Signature Hardware Faucets
Review & Rating
2700 Crescent Springs Pike
Erlanger, KY 41017
Footnotes:1. The term "lifetime" is not defined, which means it would be given its common English meaning: the actual lifetime of the original owner.2. The warranty does not state that an original receipt or other proof of purchase is required to make a warranty claim, but typically it would be.
This Company In Brief
Signature Hardware is a trading name under which Clawfoot Supply, LLC imports and sells Asian-made faucets, sinks, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, decorative hardware, lighting furnishings and home accessories from Indonesia, India, China and Taiwan.
Founded in 1999 by Kentucky natives Mike and Matt Butler, Clawfoot Supply was one of the successful specialty web retailers at the dawn of the age of e-tailing, selling upscale antique reproduction tubs, faucets and other bath fixtures modeled on those available in the late Victorian Era.
In 2005 the company registered "Signature Hardware" as a legal trading name and ceased conducting business as Clawfoot Supply. The original Clawfoot Supply website is now redirected to the Signature Hardware site.
The company's faucets and other plumbing fixtures and accessories are private label products, purchased wholesale in China and Taiwan and re-branded for retail sale under the Signature Hardware name.
The company sells through its own website and printed catalogs, and through online retailers that host third-party sellers such as Amazon and Sears (online only) as Nottingham Brass — a name that was once a major Clawfoot Supply in-house brand, but which since has been deemphasized almost to the point of extinction. Its website is closed. It is now just a redirect to the Signature Hardware website.
Signature Hardware carries not only bath and kitchen fixtures, but also home lighting, and decorative hardware for doors, windows, and cabinets; much of it organized into a series of coordinated collections that can extend even to matching floor registers and air return grills.
The company's chief competitors are
VTB, Inc. trading as Vintage Tub & Bath, which sells many similar products including its private label line of faucets, showers, tubs, and accessories.Northern Central Distributing, a retailer, and distributor of its own private brandan English internet retailer that sell faucets in the U.S. and Canada over the internet from its base in Lancashire.
Signature Hardware's Replacement Parts Problem
Signature Hardware is a retailer, and retailers do not usually even try to provide parts and warranty support for faucets. Most do not provide any post-sale product support at all beyond replacing the faucet if it proves defective on delivery or soon after the sale. Those who do try usually fail miserably — for example.
Retailers usually rely on faucet manufacturers for parts and technical support.
With North American-based faucet companies, this works well. If you have a problem with a faucet, you call the technical support hotline and get it solved. If you need parts under warranty, the faucet manufacturer provides you with the parts — not the retail store.
If the faucet manufacturer is not located in North America the product support solution gets a little trickier. Major foreign faucet manufacturers that sell in North America sell through a local subsidiary or distributor that provides the necessary support for North American buyers.
Certain European and Asian faucet manufacturers have also established service centers in North America to handle back-end support for the retail chains that buy their faucets for private branding.
all provide warranty and parts support for the U.S. and Canadian retail stores that buy and re-brand their faucets. These include
The Canadian hardware giant, RONA, which, like Signature Hardware, buys its store-brand faucets from a number of smaller Asian manufacturers, has taken a different approach. Instead of relying on the manufacturers to provide post-sale service, it simply hired a third-party warranty service company, Mecanair, to support its Asian faucets. A call to RONA's warranty number connects directly to Mecanair, which stocks and inventories the needed parts.
Unfortunately, Signature Hardware's Asian manufacturers do not maintain parts operations in North America and are not set up to offer post-sale support for the faucets they sell in bulk to Signature Hardware.
Nor is there any possibility of support available from the factories located in China and Taiwan.
If you could find out which Asian company actually manufactured a particular Signature Hardware faucet (and good luck with that since Signature Hardware guards that information like gold at Fort Knox) contacting the Asian manufacturers would be a total waste of time. As far as they are concerned it is up to the Signature Hardware to arrange for product and parts support in its market in North America.
So, a Catch-22 possibly worthy of Joseph Heller's novel of the same name. But, for you as the faucet buyer, a real and possibly insoluble problem if your Signature Hardware faucet fails several years down the road.
At one time Signature Hardware sold faucets manufactured in Europe and the U.S.
These included faucets from Sign-of-the-Crab (which at the time were made in the U.S — now they are made in Taiwan.) and the upscale European brands: from England, and a few Italian faucet lines that seemed to vary from year to year. In 2009 it was selling some Franz Viegener faucets made in Argentina, but that relationship was short lived.
These were all luxury lines, well designed and well made, but we have not seen them on the company's website for almost a decade.
Perrin & Rowe faucets are now sold in the U.S. and Canada by by Herbeau Creations of America, Inc.
Prior to 2010 when most of its suppliers were still European,the company routinely identified the country of origin of its faucets.
It no longer does so.
In fact, Signature Hardware goes to extraordinary lengths to conceal the actual manufacturers of its faucets and the countries from which the faucets are imported. Brett Greenhalgh, the company's chief financial officer, in an e-mail, characterized the identity of its manufacturers as "proprietary" and not to be shared with the "general public".
We, however, are all about sharing with the general public, and after research through customs and import records for the past five years, are entirely confident that Signature Hardware's faucets are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
We have identified the following faucet suppliers:
Yuhuan Kingjoy Metal Products Co. Ltd. (China); a company that also manufactures faucets for Home Product America, Inc., a Canadian importer selling through Costco and at online hosting retail outlets such as Wayfair under theRin Shing Metal Co., Ltd. (Taiwan), also the manufacturer of a fewL.S.H. Faucet Co., Ltd. (China) an manufacturer that has only recently begun selling faucets in the U.S. under its ownDuratak Co., Ltd., (Taiwan) a manufacturer of brass faucets, primarily for the bath.NCIP, Inc., a Taiwanese manufacturer of brass faucets that also manufactures faucets forElite Plumbing Fixture Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); a Taiwanese manufacturer of brass faucets that also manufactures faucets forTaizho USA NgDian Import & Export Co., Ltd. (China); an export broker.
These are almost certainly not Signature Hardware's only faucet suppliers, and the company changes manufacturers from time to time. In the recent past, it also purchased faucets from:
By the time you read this, Signature Hardware's lineup of faucet suppliers may have changed again.Deluxe Brassware Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); which sells faucets in Asia under its Lolat brand and manufactures the faucets, bath fillers and showers sold by was a Signature Hardware supplier until 2016.CAE Sanitary Fittings Industry Co., Ltd. (China) which manufactures for ended its relationship with Signature Hardware in 2016.Heshan Khone Sanitary Ware Technology Co., Ltd. a Chinese manufacturer that sells its own Zhien and Khone brand bathwares in China, including several faucets on which it has received Chinese design patents, has not manufactured for Signature Hardware since 2015.
The collection has been assembled by someone with an eye to coordinating styles, but there is nothing unique or novel about most of the individual faucets themselves. Most are far from cutting-edge designs. Asian designs tend to be middle-of-the-road and to follow the pack rather than lead it. The goal of Asian faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping their designs well within the mainstream to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Few design adventures take place in China or Taiwan. Most designs are largely adopted from Europe and the U.S. faucet styles that have sold well in the marketplace. It does not take long for a successful design to be imitated by Asian factories. The lag time is usually 3 to 5 years, by which time, of course, the "new" design is no longer new.
Signature Hardware faucets are these middle-of-the-road, generic Taiwanese/Chinese designs right out of the each manufacturer's They are neither designed by nor created expressly for Signature Hardware.
The Signature Hardware Portnoy Kitchen Faucet is manufactured by L.S.H. and appears in its web catalog as the LH 88502B2 Spring Kitchen Faucet;The angular and dramatic Willis widespread waterfall lavatory faucet was designed by Kingjoy and appears in its catalog as a port of the KJ806 series of lavatory faucets;The Vivian retractable wall-mount pot filler is made by Rin Shing and appears in its catalog as the PF-35 pot filler; andThe Crisscross widespread bathroom faucet is made by NCIP and identified as the T80945 Crisscross Widespread faucet in the NCIP standard catalog.
There are always exceptions, of course. Some of Signature Hardware's more expensive faucets feature design that is both interesting and novel. One example is the hand-sculpted Goss touchless faucet in bronze shown above. This is definitely a faucet we have seen nowhere else.
Many of the faucets sold by Signature Hardware faucets are also sold by other importers of Asian faucets. The Signature Hardware Reston wall-mounted Faucet, for example, is also sold by several importers under several model names, including the Ys4661 from
The duplication arises from the fact that the Asian companies that provide their faucets to Signature Hardware sell the same faucets to other importers. Rin Shing Metal Co., Ltd. of Taiwan, for example, manufactures faucets sold by Signature Hardware, which certainly helps explain the striking similarity among these product lines.
The mechanics of Signature Hardware faucets are about average. Faucet bodies are typically stainless steel or brass but handles, baseplates, and other ancillary parts may be cast our of less expensive zinc or zinc/aluminum alloy: ZAMAK. This is a very common practice among manufacturers of discount faucets (and some premium faucets). Zink and ZAMAK do not have the strength of brass but are safe to use where that strength is not needed.
The company's faucet cartridges are generic Chinese, and it is likely that each manufacturer uses a different Chinese cartridge. We could not identify the manufacturer of some of the cartridges we examined but, as there are literally dozens of Chinese cartridge manufacturers, and most of the cartridges do not show maker's marks and look very similar, that's not all that surprising
After visual inspection, however, we are fairly sure that some Signature Hardware faucets contain ceramic cartridges made by Sedal S.L.U., in China. Others appear to be KGC cartridges manufactured in China by Kuching International, Ltd. and Quore cartridges made by Ningbo Wanhai Cartridge Technology Co., Ltd., also a Chinese manufacturer.
All of these are reasonably adequate cartridges used widely by Asian manufacturers of faucets destined for export to Western markets. None is the best ceramic cartridge made but they are good enough to last five years or more with reasonable care.
We did not find any of the better Asian cartridges such as those made by Geann Industrial Co. on Taiwan or any of the European premium cartridges like the Kerox Kft ceramic cartridges made in Hungary and used in many upscale European faucets. (For more in-depth information about ceramic cartridges, see "Faucet Valves & Cartridges".)
As many as ten different finishes are available including polished chrome, stainless steel, brushed nickel, polished nickel, polished brass, antique copper, oil rubbed bronze, dark antique bronze, black, and matte black. Not every faucet is available in every finish and the finishes that are available vary by manufacturer. Almost all faucets are available in chrome, most in brushed nickel and some in oil rubbed bronze and polished nickel. The remaining finishes are available on a few faucets. The company charges a premium for some finishes added to the base cost of the faucet.
The company website does not indicate the type of finish used on the company's faucets so we quizzed customer support to find out. All finishes are plated except black and matte black which are powder coatings.
Polished brass is a lacquer coated finish to keep the brass from tarnishing which it will do almost immediately if the clear coat is damaged. Powder coated black and matte black are a soft finish that will not tolerate much abuse.
The company does not offer the newer technology Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) finishes which are much tougher than plated finishes — twenty times more scratch resistant than plated chrome according to some sources. (For more on faucet finishes, see Faucet Finishes.)
Be careful when matching antique copper or oil rubbed bronze finishes. These are seldom the same from manufacturer to manufacturer and the different shadings can be quite obvious. If possible, buy faucets and accessories from the same manufacturer.
Signature Hardware's lifetime warranty is a recent upgrade from its original 5-year faucet warranty. It covers "manufacturing and mechanical" defects. As written, it is one of the strongest warranties among the Asia Importers, which as a group are not noted for powerful warranties. Some offer a little as a one year guarantee. It is also a full warranty and not the limited warranty offered by most faucet companies. A full warranty gives the buyer more protection, including the additional guarantees provided by each state's implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for purpose. The warranty protects the original buyer only and is not transferable to a subsequent owner. (For an examination of the difference between the two types of warranty, see How to Win the Warranty Game).
The warranty has been in effect for just a short time, and we do not yet have much information about how well warranty claims are handled by the company. In general, however, we rate the company's post-sale customer service as courteous and effective. On the two occasions we returned a faucet, the return was handled with dispatch and the purchase price credited immediately.
The Better Business Bureau rates the company an A+ on a scale of A+ to F for satisfactorily handling consumer issues. The company is BBB accredited which entails an extensive vetting and an agreement to adhere to very high business standards.
Be aware, however, that Signature Hardware is a Retail Rebrander and Rebranders do not usually have an organized replacement parts program that maintains an inventory of parts for current and discontinued faucets. The company's ad hoc solution to the spare parts problem, according to several customer service agents to whom we have spoken, is to scavenge parts from other faucets still on the shelf as needed, or, if the faucet is no longer being made, to replace a defective faucet during the warranty period with a "comparable" faucet.
The company's website is very visual, well-designed and easy to navigate. The company sells only from its own website, so we would expect it to be exceptional, and we were not disappointed.
The site search feature is robust and uses fuzzy search logic. If you mistype a word, it will often find the item anyway. You can filter searches by faucet type, handle style, price and so on to narrow the initial result set. The filters work correctly. The only fault we found is that filtering by price results in a lowest to highest price array. There does not seem to be any means of getting a highest to lowest price display.
In a sampling of faucet pages, we found the descriptive information provided for most faucets to be reasonably adequate. Under a heading "Technical Information" there are links to .pdf documents that can be downloaded to supplement the description. For most faucets there include installation instructions and what is called "Specifications". The specifications, however, are usually nothing more than a measured drawing of the faucet — nothing in the nature of actual detailed specifications. But, the faucet descriptions are so complete that further detailed specification is usually not needed.
For most faucets, several images are provided showing different views of the faucet often in different finishes making it easier to visualize the faucet from all angles and in several finishes.
The installation instructions are easy to follow, well-illustrated, and comprehensive. Our plumbers rated the installation of our test faucets as Easy" on our four-point scale: Very Hard to Very Easy. For some faucets, the installation instructions include an exploded parts diagram. Others do not have the diagram. The diagram is very useful if you ever have to order repair parts.
There is no information about a faucet's cartridge other than a mention that it is ceramic. But, there are good, bad and average ceramic cartridges. Knowing the source of the ceramic cartridge can be the difference between buying a lifetime faucet and one that lasts a few years at most.
These are mostly economy faucets, priced in the $100-$300 price range. But, Signature Hardware has added a number of faucets in the higher price ranges in recent years, up to nearly $700 for some regular faucets and over $3,000 for a touch-free automatic faucet — one of the most expensive automatic faucets we know about.
At one time the company identified at least some of the faucets on its website as "UPC Certified" meaning that the faucets had been tested and certified by IAPMO-RT (see more about this organization in footnotes below) as complying with the basic U.S./Canadian faucet standard. Likewise, the company as late as 2013 identified many (but not all) of its faucets as low-lead compliant or sometimes "AB1953 lead-free compliant", which means that a faucet had been tested and met the then applicable lead-free standards. After January 2014 when the more stringent nationwide lead-free standards required by the amended Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) began to be enforced, we no longer could find these statements on the company website.
Faucets are an important part of drinking water systems in North America, and every part of a drinking water system is strictly regulated at all levels of government: local, state and federal. All plumbing codes in effect in Canada and the U.S. require faucets to meet certain basic standards1 in order to be connected to community water supplies, and many state and provincial laws require compliance for the faucet to be sold within the state or province2.
The basic faucet standards and the tests to be used to confirm compliance with the standards are set out in ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 which establishes the joint U.S./Canadian requirements for the safety, integrity and mechanical reliability of faucets, and ANSI/NSF 61/9 which specifies the North American "lead-free" and drinking water safety requirements including tests for toxins such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury. In addition, U.S. law also requires certification that a faucet meets the water flow limits imposed by the U. S. Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Faucets that are not certified compliant with these requirements by an independent laboratory may not be legally installed, and in most cases cannot be lawfully offered for sale in the U.S. or Canada.
We initially searched for Signature Hardware's faucet certificates when we first reviewed the company in 2011 but did not find a single one5. So we asked the company for its listing file number(s). Each certificate has a file or registry number, making it easy to quickly find a listing. Our request was met with a series of evasions, half-truths, and delays for most of three years. During that time, the company identified just one file number — and it was for another company — not Signature Hardware. When we pointed that out, the company refused to provide any more file numbers although its customer agents continued to assure us as by e-mail (as recently as April 2016) that all Signature Hardware faucets are "certified, period".
In January 2015 we received a letter from Brett Greenhalgh6, the Chief Financial Officer of Signature Hardware. The letter restated the company's claim that its faucets are certified as complying with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 and with the lead-free and drinking water safety requirements of ANSI/NSF 61/9 but once again declined to provide the company's listing certificates. He stated:
"We have these certificates and provide them to legitimate customers. We do not post them publically [sic] nor do we carelessly distribute them. These certificates contain important supplier information that we deem to be proprietary. Publically [sic] posting these certificates would publish our supply base to our competitors, which we elect not to do." (for a listing of Signature Hardware's "supply base", see above.)In other words, "We have the certificates but they're secret…".
Listing certificates, however, are not secret. They are published in online databases maintained by each authorized testing organization. If they exist at all, they are public documents. If they are not in the public database, then they do not exist.
A valid listing certificate must clearly show the company name, brand name (if different) and the model number (or name) of the faucet being certified. It must show a date indicating that the certificate is current, and clearly identify the standard or standards to which the faucets listed in the certificate are being certified. A company cannot certify a faucet under an alias or fictitious name. Nor can one company certify another company's faucets unless the second company's name and models are added to the certificate. The certificate then becomes a multiple-company listing for two (or more) companies: a "primary" listing company and one or more "additional" listing companies.
As of the date of this review, none of the seven organizations7 authorized to test and certify faucets for the U.S./Canadian market list Signature Hardware or Clawfoot Supply faucets as being tested and certified. We know this because we carefully searched the public database at every single one of these organizations, then confirmed our findings with a follow-up telephone call to ensure that we had not missed anything.
Faucets from a faucet company that does not have a listing certificate in its own name on file are not certified faucets. Faucets that cannot be shown to be certified by an independent agency cannot be lawfully installed in any water system subject to a plumbing code in North America. All codes require that faucets be tested and certified as complying with these standards1. All of North America is subject to a plumbing code. There is usually a state- or province-wide plumbing code supplemented by individual county and municipal codes. If a county or town does not have its own code, the state or provincial code applies.
Certification is particularly important for faucets are made in China where lead poisoning has reached epidemic proportions3 and where the government has not established any lead safety standards4. Because the presence of lead cannot be detected from merely looking at a faucet, extensive testing is required leading to the certification of the faucet as "lead-free". This is precisely the certification that Signature Hardware has failed to obtain.
Imported Asian faucets comparable to those sold by Signature Hardware include
We have to give Signature Hardware a big thumbs down because its faucets do not comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. or Canada and are not legal to sell in the U.S. or in most Canadian Provinces. They are not legal to install in any drinking water system anywhere in North America. If you buy one and try to install it, it is very likely that your local plumbing inspector will not allow it without a current listing certificate.
If you are in the market for an inexpensive Asian-made faucet, another of the suppliers listed above would be a better choice. All sell faucets that are known to be certified safe, reliable and lead-free and authorized for use in U.S. and Canadian water supplies.
If you do decide, however, to buy a Signature Hardware faucet, demand a listing certificate showing that the faucet fully complies with ASME A.112.18.1/CSA B125.1, and with ANSI/NSF 61/9. These are usually separate documents.
The minimum requirements for a valid listing certificate are that it must
Be aware that Signature Hardware often pulls a little slight-of-hand trick in which it passes off a manufacturer's certificate as its own. The fact that a manufacturer makes some certified faucets does not mean that the faucets it sells to Signature Hardware are the certified models. Only if Clawfoot Supply or Signature Hardware is identified on a manufacturer's listing certificate as an "additional company" along with the actual model name or number of the faucet you are buying can you be sure that the listing applies also to the Signature Hardware faucet you have in mind.
Do not rely on certification marks such as "UPC" that may be stamped into or imprinted on the faucet. According to IAPMO-RT, the certifying organization that owns the UPC Shield trademark, Signature Hardware faucets are not certified and the company is not authorized to impress the mark on its faucets. For an explanation of the various certification marks that may appear on faucets, see Keeping Faucets Safe.
If you actually do manage to pry a listing certificate out of Signature Hardware (and good luck with that, even if you are what Mr. Greenhalgh describes as a "legitimate customer"), e-mail us a copy. We'd like to see what an actual Signature Hardware listing certificate looks like. We have been asking for one for almost a decade but have never seen one.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Signature Hardware faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.