|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Elkay Manufacturing Co.
2222 Camden Ct.
Oak Brook, IL
(Meets North American Standard)
Founded in 1920 by Leopold and Louis Katz with Ellef Robarth, Elkay, headquartered in the Chicago area for over 90 years, is a Katz family-owned and -managed global player in the kitchen and bath world. It owns the Elkay brand of sanitary ware, faucets and bath accessories, and also MasterCraft,
Medallion and Yorktowne cabinetry — all major brands, with eight factories in the U.S. — and the Revere line of plumbing fixtures.
The company did not begin producing its signature product, stainless sinks, until 1935. In 1948 it developed a method of die-drawing stainless steel to make sinks. The innovation cut manufacturing costs in half. Elkay's die-draw process is now the standard, used throughout the world to produce stainless steel products of all kinds.
With manufacturing facilities in Broadview, Illinois; Lumberton, North Carolina; and Ogden, Utah, Elkay manufactures many of its sanitary-ware products (toilet, sinks, etc.) domestically. But, it also owns Zhuhai Daya S.E.Z., a manufacturer based in China, and E.B. Tecnica Mexicana, Mexico's largest sink manufacturer located in San Luis Potosi. These provide stainless steel sinks for their home markets, but also supply Elkay with sinks for sale in the U.S. and Canada.
Elkay does not, however, manufacture its own faucets. Faucets have always been somewhat a sideline for Elkay, offered to complement and round out its main product, kitchen sinks. At one time it did manufacture faucets in North America, but those days are gone. We are no longer able to identify a single faucet manufactured or even assembled by Elkay in the U.S. or Canada. Most are now manufactured in China, Taiwan and Israel and shipped to Elkay in the box and ready to sell. Consequently we we have re-classified Elkay from U. S.-based of domestic faucets to of imported faucets. A Specifier does not manufacture or assemble its own faucets, but does design them and generally owns the molds from which the faucets are made. But, the actual manufacturing is done by other companies under contract.
Ekay's known foreign faucet suppliers are:
• Tech O.E.M. International Corp. of Taiwan manufactures professional and semi-professional kitchen sink faucets for Elkay and also for
• Sheng Tai Brassware (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. makes most of Elkay's stainless steel kitchen faucets. It also sells its own line of stainless faucets in Asia under the Bestyle and JustMe brands, primarily in Asia.Elkay's extensive line of automatic faucets for commercial and residential applications are made by
• Chang Yi Shin Co., Ltd. of Taiwan, which sells its own T.A.P. brand of touchless faucets in Asia.
• Carlo Nobili SpA of Borgomanero, Italy; and
• Sloan Valve Company, Inc. of Franklin Park, IL, which manufactures in the U.S. and China, and provides four of Elkay's automatic faucets, all of which appear to have been manufactured in China.Elkay has never been a name that immediately springs to mind when thinking about residential faucets. But, if you are building a hotel, restaurant or public restroom, it may be the first catalog you reach for. It has, in the last few years, begun adding more contemporary styles to it faucet line, but historically its designs have always been fairly conservative, but so are most faucets, and most buyers prefer traditional or transition styling which is Elkay's strong suit.
Elkay faucets, historically, have been justly famous for their reliability. Since the change from domestic to foreign manufacturing, we have begun to see some decline in the quality of the company's faucets. They are not the durable, extra-heavy-duty faucets they once were.
One change we especially don't like is the more expansive use of plastic in essential parts of the company's residential faucets. The pull-down spray head of the Avado faucet, shown at left above, for example, is plastic. In fact, Elkay does not sell a pull-down, pull-out or spring-type faucet spray in its residential line that does not include a plastic spray head. For an all brass sprayer, you have to look to Elkay's commercial faucet lines. We also don't like the zinc and ZAMAK (a zinc/aluminum alloy) now being used in place of brass in non-critical parts of some Elkay faucets. We think a faucet at Elkay's price level should be all brass or stainless steel — no shortcutting with lesser quality materials.
Elkay offers a very limited choice of faucet finishes, essentially polished chrome on brass, or stainless steel. It may be that a few faucets are available with other finishes, if so, they are very few in number.
The company's new web site, launched in 2014, is extremely well done, visual, with intuitive navigation. The web site faucet finder looks for features you rarely see elsewhere, such as flow rate and spout reach as well as the usual "number of handles", finish, "number of mounting holes", etc. All of a faucet's certifications are identified on its specification page and links to download installation instructions, specification sheet, user manual and warranty are provided.
The Elkay residential faucet warranty is considered one of the best in the industry, and certainly one of the simplest. All faucets are guaranteed not to leak, and all parts are guaranteed against any manufacturing defect or part failure for as long as the original purchaser owns the faucet, which, if you move and take it with you, could be for your actual lifetime. Elkay seldom asks for any proof of purchase document, figuring that you probably would not ask for replacement parts for a faucet you don't actually own, and generally is willing to take your word for it that you are the original purchaser of the faucet.
Elkay's customer support is responsive and helpful, famous in the industry for its efficiency, as befits a customer support organization that deals everyday with builders and architects — folks not famous for their limitless reservoir of patience and understanding. Warranty service on our test faucet was hassle-free and very quick. The Elkay agent was able to identify our model faucet, and the part that needed to be replaced, even though our tester deliberately tried to sow doubt and confusion. We give Elkay customer service a thumbs up. The Better Business Bureau agrees, having graded Elkay with an A+ for zero customer complaints about the company in the past three years — which means that customer problems are handled effectively within the company, so that customers do not feel the need to seek outside assistance from the BBB with problem resolution.
We rate Elkay faucets a fair to good value. The prices are high compared to competing faucets of equal quality, and especially high for what are now, with a few exceptions, Asian faucets.
In the old days, when Elkay still made its own faucets, its higher prices could be justified by the extraordinary heavy-duty commercial construction of its products. Today, that's no longer the case. Elkay faucets are still well designed and well made, but not any better made than the high quality residential faucets offered by such diverse companies as yet Elkay faucets still sell for prices 30% to 50% higher than these competing brands. Elkay's warranty and customer service is truly excellent, but no better than the service provided by a company that sells its good quality faucets at significantly below Elkay's prices.
We can no longer find the added value in Elkay faucets that justifies the line's generally higher price tag.
Faucets comparable to Elkay include
If you have experience with Elkay faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.