Sigma Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 11/07/20
3280 Corporate View
Vista, CA 92081
Warranty Footnotes:1. The term "lifetime" is undefined. See the main text for more explanation of the consequences of leaving this vital term undefined.2. Only 1/4 turn ceramic disc cartridges are guaranteed for a lifetime. All other cartridges fall under the default 5-year warranty. See Note 5. below.3.are warranted for workmanship only.The finish is not guaranteed against the natural aging that is expected of living finishes. This is an adequate warranty. Most companies do not guarantee living finishes at all.4.American Faucet & Coatings Corporation warrants that products are free from manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for five (5) years from date of invoice.5. The warranty is silent as to its transferability, which means that by law it is transferable to subsequent owners by default. See the main text for more explanation.
Download the Sigma warranty.
Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
American Faucet and Coatings Corporation designs, assembled, and finishes sanitary ware including faucets at its 60,000 square foot plant in Vista, CA.
Residential faucets are just a part of its business which is the design, prototyping, and manufacturing of almost anything that can be made of brass, copper, or stainless steel.
The faucets are priced slightly lower than other quality luxury faucets made or assembled in North America, and even lower than many luxury faucets made in Asia. We consider the brand to be a good to very good value.
If an excellent, well designed and engineered, stylish and awesomely finished American faucet is your dream, Sigma by American Faucet and Coatings Corporation is a faucet line you absolutely should look at.
American Faucet is a quiet company that rarely advertises but lets its well-designed, high-quality faucets speak for themselves. The fact that they speak well for themselves is evident from their sterling reputation in the interior design and architectural communities.
The brand, however, is not well known among homeowners looking for a reasonably priced, American-designed, and -assembled faucet, and that's something that should change. Sigma is one line of faucets that deserves a lot more attention.
Founded in 1986 by Susan and Charles Butler, American Faucet and Coatings Corporation is, among other things, a manufacturer and assembler of decorative sanitary ware and plumbing fixtures with a 60,000 square foot facility in Vista, California. It sells several lines of faucets under the Sigma label. Sigma Collection faucets are supplemented by the company's more upscale Sigma Reserve, and Sigma Encore Collections. It also sells the Butler Collection of very upscale "one-of-a-kind faucetry, door hardware and metal products" designed by Alex Miller Studio for "your home, yacht, or airplane."
The Sigma, Sigma Reserve, and Sigma Encore collections are reviewed here. The Butler collection is not. Once the collection is more established, we probably will review it, but not yet.
Residential faucets are just one part of the company's extensive business which is the design, prototyping, and manufacturing of anything on Earth smaller than a Volkswagen that can be made of brass, bronze, copper, or stainless steel.
It makes sports equipment, lighting, and door hardware as well as custom fittings and components for companies like Seachrome (washroom products), Water, Inc. (water filtration systems), Cole and Co. (vanities), and
It also manufactures several brands of thermostatic valvess Note 1 for shower systems.
What the company does not manufacture, however, are its faucets.
It designs, engineers, and prototypes the faucets. It applies its fabulous finishes and assembles the finished faucets. But it does not cast, forge, machine, or manufacture the components that go into the faucets. These are made by someone else – outside companies, mostly in Asia but also in Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, and Hungary. Because components and parts comprising more than 51% of the value of its faucets are manufactured outside the U.S., Sigma faucets are not "Made in U.S.A." according to the rules established by the Federal Trade Commission. Note 2
Sigma sources faucets and faucet components internationally from a variety of manufacturers and suppliers, including:
- Rebel-N LLC (Bulgaria),
- Xiamen Tubetech Inc. (China),
- Marston Brassware, Ltd. (UK)
- RSS Manufacturing (USA),
- Kottmann Technology, GmbH (Germany),
- Paini S.p.A. Rubinetterie (Italy)
- Yuhuan Kingjoy Metal Products Co., Ltd. (China)
- China National Light Industrial Products Import and Export Corporation, Ltd. (China),
- Rubinetteria Rossi Fiorenzo SNC (Italy),
- Uniplumbg Enterprise Co., Ltd. (China), and
- Taizhou Mentor's Valve Co., Ltd. (China).
Of course, a company like American Faucet changes suppliers frequently depending on what it needs to be made this month, so by the time you read this, the company's suppliers may have changed considerably.
The American Faucet finishing and coating facility qualifies as a "zero discharge" system. It returns only a tiny fraction of the water used in production back into the environment. The rest is cleaned up and reused.
The company regularly wins recognition for its careful management of waste and environmental pollutants, including at least one accolade from the State of California. The company is also an EPA Watersense® partner. Most if not all Sigma bathroom faucets are either Watersense® listed or in the process of being listed.
The vast majority of Sigma sink faucets are bathroom sink faucets. Kitchen, prep, and bar faucets and the accessories that go with them are just a small part of the Sigma lineup. The faucets are well-made. We disassembled a few for the usual look-see. The machining, finish, and polishing was first-rate – equal to any we have seen anywhere.
Installing our test faucets was straightforward. The company advises precise measurement and careful trimming during installation. But, with those strictures in mind, our plumbers encountered no particular problems and rated installation "easy" on a four-point scale of "very easy" to "very hard."
Sigma styles range from traditional to ultra-contemporary. Virtually all are designed by or exclusively for American Faucet. The company's in-house Sigma Design Lab is responsible for the majority of the designs with help from outside designers. These include Alex Miller of Alex Miller Studios, whose organic designs are featured in the Butler collection, and Renato Rossi of Rubinetteria Rossi Fiorenzo who has created more than ten designer collections for the company including the unique articulating wall-mounted faucets in the Sigma 2600 Series and several striking faucets in the new Italia Collection.
Bathroom faucets are part of coordinated collections that Sigma calls
series. A series contains bathroom fixtures and accessories in the same overall design making it easy to find items related by style to get a nicely coordinated look in your bathroom. A typical series may include sink faucets along with one or more tub fillers, bidet faucets, shower systems, and bathroom accessories (towel bars and rings, robe hooks, toilet paper holders, etc.). The usual series includes just one lavatory faucet, but some series have several. The Victorian-styled 350 series, for example, includes five lavatory faucets, two of which are wall-mounted.
The company has about 40 series all tolled in the three Sigma collections, so there is a lot of choice and almost certainly a Sigma faucet for every taste from elaborate Victorian to minimalist contemporary. We easily found faucets with Art Deco and Art Nouveau styling for a Craftsman or Mission bath, and even a few faucets that would look comfortably at home in a Mid-century modern bathroom. Most faucets and showers are available with more than one handle choice, which changes the look and greatly extends the variety of faucets offered.
Unlike bathroom faucets, kitchen, bar, and prep faucets are not collected into series along with matching kitchen and bar accessories. Accessories (soap and lotion dispensers, faucet hole covers, baseplates, and various drains) are generic and not keyed to the design of a particular faucet. They are general enough to coordinate with any of Sigma's kitchen, prep, or bar faucets.
American Faucet advertises that it can provide 105 metal finishes. It uses only 28 of these as the standard finishes on its faucets. Presumably, some or all of the other 77 finishes are available by special order.
The company employs all of the usual faucet finish technologies: Some of its powder coatings are intended by design to show evidence of age and use including color changes, fading, and wear. Two of the finishes are gold, not some metal that looks like gold, but actual gold. Note 3 Sigma calls these its Precious Metal finishes.
Chrome and PVD finishes have a limited lifetime warranty, and a five-year guarantee. "are warranted for workmanship only," meaning that they are protected against defects in the application process, but not guaranteed against natural aging, including staining and color changes that are normal and expected of living finishes. (So if you don't want a finish that ages over time, stay away from living finishes.) Of the precious metal finishes, Polished Gold is guaranteed for five years but Satin Gold is not mentioned in the Sigma warranty at all and, presumably, is not guaranteed.
For detailed information on faucet finishes, including how they are applied and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish, see Faucet Finishes.
To watch faucet components being given their PVD finishes, check out this brief video. Be aware that the process is very noisy, so you might want to turn down the volume on your player.
Any finish other than chrome adds to the price of the faucet. Most do not do any serious damage to the pocketbook, but a few will levitate the final price of a faucet to somewhere above the stratosphere. The company will refinish a damaged faucet in or out of warranty, although out-of-warranty refinishing will result in an "appropriate charge" for the service.
Sigma sells faucets to the public through authorized showrooms and a few internet retailers. Reserve and Encore Collections are available only through authorized dealers. We could find no internet source. Reserve and Encore faucets are considerably more expensive than the basic Sigma line, which, for the quality, is very reasonably priced. Often the street price for a chrome finish is much lower than comparable European-made faucets, and, in several instances, even lower than better-quality Chinese faucets, like We think the price-value relationship is very good.
To find a brick and mortar store, Sigma maintains a dealer locator on its website. However, at the time we tested it, it was "under development" and did not work correctly. No matter the location we entered, it displayed every dealer in North America. Dealers are concentrated on the West Coast and in the Northeast. There are retail sources in the Mid-West and South, but they are few and far between.
We applaud Sigma's customer and technical service, staffed by friendly and knowledgeable personnel, and its in-depth parts inventory that can supply replacement parts for every Sigma faucet made since the company's founding in 1986. The company scored 4.5 out of 5 on our customer service tests, losing points only for hold times that sometimes exceeded five minutes. The Better Business Bureau awards the company its highest rating, A+, for its handling of consumer issues. The company has a singular record with us. In the over fifteen years we have been following the company, we have not had a single complaint about a Sigma faucet.
We are much less delighted with the company's faucet warranty. It is sub-par for the North American market and not well-crafted. It gives the overall impression of a warranty that has been added to over the years without a comprehensive rewrite to eliminate redundant, duplicative, and inconsistent terms. It badly needs a critical re-examination by an experienced warranty lawyer to eliminate industry jargon and simplify the language.
There are several minor and two major technical issues with the warranty.
The first major problem is that the term "lifetime" is not defined. Most cartridges and finishes are protected by a lifetime warranty, but Sigma never explains what it means by lifetime. The term is not self-defining. It can have several meanings: the lifetime of the original purchaser, the lifetime of the faucet, even the lifetime of the company. Note 4 Which lifetime applies is not made clear by the language of the warranty. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2301), the federal law that specifies the content of consumer warranties, requires the length or "duration" of warranty protection to be stated such that it can be precisely determined.
Absent a clear and unambiguous definition, federal law and regulations require the term to be interpreted to most favor the consumer, which, in this case, is probably the life of the faucet. Note 5 We know of faucets that have been in use for over a century, so the life of the faucet could be a very long time.
The second major issue is transferability. The Sigma warranty does not prohibit transfer of the warranty to subsequent owners. The general rule of law is that warranties are transferable by default and are made non-transferable only by clear and unmistakable language to that effect in the warranty. Sigma's silence on the subject in its warranty makes the warranty transferable to all subsequent owners. Note 6
Apart from the technical-legal issues, the business logic behind this warranty is more than a little dubious. A couple of examples should suffice to make the point.
The moving part of a faucet that gets the most use and abuse and is most vulnerable to failure is the cartridge. Sigma uses good-quality cartridges and supports its quarter-turn cartridges with a lifetime warranty that promises a replacement cartridge free of charge (except for $10.95 shipping and handling). The other parts of a faucet are covered by a weaker 5-year warranty, which suggests, among other things, that company management does not consider these parts to be as durable as the company's quarter-turn cartridges – otherwise, why such a short-term warranty?
If this is indeed the company's reasoning, it is wrong. The components of a faucet other than its cartridges rarely fail. While it's true that faucet bodies do sometimes rupture under pressure and handles do occasionally break off, failures like these are exceptional and almost always limited to inexpensive economy and discount faucets. In faucets cast from thick-walled brass with hefty cast handles like those in Sigma faucets, such failures are almost non-existent.
The same suspect logic infects Sigma's finish warranties. Sigma guarantees chrome and PVD finishes for a lifetime – a safe bet since electroplated chrome is very robust and PVD finishes nearly indestructible. , however, are guaranteed for just five years. While powder coatings are considered only semi-durable, they are usually durable enough. The risk of damage is negligible. Most of the time, the finish is done in by over-aggressive cleaning, something that is not covered by anyone's warranty. So the risk to Sigma of providing a lifetime warranty for these finishes is tiny. A study we conducted a few years ago showed that the average cost of protecting finishes (other than ) for a lifetime amounted to less than 5¢ per faucet sold.
A faucet line this good deserves more confidence from its owners and much weightier warranty support. The company is approaching its warranty from a bean counter's perspective – "How much will it cost us?". What it should be asking is, "How much can it earn us?".
A warranty is a potentially powerful marketing tool as faucet companies like discovered many years ago. Moen offers lifetime warranties on every part of its faucets (except electronics) and treats every warranty claim as a marketing opportunity to solidify customer loyalty to the brand and ensure future sales. Moen's warranty and exceptional customer service are two of the factors that moved the company from a niche player in the 1960s to a seat at the big table as one of the two companies splitting the largest share of the North American market. ( is the other company.)
Sigma does not sell faucets directly to the public over its website, which is published for information purposes only. It is well designed and very easy to navigate. Sigma aimed its old website at its dealers rather than consumers. A user had to be very familiar with Sigma's collections and model numbers as well as industry jargon to get any use out of it at all. The new site is a vast improvement, much more consumer-friendly, but the information it provides is still incomplete – better by far than the old website, but still insufficient for an informed buying decision.
The website helps find faucets by feature using filters. For example, if looking for a lavatory faucet, you can select a basic configuration: widespread, centerset, vessel, single hole, or pillar. Of course, it helps if you know what these faucet industry terms mean, so it would be nice if Sigma provided a "help" icon next to each term to pop-up a definition similar to what we use in these reports for terms like that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
The website search function makes it easy to isolate all Sigma products – sink faucets, showers, bidet faucets, tub fillers, and accessories – in a particular finish, so a user can select components with matching finishes.
Once you find a faucet, the information provided varies widely. Most faucet listings include only very basic information about a faucet. A link to a .pdf specification sheet has the same basic information with a dimensioned drawing, available finishes, certifications, and sometimes, but not always, the part number of the faucet's cartridge. The dimensioned drawing is useful to determine whether a faucet's reach and height will match your sink choice.
For more on faucet configurations and how reach and height may affect your choice of faucets, go to Faucet Style and Configuration
Some listings have a link to an exploded parts diagram, but this uncommon. Only a few faucet listings have it, and even fewer have a link to installation instructions. Online installation instructions are a useful preview for your plumber to help him or her determine whether there might be any installation issues in the location you have selected for the faucet or if any special tools are required.
No faucet listing has a link to the Sigma warranty, which, as far as we can tell, is not available online. Since a "conspicuous" link to the specific warranty that applies to the faucet is now a requirement of federal warranty law, Sigma should consider putting its warranty online and adding a link to the warranty from every faucet listed on the site.
To read the Sigma warranty in advance of buying a Sigma faucet, you can download it in pdf form from our website.
A few listings provide no information about the faucet other than a single image, which makes us wonder why Sigma bothered to list them on the website. The 1.826808 widespread lavatory faucet in the Sigma 820 series is one of these. There is no description of the faucet in the listing, and it does not have a link to a specification sheet. There is no information at all about the faucet. We searched all over the Sigma website for some information – any information – about the faucet, but found nothing.
Although most Sigma faucets are available with several different handle choices, the web site does not have any information about those choices. At one time, the site contained illustrated lists of handles available for each series, but those lists have disappeared. None of the faucet listings identify the handles available for the faucet, nor do any of the pdf specification sheets.
The website also does not disclose the origin of a faucet's cartridge. Like most faucet companies, American Faucet buys cartridges from technical ceramics manufacturers that specialize in these precision devices. Most faucet companies that provide top-quality ceramic cartridges for their faucets are eager to advertise the fact on their websites. Sigma, however, does not take advantage of the marketing potential of its first-rate cartridges.
All but a very few Sigma faucets have two-handles. The company outfits two-handle faucets with single-function stem cartridges, one for the hot-side handle, and another for the cold side. These all appear to be made by Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH of Lüdenscheid, Germany. Flühs (often spelled Fluehs for English speakers) makes what is considered by most in the faucet business to be one of the best, if not the best, European faucet cartridge made for two-handle faucets.
Single handle faucets use a dual-function mixing cartridge. Like a single-function cartridge, it controls water volume, but unlike a single-function cartridge, it also controls the temperature of the water. Sigma has very few single-handle faucets. Most of these contain cartridges made by Kerox Kft of Hungary, a technical ceramics manufacturer that makes only mixing cartridges. It is probably the top European brand of cartridge for single-handle faucets. Two of Sigma's single-handle faucets, however, appear to use mixing cartridges supplied by an Italian manufacture that makes the faucets for Sigma.
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 Sigma faucets are certified "lead free," But while the faucets we examined included excellent cartridges that should give years of leak-free service, we did not look at every faucet. And, since Sigma does not disclose the origin of its cartridges on its website, it's the wise faucet buyer who contacts customer service to find out the origin of its cartridge before purchasing a Sigma faucet.
To find out more information about faucet cartridges and the companies that make cartridges known to be reliable, see Faucet Valves & Cartridges.
Faucet images on the website used to be in black and white. Now they are in color but provide only a single 3/4 view, almost always in chrome. Sigma offers 28 finishes, so more images in something other than chrome would be useful. There are a few here and there on the site, but they are rare. Multiple images showing several views would help a user visualize the faucet, or, better yet, a 360° viewing feature such as is used by that allows the mouse to rotate the faucet to any viewing angle.
Faucets made or assembled in North America that compare to Sigma in quality and design include:
In summary, we regard Sigma faucets as a good value in uniquely styled luxury faucets. The prices compare favorably to European- and North American-made high-end faucets of the same quality. Post-sale customer service is excellent. The design range is sufficiently broad to fit any decor choice, and the quality of the faucets is very good. Key components like cartridges are supplied by top-rated manufacturers and should give many years of trouble-free service in even the busiest main bath or family kitchen.
On the downside, the Sigma warranty is somewhat ambiguous and sub-par for the North American market although the warranty on most cartridges, the key faucet component, is for the lifetime of the faucet as is the warranty on most finishes, both of which are a strong plus. The company website does not provide sufficiently detailed information about the faucets for an informed buying decision, which means a long conversation with customer service before a faucet is purchased. (See How to Buy a Faucet for more information.)
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Sigma faucets – good, not so good, or indifferent – we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.
- Brands under which American Faucet sells thermostatic valves are: Butler Mill and Brassworks Ltd.®, E-Mini, Eurotherm, Simply Safe®, and SigmaTherm®. Thermostatic shower valves mix hot and cold water to an even, consistent temperature. The valves react instantly to changes in water temperature and immediately adjust the water mix to restore the pre-set temperature. So, if someone flushes the toilet, the water does not get hotter. The valve senses the change and adds more cold water to keep the temperature constant. If the change is so dramatic that the valve cannot adjust (the hot water failing entirely, for example), the valve shuts the water off for safety.
- For the FTC rules governing claims of "Made in U.S.A.", see Complying with the Made in USA Standard.. While most Sigma faucets are assembled by American Faucet in California from parts and components ourced both domestically and from foreign suppliers, we found afew faucets that appear to have been manufactured entirely in Italy by and delivered to Sigma finished and ready-to-sell. These are 1.3795023 and 1.3795023 single lever kitchen faucets. The articulating wall-mounted faucet in the Sigma 2600 Series is also made in Italy by Rubinetteria Rossi Fiorenzo.
- At one time Precious Metal Finishes included three gold and two silver finishes, only two of the gold finishes are still available.
According to an e-mail communication we received from a Sigma spokesperson, the company believes that the
lifetimewarranty means the lifetime of the original purchaser and ends when the original buyer no longer owns the faucet. There is, however, not a single word in the warranty that supports this interpretation.
- Per Magnuson-Moss, any ambiguous term contained in a warranty must be construed against the company giving the warranty and in favor of the consumer. The stated purpose of the mandate is to discourage companies from using ambiguity to confuse and deceive consumers. This requirement gives courts little choice about how to resolve any ambiguity in a consumer warranty. In this instance, the "lifetime of the company" is probably not a reasonable interpretation, and "lifetime of the owner" not as benificial to the consumer as "lifetime of the faucet" which is the interpretation mot courts would probably give the term as used in the Sigma warranty.
According to section 104(b)(4) of Magnuson-Moss, ( 15 U.S.C. 2304(b)(4)), the duty of American Faucet and Coatings to honor its warranty extends to each person who is a consumer with respect to the faucet. Section 101(3), (15 U.S.C. 2301(3)), defines a consumer as
- the original buyer and
- any person to whom a faucet is transferred during the duration of the Sigma warranty.