Pfister Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 10/01/20
A division of
Spectrum Brands, Inc.
19701 Da Vinci
Lake Forest, California 92610
This Company In Brief
Formerly Price-Pfister, the brand is now just Pfister and has been owned by Spectrum Brands since being purchased from Stanley Black & Decker in 2012.
Pfister designs its faucets in California but has them made in China and Korea by contract factories. They are stylish, of good quality, generally reliable, and protected by a limited lifetime warranty but post-sale customer and warranty service is spotty.
Prices on average are slightly below those of other mid-range faucet lines, such as
Founded in 1910 by Emil Price, Joseph Corcoran, and William Pfister as Price-Corcoran-Pfister, Inc. in Los Angeles, California to manufacture brass products, the company later changed its name to Price-Pfister Brass Mfg. Co. Its first product was a gasoline-powered generator for farmers who did not have electrical service. It was several years before the company moved into the manufacture of plumbing valves, garden faucets, and other plumbing fittings that became the core of its business.
In the 1920s, the Price-Pfister expanded its lines of plumbing products to include more types of faucets, valves, and hose nozzles for indoor sinks and bathtubs. It added more new products in the 1930s, including the popular "Make-A-Shower" system used to convert an existing bathtub into a tub/shower.
The company prospered in the Post-WWII housing boom after its purchase by Isadore Familian in 1941 who redirected the focus of the company to concentrate on faucet production to supply the exploding post-war housing industry that was completing as many as 5,000 new homes each and every day.
For more on Post-War Mid-Cntury kitchens and baths, see Post-war Housing Styles.
Under Familian the company introduced faucet styles in atomic age design motifs with swooping curves and streamlined shapes that were very popular with the buying public. Its Crown Jewel faucet, which made its appearance the early 1950s, was one of the best selling faucets in U.S. history. The faucets were so popular and so durable that thousands are still in service, and replacement parts are widely available.
The company grew throughout the 1960s on the strength of its popular plumbing products. In 1969 it was purchased by Norris Industries which started construction of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Pacoima, California, which was at the time the largest foundry West of the Mississippi.
In 1983 Norris (by then NI Industries) sold the company to an investment group headed by Price-Pfister's then president, Peter Gold, who, with the tapering off of the post-war new construction boom, re-focused Price-Pfister on the growing market for stylish replacement faucets to compete with European imports, targeting the do-it-yourself homeowner with faucets that were simple to install.
Price-Pfister's 525,000 square foot vertically-integrated Pacoima plant enabled the company to keep its production costs low and price its faucets aggressively. The plant was, for its time, one of the most automated faucet factories in the U.S., able to produce 55,000 finished faucets daily at peak production.
The company introduced new technologies, often far ahead of its competition, including the Pforever Seal (originally the Flow-Matic) cartridge, one of the first Note 1 faucet cartridges to use ceramic technology, and Pforever Pfinish with new, decorative hues such as antique bronze, polished brass, and black nickel. Both the cartridge and finish were guaranteed for the buyer's lifetime by the Pforever Warranty: North America's first-ever limited lifetime faucet warranty.
Pfister also began a well-remembered radio, television, and print ad campaign developed by Eisaman, Johns, and Laws, with a tag line that played off of the company name: "Price-Pfister, the pfabulous pfaucet with the pfunny name."
In 1987 the company reached its high-water mark with 1,600 employees and a 14% share of the U.S. faucet market.
The next year, Peter Gold sold the company to Emco Corp. which was, in turn, acquired by Black & Decker in 1990.
In 2010 Black & Decker merged with Stanley Works, the world-famous tool manufacturer, to form Stanley Black & Decker. Price-Pfister became part of the new company's Hardware & Home Improvement (HHI) Group which included True Temper lawn and garden tools, three lines of locks and security devices (Kwikset, Weiser, and Baldwin), small appliances, and National Hardware as well as Price-Pfister faucets,
Stanley rebranded Price-Pfister to just Pfister, "to best position the company for another century," according to a company press release. Not a nice thing to do to a proud and famous faucet name.
However, HHI did not actually fit very well with Stanley Black & Decker's core business: the manufacture hand and power tools. Almost immediately after the merger, Stanley began shopping for a buyer to take HHI off its hands.
In 2012 it found one in Spectrum Brands (formerly Rayovac), a company that already owned a divers portfolio of consumer products, many of them familiar brands such as Remington shavers, Black Flag pesticides, Rayovac batteries, Toastmaster small appliances, and the George Foreman Grill.
The sale to Spectrum Brands was a boon to the Pfister brand. Black & Decker had never been able to find a place for Pfister. The brand was largely ignored for 20 years as B & D concentrated on resurrecting its lagging flagship tool brands and reasserting its dominance in the professional power tool market with its line of Dewalt tools. Under Spectrum ownership, the company is once again prospering. Both the quality and design of Pfister faucets have steadily improved, leading to a rating bump as of this update from 5-7 (average to good) to 6-7 (above average to good).
Our fond hope that the new owner would have the good sense to ditch "just Pfister" and return to the venerable Price-Pfister nameplate has not come to pass. "Just Pfister," it seems, is here to stay. Drats!
Pfister's abandonment of domestic manufacturing began in 1993 with a lawsuit by the State of California in which Pfister, along with 20 other faucet companies, was accused of knowingly allowing lead in faucets at levels that were up to 150 times the legal limit. Price-Pfister won that lawsuit, but settled a spin-off suit by two environmental groups for $2.4 million and agreed to much lower lead limits.
Lower legal lead limits were difficult for the Pacoima plant to meet. The plant used sand casting to mold faucet components, a process that at the time required relatively large amounts of lead in the brass used for casting.
Price-Pfister gradually shifted Pacoima production below the border to a new plant in Mexicali until 1997 when the Pacoima plant closed for good eaving behind 25 acres contaminated with toxic heavy metal residue that became a Superfund cleanup site in 2004. Note 2
The plant closing sparked in a national boycott of Price-Pfister products, protests, and even a hunger strike by laid-off workers that made front-page news across the country.
Although it has lost market share since it peaked in 1987, Pfister is still the number five faucet company in the U.S., behind Delta, Moen, Kohler, and American Standard. According to Dun & Bradstreet, it has about 9% of the U.S. market and approximately 2% of the world market.
The company headquarters is in the U.S. along with its research and development arm, product design, and marketing operations, but the company no longer manufactures in the U.S. or Canada. Its Mexicali maquiladora assembles some showers for Pfister, but it has largely shifted to the manufacture of locksets and security systems for HHI's security brands. Pfister has gotten our of the manufacture of sink faucets entirely. All Pfister faucets are made by outside factories in China and Korea.
Over the past five years, the company's known faucet manufacturers have included:
- Seagull Kitchen and Bath Products Co., Ltd. a Chinese manufacturer that makes sink faucets for
- Kaiping Freendo Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd. part of Guangdong Huayi Plumbing Fittings Industry, Co. Ltd. Freendo manufactures faucets for Compass Manufacturing International.
- Zhongyu Hardware Industry Co., Ltd. a Chinese faucet manufacturer located in Xiamen, manufactures faucets for
- Naidy Plumbing Fittings Co., Ltd of Kaiping, China which manufactures and sells the Delica faucet brand in Asia.
- Daelim Trading Co., Ltd of Seoul, Korea manufactures faucets in two factories, one in Incheon and the orther in the heavily industrialized Yeongdeungpo district of Seoul. It supplies faucet to the Canadian faucet company Daelim has received a number of awards for its creative sanitary products. None, however, for its faucets.
- Zhuhai Mingshi Ceramics Valve Co., Ltd. located in XiangZhou, China manufactures Pfister's proprietary Pforever Seal ceramic disk cartridges.
All of these manufacturers are ISO-9001 certified which means they maintain a dynamic quality control program to help assure reasonable product quality.
At one time the Italian manufacturer, Paini S.p.A. Rubinetterie, supplied some of Pfister's faucets. These included faucets in the Aria, Lago, and Isola collections – now discontinued.
Paini still manufactures faucets for Spectrum Brands, just not faucets sold under the Pfister nameplate. All Paini-made faucets are marketed as exclusively through Ferguson showrooms. Spectrum has positioned Fortis as its upscale European designer faucet line featuring "puro design Italiano." Ferguson, a subsidiary of the British company, Ferguson PLC, is a nationwide U. S. distributor of plumbing products through its local Ferguson stores and showrooms. It distributed in Canada as Wolseley.
Paini also sells faucets in North America under its own La Toscana brand. For more information on Fortis and La Toscana faucets, see our review of
Pfister faucets are widely available, sold at decorative plumbing showrooms, plumbing supply houses, big box lumber stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, and Sutherlands),local hardware stores (Ace, Do-It-Best, and True Value), and at Walmart. The products can also be bought through online plumbing suppliers such as Build.com and Faucetdirect.com as well as at general merchandise e-tailers (Amazon, Overstock, and Wayfair).
The company has cultivated special relationships with big-box lumber stores ever since there have been big-box lumber stores. It sold faucet models through the Home Depot that wee available only at HD stores. This arrangement falter for a while, but appears to have been revived. Pfister also supplied some of Home Depot's early store brand faucets. It no longer does so. The company also has a special relationship is with Home Depot's scrappy competitor, Lowes stores. Certain models of Pfister faucets and showers are offered to the public exclusively through Lowes and are not available elsewhere.
Pfister has not forgotten its historical emphasis on easy-to-install faucets designed for do-it-yourselfers. It introduced TwistPfit™ bathroom faucets in 1999. Unlike a typical faucet, it could be installed from above the sink using only an Allen wrench, rather than from below the sink. The original TwistPfit faucet, the Georgetown was folloed by the Bedford, Parisa, and Carmel.
Pfister heavily promoted the technology. The company sponsored contests in which plumbers competed for the fastest installation of a TwistPfit faucet. Supply House Times reported that the winner of one contest with over 5,000 participants installed a TwistPfit faucet in 23 seconds flat.
Unfortunately, TwistPfit did not find widespread acceptance among plumbers or the buying public and was finally discontinued by 2008. None of the original TwistPfit faucets are still being made, and the company has removed all mention of the technology from its website.
Undeterred, Pfister is once again promoting above-the-sink installation technology, this time with kitchen faucets. TopPfit™ offers the same convenient installation but requires a special tool (included with the faucet). At present only Miri and Ladera kitchen faucets are available with TopPfit installation, but more are to come according to the company.
To help ensure you don't lose the special tool (which will be needed to uninstall the faucet), it stores by clipping on one of the water supply lines under the sink where it is secure, easy to find, and always handy.
Above-the-sink installation has not been Pfister's only innovation since the introduction in the 1930s of the "Make-A-Shower", that converted an existing bathtub into a tub/shower without tearing up the walls. Some were successful and some less so. But, Pfister keeps trying new things.
Pfister innovations in addition to Pforever Seal and Pforever Warranty, include:
- The Pfilter Pfaucet (1997) integrated a filter in a kitchen faucet that provided hot, cold and filtered water, a successful technology that has been widely emulated, notably in Triflow faucets from
- The Catalina pullout lavatory faucet (2004), the first if its kind, could extend up to 55" for hair-washing at the sink. Sounds like a wonderful idea. But, with the widespread availablity of showers, this innovation did not find a robust market and has been discontinued.
- The Anti-Splash Spray Volume Sprayhead™ (2006) was the first volume-controlled sprayhead. The technology has been adopted by a number of major faucet companies, including which has patented its own competing technology.
- The Ashfield™ lavatory faucet (2007) – the first-ever faucet to receive the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense® label.
Pfister faucets have reveived more design awards at international design competitions than we can possibly list. Just since 2012 it was awarded ADEX Platinum or Gold awards for the following faucet designs:
ADEX, sponsored by the Design Journal, is the largest and most prestigious awards program for product and project design in the architecture and interior design industries.
Pfister faucets are part of larger collections that may include showers, tub fillers, accessories (towel bars, soap dispensers, robe hooks, etc.), even cabinet drawer handles and console vanities. Selecting items from within a collection ensures stylistic coordination among the various elements of a bathroom and, to a lesser extent, the kitchen.
The faucets are still designed mostly in California by Pfister's design team that, according to the company, "includes artists and engineers and lots of smart folks who bring their own unique brand of passion and personality to work every day."
Faucet Brand by Price Range
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Most faucet designs are in traditional North American motifs with gentle, sweeping curves in contrast to the angular, more industrial look of popular North-European designs.However, if angular and industrial is your preferred aesthetic, the Pfister lineup includes a few Euro-style faucets as appealing as any Euro-brand faucet, and usually a lot less expensive.
If the company's stock designs are not unique enough for your new hotel, golf resort, or casino, Pfister's Custom faucet Solutions team will craft a new design just for your project. Figure on a minimum purchase of 300 faucets, however, to make it cost-feasible.
Some Pfister kitchen faucets are stainless steel, but most of the Pfister line is good quality lead-free brass. Brass is the traditional faucet material. It is strong enough to resist damage from water pressure but fairly easy to mold and shape. It is also hygienic. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Note 3 Copper kills micro-organizms on contact even more than 100 years after being first installed and even if heavily tarnished. Note 4
The faucets contain materials other than brass, however. Parts that do not need the strength of brass are zinc or a zinc alloy. The substitution is not a bad thing. Brass, especially low-lead and no-lead brass, is expensive, so it makes sense to substitute a lower-cost material when it results in no sacrifice of quality. Most faucet manufacturers now use a zinc-aluminum or zinc-copper alloy for parts that are not under pressure from water flowing through the faucet.
The other common substitute material is plastic. Plastic is a lot cheaper than either brass or zinc, but also a lot weaker and, if used under pressure in the water stream, invites problems.
Most if not all of Pfister's pulldown and pullout kitchen faucets include plastic spray heads.
Plastic spray heads (the industry term is "wands") are fast becoming an industry standard. Homeowners like them because, unlike metal wands, plastic does not get uncomfortably hot in use. The industry likes them because they are inexpensive to produce. So, win-win.
But, there is still the problem of reliability. Plastic wands have fairly high failure rates, not just in Pfister faucets, but across the industry generally. The technology is getting better but has not approached the durability ore reliability of brass wands.
For the moment, we recommend metal wands if you have the choice.
The cure for too-hot brass wands is to turn the water temperature down. Who needs to rinse with scalding hot water?
Pfister equips its single-handle faucets with its proprietary Pforever Seal ceramic mixing cartridge – a very good cartridge first introduced in 1980. Pforever Seal is not available in every Pfister faucet, however, and we don't know much about Pfister's other cartridges, particularly the stem cartridges used in Pfister two-handle faucets.
Lead-free certification is the single most important factor to consider in making an informed faucet-buying decision followed very closely by the quality of the faucet's cartridge.
All Pfister faucets are certified lead free and drinking water safe, and all Pforever Seal cartridges are robust. We don't know about the company's other faucet cartridges. If you are not sure of the cartridge, don't buy the faucet.
We asked about them, but Pfister customer service agents do not know much about them either, and management has not responded to our request for more information.
To get a list of faucets that include the Pforever Seal cartridge, use the Pfister website's search function to search on "Pforever Seal." The result is, in part, a list of faucets containing the cartridge.
For more information on ceramic cartridges and the difference between robust cartridges that will give years of leak-free service and those that won't, see Faucet Valves & Cartridges.
Pfister offers ten faucet finishes in total. Except for some stainless steel faucets, all Pfister faucets are available finished in polished chrome. Some collections are chrome only. No other finish is available. But, most are also available in other finishes such as brushed nickel, Tuscan bronze, and matte black, but it largely depends on what finishes the individual manufacturers of the faucets can provide. No faucet is offered in all ten finishes. Five finish options were the most we found on a faucet.
Pfister's newest finish, Slate, a sort of dark chrome, is intended to coordinate with GE appliances made in the same color. It is so far a finish option in just one collection, Pasadena.
We have asked the company for this information, and if we get it, will update this report.
For detailed information on the types of faucet finishes including how they are applied and the advantages and disadvantages of each, see Faucet Finishes.
Price-Pfister pioneered the lifetime limited warranty that has now become the North American standard, adopted by virtually all domestic companies and many imported faucets.
Its Pforever Warranty has changed little since its introduction. Its promise is very simple. Pfister will provide the parts required to repair a defective Pfister faucet. If the faucet cannot be repaired, Pfister will replace it. The warranty lasts as long as the original buyer owns the home Note 5 in which the faucet is originally installed and covers all parts and finishes except electronic components.
The Pfister warranty on electronic parts is five years. This short duration is in line with the industry, which generally does not include electronic parts in lifetime warranties. In fact, Pfister's electronics warranty is generous. The typical electronics warranty is one to three years.
Post-sale customer support has historically been spotty, a problem that started under Black & Decker ownership. It has not improved under Spectrum, which has decided to save a few dollars by moving its call center to the Dominican Republic.
Customer service agents speak fluent English, but sometimes with a pronounced accent. Combined with a scratchy, creaky telephone system, the accent can make each customer service contact more adventure than one would typically want.
Agents scored well in our customer service tests for courtesy and willingness to help, but dismally for product knowledge. They know little more about Pfister faucets than the information available on the company website.
Two out of the three agents asked the question did not know that faucets had aerators, and none knew the types of finishes (electroplated, PVD, or powder coatings) used on Pfister faucets. (We are still waiting for the promised e-mail identifying the types of Pfister finishes. Note 6)
Not even supervisors could answer basic questions about the faucets that any customer service agent should know. One agent explained that his job was to provide parts, and that was all he knew how to do.
This lack of basic knowledge about the product indicates a woeful lack of training.
Hold times were unacceptable. The shortest wait we experienced was 7 minutes, the longest was our maximum of 35 minutes. Testers are instructed to hang up after 35 minutes. Anything over 3 minutes is too long and over 5 minutes is unacceptable.
We gave up trying to get help with our standard test set of (imaginary) installation problems. Pfister agents usually did not understand the questions, although our testers are careful to use industry-standard terminology.
However, our volunteer plumbers did not actually have any problems installing our test faucets. Installation instructions were clear and easy to follow. We rate installation "very easy" on a scale from
very easy to
Pfister has a good reputation for honoring its warranty obligations. But, things do not always seem to go well during the process. We have received an unusual number of consumer complaints that suggests some problems are more than just occasional.
The most commonly reported complaints were about post-sale service. These include long wait times, up to 1-1/2 hours, to speak to an agent, and failure to answer the telephone entirely, followed by slow or non-delivery of replacement parts, even after customer paid the company to have the parts expedited. One customer complained that her replacement faucet was supposedly shipped three times before she finally got it, after contacting Pfister no less than 12 times.
These complaints suggest that not only is Pfister customer service understaffed, but also poorly staffed with agents that require much more training. None of these problems are new. Customers consistently rate Pfister's customer service on the low side of low. Only two major companies have earned lower marks: which puts Pfister customer service is some very dismal company. We rate customer service a D+. Clearly an area that needed considerable improvement.
The Better Business Bureau grades the company an A- for its response to consumer complaints, two steps down from the Bureau's highest A+ rating on a scale of A+ to F. It is unusual for a major faucet company to score less than a perfect A+. Pfister is not accredited by the BBB and therefore is not pledged to conform to the BBB's high standards of business ethics.
Other complaints about the company point to lapses in the company's quality assurance practices, including incorrect parts packed with a new Pfister faucet, no installation instructions, faucets that leaked right out of the box, and missing components, including, in one instance, a tube of lubricant that was completely devoid of lubricant.
Plumbers don't seem to like Pfister faucets very much and can get rather vocal about it. We are not sure of the origin of the animus but suspect it has more to do with feeling left out by Pfister's historical focus on do-it-yourself homeowners and with the fact that the faucets are made in China than with any organic problems with the faucets themselves.
These are American-designed, mainly Chinese-made faucets from well-respected ISO-9001-certified manufacturers. The fact that they are made mostly in China does not give us pause. While many economy and discount faucets made in China are mostly junk – and sometimes dangerous junk at that – a great many good to excellent quality faucets are also made in China.
Pfister faucets are, in general, of good quality despite the occasional glitch involving faulty or missing parts and components. The Pforever Seal cartridge should give years of reliable service, and the Pforever Warranty ensures that if something bad does happen to the faucet, Pfister will do its part to fix the problem although it may take the company more than one try to get it right. The faucets are priced somewhat below faucets of similar design and quality sold by other companies, although a few faucets reach the high end of the mid-price range.
Overall, despite some pesky problems, we judge the faucets to be a good value and suitable for even the busiest kitchen or main bathroom.
Made-in-Asia faucets roughly comparable to the quality of Pfister faucets with a lifetime warranty include
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Pfister faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.
- Pfister has always claimed to have been the first company to adopt ceramic faucet cartridge technology. However, our research shows that American Standard, the company that invented the ceramic cartridge, was the first to use it in a faucet. Pfister, however, was the first to adopt the technology for its entire line of faucets. (For more information, visit American Standard Faucets Review and Rating.)
- Steven Mikulan, "Pacoima's Lot", L. A. Weekly, September 22, 2005.
- Common yellow or "alpha" brass is about 63% copper, the rest being zinc and small amounts of other metals such as aluminum (for added strength) and lead (for malleability, which makes it easier to shape and form). Lead content for brass used in drinking-water faucets is limited by law to not more than 0.25% (1/4 of 1 percent) by volume. Brass that meets this standard is considered "lead free". To retain malleability, lead has been replaced with other materials such as silicon and bismuth. Bismuth is 300 times rarer than lead, even rarer than silver, and much more costly, which is the reason that lead-free brass alloys are considerably more expensive than leaded brass.
- Since antiquity, it has been well known that copper kills all forms of microbes (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) but not how. Scientists now know that a free electron in copper's outer shell spinning at 1,367 miles per second (New York to LA in two seconds) simply shreds them so quickly that under a microscope they seem to explode. (Jim Morrison, "Copper's Virus-Killing Powers Were Known Even to the Ancients", Smothsonian Magazine, April 14, 2020.)
- The exact language of the warranty is "as long as the original purchaser owns the home …" which could be a problem for the increasing number of purchasers in both Canada and the U.S. that rent their homes. Since they never "own the home", the warranty does not apply to them. Pfister's practice, however, is to honor its warranty to these buyers as long as they "occupy" the home. (In fact, Pfister rarely asks if the purchaser owns the home when honoring a warranty claim or even if the claimant is the original purchaser.) Still, better warranty language would be "as long as the original purchaser occupies the home …" to clear up any ambiguity in the warranty.
- Type of finish usually cannot be determined by visual examination. To find out the technologies used to finish Pfister faucets, we contacted customer service several times by telephone and e-mail and were astounded to find that no one knew which technologies were used. We were, however, told that someone would be back in touch with us by e-mail with the requested information. We are still waiting.