Crosswater Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 02/05/19

Summary
Imported
ChinaFlag
China
PortugalFlag
Portugal
ItalyFlag
Italy
Bathroom Brands US, LLC
Trading as
Crosswater London®
393 Fortune Boulevard
Milford, MA 01757
(844) 992-8371
Crosswater, Ltd.
Lake View House
Rennie Drive
Dartford, Kent, DA1 5FU
United Kingdom
Rating
Business Type
Product Range
Bath Faucets
Certifications
Brands
Crosswater
Street Price
$310 - $840
Warranty Score
Cartridge
lifetime1
Living Finishes
None2
Other Finishes
Lifetime
Mechanical Parts
Lifetime
Proof of Purchase
Not specified3
Transferable
No
Footnotes:
1. The term "lifetime" is not defined, so it defaults to mean the actual lifetime of the buyer. See the main report for more detail.
2. Crosswater does not at this time offer any living finishes. But excluding these finishes from warranty coverage is normal. Living finishes are meant to discolor, fade, and show evidence of use. Its part of their charm. No company warrants living finishes.
3. The warranty does not specify that a proof of purchase is required, but as only the original buyer gets the warranty, some means of proving that a claim is by the original buyer is probably going to be needed.

This Company in Brief

Bathroom Brands, Ltd. is an importer and distributor of faucets in the U.K. where it has been in business in one form or another since 1998.

It set up shop in the U.S. in 2016 to sell some, but not all, of its rather impressive catalog of bath faucets and associated bathwares mostly through For­té Buying Group showrooms located across the U.S., with a dozen or so in Canada.

Bathroom Brands does not offer kitchen faucets in North America.

The faucet styles range from Victorian/Edwardian to contemporary, touching most of the bases in-between.

The company's finishes are limited on most faucets to just two: polished chrome and polished nickel. Five additional finishes are available on some faucets. The company does not offer special or custom finishes.

We think the styling to be very good and the overall quality above average to good. The company offers a limited lifetime warranty on its faucets.

For the price, we judge Crosswater faucets to be a good value.


Crosswater, Ltd. was formed by David Richard Hance in 1998. The company's official history states that Mr. Hance, a former London Metropolitan policeman, began selling faucets "sourced from various European suppliers" out of his car to bathroom retailers in Southeast England.

He was successful enough that within a few years the company began buying other businesses including Simpson in 2006, a company that sells shower enclosures, and Bau­haus Note 1 in 2008, the furniture and bath fixture company.

Bathroom Brands, Ltd. was founded seven years later in 2005 by Patrick Riley and Tim M. Powell to import Asian-manufactured bathwares into the United Kingdom. It set up an office in Shanghai to develop relationships with Chinese suppliers and was successful in recruiting distributors for its products in the U.K. by offering services that other importers did not.

The two companies merged in 2014, under the name Bathroom Brands Group. The merged company formed Bathroom Brands US LLC in 2016 as a Massachusetts limited liability company to market bathwares in the U.S. and Canada.

The trade name Crosswater London along with the logo design is owned by Bathroom Brands Ltd. in the U.S. It has not been trademarked in Canada.

Entering the U.S. faucet market is complex. Not only does a new company need to successfully navigate the maze of state and federal laws and regulations governing the construction, sale and installation of drinking-water faucets, but it also needs to quickly recruit a national distribution network.

Many foreign faucet companies have failed to gain a significant foothold in North America, despite having excellent products because they failed to attract retail outlets. Two recent examples are both of which tried and ultimately failed to make a go of it in North America, and have withdrawn from the market.

Bathroom Brands bypassed the time-consuming process of enlisting showrooms one at a time by negotiating an agreement with For­té Buying Group, Inc. to take over its Ammara Designs line of private brand luxury faucets and accessories. (Read out review of faucets.)

In exchange, Crosswater London gained immediate access to nearly 250 For­té-affiliated showrooms, creating an instant coast-to-coast sales network — an accomplishment that often takes years for a new company to achieve.

For­té is a specialized hardware buying group composed of upscale decorative plumbing and hardware showrooms and design centers.

Like general hardware buying groups with which you may already be familiar such as Ace Hardware and True Value member-store cooperatives, For­té showrooms join together to aggregate purchasing power. This permits the individual stores to leverage better prices and terms from manufacturers and distributors.

Without the purchasing power that buying groups like For­té provide, independent showrooms could not hope to compete effectively against the national chains like WinSupply, Inc.

Bathroom Brands/Crosswater has been selling in U.K. in one form or another for more than years. Its U.K. catalog is massive, consisting of 42 Crosswater collections (Crosswater calls them "ranges"), another eight lower-priced Adora collections as well as products under the ASAQ, Bauhaus, Burlington, Britton, Clearwater, Simpsons, and Thirty6 brands.

For the U.S. market, the catalog has been slimmed down considerably to just seven collections: Arcade, Belgravia, Dial, MPRO, UNION, Waldorf, and Wisp. (The UNION collection, promised for 2018, was not available as of the date of this report.)

This makes sense. It can be expensive and time-consuming to qualify a faucet for the North American market, so starting with just the faucets judged to have the best chance of success is simply good business.

The collections are for bathrooms. Crosswater London does not sell kitchen faucets in the U.S. Most collections include sink faucets, to be sure, but also showers, bidet faucets, tub fillers, bath fixtures such as tubs, sinks, and toilets, and bath accessories like towel racks (some heated), robe hooks, shelves, and mirrors. The collections are intended to provide a coordinated look for your bath.

The Waldorf collection is our designers' favorite. Its Art Deco look is perfect for an Arts and Crafts period decor and fits well with some mid-century designs.

The Arcade collection is next. A classic English faucet design, it fits any Edwardian or Victorian decor. Its design is truly well-balanced.

The Belgravia low-spout widespread faucet is also striking, and a style hard to find anywhere else. It would work in any but the most elaborate Victorian or Edwardian bath.

Our least favorite is the MPRO collection, one of Crosswater's forays into contemporary design, sold as the Mike Pro in England. Our design staff thinks it's a little too close to the style offered by dozens of low-cost Chinese faucets flooding North America.

The Wisp collection has much the same problem. Its ribbon and faucets are attractive but very similar to widely-available Asian faucet styles.

The UNION collection of contemporary faucets, however, is a different story. The faucets mimic the common plumbing shut-off valve, but refined and dressed up to create what can best be described as an elegant rustic look. The faucets are similar in concept to those in the Brooklyn 31 collection offered by

The last collection, Dial, does not include faucets. It is all showers, featuring digital electronic controls.

Overall, we think the collections were well-chosen for the American market and ought to do well here. Hopefully, some of the remaining U.K. Crosswater collections will be introduced soon.

Although Crosswater frequently describes itself in press releases as "the leading UK-based bathroom manufacturer," it is clear from our research that the company does not manufacture, and certainly not faucets.

Nor are most of the faucets sold by Bathroom Brands designed expressly for the company. Some are. Two Crosswater faucets, the Belgravia and Waldorf collection are almost certainly exclusive designs. We can find no instance of these designs being sold in North America or elsewhere by any other company. But, most of the faucets sold by Crosswater are off-the-shelf products taken from straight out of the of the companies that manufacture them.

Bathroom Brands U.S. imports its products from nearly everywhere, but true to its early history, China is favored as its primary source. Import and customs records show deliveries of bathtubs, basins, other ceramic wares, bathroom furniture, and bathroom accessories from China, Malaysia, and Viet Nam through its Asia-based buying affiliates, Bathroom Brands (Asia) PTE, Ltd. in Singapore and Bathroom Sourcing Co., Ltd. in Hong Kong.

It also imports directly from manufacturers. Customs records show Bathroom Brands U.S. received goods over the past two months from:

Crosswater London's faucets are not English faucets. Many are in the English design tradition, but they are not made in England. Most are not even designed in England.

Only one English designer is associated with Crosswater, Kelly Hoppen MBE, an English fashion designer, TV personality and Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Ms. Hoppen designed four collections sold by Crosswater U.K.: KHZero1, KHZero2, KHZero3, KHZero6.

These are interesting faucets that were heavily promoted in the UK with a multi-media PR campaign. However, none of these Hoppen designs are sold in the U.S.

Looking at in-house design, the matter gets a mite murkier.

Crosswater literature and press releases make fairly frequent references to its "design team", but these are usually offhand remarks made in passing. The team has never been profiled and no in-house designers or engineers have been identified other than the Crosswater founder, David Hance.

A number of statements by the company describe Mr. Hance as the "curator" of the Crosswater "design team", Note 2 He is also credited with the design of "several Crosswater collections", but only one is ever attributed by name, the Belgravia collection. Note 3

Mr. Hance has no training or background in product design. So, while he may have inspired or contributed to various faucet designs, we suspect he got a lot of help from the designers and engineers employed by the foreign companies that manufacture Crosswater faucets.

These are manufacturers with the design and engineering staff needed to design, prototype and test a new faucet — capabilities that the Bathroom Brands group is not likely to have.

So, while we can conclude with a high degree of confidence that at least some of the faucets sold by Bathroom Brands in the U.S. were designed for Crosswater, we think it unlikely that these were designed by Crosswater or that they were designed in the U.K.

At least one faucet collection in the Crosswater London U.S. catalog was for certain not designed by Crosswater or even for Crosswater. UNION faucets were designed in Italy by industrial designers Federico Castelli and Antonio Gardoni and are part of a collection sold by the faucet's Italian manufacturer throughout Europe.

The faucets sold by Crosswater London in the U.S. are made in China, Portugal, and Italy.

The Arcade, MPRO, and Wisp faucets are manufactured in China. A Crosswater spokes­person acknowledged the China connection but was not willing to divulge the name of the actual manufacturer or manufacturers.

Its European manufacturers include A.G. Monteiro Lda, a Portuguese manufacturer that is responsible for the faucets in the Waldorf and Belgravia collections, and IB Rubinetterie S.p.a. an Italian company that designed and manufactures the faucets in Crosswater's the Union collection.

UNION faucets are not unique to Crosswater. They are out of IB's and sold throughout Europe, the Middle East and in parts of Canada as the BOLD collection.

Up to seven finishes are available on Crosswater faucets. According to a company spokes­person, all are the extremely durable physical vapor deposition ( ) finishes estimated by some to be up to 20 times more scratch- and mar-resistant than the standard chrome finish.

However, most faucets are available in just two of the seven finishes: polished chrome and polished nickel. Only a few faucets are available in the other finishes. The MPRO and Wisp collections, are available in matte black, brushed brass, and stainless steel and the UNION collection in black chrome and unlacqured brass as well as the standard chrome and nickel.

A PVD stainless steel finish is not actually steel but an applied metal that has similar appearance. It does not, however, show fingerprints as readily as actual stainless.

One MPRO faucet is shown with four additional finishes, but these are not finishes as we understand the term, but surface machining of some parts of the faucet to engrave a knurl pattern often found on tool handles to improve the user's grip on the tool. With Crosswater, however, they are mostly decorative, and effectively so. The knurl is also a design feature of some faucets in the UNION collection, but it is not identified in that collection as a finish.

Two-handle Crosswater faucets we inspected were fitted with brass ceramic cartridges made by Flühs Direhtechnik of Lüdenscheid, Germany. Flühs (often spelled Fluehs for English-speakers) makes a stem cartridge for two-handle faucets that is generally considered among the best in the world.

Crosswater's single handle faucets are equipped with ceramic mixing cartridges made by Kerox Kft. of Hungary. Kerox has gained a reputation in the industry for one of the best mixing cartridges on the market and the cartridge preferred by European manufacturers of upscale faucets.

The cartridge is the heart of a faucet. Without a working cartridge, the faucet is useless. no longer a faucet. So, it is important that this component be of the best quality to ensure a long service life.

The faucets also include Neoperl® aerators from Switzerland. Faucet aerators used to be simple devices that merely infused a little air to soften the water stream so it would not splash out of the sink.

Today, however, they are precision products used to limit water volume to the lower flows required by conservation laws. It is important, therefore, that this little device, often smaller than a dime, be the best available. And that, almost by definition, is the Swiss-engineered Neoperl aerator.

Most Crosswater faucets can be ordered with reduced water flow to comply with local and state water flow restrictions. At least one faucet line, MPRO, was, according to the company, designed from the bottom-up to be a low-flow faucet.

The warranty on Crosswater products in the U.K. is 10 to 15 years, which for Europe, where 2 to 5-year warranties are common, is a generous warranty. For North America, the Crosswater warranty is the North American-style limited lifetime warranty.

Some European companies selling in the U.S. and Canada make the mistake of trying to transfer their 5- and 10-year European warranties, which indicates a rather poor understanding of the North American market.

Smarter companies like a good many years ago. Crosswater can be included in this group.

But, while offering a lifetime warranty in North America is a sound business choice, Crosswater's particular warranty contains multiple drafting defects and badly needs to be rewritten.

In the U.S., the overriding federal law that governs warranties on consumer products is the Mag­nu­son-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, codified as 15 §2301 et seq.

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 person.

So, while legalese is not entirely banned, it is very close to it.

Crosswater London's written warranty, however, is a legalese stew. Consider this little gem of murky obfustication:

"Under no circumstances shall Crosswater London's liability to buyer or any third party, whether in contract, in tort, under any warranty, in negligence or otherwise, exceed the purchase price paid for the product. In no event (including with respect to any implied warranties that may not be waived or disclaimed as a matter of law) will Crosswater London be liable for any economic, special, incidental, indirect or consequential damages, whether based on breach of warranty, breach of contract, negligence, strict liability, or any other legal theory or otherwise."

Easy-to-read, it's not. And, it greatly overreaches, seeking to limit Crosswater's liability for matters far outside the possible scope of any warranty. Even in legal drafting, there is a difference between covering the bases and smothering the bases. This is smothering on steroids.

Much more critical, however, is what's missing from the warranty. Whoever drafted the warranty left out some very important terms.

First, he or she did not define the term "lifetime". Most states and the Mag­nu­son-Moss Warranty Act require that the term of a warranty be stated unambiguously. Either it must be declared as a specific term of years or it must be defined in such a manner that the length of the warranty "can be ascertained by a reasonable person".

If a "lifetime" term is not limited in some fashion to less than the buyer's actual lifetime, that is the meaning it will be given. The warranty lasts until the buyer actually dies.

Second, there is no requirement in the warranty that the buyer continue to own the faucet for his rights under the warranty to remain in effect. Usually a warranty is cancelled once the the buyer no longer owns the faucet. But, it's not automatic. There has to be some language in the warranty to that effect.

Crosswater's warranty is completely silent on the matter. Under Mag­nu­son-Moss, silence by the company is read in favor of the consumer. If there is no wording ending the warranty when the faucet is transferred, the warranty continues in effect.

This omission can have some odd and certainly unexpected results.

Let's say the buyer sells his house to cousin Nell and with it his Crosswater faucet. Nell gets the faucet, but not the non-transferable warranty. The buyer still owns the warranty. Years later the faucet fails and cousin Nell asks the buyer to make a warranty claim for her benefit.

Can the buyer do that? Absolutely. Claims under a contract for the benefit of a third person are common in Anglo-American law. Note 4 The buyer still lives so he or she still has the warranty. If the buyer makes a claim, it's one that Bathroom Brands would be legally bound to honor, and continue to honor as long as the buyer continues to be not dead. It does not matter who owns the faucet.

Third, and last, the warranty does not indicate the procedure for making a warranty claim, something that is a mandatory under the Mag­nu­son-Moss Warranty Act. For lack of this required element the warranty will in all likelihood be thrown out, and the state-imposed warranty of merchantability Note 5 will be substituted.

Bathroom Brands would then be exposed to liability for the very range of damages the Crosswater warranty sought to eliminate: "economic, special, incidental, indirect [and] consequential".

For an example of a properly drafted limited lifetime warranty, read the Delta Faucet warranty.

We did not conduct a formal test of Bathroom Brands' customer service. Our typical tests usually do not work well on very small faucet companies with just one or two representatives. They very quickly figure out they are being tested.

We did, however, telephone and ask for help with some issues that arose in researching this report, and our questions were promptly, courteously, and competently answered. We have no concerns about the abilities or responsiveness of Crosswater's customer support.

Bathroom Brands is too new in the U.S. to have a Better Business Bureau rating, or even a BBB record. The absence of a record usually means that the BBB has not received a complaint about Crosswater London in the or so years the company has been in business.

The Crosswater website is colorful, well-designed and fairly easy to navigate, although we did note instances of sticky drop-down menus that did not stick. It is modeled on and closely follows the design of the U.K. website.

Our least favorite thing about the website is that it redirects all North American users to the U.S. website even if the U.K. site is selected. (Try opening crosswater.co.uk to see what we mean.)

This feature is intended to be a convenience for potential customers, making sure users connect with the correct site for their market.

But, if it is actually the U.K. site that is wanted, it is a nuisance to find that there is no way to get to it from North America. We ended up having to access the U.K. site through a proxy in Scotland.

The U.S. site should include a link that permits users to select the U.K site, and vice-versa, then save the choice for next time. Our code writers say this is incredibly easy to do.

The information provided on the website about each faucet is less than complete. We would like to see a number of additions.

The information the site now provides includes:

But, there are some essentials that are missing, including:

At present, the information provided by Crosswater London about its sink faucets is insufficient for an intelligent buying decision, and we encourage any potential buyer to contact customer service to get the information that is not provided before buying a Crosswater faucet.

We looked all over the site for a downloadable catalog or price book and were about to conclude that none was available until we noticed a tiny credit at the left-bottom corner of the page that said

Website by In The White Room | Price Book

We clicked on it to find out about In The White Room and a price book downloaded. Odd place to put the link to a price book. (Here is the price book link for those who don't want to hunt for it.)

Bathroom Brands has done a thorough job of preparing for its entry into the North American market by ensuring that all of its faucets are certified to mandatory North American faucet standards and meet all legal and regulatory requirements.

Considering the price for the quality you get from Crosswater London, we rate these faucets a good value well-supported by a strong warranty and competent after-sale customer service. We would have no problem installing Crosswater faucets even in a busy main bathroom.

The finishes and workmanship of the faucets we examined for this report were first-class and the cartridges selected by Bathroom Brands for the faucets are some of the best available. Crosswater London's faucets should provide many years of reliable service.

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


Footnotes:

  1. Bauhaus, the German design school, founded by architect Walter Gropius, was arguably the most influential design and architecture school of the 20th century. The school was closed in 1933 under pressure from the Nazis for being "un-German". Its faculty and many students dispersed throughout Europe and the U.S. — the Bauhaus diaspora — taking with it the Bauhaus ideals which became the cornerstone of post-war modernist design. (For more on Bauhaus design influences, see Post-war Retro Housing Styles.)
  2. Today it has become a sort of super-brand name in Europe. In Germany alone there are about 40 companies that use the word "Bauhaus" in their name.
  3. Bathroom Brands uses the name to identify its modernist sanitary fixtures and bath furniture, which like most of the products with the Bauhaus name, have very little flavor of Bauhaus design.
  4. Our talented design team, led by the company's founder David Hance who designed a number of stylish collections himself, continue to create beautiful products with cutting-edge technology. (Bathroom Brands Group Products, Crosswater Spec Book: A Technical Specification Guide for Bathrooms, p.14, undated, 30 Jan. 2019.)
  5. "Sourcing the best designers and finest materials to deliver the very best in bathroom design and quality, the talented design team is led by the company's founder David Hance, who has also designed a number of stylish collections himself." (Bathroom Brands US LLC, About Us, undated, 24 Jan. 2019)
  6. "The design team is curated by David Hance himself, who has personally designed a number of collections, employing his own personal and distinct style.The Journal of Light Construction, undated, 30 Jan. 2019)
  7. Belgravia brassware … [a] comprehensive collection of six basin and ten bath/shower mixers is designed by Crosswater's founder and Chairman David Hance (Product Guide, Archello.com, undated, 30 Jan. 2019)
  8. It is a well established principal of Anglo-American jurisprudence that a party to a contract can enforce the contract for the benefit of a person who is not a party to the contract. Indeed, jus quaesitum tertio was not recognized in earlier common law, so only a party to the contract could sue, a non-party beneficiary could not.
  9. That has now changed by statue in the U.K. (Contracts Act 1999) and through numerous court decisions in the U.S. dating from the mid-19th-century. See, e.g. Gifford v. Corrigan, 117 N.Y. 257, 22 N.E. 756 (1889).
  10. In our example, it is likely that not only could the buyer enforce the warranty, but cousin Nell could also enforce the warranty as the beneficiary even though she was not known to Crosswater as a beneficiary when faucet was sold and the warranty attached. It was reasonably foreseeable at the time of sale, however, that someone would become a subsequent owner, even though the specific person could not be identified.
  11. The typical warranty of merchantability requires a faucet to be "of good quality, fit for normal use, and conforming to any promises made by the seller" at the time of sale and for a reasonable amount of time thereafter, minus any normal wear and tear. The length of the warranty is determined by the "reasonable expectations of the buyer" and "community perceptions" of how long a faucet should last. For more information, read The Warranty Game - Enforcing Your Product Warranty.