Q. My husband and I have been saving for years to build our dream home. We plan on spending the rest of our lives in this home and want to make some good material choices. Aside from the toilets, we're thinking of installing cast-iron plumbing fixtures for the sinks, tubs and shower base. What are your thoughts on cast-iron plumbing fixtures?
A. Enameled cast-iron plumbing fixtures are built with beauty and strength, and have passed the test of time. With that in mind, I'll go into a little more detail on each of those topics:
•Beauty: Today's cast-iron plumbing fixtures offer more deep rich colors than ever, along with new finishes that almost look three-dimensional. This allows the fixture to look beautiful on its own, and when used in combination with other materials, it can make a powerful decorating statement. For example, a stone countertop is beautiful when paired with an under-mount cast-iron sink in the bathroom. Such under-mount cast-iron sinks also work beautifully in the kitchen, too.
•Strength: All you need to do is pick up a cast-iron sink to feel how heavy and strong this material is. Keep in mind that because of the extra weight, the labor expenses involved in installing a cast-iron fixture can be a little higher, especially for a bathtub or large shower base. But once it's installed, you have a solid fixture that should last for as long as you live in your home. Some companies even add a limited lifetime warranty to their cast-iron plumbing fixtures.
•Time-tested: Cast-iron plumbing fixtures have been around for as long as I can remember, and have not gone out of style. Even the recent "green" building movement has welcomed cast-iron products because they contain recycled materials. So a new cast-iron sink installed today could have been part of someone's bathtub from decades ago.
Bottom line: If you choose cast iron, not only can it do the job for you, but down the road future generations could use parts of your recycled plumbing fixtures to build their own dreams!
• Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV and Internet shows. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.
Scripps Howard News Service