Waterworks Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 08/08/22
Waterworks Operating Co., LLC
60 Backus Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Warranty Footnotes:1. "Wearable parts" such as cartridges, are guaranteed for just three years.2. Two finishes: gold and matte gold, are limited to a two-year warranty.3. "[A]s long as the original purchaser... continues to own and maintain the residence where the products are initially installed."
Download the Waterworks warranty.Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
Waterworks sells upscale faucets as part of extensive collections of sanitary fixtures, accessories, and furnishings through authorized showrooms including Restoration Hardware Galleries
Most faucets are designed by Waterworks and manufactured by in its plant in Picardy, France.
Waterworks markets design collections that include faucets but also any other fixture or accessory you can think of, right down to ceramic tile, towels, floor mats, and even lotions and bathrobes.
The Waterworks warranty is very sub-par for the North American market, does not fully comply with federal warranty law, and contains several objectionable provisions.
Organized in 1976 by Robert and Barbara Sallick, the company is now composed of a collection of several legal entities. The most important are Waterworks IP Co., LLC, the company that owns all of the trademarks and patent rights, including the Waterworks and Waterworks Studio trade names, and Waterworks Operating Company, LLC which operates the business of designing and selling bath, kitchen, and bar collections.
Waterworks ran into considerable financial trouble during the Great Recession of 2007-2010 and filed for voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in bankruptcy.
It was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2009 by Design Investors LLC, an investment group organized by Peter Sallick specifically to purchase Waterworks. Mr. Sellick is the son of Waterwork's founders and the current CFO and Creative Director at Waterworks.
The new owners guided the company out of the recession and back to profitability. It was then acquired by Restoration Hardware, Inc. in 2016. The deal was estimated by some to be worth $117 million USD ($150 million CAD).
Restoration Hardware, a company that started out as a source of vintage decorative hardware, has morphed into an upscale home decor retailer that sells its own line of luxury faucets made by BrassTech, Inc., a Masco company.
It has a history of ups and downs in which periods of rapid growth and expansion were followed by brushes with near bankruptcy. At present, however, it appears to be in one of its relatively stable periods.
The merger should be an excellent fit, enhancing both companies.
Waterworks markets design collections that include faucets but also any other fixture or accessory you can think of for the modern bathroom, right down to ceramic tile, towels, floor mats, and even lotions and bathrobes.
It sells through authorized showrooms in the U.S. and U.K. where trained designers can help buyers create a coordinated Waterworks suite for a bathroom, kitchen, or bar.
If a buyer lives in a part of the world that does not have a showroom, the company will sell direct but prefers to work with a decorator.
The merger with Restoration Hardware vastly expands Waterworks' retail presence. RH owns 66 showroom stores (which it calls "Design Galleries") in 30 states and 3 provinces as well as six internet sites and several outlet stores at which "excess inventory" is sold at a discount.
Waterworks will certainly benefit from the almost instant expansion of its retail exposure as its wares are added to RH outlets.
The faucets are also sold by Waterworks on its website and by some showrooms on the internet.
Wherever you buy a Waterworks faucet, however, do not expect deep discounts. Waterworks enforces a minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy to discourage discount retailing, especially over the internet.
Not being a Waterworks dealer, we are not privy to the actual MAP agreement but calculate that the maximum discount from tWaterworks' suggested retail price that may be advertised is 30%.
Waterworks is a design and marketing company, not a manufacturer. It does not make its own faucets. According to the company, they are "made in France without compromise."
Our research shows, however, that while most Waterworks faucets are indeed made in France, some have been and still are manufactured elsewhere.
The French faucet company, (formerly Tetard, Haudiquez, & Grisoni, now THG-Paris) manufactures most Waterworks' faucets in its plant in Picardy.
THG is famous for its own diverse collections of very up-scale faucets, fixtures, and accessories that it sells worldwide, including in the U.S. and Canada.
Other French companies manufacturing faucets for Waterworks include
- Horus S.A., and
Faucet suppliers outside of France include
- of Birmingham which sells its own collections of high-quality luxury faucets in North america.
- (Xiamen) Sinotap Technology Co. Ltd. in China. Sinotap also manufactures faucets and faucet components for
For its accessories, furnishings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, the company sources far and wide. We found over fifty suppliers from at least twelve different countries during our two-year lookback period.
Most of the suppliers are from Italy and the rest of Europe. A few are now from from China and Taiwan. A sampling of the company's suppliers include:
- American Standard Brands for ttwo models of bathtub.
- Ekom Eczacibasi Dis Ticaret of Turkey for porcelain sanitaryware (toilets, sinks, and enamel tubs). Eczacibasi also manufactures for Kohler's upscale designer company, Kallista.
- Eke Tekstil Konfeksiyon Turizm Sanayi Ve Ticaret A S, also from Turkey, for towels and bathrobes.
- Drummonds, Ltd., Poland, for bathtubs.
- Rak Ceramics in the United Arab Emirates for sanitaryware.
- Wetter Ltd. and Vietnam Furniture Resources Co.,Ltd of the Peoples Republic of Vietnam for lacquerware, furniture, and decore items.
- A & J Gummers in England for shower valves.
Peter and Barbara Sallick provided the original design vision for the company. Since their retirement, the baton has been passed to Waterworks' creative director David Schaefer.
Most design is internal, and most faucet designs are distinctive and striking, many with a distinctively French flair. Hoever, a few are surprisingly pedestrian, not unlike the styles found in almost any mid-priced faucet line, but only a few and far fewer than in past years.
The collections are getting more interesting and more creative year by year.
The company uses outside design talent, but not heavily. The design firm of Roman and Williams, for example, created the R. W. Atlas lighting, fittings and hardware collections for Waterworks based on late 19th-century fin-de-siècle industrial motifs.
In addition to its own designs, Waterworks expands its offerings by buying faucet lines designed by other companies. The Etoile collection, for example, is the creation of Volevatch S.A., the French manufacturer. Volevatch designed and manufactures the faucets and owns the designs.
The striking Easton kitchen faucet collection appears to be a slight variation of a design.
If the company's standard collections are not exclusive enough for your mega-mansion, five-star hotel, or Vegas casino, the Waterworks Studio will design a one-of-a-kind faucet just for you. Of course, you may have to buy a minimum of several hundred facets to recoup the sizeable cost.
Waterworks faucets are available in five metal finishes: brass, copper, chrome, gold, and nickel. The company does not offer non-metallic finishes.
All of the finishes are except brass. Brass is simply the actual material of the faucet buffed and polished, brushed, or burnished to create an attractive finish.
All finishes are characterized by Waterworks as , meaning they
"will naturally age, patina, and take on their own individual appearances as they are exposed to time, climate, environment, and handling …"
Technically, it's true that these metals exhibit the basic characteristic of living finishes – they react with their environment and will tarnish over time. But, their reactivity varies. Some react so weakly that they are normally not considered by the faucet industry to be living finishes.
Chrome, nickel, and gold are in this category.
Pure gold is non-reactive. Gold is one of the "noble"  metals in chemistry. It does not react to the environment at all and does not tarnish. It is inert.
But, the gold used in faucet finishes is not pure. It is an alloy that usually includes copper and (sometimes) silver. Pure gold is very soft and scratches easily. Copper and silver make it harder but also allow it to tarnish ever so slightly.
Chrome and nickel are weakly reactive. They actually do tarnish, creating a thin protective coating over the surface of the faucet that is virtually invisible and no more than a minor nuisance. It darkens the finish slightly and dulls the metal's sparkle but a quick buff with a soft cloth wipes away the tarnish (and any water spots), restoring the faucet's gleam.
Understanding Waterworks Finishes
If you choose either of the highly reactive metals (brass or copper) or a chemically altered finish, you are not buying a carefree faucet. You are buying a lifetime battle against tarnish that involves repeated and regular maintenance.
However, if aged and tarnished to a unique patina that is never exactly the same from faucet to faucet is your preferred aesthetic, then a Waterworks living finish may be just what you are looking for.
Visualizing the aged look of a finish can be a problem, however. Waterworks never shows a finish in its aged state. Its images are of new faucets in pristine factory-fresh finishes.
You will pretty much have to guess what a finish will look like as the months and years roll by. (Our polished/Tarnished comparison table may help, however.)
Brass and copper are very reactive and will tarnish quickly and tarnish a lot. They are justifiably called "living finishes." Both will turn brown fairly quickly – a hue usually described as
If exposed to environmental extremes or left to tarnish for a long time, they will eventually turn green, a color known as verdigris. Copper tarnishes fairly quickly, brass more slowly. Brass contains copper and it is the copper that tarnishes. But it also includes zinc and a soupçon of other metals. These slow tarnishing.
The basic metals may be treated at the factory to produce different finish effects. Burnished and matte finishes are variations in sheen. Matte is a very flat finish with almost no shine. Burnished is a satin sheen somewhere between matte and polished.
Finishes described as "vintage" or "dark" have been artificially aged at the factory using chemicals to induce rapid tarnishing. This process creates a patina that, according to the company, "normally takes months or years to achieve." The three chemically altered finishes in the Waterworks' palette are Dark Nickel, Vintage Brass, and Dark Brass.
Through these effects, the number of finishes is increased from five to twelve standard finishes.
Chemically Altered Finishes Require Special Care
Waterworks' vintage or dark finishes require special care. Cleaning these finishes to remove tarnish also risks removing the factory-produced patina. That extra money you spent to get a dark or vintage finish will have been wasted.
Ten of the twelve standard finishes are available for quick shipping in "as little as four weeks" but more often six weeks or longer. Gold and Matte Gold require a longer lead time. How much longer, Waterworks does not say.
Very few faucets are available in all twelve finishes. The finishes common to most faucets are chrome, nickel, and brass. The Waterworks website identifies the finishes available for each faucet.
Some faucets are available in , what the company calls "mixed finishes" in which a base finish is paired with a trim or accent finish. The available options are Brass/Dark Nickel, Matte Nickel/Brass, Nickel/Dark Nickel, Brass/Copper.
A few faucets such as those in the Easton or Henry collections may include wood trim as an option.
Waterworks recommends daily cleaning with a soft cloth and Dawn® dishwashing liquid and drying with a soft cloth. It also warns that the "use of abrasive cleaners, cleansers, or disinfectants will … void the warranty." (Read more about this below.)
The key to preventing tarnish is to overlay the metal with a coating that protects the finish from coming into contact with air, water, and other elements in the environment.
The most common coating is some form of clear lacquer, usually applied at the factory. Waterworks, however, does not lacquer its finishes. Instead, it leaves overcoating to the buyer using a carnauba paste wax. Unlike lacquer which is reasonably permanent, wax requires periodic renewal.
If the faucet is new from the factory, it can be prevented from tarnishing by cleaning the faucet (to remove the installer's fingerprints), and applying wax immediately after installation. If it is partly tarnished and has reached the desired patina, apply wax to prevent further tarnishing.
After the initial waxing, Waterworks recommends it be re-waxed "bi-annually" or every two years. We think it should be more often, about every six months.
Waterworks does not use the latest processes such as (PVD) to produce its finishes. PVD is the "armor plating" of faucet finishes, virtually indestructible, requiring only minimum care. Highly reactive metals such as brass and copper are emulated using metals like zirconium and titanium that are non-reactive. The result is very convincing. PVD brass and copper look just like natural brass and copper.
Other upscale faucet companies, including from American Faucets and Coatings use the process exclusively.
Waterworks provides support for the faucets it sells, including parts replacement and warranty service. But, it does not always provide effective support.
The Better Business Bureau does not have a high opinion of the company. It rates the company's customer relations as a dismal D- on its scale of A+ to F focusing on the company's failure to respond to consumer issues. This rating, however, is based on two unresolved complaints received over the past three years. We don't consider two complaints in three years to be unduly excessive, but we would be happier had they been resolved.
The buyers we surveyed characterize customer service as friendly and courteous but not always able to help – not because agents are not trying to be helpful, but because they do not have an adequate structure supporting them. It is a systemic problem and one that Waterworks does not seem able to cure.
It is impossible, for example, to resolve a customer issue that requires a replacement part when the part is no longer in inventory.
The lack of replacement parts is a continuing problem for Waterworks, especially parts for discontinued faucets. The inability to get replacement parts constitute fully half of the customer complaints we receive about the company.
The Waterworks faucet warranty has many problems. It is not the worst warranty we have seen in the faucet industry, but it is close.
It is what we call a "Barnum Warranty" after the famous showman, philanthropist, and carnival huckster, Phineas T. (P.T.) Barnum. It appears to promise a lot at the top of the warranty but then takes most of it away down the page.
It is convoluted and confusing, full of ill-defined and unexplalined terms, ambiguities, and contradictions. It requires very careful parsing just to figure out what it actually guarantees. In the end, it guarantees very little.
Major problems with the warranty include:
- Ambiguous Terms: The warranty starts out with great promise: guaranteeing its faucets to be free of "mechanical defects" for a lifetime. Lifetime is defined as
"for as long as the original purchaser or initial homeowner continues to own and maintain the residence where the products are initially installed."
But there is an immediate problem. The term
mechanical defectis not defined. Exactly what constitutes a mechanical defect and how does it differ from a non-mechanical defect? We don't know because the warranty does not say.
- But, while we may not know what it is, we do know something about what it's not.
- We know it's not finishes.
- Finishes are specifically excluded from the lifetime warranty. They have their own two- or five-year warranty (depending on the finish).
- Nor is it "wearable parts."
- Wearable parts, defined in the warranty as …
"flexible hoses, hand sprayers, seals and washers, diverter plungers, and cartridges,"
- … also have their own warranty: for three years. They are not part of the lifetime warranty on "mechanical defects."
- After removing finishes and wearable parts from the lifetime warranty, there is not much left that could suffer a mechanical defect – Just the faucet shell, baseplates, shrouds, and trim pieces – components that are extremely unlikely to experience a failure of any kind, mechanical or otherwise – and by "extremely unlikely" we mean that, throughout the faucet industry, a failure of any kind is almost unheard of.
- Ambiguous terms are not allowed in a consumer warranty.
- The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308), is the federal law that dictates the minimum content of and sets the rules for consumer product warranties in the United States. One of its objectives is to eliminate deception from consumer product warranties and, to that end, it prohibits ambiguous terms.
- A term like "mechanical defects" allows Waterworks to avoid warranty liability by declaring a defect not "mechanical." We have found no indication tht it actually does so, but it could do so, and that's the problem targeted by Magnuson-Moss.
- Waterworks needs to either define the term or remove it from its warranty.
- Redundant Provisions: The warranty contains multiple redundancies. The most egregious example is the warranty's disclaimer of consequential and incidental damages. These are excluded from coverage three times in three different places.
- The need for three separate disclaimers is not immediately evident. Once is legally sufficient, twice is more than enough, and three times is inane.
- Improper Captioning – The Missing "Limited": An omission in the warranty's title does not seem like it should be a major problem. But, under federal law, it is. Improper captioning changes the entire legal nature of the warranty.
- Magnuson-Moss strictly regulates warranty captioning as part of its goal of preventing deception in consumer warranties.
To qualify a warranty as a limited warranty, Magnuson-Moss requires Waterworks to clearly
designateits warranty as limited by including the word "limited" in its caption or title (not a sub-caption or sub-title).
- This designation is required to give an immediate warning to potential buyers that Waterworks intends its warranty protection to be less than complete.
- The Waterworks warranty is captioned just "Waterworks Warranty". The word "Limited" is nowhere to be found.
- The text in the body of the warranty makes it clear that Waterworks intends to provide only a limited warranty. But, the missing "limited" automatically converts the warranty to a full warranty, (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.6) irrespective of Waterworks' intentions.
- A full warranty gives a buyer many more rights, voiding or vitiating many of the restrictions and limitations written into the Waterworks warranty, including the exclusion of installation costs and labor charges from warranty coverage.
"Waterworks will, at its option, repair or replace such products provided that repair or replacement does not include installation costs [or] labor charges…" (Emphasis supplied)
- Where the repair or replacement of a product (like a faucet) requires the product to be uninstalled and reinstalled, a full warranty requires installation labor to be free to the consumer. (16 CFR § 700.9) The company has to pay these costs.
- The same is true of the labor needed to repair the faucet by removing and replacing defective parts.
- The Definition of Lifetime: The warranty's definition of "lifetime" is severely flawed.
- The only requirement for the lifetime warranty to remain in effect is that the
"original purchaser or initial homeowner continues to own and maintain the residence where the products are initially installed."
- TThis definition creates at least three issues.
First is the requirement that a faucet buyer
maintain the residence.. But, what Waterworks means by "maintain" is not explained.
- First is the requirement that a faucet buyer
What does a homeowner need to do to
maintainhis or her residence, and how does the leaking roof or peeling paint of a poorly-maintained residence affect the functioning of a Waterworks faucet? No explanation is offered by the Warranty.
- What does a homeowner need to do to
- The definition's second problem is that it excludes buyers who don't own their homes. Home-ownership is an explicit requirement for the warranty to take effect. Since renters and lessees do not own their homes, they get no warranty coverage.
- The most important defect, however, is a missing requirement. The buyer is not required to continue to own the faucet itself for the warranty to remain in force. This omitted requirement can cause some unexpected problems for Waterworks.
Consider the following:
Buyer installs a Waterworks faucet in his house. A year later he replaces the faucet with a newer faucet and gives the Waterworks faucet to daughter Nell who installs it in her house.
At that point, the warranty on the Waterworks faucet is still in force because Buyer "continues to own" (and presumably maintains) the residence where the faucet was initially installed.
Buyer no longer owns the faucet but continuing to own the faucet is not a requirement for continuing to own the warranty on the faucet.
Buyer cannot transfer the warranty to Nell because, under the terms of the warranty, only the original buyer can own the warranty.The question is: if Nell's faucet starts to leak, can Buyer claim under the warranty for Nell's benefit?
- The answer is "yes." A warranty is a contract. As a general rule, a party to a contract can enforce the contract for the benefit of a person who is not a party to the contract.
- The Discontinued Faucet Trap: That is not the end of the problems with the Waterworks warranty, however. Consider this provision:
"For any discontinued product or part with a warranty period of longer than ten years, Waterworks' warranty obligation shall expire on the earlier of ten years after the date of purchase of such product or part, or such time as a replacement product or part is no longer reasonably available to Waterworks."
This mishmash of legalese needs a slow and careful reading but what it means in regular English is that:
- If waterworks discontinues selling your faucet, its lifetime warranty is immediately reduced to a ten-year warranty dating from the day the faucet was purchased, and
- If waterworks cannot "reasonably" get the parts needed to fix your discontinued faucet or cannot get the faucet itself from its supplier, the warranty ends immediately.
faucets sold by Northern Central Distributing, Inc., at one time had a similar provision in a
lifetimewarranty that lasted "until discontinued."
- When we inquired about the meaning of "until discontinued" we discovered that the warranty ended if the faucet was no longer being sold by Yosemite.
- After we poked fun at Northern Central for its warranty language, the company removed the "until discontinued" provision.
- This provision is telling you that the company is not at all confident that it can get the replacement parts needed to support a lifetime warranty.
- Most faucet companies handle the unavailability of replacement parts during the warranty period very differently They will either replace the faucet with a comparable faucet or refund your purchase price.
- The Waterworks solution is to cancel its warranty. Not what we call "customer-friendly."
- The Cleaning Products Terminator: Another questionable provision is contained in this language:
"… the use of cleaners containing abrasive cleansers, ammonia, bleach, acids, waxes, alcohol, or solvents will void this warranty." (Emphasis supplied)
- What this says is that the use of any of these products cancels the warranty. Damage to the faucet by the use of these products is not required. Their mere use is enough to void the warranty even if the faucet is not harmed.
- That provision is extreme.
- At the very least the products should cause some damage before the warranty is voided. And, it would certainly be reasonable to provide that any damage caused by the use of these cleaners is not covered by the warranty.
- It would be a little less reasonable but marginally within bounds if their use canceled just the finish warranty. Canceling the entire warranty and ending all warranty coverage, however, borders on draconian.
- The Care and Cleaning Catch: According to the warranty, it does not apply to faucets
"… which have been … maintained … other than in accordance with the care and cleaning guidelines &hellip provided to the purchaser by Waterworks."
- Once again it would be reasonable to provide that any damage caused by failing to follow Care and Cleaning guidelines is not covered by the warranty. But it is unreasonable to, in effect, cancel the entire warranty. Another example of gross overreaching.
So, to recap, here, in a nutshell, is what the Waterworks warranty actually provides:
Summary: Waterworks Residential Faucet Warranty
- Waterworks provides a lifetime warranty against "mechanical defects" in your faucet
- that is installed in your home,
- for as long as you own your home, but
- not if you rent or lease your home,
- that pays for the parts (but not the labor) required to fix the defect or,
- the cost of a replacement faucet (but not installation labor) if the defect cannot be fixed, however
- Waterworks' total liability is capped at the original purchase price of your faucet.
- The lifetime warranty does not cover certain components of the faucet, including
- finishes (2- or 5-year warranty) or
- "wearable parts" like cartridges, hoses, and sprays (3-year warranty), and
- immediately shrinks to a 10-year warranty (from the date of purchase)
- if Waterworks discontinues your faucet, and is
- cancelled immediately
- if Waterwerks runs out of and cannot "reasonably" get more of
- the discontinued faucet itself or
- replacement parts for the discontinued faucet, or
- if you use any prohibited cleaning product on your faucet (even if no actual harm is done to the faucet), and
- "does not apply" if you fail to follow Waterworks' Care and Cleaning guidelines.
By no stretch of the imagination is this a lifetime warranty.
We cannot help but wonder if anyone at Waterworks has actually read its warranty.
It has all the earmarks of a warranty cut-and-pasted from bits and pieces of other warranties without regard to whether the various provisions actually fit together.
Most likely it was not written by a lawyer. If it was, however, he or she badly needs an immediate refresher on legal drafting and warranty law.
We suspect that Waterworks does not actually intend these inane results, and they are probably not enforced in actual practice. But, they could be, and in a court action, they almost certainly would be. Courts tend to be literal about warranty language.
Buying Rule for
Smart Faucet Buyers
Never buy a faucet unless you have read and understand the faucet's warranty. It tells you more than the company wants you to know about management's real opinion about the durability and life expectancy of the faucets it sells.
Learn how to read and interpret faucet warranties at Faucet Basics, Part 6: Understanding Faucet Warranties.
Model Lifetime Warranty: For an example of a warranty that avoids Waterworks's drafting problems and complies with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, download and read our Model Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Because it excludes major components from lifetime coverage and considering the Barnum surprises buried here and there in the warranty language, we rate the Waterworks warranty as very sub-standard for the North American market.
The standard North American lifetime faucet warranty guarantees all parts of a faucet including all finishes (except actual ) for at least as long as the original buyer owns the faucet and lives in the residence in which the faucet is initially installed. The Waterworks warranty falls far, far short of that standard.
Waterworks' short five-year warranty on chrome and nickel finishes is particularly baffling.
We have never heard of a company other than Waterworks that characterized chrome or nickel as a living finish. Technically it's true that they will tarnish, but the tarnish is nearly invisible and easily removed by routine cleaning.
Chrome has been the most common faucet finish since the 1920s when chromium metal became cheap enough for use on faucets. We doubt that any user anywhere has ever complained about tarnish on a chromed faucet. Before chrome, nickel was the most common faucet finish, serving the industry well for nearly a century.
We see no reason that chrome and nickel should not be viewed as lifetime finishes with an actual lifetime warranty.
Understanding Finish Warranties
A finish warranty does not protect against anything that can go wrong with a faucet finish.
It protects against defects caused by faulty materials or errors in the finishing process, generally subsumed under the rubric "manufacturing defects."
Delaminating, peeling, blistering, and spalling are the usual manufacturing defects. These are extremely rare.
Most problems are caused by overzealous cleaning and ordinary wear and tear, neither of which are covered by a finish warranty.
If it peels, the company pays, but if you scratch it or discolor it with harsh cleaning chemicals – well, you should have been more careful and you are on your own.
The Waterworks website is colorful, well laid out, and even dramatic in places. It was having a problem with its vertical scroll in the Firefox browser when we tested it, but not with Chrome, Edge, or Safari. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the problem will be fixed.
Navigation is menu-driven and intuitive. It adapts well to various screen dimensions from desktop to smartphone. The search function is very robust so long as it is restricted to products and product features (configuration, finishes, etc.). With non-product terms like "warranty", it does not work.
The information provided about Waterworks faucets is generous but falls short of the complete picture needed for a well-informed faucet-buying decision.
Each faucet is briefly described with the list price and available finishes. Selecting a finish re-displays the faucet in the chosen finish.
Visualization of the faucet is excellent. Faucets are pictured in a single 3/4 view supplemented by either additional views including views of the faucet installed or a 360° feature. Clicking the 360° icon displays the faucet in a view that can be rotated to almost any angle by your mouse. The view can be zoomed in to closely examine even the smallest detail of the faucet.
More detailed information is available in downloadable "technical documents" in .pdf format. These include a "specification document" that lists the details of the faucet. It may include a measured drawing, but not always. For some faucets, the drawing is in Installation Instructions. A measured drawing is useful in deciding whether a faucet will fit your sink.
Links are available to installation instructions and care & cleaning instructions. An exploded parts diagram (entitled "service parts diagram,") is available for most but not all faucets, as are 2D and 3D CAD drawings. CAD documents are not particularly useful to consumer buyers but are helpful to architects and designers specifying a Waterworks faucet.
What's missing are:
- Ceramic Cartridge Identification: Ceramic cartridges are only identified as "ceramic.". That's not enough information.
- Forty years ago, when ceramic cartridges were new, "ceramic" indicated the newest and best faucet valve technology available. These days, however, all but the least expensive economy faucets are built around a ceramic cartridge – some good, some not so good. The best will provide a lifetime of trouble-free service, the not-so-good maybe two years.
- Knowing whether a faucet includes a good cartridge is critical to the buying decision, and the only way to tell the good from the mediocre is to know the name of the manufacturer.
Buying Rule for
Smart Faucet Buyers
Never buy a faucet unless you know the type of cartridge used in the faucet and who made it.
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 and perhaps you should consider a different faucet.
For more information about faucet valves and cartridges and the companies that make cartridges known to be reliable, see Faucet Valves & Cartridges.
- Sometimes a visual examination tells the story. Companies making the best cartridges often mark them with either a name or code.
- Unfortunately, the Waterworks faucets we examined contained cartridges devoid of markings, so we don't know where they are made and, consequently, whether they are first- or worst-class cartridges or somewhere in between.
- To solve that problem, Waterworks needs to identify the cartridge source on its website for each faucet.
- Be wary of cartridges that have a short warranty.
- The warranty duration is usually a good indication of how long the company expects its cartridges to last.
- The three-year Waterworks warranty suggests mediocre cartridges with a short lifespan.
- Secondary Material: Waterworks is religious about identifying brass as the primary material in its faucets.
- It does not, however, disclose its secondary material(s). Very few brass faucets are all brass through and through. Most include less costly secondary materials: usually zinc or plastic, or both.
- Zinc and its alloys are not as robust as brass and will not stand up as well to water pressure. But, they are fine for parts not under pressure: handles, baseplates, trim, shrouds, etc. Once the faucet has its finish, it is usually impossible to tell what parts are brass and what parts are not.
- Plastic, on the other hand, can be a problem, especially plastic spray heads (called "wands" in industry-speak).
- Many faucet companies, including upscale companies like have turned to making wands out of plastic because it is a lot cheaper and does not get hot in use like some metal wands. But, plastic also has many more problems than metal in spray wands and fails much more often.
- Waterworks probably does not use plastic in its wands but we don't know for sure because we did not examine every faucet with a wand, and the company does not identify its secondary materials.
Buying Rule for
Smart Faucet Buyers
Spray Head (Wand)
Never buy a faucet with a spray unless you know the material in the spray. If the material is not identified on the company website, you can usually find out from customer support with a telephone call.
For more information about faucet materials and the problems with plastic, see Faucet Basics, Part 1: What are Faucets Made of?.
- Warranty Link: Waterworks sells its faucets on its website. It is, consequently, required to have a conspicuous link to the faucet's warranty in or very near each faucet's listing by the pre-sale availability regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
- It does not.
- The only warranty link is 'way at the bottom of the page. You have to know to click on "Service Portal", then "Warranty", then "View all articles", and finally "Waterworks Warranty" to get to it, and then the typeface is so small that only a pre-teen can read it without magnification.
- Living Finishes: Waterworks does not explain anywhere on its website (except buried deep in downloadable .pdf Care and Cleaning instructions) that it considers all of its many finishes to be that may require a lot of care and attention for the lifetime of the faucet.
- It should let potential customers know, right up front, in faucet listings that any but chrome and nickel finishes will require more than average maintenance.
- The omission exposes customers who didn't happen to reach the Care and Cleaning Instructions before purchasing a faucet to the unpleasant surprise of seeing their very expensive Waterworks faucet start to turn brown, gray, or green unexpectedly.
Waterworks is not a faucet company for the budget-conscious.
The faucets are indecently expensive, as befits something manufactured mostly in France by THG. Faucets and handles are priced separately, and anything but a nickel finish can drive the price straight into the ionosphere. The company's prices are at or just shy of "if you need to ask, you can't afford it."
French-made faucets loosely similar to Waterworks styling include both also quite expensive. American-made or -assembled faucets with approximately the same period look include
For late 19th century American styles of good quality with impeccable finishes try
For the most technologically advanced luxury faucets, try These faucets have none of the verve of Waterworks styling but include super ceramic cartridges that are likely to actually last a lifetime.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Waterworks faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.
1. The noble metals are Ruthenium, Rhodium, Palladium, Osmium, Iridium, Platinum, and Gold. Silver is sometimes included in this group although it does tarnish. Its tarnish, however, is not oxidation. It is a reaction with air-borne sulfur.
2. The usual term is
manufacturing defect or, more rarely,
factory defect, both of which have well-established legal definitions.
3. In requiring this interpretation Magnuson-Moss follows the ages-old legal doctrine of contra proferentem. An ambiguous term in a document whall be construed against the writer of the document.
4. Most faucet warranties exclude (the legal term is "disclaim") consequential and incidental damages without ever explaining what they are, and the Waterworks warranty is no exception. Very briefly, these are damages other than the defect in the faucet itself. For example, your Waterworks faucet leaks and damages your kitchen cabinets. The leak is a "direct damage" to the faucet. The damage to the cabinets is a "consequential damage". It is a "consequence" of the leak. The cost to make a warranty claim is an "incidental damage." If you need to hire an appraiser to estimate the loss in value of your damaged cabinets, the appraisal fees are an "incidental damage." Collectively, consequential and incidental damages are often called "indirect" or "special" damages.