I'm having a bathroom renovated. The contractors plumber has used steel screws to attach the brass shower head fittings and brass valve to the wood 2x4 walls. Is this OK?

I know in marine applications, you always use brass with brass but this is wood which will be covered with vapor barrier, drywall, and sealing material on the drywall before it gets tiled.

I'm getting conflicting messages from another plumber and from my City building inspection folks.

Thanks for any help!

Tom Kamloops, BC, Canada

closed as off-topic by Maxime Morin, Matt, Ashlar, rob Mar 7 '16 at 1:49

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  • 1
    This might have a better audience on the DIY.SE. I am recommending a migration to that site. – Matt Mar 5 '16 at 16:38
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because, even though it involves wood, it would be a better fit for DIY.SE – Matt Mar 5 '16 at 23:10
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    Thanks for the response. I'm obviously a newbie here. I tried doing a Google search for the site you mention. Can you send an actual link? Or a better description of the name? I ended up with some German site and a few others that are way off what I'm looking for! :) Thanks in advance. – Tom Rankin Mar 6 '16 at 18:05
  • Sorry about that I should have included it: diy.stackexchange.com – Matt Mar 6 '16 at 18:05
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    Thanks, Matt! Yes, that looks like a good spot for my question and a GREAT spot for me to browse!! :) – Tom Rankin Mar 6 '16 at 21:38

The simple answer is yes.

Where I am steel screws seem to always be used instead of brass. Usually they are zinc-plated today but on older installations I have seen bare steel used (note: it is common for these to rust slightly, but not enough for any of the screws to fail). I can't actually recall the last time I saw brass screws used for anything other than show purposes, and these days it isn't easy to be certain that you are looking at a solid brass screw when brass-plated steel is becoming more common.

Here are some random images gleaned from the web from around the world showing various steel screws used for this kind of installation:

Various steel screws used for shower installations

Steel is actually preferable to brass where there is any real strength requirement — where a part is very heavy or put under stress during use — since brass screws are significantly less strong than steel screws of the same gauge. The reasons that brass is preferable in a marine environment are largely to do with corrosion, and that doesn't apply in quite the same way in a bathroom setting where there's no exposure to salt water.

I'm not certain when you say steel whether the screws in your case are bare, if you're worried about corrosion down the line you could insist on zinc-plated screws or stainless steel being used, but going by common practice it doesn't appear there's any reason to be concerned.

  • Terrific information. Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Based on my own experience, I wasn't worried as it's a bone dry environment behind Kirdi (sp?) and tile, etc. In addition, for sure the issue of relative strength was a concern. I'd rather have non-brass screws for that reason. I don't know the exact composition of the screws used but I'm comfortable with it. Thanks again! – Tom Rankin Mar 6 '16 at 21:41

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