If you’re doing home renovation, besides LED lighting, bathroom fittings is probably the next category of goods that will save you a large sum of money if you sourced from Taobao. Let me warn you upfront though, that there is the risk of receiving malfunctioning or damaged products, which may delay your renovation for a few weeks if you decide to re-purchase the replacement. This actually happened to me, and unbeliveably, the replacement that was shipped also malfunctioned. i had to ship the item for the third time before i finally got a replacement that was working properly. Hence, proceed with buying from Taobao only if you’re willing to put up with such a risk.
All my bathroom fittings, except the toilet bowl and water heater, were sourced from Taobao. Only one out of three wash basins was slightly damaged during shipment, so if you’re worried about whether it is safe to ship these items, I would say it is quite safe.
Actually, besides the cost, I bought from Taobao because I wanted to use stainless steel products exclusively. I’ve become weary of using chrome plated bathroom fittings, which develop permanent watermarks after some time, and becomes rusted in the long run. Stainless steel bathroom fittings are still not so common in Singapore. I reckon it will take years before Singapore catches up with China in this respect.
Here are some products I think are worthwhile buying from Taobao.
I like the ones from 中克 (Chungo).
I discovered that nowadays, almost all these fittings can be installed using no-drill glue. I tested and found out that these can indeed bear my entire body weight. Whether you want to use no-drill glue or stick with the traditional method of drilling a hole, well, I would say no-drill glue has a slight advantage, but not much.
In the unlikely event (and it is really unlikely) you want to change the positioning of the bathroom fitting, you can with no-drill glue. You can easily install them yourself too, without having to engage a contractor. Nevertheless, if your renovation package already includes the labour for installing bathroom fittings like it normally does, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want the contractor to just install them for you using the drilling method (the glue method requires time to dry and a contractor wouldn’t have the time to wait for this to happen).
Mixer and rain shower
I was attracted to Viborg, which is supposedly designed in Hong Kong. All the other stainless steel options on Taobao didn’t suit my taste. I would think such an item is hard to find in Singapore, where probably 90% of the products sold are still chrome plated ones with a copper/brass mixer.
This item, unfortunately, was the malfunctioning one I mentioned before, but I think mine was a really exceptional case. Customer service was responsive, and they would really settle all reported problems. For me, despite the hassle and additional shipping cost involved (even then i believe it is still much cheaper than buying locally), it was worthwhile.
Spray gun and angle valve
I like the ones by 九层 (Ninecen). The angle valve follows the international standard dimensions, so it will work fine in Singapore.
Bought this one which goes by the brand 康德 “Condor”. Doesn’t sound obnoxious. Beware that some taps may have brand markings in Chinese, which is unacceptable to me.
I dislike the way the label “Sus304” (the truly stainless steel grading) is applied to most of the bathroom fittings, especially on the tap. It is quite unnecessary to inform the user what material the tap is made of. Alas, it can’t be helped.
The ones used in China are actually different from the ones used in Singapore, but the contractor was able to adapt it. This one comes with brand marking in Chinese wordings, but it can be removed by abrasion.
Unfortunately, there is still one item in my bathroom that is not made of stainless steel – the glass door hinge. It will probably be quite a few years before stainless steel is adopted by local contractors. Thankfully though, this is one item that does not get splashed with water that often, so my guess is it will stay rust-free for ten years without any maintenance. And nope, i don’t have the time to do maintenance for such things.
Update: since I’ve been asked twice, let me tell you how the bathroom fittings held up in the course of two years. Where watermarks develop, it appears that there is slight rusting. This can be wiped off easily, but it leaves behind scratch marks. It’s like the watermark rust got etched into the surface. Not a big deal to me though, as they are not so visible after you cleaned them off. I suppose that’s one good reason to choose matte finish for the bathroom fittings, they will look more or less the same in the long run. As for chrome plated bathroom fittings, they will rust and start to peel off if you do not perform regular maintenance.