Strom Faucets Review & Rating Updated: December 28, 2023
756 Omec Circle
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
This Company In Brief
Strom is a designer and specifier of very good to excellent bathroom faucets, especially for Victorian- and Edwardian-Era bathrooms.
Formerly a U.S. manufacturer, the company now has its proprietary designs made in Taiwan. The change has not resulted in any diminution of quality. The faucets are the same lead-free solid brass impeccably finished and hand polished.
A designer and specifier of very good to excellent bath faucets, Strom is strong in reproduction fixtures and fittings, especially for Victorian and Edwardian era bathrooms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with one or two forays into the mid-20th century Art Deco period.
Sign of the Crab was founded in 1972 by Francis E. Strom to manufacture quality brass plumbing fittings. For over forty years, Strom's focus was solidly on engineering and manufacturing.
That changed in 2018 when Larry Harris Jacobs. then the company's marketing manager, bought the company. In keeping with Mr. Jacob's background, focus shifted away from manufacturing to design and marketing. Manufacturing in the U.S. ceased and was moved to Taiwan.
To be fair to Mr. Jacobs, however, the quality of the products does not seem to have diminished one bit.
Strom sells a vast and varied collection of cast iron and acrylic free-standing bathtubs, primarily clawfoot and pedestal designs, and the water supply and drain fixtures to fit them.
It also sells a classic collection of showers and sink faucets for the bathroom and kitchen. The Strom collection is so extensive, varied, and diverse that we can say with considerable confidence that if it fits a Victorian or Arts and Crafts bath, Strom probably makes it, and more than one of it.
It does not, however, offer modern or contemporary styles. If you need an urban chic modern faucet with stark industrial lines and minimal decoration or an authentic design from the post-war Midcentury Modern era, Strom is not the right company for you.
Strom designs all of its own faucets while contracting actual manufacturing to Taiwanese factories. Its overseas suppliers are:
- Techu Manufacture Inc. is the primary manufacturer of Strom faucets.
- Deluxe Brassware Co., Ltd. makes some ancillary components for Strom faucets.
- Foremost Worldwide Co., ltd. provides its ceramic lavatory sinks and consoles.
- Linyi Luxing Enamel Co., Ltd. (cast iron bathtubs), and
- Morris Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd. (acrylic bathtubs).
Strom's relationship with its suppliers is very stable. We have not seen any significant change in the past 15 years.
Strom faucets have always been justly famous for their quality. All are made of solid lead-free brass, formed by sand casting or by forging in steel molds. Sand casting brass is a traditional technology for making faucets. A sand mold is made for each faucet, and destroyed in the process, which means a new mold must be made for each separate casting.
Forging is somewhat newer, much faster, and by most accounts produces a better product.
Heat-softened brass is pressed into a steel mold at great pressure to form the shape of the faucet. Each mold can be used hundreds if not thousands of times, reducing the cost of producing a faucet.
According to our resident engineer, forgings normally have
"less surface porosity, finer grain structure, higher tensile strength, better fatigue resistance, and greater ductility than castings, and are less likely to contain voids."
Fatigue resistance and ductility are important to the longevity of faucets which are constantly subjected to changing water temperature which results in repeated expansion and contraction.
After casting or forging, each faucet is machined to its final form using computer-controlled milling machines that ensure absolute accuracy.
A forged faucet generally requires less machining than a sand cast faucet, also saving costs. The faucet is then polished to get it ready for finishing.
Strom claims that each faucet is individually assembled and tested in the U.S. The company admits, however, that its U.S. assembly is not sufficiently "transformative" to qualify for "Assembled in U.S.A." status. Usually, it is not much more than attaching the appropriate handles and possibly aerators to achieve a specified water flow rate.
Strom's impeccable faucet finishes are a big part of its sterling reputation among the retro-reproduction folks. Photographs do not do justice to the actual finishes.
Its polished chrome and nickel finishes are legendary and its "Supercoat" protective finish for brass fixtures took the "polish" out of brass long before untarnishable (PVD) "brass" finishes became widely available.
Strom's Supercoat finish was, in large part, responsible for the resurgence of native brass as a faucet finish in reproduction heritage bathrooms in North America, a resurgence that is just now tapering off after a half-century.
The exact composition of the SuperCoat is a closely held trade secret. We do know, however, that it is a two-part epoxy, applied electrostatically, and baked on to ensure a lasting shine.
SuperCoat has now been trumped, however, by newer technology, finishes. PVD "brass" finishes, are actually some other, untarnishable metal (usually zirconium or chromium), that is made to look like brass but is nearly as hard as diamonds — by some estimates, 10-20 times harder than electroplated chrome.
At one time, SuperCoat finishes were guaranteed for life. That warranty has now been reduced to five years along with Strom's electroplated finishes, Chrome and Nickel.
Strom's other finishes, Matte Nickel, Satin Black, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, and unlacquered Brasses, are not guaranteed at all or are guaranteed just until they are installed, then the warranty ends. The unlacquered brasses are what Strom considers
special finishes, not only not guaranteed, but also not returnable.
Strom Valves and Cartridges
Strom faucets were originally built around the venerable compression cartridge – a good technology but requiring fairly frequent maintenance and now severely dated.
Strom has now adopted a modern quarter-turn ceramic cartridge. This cartridge is nearly maintenance-free and will give many years of reliable service but if it ever does fail, replacement cartridges are widely available and can be easily installed in most faucets with simple hand tools.
Strom Product Coordination
Strom's products are designed to work together.
Its tub faucets fit its clawfoot and pedestal tubs, and its sink faucets coordinate in style and finish, which saves you (or your plumber) the worry of wondering whether the various fixtures and fittings in your new old bathroom will fit together. They will.
The company's corporate focus on marketing has affected how it sells its products.
Strom is strictly a wholesaler, selling only to plumbers and retailers with an existing account. It products from its website but only to the trades, not retail to consumers.
The company has always been and is still very picky about its retailers, so the faucets are not widely available outside of brick-and-mortar showrooms. It allows some of its products to be sold on the internet through Amazon and Wayfair as well as at online plumbing showrooms such as Vintage Tub and Bath but it is clearly not enthusiastic about it.
Only authorized dealers may sell its products, and any faucet bought from an unauthorized source is not guaranteed. This includes eBay.com.
You are unlikely to find Strom products at a deep discount, no matter where you buy them.
Strom enforces a price protection (IMAP) policy for internet sales. No authorized dealer is permitted to advertise a discount on the internet of more than 30% from Strom's listed price.
This does not mean that a dealer cannot sell at a lower price but the deep discount cannot be advertised. The policy applies only to internet sales. In a showroom, a dealer can advertise any discount without limit.
There is a legitimate reason for this policy. Many of Strom's products require careful coordination to work together properly. You can't just pick a tub from column A and a tub filler from column B and expect them to be compatible.
The professional help needed to make the various pieces fit is available only from a restoration plumber experienced with Strom products or an authorized Strom showroom.
Strom's pricing policy helps protect showrooms from the customer who selects all of his or her products with help from showroom personnel then buys from an internet discounter. If that goes on for long, it puts showrooms out of the business of selling Strom products, and showrooms are critical to Strom's continued success.
Unlike most faucet companies, Strom is completely upfront about the policy. Nothing hidden or secret about it. Most faucet companies have a MAP policy, but they don't talk about it. By contrast, Strom's Internet Minimum Advertising Policy (IMAP) statement is available on its website for all to read.
Strom is phasing out its old Sign of the Crab website in favor of a newer site with a more marketable name at Strom Living. The new site is a major aesthetic improvement, brisk and fresh.
The information provided about its faucets, however, is still sparse, omitting most of the details needed for a consumer to make an informed buying decision.
Faucets are illustrated in most instances by one or two 3/4 images – very well done images, beautifully photographed – but just 3/4 views. The finish in which the faucet is displayed is usually not identified. Multiple images showing several views of each faucet would help with visualization, or, better yet, a 360° viewing feature such as is used by that allows the mouse to rotate the faucet to any viewing angle
Selecting a different finish does not redisplay the faucet in the chosen finish which makes it harder to visualize what the faucet will look like in the new finish. The same is true of selecting other than a default handle for faucets available in several handle styles. Selecting a different handle does not results in a display of the faucet with the chosen handle.
Specifications are almost non-existent: nothing about the sourcde of the cartridge, required certifications, or flow rate. Most faucet sites provide a link from a faucet listing to a downloadable detailed specification sheet. Strom does not. The site does have what the company calls technical information but it is hard to find and limited to basic measurements – useful to plumbers and industry professionals, but of only marginal help to a consumer buyer.
Installation instructions are linked in .pdf format for some, but not all faucets. They sometimes include an exploded view of the faucet but the view is not keyed to a parts list. The faucet's key dimensions are summarized, but no dimensioned drawing is available. Nor is a link to the warranty that applies to the faucet – now a requirement of federal warranty law.
The search function is vastly improved over the site search of the former website. It is clearly geared toward finding products, however, and certain searches such as on the term "warranty" do not produce a link to the online warranty. Searches on specific finishes also failed. A finish search is useful in finding all of the items on the site available in a chosen finish.
Strom's faucet warranty is very sub-par for the industry. The standard faucet warranty in the U.S. and Canada is a lifetime warranty on every component of the faucet introduced by more than a half-century ago.
The warranty has gotten worse since our last report.
At one time Strom's quarter-turn ceramic cartridge and Supercoat Brass finish are guaranteed for a lifetime. No longer. Now all parts of its faucets are warranted
"…to be free of manufacturing and finish defects for a period of 5 years from date of purchase, when properly installed by a qualified, licensed plumber."
This includes Strom's cartridges and Supercoat, Chrome, and Nickel finishes. The four unlacquered Brasses are not warranted at all. The rest of Strom's finishes are warranted only " until the faucet is installed."
The warranty is void if the faucet is not installed by a licensed plumber and Strom may request a copy of the license before it honors a warranty claim.
The warranty is very poorly drafted. It does not conform to the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2301) which regulates the minimum content and form of consumer product warranties. In particular, it does not
- Provide "A step-by-step explanation of the procedure which the consumer should follow" to make a claim under the warranty including the mailing address or telephone number to use. (16 CFR § 701.3 (5))
Qualify its attempt to exclude "labor charges or air freight charges" from coverage under the warranty with the following required statement:
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. (16 CFR § 701.3 (8))
Include the following required statement:
This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from State to State. (16 CFR § 701.3 (9))
Moreover, it is not properly captioned.
The warranty is clearly intended to be a limited warranty, but the word "limited" does not appear in its caption or title. The caption is just "Warranty." Magnuson-Moss requires a company to notify consumers that its warranty provides less than full protection with the word "Limited" right at the top of the document in its title or caption.
Without that magic word "Limited," the warranty is automatically converted to a "Full Warranty" as described in Magnuson-Moss, and most of its limitations and restrictions indluded in the Strom warranty are void. irrespective of any actual intent of the company. (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.6))
As an example, a full warranty requires the company to pay all of the cost of repairing a broken faucet, including any plumbing labor or shipping costs required irrespective of any limitations or disclaimers contained in a company's wrranty.
It also limits the buyer's duty to mderely notifyhing Strom of the claim. The company cannot, for example, demand a plumber's license as a condition of honoring the warranty or require the customer to accept a handful of repair parts in situations where the replacement of the entire faucet is needed.
The Strom warranty almost certainly was not written by a lawyer. It is amazing to us how many faucet company warranties are written by business school graduates who think they are qualified warranty writers – even warranties from major companies that should know better.
A warranty is a contract and needs much more legal expertise than a business school degree provides. That's particularly true in the era of Magnuson-Moss with all of its very detailed technical requirements.
Strom's warranty is an almost-perfect example of a badly written warranty that will get the company in serious trouble in any lawsuit. It urgently needs a rewrite by someone familiar with warranty law and the Magnuson-Moss Act. The quality of Strom's faucets and finishes can easily support and certainly deserve a stronger warranty.
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Strom Customer Service
Customer and warranty service is first class, testing at 4.45 out of 5.0 possible points. Any score above 4.0 is satisfactory.
The Better Business Bureau rated Sign of the Crab A+, the organization's highest score, up to a few years ago, then the company disappeared from the BBB site. We have no idea why but have asked the BBB for an explanation. When we get it, we will update this report.
Testing & Certification
CalGreen® Certified: Some Strom faucets comply with the energy-saving requirements of the California Green Buliding Standards Code. For a faucet to display the CalGreen label, it must have been tested for compliance with CALGreen Chapter 4, Residential Mandatory Measures, Section 4.303 Indoor Water Use and certified by an independent testing organization.
Faucets comparable in quality to Strom but not necessarily reflecting the styling of late 19th and early 20th century Victorian and Edwardian periods in England and North America, but with a stronger warranty are available from
Despite the skimpy five-year warranty against manufacturing and finish issues with all of the existing warranty's defects, we view Strom faucets favorably. They are very well made and finishes are impeccable.
All members of our rating panel indicated that they "would not hesitate" to install a Strom faucet in a heavily used bathroom or kitchen with conviction that it will provide many more than five years of trouble-free service.
They are, however, expensive, and similar styles are available from other companies. That being said, in an upscale bathroom remodel or that one luxury item for a more modest remodel, Strom would absolutely be our first choice.
If you are shoping for an entire bathroom set including bathtub, tub filler, lavatory sink and faucet, always buy through an authorized showroom. Getting the right combination of compatible products requires the assistance of a professional.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Strom faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.