|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Kraus USA, Inc.
12 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
(Meets North American Standard)
Founded in 2007 by Russell Levi and Michael Rukhlin, two New York entrepreneurs, Kraus is an importer of good to very good quality Chinese-made faucets that it sells through internet venues, including most plumbing supply sites, and big box lumber stores such as Home Depot. In addition to faucets, it sells sinks, showers and accessories, often in coordinated collections for that well-put-together look.
The manufacturers of Kraus faucets include:
• Cae Sanitary Fittings Industrial Co. Ltd. manufactures faucets and sells its own CAE brand worldwide. It also manufactures faucets for other faucet companies including Cae is known for casting its faucets from DZR brass, an alloy that resists a chemical process called dezincification. Brass is an alloy of mostly copper and zinc. In contact with water passing through a faucet the brass tends to lose its zinc molecules, which over many years can leave the brass weak and spongy. DZR is very resistant to the process, but manufacturing with DZR is a little tricky since very precise temperature control is required during casting and other hot-metal operations to ensure that the brass does not lose is zincification-resistant properties.
• Huayi Group which sells faucets in Asia under the Huayi brand as well as manufacturing faucets for other companies to sell under their own brands, including faucets for
• Yatin Bath Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer that also makes faucets for
• Hunan Sento Stainless Steel Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd., an manufacturer of high-quality stainless steel faucets for kitchen and bath.Kraus is making what seems to be a concerted and continuing effort to distinguish itself the hoard of Asian importers that seem to be flooding North America with questionable quality, low-priced Chinese faucets, by improving both the style and quality of its faucet lines. It claims to use only the world's best components in its faucets that are made in factories that enjoy a world-class reputation for nearly faultless manufacturing.
Our examination of several of the latest crop of Kraus faucets suggests that the claim appears to be true: Kraus faucets are indeed made of components that we judge are some of the best made. Its single handle mixing faucets include a ceramic cartridge made by Kerox, Kft, a Hungarian ceramics manufacturer that enjoys a world-wide reputation for solid, reliable cartridges. Kerox is the ceramic cartridge preferred by many high-end European faucet brands.
The Kraus two handle faucets we examined were equipped with Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH cartridge, considered by many to be the finest faucet cartridge made. Since we have not examined every one of the seventy or so faucet models sold by Kraus, we cannot guarantee that every faucet contains a Kerox or Fluhs ceramic cartridge. So, if you are considering a Kraus faucet, check its website specifications to look for a Flühs or Kerox cartridge by name.
Kraus aerators are made by Neoperl®, considered some of the world's best. Faucet aerators used to be simple devices that merely added a little air to soften the water stream so it would not splash out of the sink. Today, however, they are also used to limit water volume to the lower flows required by federal and state water conservation laws, and in some cases, to prevent back-flow that can result in the contamination of household drinking water. It is important, therefore, that this little device, often smaller than a dime, be the best available. And that, almost by definition, is the Swiss-made Neoperl® aerator.
These are, for the most part, heavy, durable faucets that should give years and years of reliable service. They are well made with thick-walled brass castings or sturdy stainless steel construction with careful finishing. Yatin Bath, in particular, offers a polished chrome finish that it calls StarPlating®, described by Yatin as a finish with a "....lustrous, mirror-like sheen that is soil repellent, scratch resistant and non-tarnishing." The polish on this finish has to be seen to be believed. Photographs cannot do it justice.
Some lower-priced Kraus faucets contain some zinc or ZAMAK (a zinc allow) and plastic components. Zinc or ZAMAC in non-critical parts is not usually a problem, but we think plastic is too prone to chemical deterioration for use in a a lifetime product such as a faucets, and should be avoided. Look especially for plastic spray heads on some Kraus' pull-down and pull-out kitchen faucets. Plastic spray heads seem to a constant source of failure problems and customer complaints, not just in Kraus faucets but in all faucet lines that use them, including some very up-scale faucets.
Kraus has also concentrated a considerable effort to improving the design of its faucets, a somewhat challenging objective when sourcing faucets from China.
Historically, there has not been a lot of design innovation in Chinese faucets. Chinese manufacturers tend to copy successful North American and European designs. If a faucet sells well on either continent, it will soon appear, in slightly modified form, in Chinese catalogs. Chinese manufacturers gravitate toward conventional designs to reach the widest possible market. Design adventures in China are rare.
That is slowly changing, however. Yatin Bath has also begun to demonstrate stirrings of design imagination and is becoming known world-wide in the faucet inductory for some innovative and interesting styles which have begun winning design competitions in Europe, including a prestigious IF award in 2006 for the Yatin Power faucet designed by Yu Qing, and the equally sought-after Red Dot award in 1014 for the Diamond lavatory faucet.
Cae has avoided the limitations of Chinese design by hiring an Italian company, Slide Design, to create its new collection of faucets. They were designed by Slide's noted industrial designer Itamar Harari.
Kraus has shifted an increasing amount of is purchasing to Yatin, CAE and Globe Union, concentrating on higher-style faucets, and the shift is evident in the large portfolio of faucets from these manufacturers that appear in the current Krause faucet lineup.
Several years ago we were told by a company spokesman that Kraus had begun designing its own faucets. Until this year there had been scant evidence of internal design at the company. But, that also may be changing. Some of the most recent Kraus faucets may be in-house designs: most notably the Geo line of contemporary faucets. We don't think Kraus design is all in-house. The faucet companies with which Kraus does business provide sophisticated design and prototyping services, and almost certainly contribute to the design process.
The company offers four standard finishes on most faucets: chrome, brushed or satin nickel, bronze and stainless steel. Some faucets are available in other finishes. One can be ordered in 24 finishes. The number of finishes offered for a particular faucet depends on which manufacturer makes the faucet. Kraus does none of its own finishing, and can offer only those finishes available from its faucet suppliers.
The company has upgraded the length of its warranty from 10-years to a "lifetime" warranty, a major step in the right direction which suggests that the company is gaining considerably more confidence in its products. But, the company guarantees to have the parts needed to fix a defective or broken faucet for just five years. Interesting to us is the question of how the company intends to honor its lifetime warranty if, twenty years from now, a Kraus faucet breaks the but company does not have the parts to fix it, having run out of parts after five years.
Customer and warranty service varies in quality. It is not unusual to experience long waits to talk to a customer service representative, and then be asked to leave a message for a call back. Once a customer service agent is reached, he or she is often unable to provide any more information about a Kraus faucet than is available about the product on the company web site. But, while lacking, customer service is much better than it was a few years ago when it was almost non-existent. The company is rated A on a scale of A+ to F by the Better Business Bureau, a rating that indicates satisfactory resolution of consumer complaints made to the BBB. Kraus is not, however, BBB accredited.
We like Kraus faucets. Kraus is an importer of some of China's better quality and better designed faucets which it sells at a fair price. We do not think Kraus offers the best faucets in the world, but for the prices it charges, Kraus usually gives its customers good value.
We would not hesitate to install at a Kraus product as the main faucet in a busy kitchen or bath. But, we would look specifically for a Flühs or Kerox cartridge and an all brass or stainless faucet without any plastic components. The likelihood that Flühs or Kerox cartridges will give you any trouble is reassuringly remote.
Chinese and Taiwanese imported faucets comparable to Kraus include: Of course, more information is always appreciated, so if you have experience with Kraus faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it. Please contact us or post a comment below.