|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
820 Nobel Street
Saint-Jérôme, Quebec J7Z 7A3
866 473 8442
(Meets North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Riobel, Inc. is a Canadian company, founded in 1995, that sells faucets designed in Canada for manufacturing in Asia. Riobel faucets are designed by Riobel. The faucets are prototyped and tested in Saint-Jérôme before being released to one of the company's Asian suppliers for tooling and manufacturing. The styling is north European with a softening of the angular lines typical of Hanseatic design through a leavening of Italian and French motifs.
The quality of manufacturing is superb — Riobel has chosen its suppliers well. We judge these faucets to be a good value and durable enough for even heavy use in a busy kitchen or bath.
Riobel, Inc. is a Canadian company, chartered in Quebec, that sells faucets designed in Canada for manufacturing in Asia. The company was founded in 1995 by Mario Bélisle as Selections25, a plumbing products distribution company. It was renamed Riobel (MaRIO BELisle) after its 1999 purchase of Baldwin faucets.
Riobel is now owned by Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc., a company that also owns The four companies were combined into the new Global Plumbing Group division of Fortune Brands in August, 2016 headed by Nicholas Fink.
Riobel's primary products are sink faucets, shower systems and the accessories that go with them.
The faucets are, with some exception, designed in Canada, but manufactured elsewhere. The company has selected well-established, ISO-9001 qualified fabricators with excellent international reputations to do the actual manufacturing, including:
• Daelim Trading Co., Ltd., a South Korean manufacturer of quality faucets and other bathwares for over a half century, which, based on recent customs and import records, has become Riobel's principal faucet supplier from its new state-of-the-art factory located in Jiangmen City, China;
• NCIP, Inc. a Taiwanese company that manufactures faucets and faucet components in its Chinese (Guangdong) factory; and
• Kaiping Freendo Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd., a division of the giant Huayi Group of affiliated Chinese companies.
All of these companies are very well known manufacturers that supply faucets to a number North American faucet sellers.
Huayi, for example, manufactures faucets for
NCIP manufactures for
Daelim formerly manufactured faucets for but this relationship ended acrimoniously in 2010 with cross lawsuits for breach of contract.
Some Riobel faucets are given a final assembly in Canada, but this is fairly minor, consisting mostly of attaching handles and aerators. It does not rise to the level of transformation required to support a claim of "Made in Canada" as the term is defined by the Canadian Competition Bureau, and Riobel does not, in fact, make such a claim.
Riobel faucets are designed by Riobel and unique to the company. Riobel's ten-person in-house team designs nearly all of the faucets it sells from the ground up using the latest CAD design tools. The faucets are prototyped and tested in Saint-Jérôme before being released to one of the company's suppliers for tooling and manufacturing. According to the company, when it selects an off-the-shelf faucet from one of its manufacturers to add to its collection, the faucet is significantly modified before the Riobel name is afixed.
The styling is north European with a softening of the angular lines typical of Hanseatic design through a leavening of Italian and French motifs. The result is a distinctive look that is, at the same time, both novel and familiar; contemporary without being starkly industrial.
In-house design combined with external manufacturing is a model adopted by a number of excellent faucet companies, and one that produces some very high-quality faucets. Design companies like Riobel make no excuses for the fact they consider themselves the creative end of the industry, leaving the nitty-gritty business of actually producing their creations to the less imaginative. Companies known to use this approach include: So, obviously Riobel is in some very good company.
Riobel gathers its faucets into four broad categories: Antique, Classic, Modern and Prestige.
Antique, as you might expect, reflects design themes from the Edwardian/Victorian era. The one seeming oddity in the category is the Antico collection based on a bamboo theme — not what we typically think of as a Victorian era style. But, in fact, the Victorians were enamored of Asian, particularly Japanese, design motifs, so the theme is actually appropriate to the period. This is the smallest category, containing just three collections.
The Classic category contains faucets more or less suited for the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco design periods right up to the 1970s or thereabouts. In fact, Riobel's Jolly single hole lavatory faucet could easily be mistaken for a classic faucet of 1960s or '70s vintage.
The Modern and Prestige categories encompasses all of Riobel's contemporary lavatory faucets, containing more models than all other categories combined. The bamboo theme shows up again in this category in the Altitude collection.
All Riobel faucets are available in chrome, most lavatory faucets also come in brushed nickel and polished nickel. Most kitchen faucets are available in stainless steel and a very few in brushed nickel. Both the nickel and stainless are very tough PVD finishes.
Bath faucets are a part of coordinated collections that typically include sink faucets, tub fillers, showers, bidet faucets and accessories such as towel racks, toilet paper holders, robe hooks and the like. Kitchen faucets are commonly paired with coordinating prep faucets and matched to soap and lotion dispensers.
Riobel uses ceramic stem cartridges in its two-handle faucets made by Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH, a firm located in Ludenscheid, Germany since 1926. Flühs is generally regarded as a manufacturer of some of the world's best single function stem cartridges. Flühs (sometimes spelled Fluehs for English speakers) valves are heavy duty products with an established reputation for leak-free reliability.
Faucet lines known to use Flühs cartridges include
We have not examined every Riobel two-handle faucet, but we think most if not all of them incorporate the Flühs valve. The way to be certain, however, is the click on the "Spare Parts" link that appears with each faucet on the company web site, and look for model 401-079 or 401-080 cartridges.
The company's single handle or mixer faucet cartridges are more diverse. The company uses at least twelve different mixer cartridges in its single handle faucets. Most come from Taiwan. Identifiable suppliers include Kuching International, Ltd , the manufacturer of the well-regarded KCG cartridge used in many better faucets manufactured in Taiwan and China. Others we cannot identify for lack of maker's marks, other than to say they are almost certainly made in Taiwan. The ones we examined looked well made and should give many years of lead-free service. But, if any ever do leak, Riobel promises to provide replacements free of charge. Based on our experience with the company, it keeps its promises.
Many Riobel lavatory faucets can be ordered with a specified flow rate ranging from 1.0 gallon per minute (GPM) to 1.5 GPM. All of these flow rates meet Watersense® guidelines. The 1.0 GPM very low rates comply with the lower 1.2 GPM maximum flow rate required of lavatory faucets sold in California after July, 1, 2016. Varied flow rates for kitchen faucets are likewise available ranging from 1.0 GPM to 2.2 GPM. At least some Riobel kitchen faucets meet the new California maximum flow rate for kitchen faucets of 1.8 GPM also effective on July 1, 2016. However, as of the date of this review, Riobel faucets do not appear in the California Energy Commission list of plumbing fittings that are approved for sale or installation in California. Riobel, which is just starting to sell in the U.S., will undoubtedly get around to California eventually.
Riobel's warranty is standard for the faucet industry in North America, offering a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects and defects in its PVD and chrome finishes.
The one noteworthy item in the warranty is that Riobel requires its faucets be installed by a licensed plumber for the warranty to be valid. We understand the motive behind the requirement. By some estimates as many as 80% of warranty claims are in some manner influenced by faulty installation rather than caused by an actual defect in the faucet itself. But, this limitation can be a trap for the unwary do-it-yourselfer. Riobel promotes its faucets as engineered to be easy to install and simple to maintain, and provides extensive repair guides and installation videos, all of which make them attractive as DIY faucets. DIY-ers may completely miss the warranty language that voids the company's guarantees if the faucet is installed by the homeowner. However, it is also true that in all of our dealings with Riobel customer service, we have never been asked if a faucet was installed by a plumber as a condition of providing warranty service.
Riobel's warranty support and post-sale customer service is first class. In our tests of the company's after-sale service, representatives showed an excellent grasp of the technologies of faucets and detailed knowledge of Riobel's faucet products. Technical assistance in solving out (purely imaginary, but complicated) installation problems was quick, effective and very patient, although our tester is adept at pretending to be the world's stupidest plumber with some incredibly lame questions. We score Riobel's customer and technical support a solid "A". Keep in mind, however, that the company is located in a francophone part of Canada and the first language of most of its representatives is French. For English speakers the accent, euphonic though it may be, often requires paying close attention to comprehend what is being said.
The company web site also earned a high score. It is well organized, intuitive and fairly easy to navigate, avoiding slow-loading Flash-y media. The information provided for each faucet is extensive and includes everything you might want to know about a faucet to make a reasoned buying decision, including the faucet's certifications, available flow rates, finishes, type of cartridge; and a links to technical specifications, an installation guide and parts diagram — all in two languages. We wish more faucet companies would adopt Riobel's sterling example.
There are a few issues with the web site, however.
Most of the faucets are illustrated with just one image, sometimes making it difficult to discern a faucet's detailing. We would prefer several views or, better yet, a 360° panoramic view such as is available from faucets.
The search function is primitive and could be vastly improved by adopting some of Google's fuzzy search logic. Even searches on obvious search terms such as "widespread" return nothing at all even though many Riobel lavatory faucets are of widespread configuration. An accidental search on "cartridge" returned every faucet or shower handle in the Riobel catalog, but no cartridges. A search on 401-770, one of Riobel's cartridges, returned nothing at all.
Getting to a faucet's detailed specifications is a chore. After displaying the faucet's web page, which contains very little information about the faucet, you have to scroll down and click on "Documents" to display a menu that includes "Specifications", then click on specifications to download a .pdf file, then open the .pdf file to read the detailed specifications.
To go to the next faucet, you have to close the .pdf document, then click the back button a few times to return to the list of faucets in order to start the process over again for the next faucet. It is cumbersome and unnecessarily so — a triumph of style over function. All of the specifications should be displayed on the faucet's web page, eliminating a lot of work by the website user, many of whom are not going to bother, costing the company sales.
Installation instructions are listed in the documents menu as "Web Guide". Our first thought was "web guide to what?". It was only after downloading the web guide that we found it was actually an installation guide, which is what it should be called for improved clarity. The term "web guide" has no obvious meaning.
We judge these faucets to be worth a close look, particularly for those buyers interested in contemporary styling without the minimalist, heavy industrial look of so many modern designs. We think Riobel designs are, overall, fresh and appealing. The company's prices are in line with similar good quality Asian-made faucets offered by other importers. Riobel post-sale support is excellent and the warranty more than adequate. We would consider a Riobel suitable for even a busy kitchen or bath. We judge the workmanship and quality of the faucets to be good to very good, nd the price-to-value relationship to be very good.
Faucets comparable to Riobel include
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Riobel faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.