shower fixture (they sent us a shower/tub combo when we only needed the shower), but the online retailer also shipped the correct one right away and sent me a shipping label to send the incorrect one back to them.

If price-wise it made sense to buy everything online I would, but sometimes it doesn't. I spend a long time researching the best price (Froogle is my friend) and I decide when I want to pay a little bit more to buy from a reputable retailer. Homeclick is notorious for poor customer service so I steer clear of them. I'd be more than happy to send you the list or retailers I used. Just email me.

With regard to timing. Our remodel is mostly DIY which means it's taking forever and we had the $ to start buying products way before we ever tore down a wall. My advice, as I'm sure others would say, is to leave yourself plenty of time. We had all of our products stored for a minimum of a month before we ever needed to use them.

I say bully to your architect and GC. We didn't give our GC the option of buying anything than basic materials, which now that I've bought them myself realized I could have gotten a better price than him, so he didn't balk. It's funny how my GC was in awe of the products we got at the prices we found. It opened his eyes to the ways of the web and now he's outfitting his own house w/products from eBay.

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Adam Burke at December 02. 2006

I am also doing as giant remodel and just ordered most of my plumbing fixtures online.  For me, the most agonizing part of the process was just picking the fixtures!  I wanted to save some money here and there, and I wanted everything to be PERFECT.  In the end I decided to stick with brands I was familiar with, (Danze, Kingston Brass, Kohler) even if it meant it wasn't PERFECT, and my plumber has had no problems installing them.  I started putting in my Kohler 'Tea for Two' soaking tub yesterday.  It's very minimal; rectangualar with no decoration like the Duravits, but it's made of cast iron, so will presumeably last a lifetime and hold some heat a little better.  It weighs 440 lbs though. 

I ordered the tub from Home Depot online and had no problems.

I ordered most of my Danze faucets and shower stuff and Elkay kitchen faucet from Irawood and had no problems and fast delivery.

My luck on Ebay has been mixed.  I'm still trying to chase down a couple items, but the sellers seem reputable, so hopefully it will be resolved soon.

There have been many comments on this site about Duravit's giant delays in manufacturing and delivery.

Good luck!  How's your resolve?  Are you as tired as I am?  Feels good to be putting it all together finally.

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Splatgirl at December 05. 2006

I don't think there is a single plumbing fixture in my house that WASN'T purchased online.  Likewise about half my light fixtures, a lot of my furnishings and accessories and every appliance except for my fridge.   I had very limited time to do anything other than build our house while I was building our house, so being able to shop online was a huge win, not to mention the prices are typically better and no tax.

I've had lots of experiences with Ira Wood both for my projects and others, and they've always been fantastic.  At your own risk.  They have a hideous reputation, but they've always come through for me, albeit with some not insignificant hassles.

Inside Store, great service dealing with my Duravit tub that was received damaged twice and took Foooooorrrever to get, on the order of several months.

Cutting Edge Appliance.  Never, ever again at any price.

Lighting Universe, Lamps Plus, CSN lighting, all A-ok.

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Michael Pattillo at December 07. 2006

Thanks for the tips.  We'll stay away from Homeclick et al.  I'm sorry to hear that people have had so much trouble with Duravit--we really like the styling and haven't found much comparable at that price point.

Nicole--I would like to take you up on your offer of the list of sites you used.  Could you possibly email them to me at mpattillo1[at]

Ed--what is the build quality of the Hudson Reed faucets like?  I had seen their website, and their prices seemed too good to be true.  And we will try to get out to Rockville to look at Porcelonsa.

Adam--our resolve is definitely wavering.  We just got a cost analysis from our architect, and it is more than double our budget.  We're pretty freaked out, and are trying to figure out how to cut costs while still getting what we want out of the renovation. 

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by Splatgirl at December 07. 2006
Regarding the Hudson Reed stuff:  I have four of their fixtures in my house that have been in use for nearly a year now.   The parts I can see are still working more or less fine but they're not wearing particularly well because the chrome scratches very, very easily.  One of the very infrequently used wall mount faucets I have is full of fine scratches, vs. the "real" brands of chrome fixtures I have that get hard daily use and still look as flawless as when brand new.
If you haven't done so already, search the archives here to see what's been discussed about them previously.  They definitely caused more than a few headaches on my project.  Keep in mind that their install will NOT be UPC compliant in most cases...

Re: Experience with buying fixtures online?

Posted by JB at December 07. 2006

I agree with all of the above-  As far ast he Duravit stuff- The quality really is incredible- As noted the supply chain really is a disaster- but if you can wait then it's worth the wait.  When we spec durvavit we order it as soon as the project kicks off and store it.  You can also check the availability before you order- If they say "It's coming soon.." don't bank on it- 

Good alternatives are Hastings entire lineup and Porcelanosa has some gems in their product line.

Unlike Duravit-  Grohe, Hansgrohe, Dornbracht, have fantastic support and supply chains that make them really exceptional to work with.

The vast majority of bargain retailers are shipping direct from the manufacturer (Most better fixtures aren't stocked by retailers).  When in doubt- call and check stock.  You'll find that typically if one can't get it that usually none of them can get it.  The difference between the good e-tailers and the bad is usually who gives honest info (good) and who gives false promises (bad).

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