Dornbracht Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 5/24/21
1700 Executive Dr. S.
Duluth, GA 30096
Dornbracht GmbH & Co KG
Köbbingser Mühle 6
Footnotes:1. If a cartridge is replaced under warranty, the warranty on the replacement cartridge is 2 years or the rest of the original 5-year period, whichever is longer.2. For the "useful life of the faucet".3. You may have to return the faucet or defective part, along with the receipt, to Dornbracht for inspection at your expense.
Download the Dornbracht warranty (.pdf).
Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
The company's faucets are unblushingly luxurious, upscale, premium products. Dornbracht does not manufacture any mid-priced faucets. All of its faucets are at the very high end with prices that are slightly higher than substantially equivalent faucets made by other European luxury faucet companies.
The company sets minimum selling prices for its products and does not permit authorized retail outlets to sell its faucets below those minimum prices.
Dornbracht Americas is the U.S. division of Dornbracht GmbH & Co KG – a designer, and assembler of an extensive line of luxury kitchen and bath faucets distributed worldwide from its Iserlohn, Germany headquarters.
Dornbracht is the only German faucet line imported into North America that is still produced primarily in Germany using German-made parts and components. are at least in part, manufactured somewhere else — mostly China or use mostly foreign-made parts and components.
Dornbracht is also one of three international German faucet firms
The company was family-owned and managed since its founding in the ruins of the Post-War Ruhr Valley in 1950 until 2020 when it was sold to the Knapf family of Dortmund, Germany.
It forms half of the Dornbracht Group. The other half is Alape, GmbH. Dornbracht makes faucets and water delivery systems, while Alape's forté is water containers such as sinks and tubs. Together they can outfit the entire contemporary bathroom with luxury baths, sinks, faucets, showers, toilets, and accessories. Alape, which manufactures at two factories in the Goslar region of Germany, is represented in the U.S. by Dornbracht Americas, Inc.
Dornbracht also manufactures faucets and accessories under license from Villeroy & Boch that it sells under the Villeroy name. These are, according to company literature, "matched to the Villeroy & Boch bathroom collections" and developed in "close coordination between the two companies."
Villeroy & Boch is a manufacturer of sanitary fixtures and tableware that has been in business in one form or another for over three centuries in and around Mettlach, Germany.
As Dornbracht claims, its faucets are manufactured "only in Germany": not, however, by Dornbracht. The company these days is an Assembler rather than a true Manufacturer.
Dornbracht's management considers "metalwork" to be "low tech" and of little "strategic importance." A company spokesman noted that "Fifteen years ago, we asked ourselves which part of the production process we should make our investment in and it wasn't doing a thread on a faucet."
The company's shift in focus meant that it stopped casting and machining its own components. It buys faucet parts and components from outside suppliers, 90% of which are, according to the company, located in Germany.
Its plant in Iserlohn is an assembly and finishing facility. The company considers the faucet finishing process the "hi-tech," strategic part of manufacturing that it needs to do in-house; and the part that the company has "perfected."
This business model is also used by other upscale faucet companies, notably This U.S.-based company designs and engineers its faucets but has the components for the faucets manufactured by sub-contractors. It then concentrates on assembly and its very high-quality finishes. Other faucet companies in this group include
Fewer than one-third of Dornbracht's faucets are sold in its home country. More than 65% of its products are exported — 44% to the rest of Europe and the Middle East, and 22% to the rest of the world, mostly in North America. It maintains sales offices in more than 60 countries
Dornbracht Price Fixing
From 1992 until 2004 Dornbracht participated in a scheme among 17 European sanitary wares manufacturers to fix prices in Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, France, and Holland. The conspiracy unraveled after in 2002 and shortly thereafter discovered the plot, which it promptly reported to European authorities.
In 2010 the European Commission fined the companies involved over $700 million for violating Article 101 of the European Union Treaty, the largest fine ever imposed by the Commission, finding that the companies had been willing participants in the illegal activities of the group. Only Hansgrohe escaped the penalty for having blown the whistle on the plot.
The following companies were implicated in the conspiracy:
|Artweger GmbH & Co. KG
|Cisal Rubinetteria SpA
|Duscholux Holding AG
|Kludi GmbH & Co. KG
|RAF Rubinetterie SpA
|Roca Sanitario SA
|Villeroy & Bosch AC
- Fines were levied in Euros but are stated here in equivalent U.S. dollar amounts.
- Hansgrohe's fine was abated for its role in disclosing the scheme to public officials.
- A number of the companies involved appealed their fines to the EU General Court in Luxembourg and were awarded a reduced fine on various grounds. Ideal Standard (then owned by American Standard, now owned by Wabco Holdings Inc.), one of the ringleaders of the scheme, saw a reduction to $140.2 million from its original fine of $398.8 million.
- Not to be confused with of Torrance, California, an unrelated company that had nothing to do with the scheme.
In 2009 an explosion in an adjacent chemical plant damaged much of Dornbracht's production facility in Iserlohn. Its inventory of parts and components was either destroyed by fire and structural collapse or so contaminated by chemicals that most of it could not be used and had to be destroyed.
Dornbracht resumed limited production 12 weeks later but full production recovered only slowly as the company rebuilt its assembly buildings and installed new equipment. The impact on sales and revenue was substantial.
Partly as a consequence, the Dorbract heirs sold a majority interest in the firm in 2020 and surrendered active management. Aloys F. Dornbracht GmbH & Co KG was reorganized as Dornbracht AG & Co. KG. The new owners, the Knauf family of Dortmund, are also majority owners of The Knauf Group which started in 1932 as a gypsum mine, and has since made a fortune in the European construction industry. Dornbracht's new CEO, Stefan Gesing, was formerly CFO of Dornbracht's European competitor, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Dornbracht faucets are unblushingly luxurious, upscale, premium products. Like U.S.-based Dornbracht does not manufacture any mid-priced faucets to help subsidize its premium line. All of its faucets are at the very high end — with prices to match.
The company initially offered only bath faucets, not adding kitchen faucets until 1998. According to company sources, bathwares account for 83% of its sales and kitchen fixtures and accessories only 6%. Villeroy & Boch faucets and accessories amount to a further 8%.
Dornbracht regularly wins international awards for its product designs, including the Best-of-Year award from Interior Design Magazine for its innovative Tara faucet.
Dornbracht's product designers and architects include Sieger Design, which has been designing for Dornbracht since 1984; Matteo Thun & Partners in Milan; and Achienbein & Pier, a collaboration of noted designers Claudia Achienbein and René Pier in Stuttgart, Germany. All of these designers also design for other German luxury sanitaryware companies such as Duravit, Geberit and sister company, Alape.
A designer faucet company like Dornbracht has to keep rolling out new designs at a fairly steady pace to stay ahead of copycats and outright counterfeiters.
Protecting a design is very difficult. Most countries allow only very limited copyright or patent protection for the design elements of a faucet. It is not hard to reverse engineer a successful faucet design, make subtle changes to avoid patent infringement, and then manufacture knockoffs in large quantities for a much lower price than the original designer company can afford.
As a consequence, the lifespan of a successful faucet design is about five years, after which time it has been so widely copied that the design is no longer fresh or new.
Many of Dornbracht's designs have reached this stage and have been widely copied, particularly by Asian faucet manufacturers. Counterfeiting is also a huge problem for most German faucet manufacturers, but especially for Dornbrach which seems to attract large-scale counterfeiting, particularly by Chinese companies. Generally, any Dornbracht faucet bought outside normal distribution channels is almost certain to be Counterfeit. A buyer should be especially wary of the faucets sold on auction sites like eBay.com.
Dornbracht tightly controls its retail outlets. It sells only through authorized dealers and designer showrooms, and does what it can, to discourage internet sales. In a 2010 interview, the company's CEO Andreas Dornbracht commented that
"[W]e still have a big challenge with the internet. We are trying to do everything to limit the access of online dealers to our products but we have to play by the legal rules. So we have to try and discourage online dealers and support our showroom retailers better than ever with training, advertising materials, and advice on how they should be realigned with the internet issue."
But, in fact, the company has not always played by the "legal rules".
In 2010 the company was fined $14.3 million for participating in a price-fixing scheme in Europe (see sidebar), and in 2013 was ordered to pay €800,000 ($1,080,000) to German internet retailer Reuter Onlineshop GmbH after a German court ruled that Dornbracht offered discount prices to retailers that agreed not to sell Dornbracht products online, forcing online sellers like Reuters to charge higher prices for Dornbracht products. The court found the practice anti-competitive.
In North America, the company sets minimum selling prices for its products and does not permit authorized retail outlets to sell its faucets below those minimum prices. According to the Supreme Court in Legin v. PSKS, this is not price fixing (although 100 years of prior case law said that it is).
The company also tightly controls the number of authorized retailers it permits in a market. It has not hesitated to close unproductive or uncooperative dealerships and showrooms, reducing the number in the U.S. from a high of 450 to about 200 today. (To find a distributor near you, check the dealer locator feature on the company website.)
Dornbracht's faucet warranty is sub-par for the North American market where the standard was long ago set by each of which offers a warranty on all parts of its faucets for as long as the original purchaser owns the house in which the faucet is installed.
Dornbracht has improved its warranty over the past few years. It now offers a warranty on some finishes for the "useful life" of the faucet. But its mechanical and cartridge warranty is still five years. The term "useful life" is not defined, so we are not entirely sure what that means in the context of a warranty. "Useful life" is ordinarily an accounting term meaning an estimate of how long an asset is expected to remain productive. It is also used by the Internal Revenue Service to estimate the amount of time an asset may be depreciated.
In the context of a faucet warranty, however, the term has no generally accepted meaning and needs to be defined.
When we see a less than lifetime warranty on what is thought by most buyers to be a lifetime product, we wonder why. For many faucet companies, it is because they have less than complete faith in the quality and long-term durability of their faucets, finishes, or cartridges. We don't think this is the case with Dornbracht. The company exercises such tight control over its production process that it's hard to imagine that it has any major concerns about the quality of its products.
More likely it reflects the mindset of Dornbracht's management that a better warranty is unnecessary to remain competitive because Dornbracht's reputation for quality has become indelibly fixed in the minds of premium faucet buyers. But, we predict that as other upscale European and American faucet manufacturers start eroding Dornbracht's market with faucets of equal quality, backed by stronger warranties, Dornbracht will adopt a stronger warranty for the North American market.
The Dornbracht website is colorful and creative. Navigation is fairly easy but wholly intuitive. Faucets are listed by function, style, and collection, so they are reasonably easy to find using filters to drill down to just those faucets in a particular configuration and finish. Once you find a suitable faucet, the information available on the website about the faucet is comprehensive. A brief description of the faucet is supplemented by a list of features. A downloadable specifications sheet in Portable Document Format (.pdf) duplicates the information already displayed with the listing but is a convenient way to print the faucet information for future reference.
Available finishes are displayed as buttons. Clicking on a button shows the faucet in the selected finish, which is a great aid in visualizing the faucet.
Every listing includes a small dimensioned drawing of the faucet. There are no instructions for making the drawing larger so the dimensions can be more easily read. We tried clicking and double-clicking the image, but nothing happened. We tried right-clicking on the image, then selecting "View Image." This worked. A full-size image fills the screen. Close the image and return to the faucet listing page by clicking the browser's "back" arrow.
A link to a "Complete Specifications Package" provides a convenient way to download every document that applies to the faucet in a .zip file. These include the faucets listing certificates, 2D drawings, 3D CAD models (but in .step format, which is not a common modeling format), and a replacement parts list. Much of this is not of interest to a retail buyer but is useful to designers and architects. The problem with displaying the various files in a .zip file, however, is that the file names are often very cryptic, giving no hint of the file's contents, so the only way to find out what a file contains is to actually extract and then open the file – a tiresome and cumbersome business.
These are expensive faucets, slightly more expensive than substantially similar faucets imported into the U.S. from Germany, But, it has the advantage of actually being made in Germany from (mostly) German components. The warranty is weak. It is standard in the European Union but very sub-sub par for North America where lifetime faucet warranties are the norm. Other European companies that sell their faucets in the U.S. and Canada have adjusted their European warranties to fit the North American market. Dornbracht has not. The miserly 5-year cartridge warranty would certainly give us pause before paying Dornbracht's prices for a faucet.
European and American faucets comparable to Dornbracht include
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Dornbracht faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.