American Standard Review & Rating Updated: 02/20/19
Summary
Imported
Mexico Flag
Mexico
ChinaFlag
China
KoreaFlag
Korea
AS-America, Inc.
a division of
American Standard Brands, Inc.
One Centennial Ave.
P.O. Box 6820
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(800) 442-1902

AS-Canada ULC
5900 Avebury Rd.
Mississauga, Ontario
Canada L5R 3M3
(800) 387-0369
Rating
Business Model
Product Range
Kitchen, Bath, Prep, Bar and Utility Faucets
Certifications
Street Price
$150 - $1,000
Warranty Score
Cartridge
Lifetime1
Finishes
Lifetime
Mechanical Parts
Lifetime
Proof of Purchase
Must be Available
Transferable
No
Footnotes:
1. [F]or as long as the original purchaser owns this product…

This Company In Brief

For most of a century and a half American Standard Companies was an American manufacturer of high-quality sanitary ware selling its products worldwide. Today, what's left of American Standard in the U.S. is a Japanese company and no more than the design, marketing and distribution arm of a variety of Mexican and Chinese factories.

The faucets are well designed and of fair to good quality supported by a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service. A renewed emphasis on design is improving the look of the collection but American Standard's cartridge technology has not kept pace with the enhancements available from other companies.


Founded as the Ahrens & Ott Manufacturing Company in 1875, the company subsequently merged with Standard Manufacturing of Pittsburgh and was renamed Standard Sanitary Manufacturing. It became American Standard Companies in 1929 after a merger with American Radiator Company.

American Standard shares with Kohler the credit for pioneering the technique of attaching porcelain to cast iron just after the American Civil War, a process that made sanitary bathware possible. The new technology was the basis for the rapid expansion of both companies and their dominance of the U.S. bathwares industry for much of the 20th century.

By 2007 American Standard had shed most of its non-core businesses in an effort to pay off enormous debt incurred in a leveraged buy-out in the 1990s. Management determined that its three remaining divisions were worth more as separate entities than they were as part of American Standard Companies and decided to divide the company into its component parts.

Its air-conditioning division became Trane, Inc. which was almost immediately snapped up by Ingersoll-Rand. Its vehicle control systems division was spun off as WABCO Holdings, Inc. WABCO remains a publicly-traded stock company chartered in Delaware but doing most of its business in Europe from its headquarters in Belgium.

The kitchen and bath division, along with the American Standard brand name and logo was sold to Bain Capital Partners, a private equity investment fund, now famous due to its ownership by presidential aspirant Mitt Romney.

Bain immediately sold a majority interest in the division's North American assets to Sun Capital Partners, another private investment firm, in accordance with a pre-existing agreement between the companies.

Sun Capital formed a new corporation, American Standard America (A-S America), to own the assets, and just that quietly, after 133 years, American Standard Companies, Inc., an icon of American plumbing, ceased to exist.

The Last Hurrah

SALEM, OHIO: The site of the American Standard factory at 600 S. Ellsworth Ave. has a long history of manufacturing in Salem.

The first metal manufacturing operation on the site began in 1872. It has been an American Standard plant since 1956 when American Standard Companies acquired Mullins Mfg. Corp. Pressed steel Youngs­town kitchen cabinets were manufactured at the site by Mullins begining in 1940.

For the past 30 years, the plant's 225 hourly and 25 salaried employees have manufactured American Standard's Americast® bathtubs — one tub per minute — in the 500,000 sq. ft. facility.

With the closing of the former Crane Plumbing plant in Nevada, Missouri in 2015, the Salem facility is the last plant in North America that still makes steel products for American Standard. All the others are gone, the manufacturing moved to Asia.

Americast is a patented material used in American Standard bathtubs. The process fully bonds a high-quality porcelain surface with formed steel and a molded reinforcement composite backing. The three-layer construction weighs half as much as traditional cast iron, better resists warping, has better heat retention and sound-dampening qualities, and is nearly as durable.

Mechanical and hydraulic presses stamp tub shapes out of low-carbon sheet steel in a series of operations that form the tub step by step shaping the steel slowly until its a finished tub is the result.

The steel tubs are cleaned of the lubricant used in the pressing operation and given a primer that's baked on at high temperature, then a finish coat that's likewise baked on at more than 1,400° F. The topcoat contains titanium, which gives the finished tub its bright white color.

Adapted from "American Standard's Americast plant keeps manufacturing strong in eastern Ohio" Contractor 20 Jul 1017, 14 Feb 2019.

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At the time of the sale, American Standard's kitchen and bath division was growing rapidly in Europe and Asia, but the North American operation was dragging down sales, resulting in a $34.2 million loss in 2006. Analysts expected that whoever bought the kitchen and bath division would shut down the American operations. Sun Capital, however, believed it could be made profitable and bet $130 million to buy a 51% controlling share.

Part of Sun Capital's interest may have stemmed from the fact that it already owned two other sanitary ware companies, Crane Plumbing, LLC and Eljer Industries, Inc., both acquired in 2005. All three companies were merged as separate divisions of a new holding company, American Standard Brands, formed in February 2008.

Bain still owned the assets of the kitchen and bath division in Europe and Asia. These assets included American Standard's upscale European brands.

In 2009, Bain transferred these assets to Ideal Standard International headquartered in Brussels. The transfer included the right to use the American Standard name and logo outside of North America. Bain retained ownership of Ideal Standard.

The next year, Bain split out the Asian portion of Ideal Standard's assets and sold these, along with the right to use the American Standard brand name and logo in Asia, to INAX, a Japanese sanitary-wares company that later merged with several other Japanese companies to form LIXIL Corp.

Finally, in a classic "tail wags dog" story, LIXIL bought Sun Capital's majority share in American Standard Brands in June 2013. With that purchase, LIXIL controls all of the old American Standard including 10 factories spread throughout Asia, except the European operations that belong to Ideal Standard.

Being a major player in 3/4s of the world's markets, however, was not enough for LIXIL. It also wanted an entrée into the European Union and found one in Grohe whose private equity owner, TPG Capital, had been looking for a buyer.

LIXIL bought control of Europe's largest faucet company, in 2014, giving it open access to the last of the world's major markets.

Grohe has been combined with American Standard in LIXIL's new Water Technologies Unit.

In its home market in Japan, LIXIL is in stiff competition with the Japanese sanitary wares company, for a share of a shrinking domestic housing market.

Many analysts believe one of its primary goals in acquiring American Standard Brands and Grohe was to open major markets outside of Japan for its products, especially its Japanese-style toilets, markets that Toto has had pretty much to itself for several decades.

By buying American Standard and Grohe, LIXIL acquired established brand names under which to market its sanitary wares in North America and Europe rather than going through the years-long process of building up a new and unknown brand name.

LIXIL also benefits from acquiring the design and engineering teams of both companies to better compete with Toto, known worldwide for its "Washlet" toilet technology. Both teams are well-known for their innovative design and engineering.

American Standard is already introducing new fixture technologies included VorMax® toilet flushing technology that cleans as it flushes and the ActiClean® self-cleaning toilet that stores cleaning solution in a cartridge and cleans itself at the push of a button.

Under Sun Partners, American workers employed by A-S America, Crane and Eljer did not fare well.

Nearly as soon as Sun Partners got control of American Standard's kitchen and bath division, it started closing U. S. factories and laying off American workers.

In the 1980s the combined companies, including Crane and Eljer, employed an estimated 30,000 American and Canadian workers, mostly in manufacturing plants spread across the two countries. Today it employs just a handful of Canadians and fewer than 3,000 Americans of which barely 300 are in hourly manufacturing jobs.

American Standard closed its last remaining Canadian plant, a 40-year-old acrylics factory in Winnipeg in 2015. In that same year the old Crane factory in Nevada, Missouri closed, eliminating the last small vestige of ceramic manufacturing by American Standard in the U.S.

We can find just three production facilities left in all of North America: a plant in Salem, Ohio that makes Americast® bathtubs (see sidebar: "The Last Hurrah"), a recently-acquired walk-in acrylic tub factory in Grand Prairie, Texas, and a small former Eljer factory in Somerset, Kentucky that makes industrial shower bases, laundry tubs, and mop sinks mostly from terrazzo. Note 1 that are sold under Eljer's Fiat brand.

American Standard does not manufacture faucets in the U.S. All American Standard faucets are imported. Note 2

Where are they made? Well, American Standard is very cagey about the origin of its faucets. It claims on its website that

“Due to the fact we change the manufacturing location from time to time, we are not able to give you country of origin by model or even product.”.

Luckily, even if American Standard does not know where its faucets are made, we do. The company is still very much in the business of manufacturing fau­cets — just not in America.

Sun initially moved faucet production for the North American market to a plant already owned by American Standard in Monterrey, Mexico where workers assembled faucets using components and parts manufactured mostly in China. Eighty percent of this production was exported to the U.S. and Canada.

After the company's acquisition by LIXIL in 2013, the Monterrey plant was closed, Note 3. Most of the faucet production was transferred to American Standard's giant (4,000-employee) maquila (AS Maquila México, S. de R.L. de C.V.) near Mexico City. The rest was moved to China.

Eljer Industries, Co.

Eljer Logo

Founded in 1904 by Raymond Elmer Crane and Oscar Jerome Bacus, had a long and distinguished history as an American sanitary wares manufacturer.

Eljer invented he first vitreous china water "cistern", as toilet tanks were called in those days, in 1907. Plumbers were skeptical of the durability of the ceramic product, so acceptance was slow.

To prove just how sturdy its china really was, The company staged a demonstration that was widely reported. A china tank was laid on its back on a steel rail, a plank was placed on top of it and 27 men stood on the plank.

That ended any reservations about the strength of china cisterns which quickly replaced less sanitary lead-lined wood tanks common at the time.

Eljer also introduced one of the first low-flow toilets, the Ultra 1-G, ten years before low-flow was mandated by federal law in 1972.

In additional to vitreous chinaware, he company manufactured and sold cast iron tubs, sinks and toilets for residential and commercial use made in its cast-iron factory in Salem, Ohio, a few doors down from the American Standard Americast factory in the same city.

After Eljer converted back from war production in the late 1940s, the company made major capital investments in its North American plants, including robotic enameling in its foundry in Salem, Ohio and a pressure cast system for its pottery plant in Tupelo, Mississippi.

These improvements increased the company's profitability to the point that in 1996 it was purchased by Zurn Industries and later merged with Jacuzzi and U.S. Brass to form the Bath & Plumbing Division of U.S. Industries, Inc., a diversified conglomerate.

By 2002, however, U.S. Industries was in trouble, having lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the prior year primarily due to an economic downturn and a dramatic decrease in home-building and remodeling. It indicated in its annual report that year that it might not survive as a going concern.

To dig itself out, it began selling off its business units, including Eljer, which was bought by Sun Capital Partners in 2005.

In 2008 Eljer joined Crane Plumbing and A-S America as divisions of American Standard Brands.

Under LIXIL, separate Eljer manufacturing has ceased and the brand has been deemphasized by LIXIL to the point that it has almost disappeared.

For a while it looked as though Eljer would become American Standard's economy brand of faucet and sanitary ware, initially to be sold exclusively by Menards stores. But, that plan evidently did not work out.

Menards still sells Eljer chinaware as of the date of this report, but no faucets are being offered on the Menards werbiste. All of the faucets still shown on the Eljer website are listed as "discontinued."

It's very likely that Eljer is out of the faucet business. Whether it is out of business altogether remains to be seen.

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The maquila does not manufacture faucets. It assembles them. The parts and components used in the faucets are manufactured elsewhere, most by contract suppliers.

American Standard buys sanitary fixtures, components and accessories from a veritable international who's who of sanitary ware suppliers located in Belgium, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and Vietnam — in fact, just about anywhere except the U.S. and Canada.

Many come from old American Standard factories that LIXIL now owns including four sanitary ware factories in China — A-S (Shanghai) Pottery Co., Ltd.; A-S (Guangzhou) Enamelware Company, Ltd.; A-S (Tianjin) Pottery Co., Ltd., and Hua Mei Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd. — that make a lot of the company's sanitary wares including sinks and toilets.

American Standard also owns an "interest" in an enamelware factory in the Dominican Republic: Sanitarios Dominicanos S.A. (also known as Sadosa Standard), and ceramics plants in Indonesia, South Korea (American Standard Korea Inc.), Thailand (American Standard B&K Public Company Ltd.) and South Africa.

We can find no indication that LIXIL makes its own faucet parts or components. These are contracted to outside manufacturers in China, Taiwan, India, and South Korea. Note 4

We expect LIXIL to consolidate manufacturing and distribution, and, in fact, the process has already started. American Standard's maquila in Mexico assembles a good many of the Grohe faucets sold in the U.S. alongside American Standard faucets. In the first five weeks of 2018, the maquila shipped more than 5 tons of faucets and spare parts to Grohe in the U.S. During the same period it received several tons of parts and components from Grohe India Pvt. Ltd.

We expect a lot more production and distribution consolidation in the future with an increasing emphasis on Asian manufacturing.

With all of these changes going on, it's no wonder American Standard cannot keep track of where its faucets are being made.

American Standard has never been especially well known for faucets. Its main line of products has always been ceramic, steel, and cast iron: toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. Faucets seem to have always been sort of a sideline, offered just to round out its sanitary ware lines.

In plumber polls, fewer than 6% of plumbers identify American Standard as their preferred faucet. In our top-of-mind faucet survey, American Standard is the first name that comes to mind in only 2% of our respondents.

That may be changing, however. LIXIL seems to be putting more emphasis on faucets. American Standard is highlighting better design as indicated by the company's recently opened design studio in New York City, and additions to its design staff headed by Jean-Jacques L'Henaff, a graduate of L'Ecole Superieure de Design Industriel in Paris.

American Standard designs have won numerous awards in international design competitions, including, most recently, a Red Dot for excellence in design innovation for its Edgewater semi-professional kitchen faucet collection.

The Edgewater also merited a coveted Good Design Award as did the Studio S bath faucet collection and the Beale MeasureFill touchless faucet that meters out a specific amount of water, then stops. No more fussing with a measuring cup to get a precise amount of water for a recipe. Dial in the amount needed and turn on the faucet to dispense exactly that amount.

The Good Design award, sponsored by the Chicago Ath­e­nae­um Museum of Architecture and Design, is the oldest and most prestigious of the international design awards.

A number of faucet finishes are available but vary from faucet to faucet.

Almost every faucet is available in the usual polished chrome and in some version of nickel: brushed, satin or polished.

There are at least two kinds of bronze: Oil-rubbed bronze (which to us looks more like what other companies call antique bronze with its copper highlights) and Legacy Bronze (which looks more like what we think of as oil-rubbed bronze).

There is also matte black which is becoming the au courant finish for ultra-contemporary faucets.

Some kitchen faucets are "finished" in stainless steel which is not really a finish, but the stuff the faucet is made of.

All of these (except stainless steel) are electroplated finishes.

The newer (physical vapor deposition) finish technology is not available from American Standard. PVD is a much more robust finish, said by some in the industry to be up to 20 times tougher than standard plated chrome.

American Standard invented the ceramic cartridge in 1972 Note 5 and has been improving on it since. Its proprietary mixing cartridge is very robust with very few reported problems.

Crane Plumbing LLC

Crane Logo

Crane, founded in 1955 as the R.T. Crane Brass & Bell Foundry in Chicago, invented the pastel bathroom in the 1920s featuring fixtures designed by noted industrial designer of the time, Henry Dreyfuss. The bathrooms were very popular in the 1950s and came to epitomize the early mid-century bathroom.

In 1978 the company introduced a complete line of washerless faucets to compete with Moen. But, it made the mistake of designing faucets to fit a particular sink so that the sink and faucet had to be purchased as a set, an arrangement that greatly reduced their popularity.

Crane faucets made little headway in the residential fixture market despite its innovations and the reputation of the company.

In 1986 Crane Co. divested itself of its plumbing unit which was reorganized as Crane Plumbing, LLC.

A controlling interest in the company was acquired by Sun Capital Partners in 2005 and the company merged with American Standard America and Eljer Industries in 2008 to form American Standard Brands.

Since the merger, Crane has gone out of business as a brand. The closing was announced on its website as follows:

"Crane plumbing has merged with American Standard. In light of this, Crane Plumbing products are no longer being offered in the trade channel. We will continue to provide customer care support and product information support for these brands, which can be found on this site. Thank you for your interest and support for Crane Plumbing."

A sad end for an old and well-respected company.

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They are no longer cutting edge technology, however. Delta has leap­frogged past American Standard's basic ceramic technology with its Diamond Seal Technology (DST) super cartridge introduced in 2007.

One disc in the two-disc set is diamond coated using a process that deposits microscopic diamond particles on the disc.

Delta says the diamond coating helps keeps the discs absolutely smooth since the coated disc continuously polishes the other disc so they always mesh perfectly.

It also continuously grinds away any mineral deposits that may insinuate themselves between the discs. The more you use it, the smoother it gets, says Delta which claims that the cartridge will last up to 5 million rotations (or about 700 years in the average kitchen faucet, 10 times the life expectancy of a standard ceramic cartridge).

To learn more about the types of valves used in faucets, now and historically, see Faucet Basics: Part 1, Faucet Valves & Cartridges. For more detail on the Delta DST cartridge, see our Delta Faucet Review & Rating.

The American Standard warranty meets the North American standard — a lifetime warranty to the original owner on all parts and the finish except electronic parts which are guaranteed for five years, and filter components, made by GE, that are warranted for just one year. One year is a little light. Most under-sink filter systems are guaranteed for five years.

There are a couple of issues with the warranty. It excludes damage caused by "aggressive air or water conditions". Do you have any idea what this means? Most people outside of the industry do not.

The Mag­nu­son-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, codified as 15 U.S.C. §2301 et seq. is a federal law that regulates the form and content of consumer warranties.

It was enacted, according to its legislative history" to remedy "the widespread misuse of express warranties and disclaimers" by requiring warranties on consumer products be "clear and easy to read and understand" in order to prevent companies from hiding the true coverage and scope of a warranty behind obscure, hard to understand legal terminology.

In consequence, unlike other legal documents intended to be interpreted only by judges and lawyers, consumer warranties must be capable of understanding by the average consumer.

So, while industry terms of art like "aggressive air and water conditions" are not entirely banned, if used they must be defined such that an average consumer will understand what they mean. If they are not explained, then they are ignored in interpreting the warranty as if they were never mentioned.

To learn more about faucet warranties and how to interpret them, see Faucet Basics: Part 6, Faucet Warranties.

The company's U.S.-based customer and warranty service is very good. American Standard may not know where its faucets are made but it does know where to find the parts for each faucet.

The only problems we found were excessive wait times of 5 minutes or longer, and some issues that we thought were rather simple had to be referred up the chain of command for a resolution.

Still, the company did well overall. We score its customer service at 4.3 out of 5. Any score above 4.0 is considered satisfactory. The Better Business Bureau rates the company A+ or a scale of A+ to F for its handling of consumer issues.

The American Standard website is, as you might expect, massive. We gave up counting the number of bathroom and kitchen items represented on the site, but it's a lot. Despite its size, however, it is fairly easy to navigate. Drop-down menus lead you rather quickly to the information you need.

The information provided about each faucet is about as complete as we have seen. It includes links to available finishes that (usually but not always ) display the faucet in the selected finish. For faucets with variable flow rates, the rates are clearly displayed.

Rather than having to download a .pdf document to read detailed specifications, they are right on the page. You can either click on "Specs" link at the bottom of the page to jump right to specifications are page down until you get there.

Care instructions, a link to installation instructions and warranty information is provided, and available replacement parts are shown right on the page.

And, if all this somehow does not answer your questions, the customer service telephone number is also displayed.

Faucets that are CALGreen® certified, ADA compliant or WaterSense® qualified are identified. Faucets that comply with California water restriction requirements are identified as "CEC Listed" meaning that the faucet appears in the California Energy Commission's list of approved faucets.

American Standard has fallen behind the technology curve. It still uses electroplating when its competitors have gone on to more advanced and more durable PVD. Its cartridge is solid, but does not compare to the super cartridges used in Delta faucets, and its styling is clean and attractive, but getting dated.

We can find nothing about the faucets that stands out and no particular reason to prefer an American Standard faucet over all of the other good faucets available in roughly the same price range.

On the other hand, if an American Standard faucet strikes your fancy, we can think of no good reason not to buy it. The quality is good and well-supported by a strong warranty and the post-sale support is excellent.

So, while we would probably not go out looking specifically for an American Standard faucet, if we found one we liked, we would have little hesitation installing it in even a busy kitchen or main bath.

Keep in mind, however, that when you buy an American Standard faucet what you are getting most of the time is a good quality American-designed but foreign-made faucet. If "made in U.S.A." is important to you, then for a faucet made or at least assembled in the U.S. or Canada of equal or better quality with a standard lifetime warranty, look to

to name just a few quality American and Canadian faucet companies that manufacture or assemble their faucets in North America.

We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with American Standard faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.

Footnotes:

  1. Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, or other suitable material, poured with a cementitious binder (for chemical binding), polymeric (for physical binding), or a combination of both. It is used primarily for commercial floors and wall treatments.
  2. For comparison, another established American faucet company, makes most of its faucets in the U.S. Over 4,500 Delta products comply with the Buy American Act, which requires that at least 51% of the content be made in America.
  3. The American Standard Monterrey plant did not stay empty for long. In 2015 LIXIL's newest acquisition, Grohe, was looking for a new home for its North American production then located in Ontario, Canada. It settled on the abandoned Monterrey plant and trucked all of its equipment, machine by machine, from Canada to Mexico. Grohe now assembles faucets sold in North America in Monterrey. See our report on for more information.
  4. Ideal Standard at one time supplied many of the faucets sold in the U.S. by American Standard, including the upscale
  5. As early as the 1880s, the old American Standard Companies was a pioneer in the use of ceramics to make bathroom fixtures , so it seems entirely natural that it would put its industrial ceramics expertise to work creating a valve that used ceramics to control water flow. After much experimentation and development, the company received patent number US 3810602 A for the first ever "ceramic disc faucet".
  6. It was widely copied in Europe but slow to get around in the U.S. where Moen and Delta both had proprietary non-ceramic cartridges in which a lot was invested.
  7. Today, all major U.S. manufacturers use ceramic cartridges based loosely on the American Standard design.