Design House Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 02/12/22

China Flag
DHI Corp.
5205 West Donges Bay Rd.
Mequon, WI 53092
Business Type
Product Range
Kitchen, Bath, Prep, Bar and Laundry
Design House
Street Price
Warranty Score
Mechanical Parts
Proof of Purchase
Meets U.S. Warranty
Law Requirements
1. "The owner of the product claiming under this warranty must be the original owner of the product and must occupy the residential premises upon which the product was originally installed.... [The]customer shall be responsible for all costs incurred in the removal, reinstallation, and shipment of the product for repair."

Download/Print the Design House faucet warranty.

Learn more about faucet warranties.

This Company In Brief

DHI Corporation is a Wisconsin company that imports Chinese-made products that are branded and sold under the Design House name.

It sells through a dealer network and a variety of internet retailers including Wayfair, Amazon, and Walmart.

Its specialty is coordinated products in suites to builders and decorators that include faucets, showers, lighting, ceiling fans, doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and bath accessories such as towel bars and toilet paper holders, all in what the company guarantees will be the same finish.

Its sink faucets are just a minor part of its home décor business. The faucets are average to slightly above average in quality supported by a 5-year warranty that is very substandard compared to the "lifetime warranty" standard for North American faucet warranties. Customer support is very good. Replacement parts may be a problem, however, especially for discontinued faucets.

Founded in 1872 as the Butter Company to sell building materials, the company was owned by four generations of the Butter family until it was sold in 2000. The new owners changed the name and the focus of the company from selling building materials to home décor products imported from China.

DHI is not a faucet company. Faucets are only a tiny part of its overall business. It is more accurately a home décor company that sells lighting, furniture and accessories, cabinet and door hardware, and outdoor furniture as well as showers and faucets.

Its specialty is selling coordinated products in suites to builders and decorators. The advantage to its customers is the time and effort saved by not having to coordinate a room piece b piece. The company's in-house designers coordinate "finish and style across all major product categories, removing the mystery from product selection." But, for those who like to select their products, The website provides a "Build Your Own" feature that allows customers quickly to select coordinating products to be included in a custom package. For those in a hurry, the company maintains a limited number of "project packs", assembled and ready to ship on short notice.

Its competitors include:

These companies sell substantially the same array of imported products in approximately the same price range. However, Design House's specialty is coordinated products in suites to builders and decorators that include faucets, showers, lighting, ceiling fans, doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and bath accessories such as towel bars and toilet paper holders, all in what the company guarantees will be the same finish.

Design House collections range from traditional to very contemporary. There is almost certainly at least one faucet in the Design House lineup to suit every décor preference.

Most but not all faucets include a generic Chinese ceramic cartridge. The ceramic cartridges in the Design House faucets are not marked with a manufacturer's stamp. China has some excellent ceramic cartridge manufacturers that have gained an international reputation for quality products. Most of these proudly place a maker's mark on their cartridges. The fact that these cartridges have no mark suggests that they are not from one of these better-quality manufacturers.

Some faucets, particularly those at the lower end of the product's price range, including the Ashland, Millbridge and Saratoga collections, use non-ceramic "washerless" cartridges.

The Washerless Valve was invented in the 1940s by Al Moen, At the time it was a giant step forward in faucet technology that made the single-handle faucet possible. Before Moen's innovation, one handle was required for cold and another for hot water. The washerless valve allowed one handle to control both cold and hot water.

The style of washerless cartridge used in Design House faucets, however, is not the original Moen design but a more compact ball-style washerless valve introduced by Delta in 1952.

The ceramic cartridges that have replaced washerless valves in most faucets require no maintenance. Washerless cartridges require periodic maintenance to replace seals and springs – not a particularly onerous task and well within the abilities of most DIY-ers, but still a minor nuisance most homeowners prefer to avoid.

A "washerless" cartridge does not control water flow with almost indestructible ceramic discs. It is an older technology pioneered by

A Ceramic Cartridge that uses nearly indestructible ceramic discs to control water flow and temperature is the heart of a modern fau­cet and should be your very first consideration when making a buying decision. It is the component that controls water flow and temperature.

Its finish may fail, and the fau­cet will still work. It may be discolored, corroded, and ugly, but water still flows. If the cartridge fails, however, the fau­cet is no longer a fau­cet. It is out of business until the cartridge is replaced. It's important, therefore, that the cartridge is robust, durable, and lasts for many years.

For more information on faucet vales and cartridges, the differences among them and the history behind each technology, see Faucet Basics, Part 2: Faucet Valves & Cartridges.

Information about the company's faucets on the site is fairly complete. Each faucet entry includes a downloadable specification sheet. The specification sheet is very complete. It includes a dimensioned drawing of the faucet, a list of standards to which the faucet has been certified, whether the faucet is ADA compliant, the finishes in which it is available, and whether the finish is a (PVD) finish.

For a few faucets, a downloadable installation instruction is available. It is well illustrated, very easy to follow, and contains an exploded drawing showing all of the parts of the faucet and a spare parts list.

We would like to see more information about a faucet's cartridge including its manufacturer and the type of finish identified (not just PVD or Non-PVD, but see our Design House Faucet Finish Chart) but, otherwise, we think the information available on the spec sheets supports a reasonably informed buying decision.

The company is refreshingly candid about the material used in its faucets. It identifies faucets that are brass hybrids – made of brass and some other metal (usually zinc or a zinc/aluminum alloy). For example, most Design House metal faucet handles are a zinc/aluminum alloy rather than brass.

Hybrid faucets are becoming increasingly common. Lead-free brass is expensive. Zinc and zinc alloys are not. The strength of brass is necessary to withstand typical household water pressure year after year. But for parts that are not under pressure such as base plates and handles, zinc is good enough and saves a few dollars in manufacturing costs.

Known manufacturers of Design House faucets over the past five years include:

Our faucet reviews do not include …

In keeping with that policy, DHI's plastic faucets are not a part of this review and not included in calculating ratings.

Plastic faucets are rarely robust enough for long-term residential use. We strongly urge you to consider a DHI plastic faucet only if you have a special requirement that only a plastic faucet will satisfy.

All of these manufacturers are companies.

The faucets are stock faucets straight out of each manufacturer's and are neither designed nor manufactured expressly for DHI. In fact, many of the faucets sold by DHI are also sold by other vendors in the U.S. under other brand names.

The faucet designs are stylish but conservative.

Chinese faucet designs are getting better. Some are even starting to win international design competitions. But, most still tend to be middle-of-the-road, targeting mass-market customers.

A faucet design that proves popular in the European or North American markets will ultimately be copied by Chinese factories. The lag time is normally three to five years behind the Western designs. Design House prices are somewhat lower than the average price charged by other importers of Chinese- and Taiwanese-made faucets (See the list below).

The company offers five finishes on its faucets, showers, tub fittings and bathroom accessories: Chrome, Satin Nickel, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Brushed Bronze, and Matte Black. Two of the finishes, Chrome and Satin Nickel, are , the rest are .

Electroplating is the well-established, traditional finish for faucets that has been around nearly since faucets were invented. It is a process of coating one metal with another using an electrical current to transfer the metal ions through an acid bath. The resulting finish is durable and reliable.

Powder coatings, which are essentially a paint applied in powder form, are much less robust, usually described as "semi-durable", requiring more care to maintain a like-new appearance.

The powder is applied using a special low-velocity spray gun that disperses the powder while giving it a positive electrical charge. The powder particles are drawn to the faucet which has been given a negative charge.

Once the powder is applied, the faucet is baked in an oven at about 400°F (204°C) which melts and bonds the powder and changes the structure of the coating into long, cross-linked molecular chains. These chains are what give the coating durability that is somewhat more robust than the finish on your car, but not nearly as tough as an electroplated finish.

Faucet Finishes in Detail: For information on faucet finishes and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish, see Faucet Finishes.

DHI has at least two different faucet warranties. The written information packaged with some faucets we examined included a lifetime warranty. On the website, however, the warranty is for five years – a warranty that is very sub-standard for the North American faucet industry.

The federal Mag­nu­son-Moss War­ranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308) handles multiple warranties on the same product in a very simple way. It selects the terms most favorable to the consumer. So where a lifetime warranty accompanies a faucet, that is the warranty.

For rating purposes, however, we accept the published warranty (on the website) as the "official" warranty, and that warranty is not very strong. It provides a five-year warranty against "defects in material and workmanship" on faucets, except finishes which are covered for a "lifetime." Whose of what lifetime is not specified, but it applies only to the "original owner of the product" as long as the owner occupies "the residential premises upon which the product was originally installed."

The reason for the five-year mechanical warranty is not obvious. The faucets we examined seemed to be reasonably well made with components that should last well past five years in ordinary use in the home. But, as always, we defer to the company's assessent of the longevity of its faicets. If Design House believes its faucets will last just five years before mechanical defects develop, then so do we.

The warranty generally complies with the minimum requirements of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act except for two objectionable provisions.

The first is this statement:

"The customer's legal rights are limited to those stated specifically in this warranty statement."

That restriction is directly contrary to the language required by Magnuson-Moss in every consumer warranty, which is the following:

"This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state." (Emphasis supplied)

The provision would never survive a court challenge. Not only is it at odds with Magnuson-Moss, but it intentionally misrepresents the rights of a faucet buyer under state law, and is, therefore, deceptive. Deceptive language in a warranty is not only banned by Magnuson-Moss, but also by Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act which prohibits "a material representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead a consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances."

The second objectionable provision is the following:

"This warranty is given in lieu of all other warranties expressed or implied, written or oral."

Magnuson-Moss does not allow a company offering a written warranty to avoid liability under statutory implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for purpose provided by state or territorial law in every U.S. state or territory. So this provision has no effect and is, again, a deceptive provision since it is could "mislead a consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances" into believing that statutory implied warranties did not apply to the faucet.

We also do not like the fact that the consumer is responsible for the cost not only of packaging and shipping a defective faucet (or faucet parts) back to DHI but also the cost of shipping the replacement faucet (or parts) back to the consumer. This is penny-pinchery at its most extreme.

Faucet Warranties: For a better understanding of faucet warrantys and the information they reveal about a company and its faucets, see Understanding Faucet Warranties.

On the plus side, however, DHI customer service is good, scoring a 4.0 out of a possible 5.0 points in our standard customer support tests. Any score of 4.0 or higher is satisfactory. Customer service agents failed knowledge of some technical aspects of faucets, but that was to be expected of a company that does not sell faucets as a major part of its business. The Better Business Bureau scores the company an A+ on a scale of A+ to F for its satisfactory handling of post-sale customer issues including warranty claims.

DHI is meticulous about complying with faucet regulations designed to ensure reliability, safety, and water conservation. All of its faucets have undergone the required testing and are certified safe, reliable, and lead-free.

DHI faucets are squarely in the middle of a large group of importers of moderately priced faucets from China. Nothing about the faucets stands out. They are not more stylish, of better quality, or less costly than the typical selection of faucets imported from China. The imports manufactured in China that compare to Design House faucets in design, style, and quality but which provide stronger and longer warranties include:

In summary, Design House sells average to slightly above average sink faucets as a minor part of its home décor business supported by a 5-year warranty that provides substantially less buyer protection than the "lifetime warranty" standard for North American faucets. Customer support, however, is very good. Replacement parts may be a problem, especially for discontinued faucets.

No one here would buy a Design House faucet without more information about the ceramic cartridges used in the faucets and a much stronger and longer warranty against defects in the mechanics of the faucets.

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