Kohler Faucets Review & Rating Updated: December 2, 2023
444 Highland Drive
Kohler, WI 53044
Warranty Footnotes:1. "Kohler Co. warrants its faucets.... to be leak and drip free ... for as long as the original consumer purchaser owns his or her home … Kohler Co. also warrants all other aspects of the faucet or accessories and [Vibrant] finishes to be free of defects during normal residential use for as long as the original consumer owns their [sic] home. …"2. "Non-Vibrant and painted or powder coated finishes … are covered by Kohler Co.'s one-year limited warranty.3. The Kohler warranty does not comply with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308). See the main text for more detail.
Download/Print the Kohler warranty.
Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
Kohler is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of plumbing and sanitary products, with twelve North American factories.
Faucets are an integral part of the Kohler kitchen and bath line, ranging in style from ho-hum but very reliable to very stylish (and still very reliable).
Kohler sells over 200 different faucets, not including variations possible by changing handles and finishes.
One summer day, in 1883, John Michael Kohler, an Austrian immigrant and the proud new owner of the Sheboygan Union Iron & Steel Foundry, took some glass powder and sprinkled it on an iron horse trough from the company's product line that had been heated it to 1,700° F.
The resulting "enamel" coating was so tough and durable that he featured the horse trough as the centerpiece of the company's next product catalog, with a small footnote that read: "When furnished with four legs, will serve as a bathing tub."
This was not the end of Kohler's bathing innovations, however. In 1911 Kohler introduced the alcove bathtub with an integral apron – the tub design that replaced the clawfoot tub and dominates American bathrooms today.
By the 1920s, Kohler had become the third-largest plumbing products company in the U.S.
Kohler is a privately held, family-owned, and operated U.S. manufacturer of an enormous line of very good to excellent kitchen and bath fixtures and fittings since 1873. Sanitary wares are not its only business, however and it is no longer a single enterprise, but a collection of businesses grouped under the Kohler banner.
Collectively, they sell bath and kitchen products, furniture, cabinets, ceramic tile, fabrics, small gasoline and diesel engines, electrical generators, and even gourmet chocolates. One subsidiary owns resort hotels and golf courses, including the original St. Andrews course in Scotland.
Kohler is still one of the largest U.S. manufacturers, with a dozen or so North American factories.
Its newest U.S. factory, in Casa Grande, Arizona is expected to start manufacturing composite bath fixtures in August 2023 supplementing the company's existing Vikrell plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
Still, that is just a small fraction of the 50 or so factories Kohler owns worldwide, and only 6,000 (15%) of Kohler's 40,000 worldwide employees work in the U.S. and Canada.
Faucets are an integral part of the Kohler kitchen and bath line, ranging in style from ho-hum but very reliable to very, very stylish (and still very reliable).
Kohler Faucet Manufacturing
Unlike its major competitor, – a company that has been dissected, dismembered, and reconstituted as an entirely new company under Japanese ownership, the core Kohler is much the same company it was in 1873 although it has gone through a few name changes since the Sheboygan days.
It is still owned and managed by the Kohler family.
Kohler manufacturing, however, is no longer strictly an American activity and has not been for many years.
Kohler has gone global and with globalization has come global manufacturing. The company has greatly expanded its overseas production since 1990 making massive investments in acquiring and modernizing foreign factories.
Kohler has a major assembly plant in Mexico, two factories in India, twelve in China, and additional plants in Thailand and Indonesia.
Most of these facilities make fixtures such as bathtubs, sinks, and toilets – basic manufacturing that does not require a lot of advanced technology but does use a lot of manual labor.
But, some make faucets, and as a consequence. North American Faucet manufacturing has seen a slow but steady migration offshore.
Kohler has cut U.S. manufacturing by 30% since our first review of the company in 2008, reducing its U.S. manufacturing sector workforce by nearly one-third.
Kohler owns three faucet factories in China and one in India to produce faucets and faucet components.
- Kohler India Corporation Pvt Ltd. has manufactured faucets primarily for the South Asian market in its state-of-the-art 125,000 square foot factory in Jhagadia, India since 2011. But, Kohler announced in 2015 its plan to expand this enterprise into an export hub to supply faucets and other sanitary ware to the U.S., Canada, and China.
- Beijing Kohler Ltd. is the result of a joint venture in 1995 between Kohler and a Chinese faucet manufacturer. The plant manufactures bath and kitchen faucets and faucet components. Much of its production is exported to North America as ready-to-sell faucets. It also provides faucet components to Kohler's faucet assembly plant in India.
- Nanchang Kohler Co., Ltd. specializes in manufacturing high-quality faucets using the latest technologies in a state-of-the-art facility completed in 2005. Its faucets are sold mostly in China where Kohler is a major presence with sales that exceed those in North America. But, its faucets are also sold in the U.S., Canada, France, India, and many parts of the rest of Asia.
- Shanghai Kohler Electronics Ltd., established in 2007 supplies all of Kohler's electronic controls for hands-free faucets and other bathroom products and manufactures most of the electronic faucets sold by Kohler worldwide.
Kohler also buys components and some fully finished faucets from outside manufacturers. Over our look-back period of 60 months, the manufacturers have included:
- Guangzhou Seagull Kitchen and Bath Products Co., Ltd. is one of China's oldest faucet manufacturers, predating China's opening to the West by several decades.
- It was established by the Peoples Republic of China as a state-owned enterprise at the beginning of the Great Leap Forward in 1958.
- In addition to those manufactured for Kohler, Seagull makes faucets or faucet components for the who's who of companies selling faucets in North America.
- These include among many others.
- Sunspring Metal Corporation of Taichung, Taiwan owns a large factory in Taiwan and two more in China. Its mastery is the casting and machining of zinc components. It is the largest buyer of zinc in the world.
- It does not manufacture finished faucets but supplies most of the zinc components used in Kohler faucets and supplies zinc components to
- Hangzhou Panasia Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd. manufactures faucets, flexible hoses, drains, and other metal sanitary fittings that it sells throughout the world. In addition to Kohler, its customers include
- Xiamen Runner Industrial Corp., Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Runner Group which owns multiple operating companies that manufacture kitchen and bathroom fixtures and fittings, water and air purification devices, and health care equipment.
- Runner Industrial also manufactures faucets for
- Sinotap Technology Co., Ltd, established in 2012, is growing a reputation for the manufacture of quality faucets at all price levels: economy, mid-priced, and luxury.
- The company is not yet well-established in the North American market but is trying hard with eight extensive collections of what it calls "American" faucets.
- At present its sole customer among the big American faucet companies is Kohler.
- Xiamen Olt Co. Ltd. has been manufacturing automatic, hands-free, kitchen and bath faucets since 2002. It is a known innovator, having received several patents for its improvements to hands-free faucet technologies
- It manufactures primarily for the export market, providing automatic faucets to Zurn Industries, in the U.S. as well as the Kohler automatic faucets not manufactured in-house by Shanghai Kohler Electronics.
Country of Origin
At present, however, despite Kohler's large overseas manufacturing establishment, most Kohler faucets sold in North America are still made in North America.
Our survey of a sample of 215 base faucet models sold in the U.S. and Canada found that 140 (65%) were made in North America (4 in Canada, 136 in the U.S.). The remaining 75 (35%) were from China. None, to our surprise, were made in India or Mexico.
For comparison, ten years ago 85% of Kohler faucets sold in North America were made in North America. So, the change in manufacturing has been significant.
To see where Kohler faucets are made. download our latest Kohler Country of Origin Table.
Kohler Faucet Materials
The primary material in Kohler faucets is brass or stainless steel. All bathroom sink faucets are brass. Kitchen faucets may be either metal.
Kohler does not identify the primary metal of its faucets on its website except to say that it is "premium metal", a term that means absolutely nothing. Premium metal could be a nice grade of zinc or a splendid blend of tin.
Some faucets are described as having "all brass construction."
If you have any tendency at all to believe a faucet is all brass, please don't.
No modern faucet is all of any one material, and especially not all brass.
The primary material may be brass but the secondary material used for base plates, wall plates, handles, and is usually a zinc/aluminum alloy.
Plastic is freely used in valve cartridge bodies and aerators. It works well in these applications and may save a few cents in manufacturing costs. But, it is also the primary material in Kohler's kitchen faucet spray heads. And, that could be a problem.
Plastic spray heads (called "wands" in the faucet industry) have become the standard for many manufacturers, including Kohler and other companies that sell upscale faucets such as
Faucet companies give three reasons for their use of plastic:
- Plastic does not get uncomfortably hot in use like metal wands;
- Plastic is not as heavy and is more comfortable to hold for long periods of time; and
- Plastic is a lot cheaper than brass or stainless steel – even cheaper than zinc.
Plastic is indeed cheaper, much cheaper than any metal, and that is the primary reason for the switch to plastic. The rest is bull hockey.
A Kohler spokesperson explained its use of plastic wands as avoiding liability for injuries from too-hot sprays, a statement that pinged our BS meter to maximum. We checked our industry sources to find that no one had ever heard of a company being sued for an excessively hot wand, much less for a wand that is too heavy.
Plastic wands, for all of their supposed advantages, fail much more often than metal wands. And although engineers have made significant improvements to their reliability over the past decade, the problem has not been entirely solved.
It is still a fact that better wands are made of metal, insulated against excessive heat transmittal. That may change in the future, but for the moment, metal is king.
The Sure Cure for Too-Hot Spray Wands: The simple cure for spray wands that get too hot is to reduce the temperature of the water. Dishes do not need to be rinsed in scalding hot water. Household hot water should never be set to a temperature higher than 120° F.
Kohler Faucet Valve Cartridges
Kohler uses good-quality components in its faucets, including some very good ceramic valve cartridges.
For many years the stem cartridges used in Kohler's two-handle faucets were purchased from Anton Tränkle, GmbH & Co. KG, a German company that makes superior ceramic cartridges.
These have been largely phased out, replaced by Kohler's proprietary UltraGlide® cartridges. Kohler calls these the "next generation of faucet technology".
According to the company, advanced engineering, and precise manufacturing keep water away from the metal parts of the cartridge, a feature that Kohler calls Dry Stem Technology. The design eliminates mineral buildup and leaking around stem seals — the weak point in most cartridges.
The claim has been supported by independent testing. The cartridge has been tested through four million on-off cycles — eight times the industry standard life-cycle test of 500,000, cycles. and equivalent to about 560 years of average domestic use. The test requires a month and a half of 24-hour days to complete.
For a video showing the operation of the type of machine that puts faucets through life-cycle testing, go here. Warning: it's very noisy.
For mixer cartridges in Kohler's single-handle faucets, the company uses cartridges made by Hydroplast S R L and Kuching International Ltd., the manufacturer of KCG brand cartridges.
Buying Rule for Smart Faucet Buyers:
The Faucet Cartridge
Never buy a faucet unless you know who made the cartridge.
Its cartridge is the most critical part of a faucet. It is the component that actually controls water flow. Without a working cartridge, a faucet is no longer a faucet.
Companies that use good-quality cartridges in their faucets usually disclose the cartridge source on their websites. Those that don't will happily identify the cartridge in a call to customer service.
If the company refuses to reveal the sources of its cartridges (because it is a "trade secret"), you can confidently assume it is not one of the better brands.
For more information about faucet valves and cartridges and the companies that make cartridges known to be reliable, see faucet Valves & Cartridges.
Hydroplast is an Italian technical ceramics company known for its high-quality, leak-resistant ceramic valve cartridges.
They are widely used in faucets sold in North America, including by
Kuching has been a ceramics manufacturer in Taiwan since 1988. In general, the cartridges are not considered the quality of the Hydroplast product, but we think that perception is dated and somewhat colored by the fact they are made in Taiwan.
KCG is by no means a super cartridge like Delta's Diamond Seal Technology® cartridge or In2aqua's PVD+ diamond-like-carbon catridge, but is is more than adequate.
Kohler thinks the KCG is a good cartridge worth guaranteeing for a lifetime. Other companies feel the same.
KCG cartridges are widely used by major brands to equip faucets sold in North America including
Kohler Faucet Finishes
Kohler offers about 14 finishes on its faucets. We say "about" because, while its finishes do not change often, they do change. In fact, four finishes available on faucets at our last update to this report have now been discontinued. So, there may not be exactly 14 when you read this review.
Polished Chrome is the standard finish, available on most if not all Kohler faucets. The other finishes offered on a faucet depend on the model and whether it is a kitchen or bath faucet.
Certain finishes such as Vibrant Stainless Steel are available only on kitchen faucets while others, including Vibrant Moderne Brushed Gold and Vibrant Titanium, are limited to bathroom sink faucets.
Kohler makes a big fuss over its Vibrant® finishes, most of which seems justified.
These are Kohler's PVD finishes and are easily identified because all have the word "Vibrant" in the name. Kohler has other PVD finishes not identified as "Vibrant." Oil-Rubbed Bronze, for example, is a PVD finish.
Chrome is, according to Kohler's technical services, its only remaining finish, and Matte Black its lass surviving .
All of the other powder coats, White, Biscuit, Black Black, and Satin Black, have been discontinued as faucet finishes although they may still appear on other products.
Powder-coated finishes are the least hard-wearing of the faucet finish technologies. Often described as
semi-durable, they are not nearly as robust as PVD or electroplated finishes and require more care to avoid damaging the finish.
Kohler Faucet Finish Chart
Polished Chrome (CP)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant Titanium (TT)
Vibrant Polished Nickel (SN)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant French Gold (AF)
Vibrant Polished Brass (PB)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant Rose Gold (RGD)
Brushed Chrome (G)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant Brushed Nickel (BN)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant Brushed Bronze (RBV)
Bath & Kitchen
Vibrant Moderne Brushed Gold (BGD)
Oil-Rubbed Bronze (2BZ)
Bath & Kitchen
Satin Black (TB)
Matte Black (BL)
Bath & Kitchen
1 Year Warranty
Black Black™ (7)
Brushed Stainless (BS)
Vibrant Stainless (VS)
* Kohler's warranty document specifies a one-year warranty for these non-Vibrant finishes. However, Customer Support treats the finishes as if they have a lifetime warranty.
The wimpy one-year warranty on its remaining powder coat suggests strongly that Kohler management has very little confidence in the durability or longevity of this finishing process.
PVD finishes are at the opposite end of the durability spectrum. They are hard and very robust. By some estimates, they are 10-20 times more scratch-resistant than the old standby, electroplated chrome.
To watch faucet components being given their PVD finishes, check out this brief video. Be aware that it is very noisy, so you might want to turn down the volume on your player.
The finishes available on each faucet are identified on the Kohler website. Any finish other than chrome will result in an addition, sometimes a hefty addition, to the price of the faucet.
Some faucets can be ordered in a . Part of the faucet is given one finish and the rest of the faucet another.
Most split finishes are sharply demarcated. Kohler, however, has developed a technique to blend two finishes so that one merges graduatlly into the other.
The Vibrant® Ombré finish, is described by Kohler as an "innovative technique that melds two vibrant metal finishes together to render a subtle but striking transition from light to dark." It won a
Best of the Year design award from Interior Design Magazine in 2018.
We are not certain how long a reign the new finish will have. The sole Kohler faucet collection to feature an Ombré finish, the Sensate appears to have been discontenued in Ombré, although as of the date of this report, a few still appear for sale in retail outlets.
Kohler until a few years ago also made faucets with porcelain spouts that featured finishes in colors and patterns that exactly matched its porcelain sinks.These were fascinating little faucet gems. Nothing like them existed outside of Kohler.
Examples are the Bol and Vas faucets (pronounced "bowl" and "vase"). These are also no longer being made, but may still be for sale at retail venues.
Kohler Faucet Designs
Kohler's original and sometimes award-winning faucet designs are created in its in-house design studios in the U.S., France, and China.
Kohler designs have won numerous honors in international design competitions including four product design Red Dot awards in 2018 followed by two products awarded top honors in the 2019 competition and another in 2020.
In 2021 it won for its highly customizable Tailored® Vanity Collection and received three additional awards in 2022 including for the Silvi Meiyan bathroom sink faucet.
The annual competition, dating back to 1955, is sponsored by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen (DZNRW). Entries are evaluated by an expert jury comprised of independent designers and design professors. Red Dot is one of Europe's most prestigious juried design awards.
The company has won 56 iF world design awards and was recognized by iF in 2020 as having one of the top 50 in-house design teams in the world.
The Carafe 2.0 purifying faucet is its most recent winner. The faucet dispenses both filtered drinking water and tap water from one faucet, eliminating the need for a separate filtered water tap.
The iF award, conferred by the iF International Forum Design since 1953 recognizes excellence in design in 6 disciplines including Product Design and Interior Architecture.
Kohler has won multiple Good Design awards. First awarded in 1950, Good Design is the oldest and most prestigious of the international design competitions.
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd. join annually to honor the most innovative industrial, product, and graphic designs produced around the world.
Kohler always seems to have at least one faucet in inventory that stands the design world on its ear and forces it to pay attention.
The recently discontinued Karbon® faucet introduced in 2008 as the world's first articulating faucet was one of these wake-up-and-pay-attention products.
Engineers loved it for the space-age carbon fiber used its construction to add strength while reducing weight.
The articulating design was very practical. The faucet could be twisted into almost any position and would stay there, unlike sprays that retract when released (or drop into the sink).
The design is old news now. The "oohs" and "aahs" are long gone. But, at the time it was a design phenom. Gizmodo even called it "modern art awesomeness for the kitchen."
The newest Kohler eye-opener faucet, introduced in 2023, is the Purist Suspend® ceiling-mounted kitchen faucet – not as powerful a statement as the Karbon, but still interesting. It is an adaptation of a faucet that has been use in commercial kitchens and laboratories since the 1920s.
In its residential incarnation, Kohler has given it design finesse and digital electronic awareness.
The faucet valve in the ceiling is controlled by a wireless and water-resistant remote "puck" that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen.
It has three flow options: regular, boost, and eco. Boost is, according to Kohler, "a powerful prep and cleaning spray" while eco is a water-saving option. The seven-foot hose can reach just about anywhere in a small kitchen, including the range for pot filling.
Kohler faucets range from mid-priced to premium.
Prices at the low end are competitive with the company's mid-priced competition including
At the high end, prices encroach on premium lines such as But, they never reach the stratospheric prices of some luxury faucets such as Waterstone's distinctive Wheel faucet that sells for $10,000 and more in some finishes or any number of faucets from France that can top $20,000 easily.
Its most expensive faucet offered by Kohler is the new Purist Suspend ceiling-mounted faucet at around $2,200. Otherwise, its top-of-the-line faucets sell for around $1,200. Not chump change, but certainly not stratospheric.
The company, wisely, has avoided the very low end of the faucet business that requires a lot of plastic parts. Even Kohler faucets priced below $200.00 feature the same solid construction and top-end components as Kohler's $1,000+ faucets.
Kohler actively pursues the premium kitchen and bathwares market, and cleverly too, by providing architects and designers with good quality CAD images in multiple file formats that make it easy to include Kohler products in computer-aided designs for kitchens and bathrooms.
If the wide variety of the Kohler faucet collection is not enough for you or you absolutely must have a designer's name attached to your faucet, then try Kohler'supscale collection of faucets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, bath furniture, and accessories, or its custom design service that will create a faucet just for you.
Custom design and manufacturing are pricey, so it is best if you plan to buy several hundred faucets for your mega-condo project, upscale casino, or luxury hotel to somewhat amortize the cost.
Where to Buy
Kohler products are widely available.
Its most ubiquitous brick-and-mortar outlet is probably Ferguson Enterprises, (Wolseley in Canada) the British-owned plumbing supply company that has outlets in just about every city, town, and hamlet in North America and multiple online stores including Build.com, faucetsDirect.com, and faucets.com.
Kohler also sells through big box lumber stores like Home Depot and Lowes and at non-Ferguson-aligned online retailers including Faucet Depot and Quality Bath.
Some Kohler faucets are also available at general merchandising sites such as Amazon, Costco, and Wayfair. but styles and finishes are limited.
No matter where you buy, do not expect deep discounts.
Kohler sets the minimum price at which authorized retailers can sell its faucets. Nothing formal like a Minimum Advertised Pricing policy – at least nothing we could find. But, since 2012 none but authorized dealers, including its online sellers, can sell Kohler products. To protect showroom sales, it cannot allow prices to be discounted too steeply by internet sellers whose lower overhead allows them to be more aggressive in pricing.
We did a quick survey of online prices using the Kohler Purist K-14406-3 as our test faucet. Here were the non-sale selling prices as of the date of this report:
It seems unlikely that the difference between the lowest price and the highest price in the highly competitive online faucet market would be just 67¢ without some sort of price governance by Kohler, informal though it might be.
The Kohler Warranty
Kohler's faucet warranty does in no way reflect the quality of the company or its faucet products. But, it does reflect a lack of attention to an important legal document that could get the company in a great deal of trouble.
It is a poorly written disorganized jumble of discordant paragraphs that seem to have been assembled using "cut-and-paste" rather than with careful consideration of the language and the legal effect of the language.
Buying Rule for
Smart Faucet Buyers
Never buy a faucet unless you have carefully read and understand the faucet's warranty. It tells you more than the company wants you to know about management's true opinion of the durability and life expectancy of the faucets it sells.
Learn how to interpret faucet warranties at Faucet Basics, Part 6: Understanding faucet Waruranties.
Learn how to enforce your warranty with step-by-step instructions at The Warranty Game: Enforcing Your Product Warranty.
Model Lifetime Warranty: For an example of a warranty that avoids Kohler's drafting problems and complies with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, download and read our Model Limited Lifetime Warranty.
As a result, it violates several provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308), the federal law that dictates the minimum content of and sets the rules for consumer product warranties in the United States.
It also contains a lot of redundancy, none of which is strictly necessary.
For example, the Kohler lifetime warranty does not apply to faucets used in a commercial setting. The warranty repeats that exclusion three times using different wording each time. Once would have been enough, twice more than enough, and three times is beyond overdone.
Our much-put-upon panel of volunteer warranty lawyers has, however, parsed the document phrase by phrase and extracted the core of the actual warranty, which is the following.
Kohler's Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Kohler Faucets installed in an owner-occupied residence are guaranteed against leaks and defects "during normal residential use" for a lifetime, defined as "for as long as the original consumer owns their [sic] home." (The lifetime warranty applies even to electronic faucet components, which is unusual in a faucet warranty.)
- The following are excluded from lifetime coverage:
- Faucets installed "outide of the Americas" or used "in a public space , for commercial, industrial, or institutional purposes." (5-year warranty),
- Faucets installed in a rented dwelling not occupied by the buyer (10-year warranty), and
- Non-Vibrant finishes, including Chrome aand PVD Oil-Rubbed Bronze (1-year warranty).
- "Organic finishes are warranted only if manufactured after January 1, 2019. (Kohler does not have any organic faucet finishes at this time.)
- To cure a defect, Kohler will replace the faucet cartridge or "will, at its election, repair, replace, or make appropriate adjustment." However, Kohler's maximum liability cannot exceed "the purchase price of the faucet."
- The warranty does not cover "removal, installation, labor charges, or other incidental or consequential costs" that may result from a defective faucet.
One Customer's Kohler Experience
Back in 2005 when I was remodeling my home, I had to go shopping for three bathroom sink faucets. I wound up choosing Kohler, mostly because I liked the style of the fixtures, and because they touted that their … valves have a "lifetime warranty". Now I'm always a little bit suspicious about absolute promises from any big company but I liked the faucets and so paid a little bit extra to buy Kohler vs. a less expensive brand…
Fast forward to 2012, and one of my hot water valves just stopped working — I couldn't turn it on at all. I disassembled the faucets but could not get the valve out of the valve body — it was stuck! I considered buying new faucets to get my sink back working again but then remembered Kohler's warranty, looked up their number on the internet, and gave them a call.
I was ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED — at the EXCELLENT service! I only had to press two buttons on the automated system before I was transferred very quickly to a pleasant, … English-speaking lady who promptly identified the make and model of faucets I was calling about, and within 5 minutes had ordered me a replacement valve body. She asked if I had any other problems with Kohler products, and I told her that my kitchen sink sprayer was not flowing like it used to. She said a new diverter valve would be included in the box, and that the parts should arrive in 5-7 days. I was never hassled about proof of purchase, ownership, etc.
As good as her word, 4 business days later my replacement faucet valve (with a brand new supply hose) and a diverter valve arrived from Kohler. All free, at no cost, and living up to every bit of their lifetime guarantee.
I .... could not be happier with my purchases or Kohler's OUTSTANDING customer service!
Kohler's Warranty Problems
The warranty is defective, but most of the warranty defects hurt Kohler and benefit the consumer, so we did not deduct from the company's warranty score. Some leave the company open to warranty liability it probably did not anticipate.
Here is a list, with explanations, of the major problems our panel found with the warranty. There are others not listed here.
The Kohler warranty proclaims (in all caps, so you can't miss it), that
… KOHLER CO. AND/OR SELLER ARE PROVIDING THESE WARRANTIES IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. …
This claim has three problems:
- It is not written in the simple and readily understood language required by Magnuson-Moss,
- It violates the Magnuson-Moss prohibition against disclaiming implied warranties, and,
- The language is deceptive, also in vioation of Magnuson-Moss.
Any one of these will get it thrown out of court.
Disclaimer in Turgid Legalese
The first problem with this proclamation is its language.
It is the sort of language that lawyers love because it requires a Lawyer to decipher. Legalese, however, turgid or otherwise, violates the Magnuson-Moss requirement that
"the terms and conditions of written warranties on consumer products be clearly and conspicuously stated in simple and readily understood language" (15 U.S.C. § 2302(a))
Readily understood means readily understood by the average consumer, not just by the average Lawyer.
Magnuson-Moss intends for an average consumer to be able to read and understand a product warranty before purchasing the product, so it must be written in the vernacular, not lawyer-ese.
Disclaimer Not Permitted
The second and more serious problem is that Magnuson-Moss does not permit a company that provides a written warranty to reject (lawyers say "disclaim") state law implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. (15 U.S. Code § 2308 (a))
If Kohler wants to sell its faucets "as is" – free of the state-law implied warranties – then it must first get rid of its written warranty, something it is probably not going to do.
All states and provinces in North America have laws requiring that consumer products be fit for their ordinary purposes and conform to an ordinary buyer's expectations.
This is the implied warranty of merchantability. It derives from English Common Law and is the law in both Canada and the U.S. It automatically attaches to every sale of a consumer product by a merchant. 
A product is merchantable if it serves its ordinary purpose. A faucet, for example, is merchantable if it dispenses controlled amounts of water.
A merchantable product must remain merchantable for a reasonable amount of time. How much time varies with the product. A faucet that leaks after one or two years is probably not merchantable. One that doesn't leak until its 20th anniversary probably is – a faucet is not expected to be leak-free forever.
Magnuson-Moss refines state warranties of merchantability by providing uniform national standards for form and content, but it does not supersede them.
Written seller warranties are intended by Magnuson_Moss to supplement implied warranties. They are "in addition to" not "in lieu of."
So the language in the Kohler warranty that seeks to substitute the Kohler written warranty for state law implied warranties has no legal effect whatsoever.
Deceptive Disclaimer Language
The final problem with the language is that it is deceptive.
An average consumer (and even an average lawyer not familiar with Magnuson-Moss) could easily be misled into believing that he or she no longer has access to the protection of state-law warranties.
Such deception is expressly prohibited by Magnuson-Moss which requires a warranty be written in
"… words or phrases which would not mislead a reasonable, average consumer as to the nature or scope of the warranty." (15 U.S. Code § 2302 (a) (13))
What these three defects means to you, the faucet buyer, is that the disclaimer can be disregarded.
You have the warranty protection offered by the company, but also all of the protections provided by state law in your state's implied warranties of merchantability and fitness.
These implied warranties often provide more protection than a company's written warranty.
Defective Definition of "Lifetime"
"Lifetime" in a warranty is not self-defining. We know that because the courts have repeatedly said so, as does the Federal Trade Commision in its regulation of the use of the words "life" or "lifetime when describing a warranty.
Limiting the Duration of Implied Warranties
Magnuson-Moss does allow one modification to implied warranties in states where it is permitted. Kohler can limit the duration of the implied warranties to the same term as its written limited warranty.
This means that if the Kohler warranty on a part is one year, the state's implied warranties on that part can also be limited to one year.
That's the one and only modification of state law warranties that Kohler can legally make, and only in states where such modifications are permitted by law.
That modification is not automatic, however. Kohler has to put the limitation in its warranty in "clear and readily understood" language. It has not done so. There is not a single word in the Kohler warranty suggesting that the duration of state law implied warranties is limited.
Our suggested language, taken from our Model Limited Lifetime Faucet Warranty is the following:
"The duration of implied warranties (including but not limited to those of merchantability and fitness for a particular or special purpose) arising under state law is limited to the shorter of the duration of such warranties provided by state law or the duration set out in this warranty."
Magnuson-Moss requires "lifetime" to be defined to clearly disclose how the duration of the warranty is to be measured and if applicable, what events terminate the warranty. (16 CFR § 701.3 (a)(4))
Kohler's definition of the term is for "as long as the original consumer owns their [sic] home."
This definition is missing a key element. It does not require the consumer to continue to own the faucet for the warranty to remain in effect.
It only requires that the consumer own "their" home – not necessarily the home in which the faucet was installed – just any home that can be reasonably described as "their" home.
This glaring omission in the warranty's defintion of lifetime makes it possible for the warranty to remain in force for as long as the faucet is installed somewhere and is owned by someone, ending only when it ultimately winds up in a landfill.
Consider the following example:
An "original consumer purchaser" named Ralphy buys a new home and sells his original home – the one in which his Kohler faucet is installed, to his pal, Vinnie, leaving the faucet behind.
Vinnie now owns the faucet, but not the warranty. Under the terms of Kohler's warranty, the warranty itself can be owned only by the original buyer.
If a few years later the faucet develops a leak, can Ralphy claim under his Kohler warranty for Vinnies's benefit?
According to our lawyer panel, the warranty is still in full force because Ralphy still owns a home – the sole and only requirement for the warranty to continue in force.
And, according to the law in most states, the owner of a right under a contract (a warranty is a contract) can make a valid claim under the contract to enforce that right for the benefit of another person who is not a party to the contract.
An odd result indeed, and almost certainly not what Kohler intended, but that's the way Kohler has chosen to write its warranty, so that is the legal result of its chosen language.
What Kohler means to say – but says badly – is that its lifetime warranty lasts …
" … for as long as the original consumer purchaser owns the faucet and resides in the dwelling in which the faucet is first installed."
This revised language also has the happy result of extending warranty coverage to buyers who do not own their home.
As now written, the Kohler warranty excludes renters. Why Kohler wants to discriminate against these deserving souls is something we do not know.
Defective Disclaimer of Incidental and Consequential Damages
Kohler seeks to avoid liability for incidental and consequential damages flowing from a defect in its faucets with this statement
"Kohler Co. is not responsible for removal, installation, labor charges, or other incidental or consequential cost"
Consequential and incidental damages are those other than the defect in the faucet itself. For example, your Kohler faucet leaks and damages your cabinets.
The leak is a "direct damage" to the faucet. The damage to the cabinets is consequential damage. It is a consequence of and results from the defect in the faucet but is not the defect itself.
Incidental damage is your cost of proving your warranty claim. If you need to hire an appraiser to assess the amount of your cabinet damage, the appraiser's fees are an incidental damage.
Collectively, consequential and incidental damages are called "indirect" or "special" damages;
The Kohler waranty loves redundancy, so the disclaimer has to be made again. This time Kohler disclaims incidental and consequential damage in bold capital letters that would be hard to miss.
"KOHLER CO. … DISCLAIM[S] ALL LIABILITY FOR SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES"
Disclaimer of these types of damages is legal under Magnuson-Moss. But, it is legal if and only if it is accompanied by the following required disclosure:
"Some States do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you.
The Kohler warranty does not include the disclosure so its attempted disclaimer is void and has no effect.
Void for Improper Cleaning, Seriously?
But, our favorite warranty defect is not a legal issue, but just incredibly bad legal drafting. Here is the language,
"Improper care and cleaning will void the warranty."
The statement repeats in a footnote that reads:
Never use cleaners containing abrasive cleansers, ammonia, bleach, acids, waxes, alcohol, [or] solvents not recommended for KOHLER finishes. This will void the warranty."
The key word here is "void." Let's take a look at what "void" means.
The plumber just installed your brand-new Kohler kitchen faucet. But, he left greasy fingerprints all over the place. You reach for the nearest cleaner under the sink, not noticing that far down in the ingredients list (printed in type so small that you need a microscope to read it) ammonia is identified as one of its constituents.
You clean and polish your faucet until it sparkles.
Unfortunately, however, you just voided your Kohler warranty.
It's now over, finished, kaput. Not just the finish warranty, but the whole thing – every clause and every provision is canceled.
That's what "void" means.
It makes no difference that cleaning with ammonia did absolutely no harm to the faucet. Damage is not required for the warranty to be voided. The only thing that does matter is that you cleaned your faucet with a prohibited substance, ammonia. So your warranty is done.
Unskilled writers of product warranties tend to use the word "void" much too loosely without fully assessing its legal impact.
This is a sterling example of that sort of careless legal drafting.
What Kohler is trying to say is that damage caused by maintenance or cleaning not in accordance with its care and cleaning instructions is not covered by the warranty. Very reasonable! And that's what the warranty should say. But, that's not what it does say.
What it does say is truly wacko.
Of course, Kohler will probably never find out you improperly cleaned your faucet and voided your warranty, and you are under no obligation to tell, unless asked, which is unlikely.
We just wanted to poke a little fun at it because it is such incredibly bad drafting.
Kohler Customer Support
Fortunately, Kohler's customer service is very good. Agents largely ignore the more inane legal niceties of the Kohler warranty. Not always, but usually.
If you have a receipt showing you bought a Kohler faucet that is now broken, they will help you fix it without regard to whether you once cleaned your faucet with ammonia. (And usually without asking if your still own "therir" home.)
They are knowledgeable about Kohler products, courteous, and eager to help with problems.
In our most recent tests, Kohler customer service scored 4.5 out of a possible 5.0 points, one of the highest scores ever. Anything above 4.0 is acceptable.
We have tested Kohler support periodically for 15 years. In that time, it has never received a score lower than 4.2, so the current exceptional score is not a flash in the pan.
The only problem our testers noted was the occasional wait time that exceeded 3 minutes. Three minutes is acceptable. Anything over that is not.
However, the Better Business Bureau does not agree with our assessment, awarding Kohler a C on a scale of A+ to F for its handling of the customer issues submitted to the Bureau.
We rarely dispute the BBB's ratings, but in this case, it is way off the mark.
Kohler is a giant company that sells a vast array of products: small engines, generators, furniture, tile, and so on, as well as plumbing products. The BBB lumps all of these diverse products into one rating. We don't think that's justified.
If all the non-plumbing products are removed, Kohler gets far fewer complaints about its products than do other major companies like both of which are rated A+ by the BBB.
As far as we can tell, Kohler handled its few faucet complaints properly and with dispatch.
Learn how to interpret faucet warranties at Faucet Basics, Part 6: Understanding Faucet Waruranties.
Learn how to enforce your warranty with step-by-step instructions at The Warranty Game: Enforcing Your Product Warranty.
Model Lifetime Warranty: For an example of a warranty that avoids Kohler's drafting problems and complies with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, download and read our Model Limited Lifetime Faucet Warranty.
The Kohler Website
The Kohler website is, in a word, artistic.
It is beautifully illustrated with well-staged images of Kohler products. What it is missing, however, is about half of the hard information about its faucets required to make an informed buying decision. Pictures are nice but we would rather see the information.
The site is easy to navigate.
To find a faucet, click "Products" on the main menu at the top of the home page. A drop-down menu then offers several choices. Select "Bathroom" or "Kitchen" then "Faucet" on the menu that pops up. Now find "Shop All [Bathroom/Kitchen] Faucets." It displays in different locations depending on whether you are using a desktop display or a smartphone, and it may be partially obscured by yet another lovely product image, but it's there somewhere.
Filters allow you to narrow your choices by price, finish, style, or collection. You can also choose to look at only touchless or voice-activated faucets.
To find out whether the information provided about a faucet is sufficient for an informed buying decision, we chose the K-76519-4 Artifacts® two-handle bridge-style kitchen faucet and the Components® K-77958-4A single-handle bathroom sink faucet as our test faucets – in part because they were among the faucets we acquired for examination and we could compare website information to the actual faucets for accuracy. (It is accurate, by the way.)
The faucets are depicted in a s3/4 view main image usually supplemented by one or more additional images and/or a video of the faucet.
If you select from among the finishes available for the faucet, the main image displays the faucet in the selected finish. A nice feature that helps a reader visualize the faucet in his or her preferred finish.
Other information about the faucet is contained in four easy-to-find links: "Features", "Specs", "Installation & Service Parts", and "Design Files."
As you might expect, Features is a list of the best attributes of the faucet. It is the electronic version of what used to be called a "tear sheet", designed to highlight the faucet's selling points. Here are the features of the Artifacts faucet:
Specs downloads a .pdf specification sheet that does not contain much in the way of actual specifications. It merely repeats the features list but adds a complete list of the faucet's certifications and reveals the faucet's primary material – almost always "premium metal", which tells you nothing.
Installation & Service Parts
These links, as you might expect, open the faucet's installation instructions and an exploded parts list, both .pdf documents. The exploded parts list has a problem.
The full page cannot be displayed on a desktop monitor using any of the most popular browsers: Chrome, Edge, and Firefox with Windows 10 or 11. Making the diagram large enough to read moves most of it out of the viewing area. Making it small enough to fit in the viewing area makes it too small to read.
The only way to read the entire sheet is to print it.
It does display correctly on smartphones using the Android operating system. We did not check with an I-phone using the iOS operating system.
This section lists 2D and 3D CAD drawings available for the faucet – Files that are usually not of much interest to faucet buyers. But, they are very helpful to designers and specifiers. The files are in just about every CAD file format available.
Kohler Website Scoresheet
How much hard information were we able to glean from the various files and lists? Not all that much. Here is the scoresheet summary:
Faucet specifications listed in this schedule are the minimum required for a well-informed decision to buy a faucet. As you can see, Kohler provides slightly more than half of the needed information on its website. You may be surprised to know, however, that it actually does better than most faucet companies. (And some Kohler retailers do better yet. See Ferguson's Build.com, for example.)
In our profit-making (sometimes) business, StarCraft Custom Builders we never buy a faucet for a project unless every one of these specifications is known.
If the information is not on the company website, we ask customer support. If the answer is not forthcoming, either because support agents don't know or have been asked not to tell, we look for another faucet.
We are not foolish enough to buy a faucet unless we know exactly what we are getting, especially since many of our customers prefer faucets in the $800.00+ price range.
But, even a $100.00 faucet investment should be spent wisely, so always make sure you have this basic information before you click that "Complete Purchase" button.
Kohler's Labor Problems
The transition to overseas manufacturing has not been without labor problems for Kohler including a strike by United Auto Workers Local 833 in 2015 to protest the outsourcing of fixture manufacturing to Kohler's Mexican factory and a demand by the union for the end of a two-tier pay system created in 2010 during the Great Recession.
The union felt that wage concessions made during the economic downturn were no longer needed after the economic recovery. The strike lasted 32 days before wage and benefits concessions by the company were accepted by union members.
Labor strikes are not new to Kohler which has had a contentious relationship with its U.S. workforce almost since its founding.
A 1934 labor strike at Kohler's Wisconsin plants turned violent, resulting in two dead and 43 injured in clashes between Kohler strikers and "special deputies" hired by the company to protect the plant. The National Guard was finally called in to restore order. A government investigation after the strike was unable to identify the individuals responsible for the gun violence, attributing it to "several ruthless persons."
A second strike twenty years later in 1954 was the longest strike of a major corporation in U.S. history. It lasted six years. Ultimately the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Kohler had refused to bargain in good faith and ordered reinstatement of 1,700 union workers and payment of $4.5 million in back pay and pension benefits.
A strike in 1983 lasted just 16 days but was marred by violence almost from its first day with strikers hurling rocks at company property and the company's security force responding with tear gas. A police SWAT team was brought in to restore order. Two strikers were killed when a motorist drove his vehicle through a picket line.
The company's labor problems have not been limited to domestic factories.
A 2005 report on working conditions by China Labor Watch identified multiple labor issues in Kohler's vitreous china factory in Foshan, many of them illegal even under very lax Chinese labor laws that, among other restrictions, limit workers' right to strike. Independent labor unions are illegal. The only legal union is the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, sanctioned by the Communist Party, which is generally considered ineffective.
Download and read the China Labor Watch report: The Kohler Company's Factory in Foshan, China: Dangerous Working Conditions, Long Hours and Little Pay.)
Testing & Certification
Kohler Co. has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency with a WaterSense® Sustained Excellence Award.
The California Energy Commission sued Kohler Co. for illegally selling unapproved faucets in California from January 2018 to August 2020. The company paid a penalty of $12,826.00 to settle the suit in 2021.
Faucets comparable to Kohler include:
Kohler is hard to classify.
Its faucet prices range from economy to premium. On the low side, it completes with mid-priced faucets such as those made by
On the high side, it's up there with
Kohler makes stylish, well-crafted, reliable, work-a-day faucets designed to last drip-free year after year with nary a hiccup. Most designs will not make the design-glitterati do their "ooh" and "aah" thing, but they are plenty stylish enough for us regular folks.
The company's written warranty is largely a shambles, but it does not generally reflect the company's warranty practices, which is a god thing. In practice, the company handles valid warranty issues with dispatch and a minimum of bureaucratic nonsense.
We consider the company's faucets at all prices level to be a best value. The $130 online special is of the same quality as the $1,200 designer faucet purchased from a design studio. It would be hard to go wrong buying a Kohler faucet, but if you do get a clinker (and every company makes the occasional clinker), you get help fast and reliably from the company's sterling customer support.
Be a little circumspect in selecting a finish, however. powder coats and "non-vibrant" finishes (including Chrome  and Brushed Stainless), have a very short one-year warranty period strongly suggesting that Kohler management has little faith in their durability or longevity. (What can possibly be a problem with electroplated Chome, we don't know.) But, if management suspects the non-Vibant finishes will fail after just one year, perhaps you should also.
Our rating panel was unanimous in its view of Kohler faucets. All would buy a Kohler for their own kitchen or bath but only in a finish with a lifetime warranty.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Kohler faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below. (Please note, we cannot answer questions posted in the comments below. If you have a question, email us at email@example.com.)