R. A. Magnus – Amazing Stone and Copper for Bath and Kitchen

We would like to welcome R.A. Magnus to the American Canyon showroom. R.A. Magnus is a family run business based in Austin, Texas that specializes in stone and copper for the kitchen and bath.  Unlike many stone and copper vendors that import products from overseas, R.A. Magnus operates its own factory in Queretaro, Mexico. Here artisans craft original designs and there is no mass production. Every piece is hand-made with attention to detail and the natural beauty of materials.

R. A. Magnus Custom Tub for La Casa de la Marquesa

R. A. Magnus works in five categories; Stone Bath, Copper Bath, Kitchen, Pedestals and Vanities and Custom work.

Stone Bath is focused primarily on vessel sinks which they make in round, oval or rectangular shapes. Exterior surfaces may be smooth or shaped or patterned to add interest. Their rectangular vessel sinks include softened interior corners and crisp exterior lines. Vessels are available in seven shades of Travertine (Beige, Belayo, Chocolate, Durango, Gold, Orange and Red) as well as Black or White Marble and Honey or White Onyx.  Lavatory sinks are also available as drop-in style.

Red Travertine drop in lavatory by R. A. Magnus

Stone Bath also includes bathtubs. These include two standard models, an oval and a rectangle and are available in a variety of colors. They will also make customer designs in bathtubs.

Classic Roman Rectangular Stone tub by R. A. Magnus

Copper Bath, like the stone offerings, includes lavatory sinks in vessel and drop-in models and bathtubs.  To be honest there is a lot of copper available today. What makes R. A. Magnus products different is unique design coupled with distinct finish. Their copper sinks are heavy gauge material for long lasting performance. The weathered copper finish has a rich almost golden hue unique to these sinks. Copper products are also available in Oil Rubbed Bronze and Satin Nickel.

Copper Vessel by R. A. Magnus

For the Kitchen R. A. Magnus makes copper drop in models and farm sinks in both stone and copper. Bar/Prep sinks are also available. Copper is a great product for the kitchen as it is naturally anti-microbial. A stone farm sink can be a unique addition to a kitchen and R. A. Magnus makes these in a variety of colors with options for a plain or decorative apron.

Stone Farm sink with Carved Face - R. A. Magnus

I think one place R. A. Magnus really shines is with their collection of pedestals and vanities, especially the Designer series.  Some are variations on classic themes while others are really unique. For a designer looking for that certain piece R. A. Magnus is a great resource. Here in the Napa area these rustic designs are a perfect choice.

Iron Mariner Console with stone sink by RA Magnus

Probably the greatest thing that makes R. A. Magnus such a great source is that they offer custom work. Because they operate their own factory and work on a smaller scale that can craft most designs you can think of. It may be something simple like adding a different exterior texture to a vessel sink all the way to creating a new and unique design for a stone and wood vanity.

RA Magnus Boat Vessel On Wood base with Drawer

We are currently displaying five sink designs in our American Canyon showroom and we are a major source for R. A. Magnus here in the Napa Valley. We invite you to come in and see our displays and to learn more about R. A. Magnus.

Green Water Rules – Saving and Enjoying

Saving water has long been a fact of life in California, and is becoming increasingly important in other parts of the Country. In the realm of decorative plumbing, efforts to save water continue to focus on toilets, faucets and showers.

Grohe DreamSpray Shower Technology

As of January 2011 California has adopted a new Green Building Code referred to as “Calgreen”. This code is designed to conserve energy and water by making efficient building mandatory. This includes limiting the use of water in showers (max 2.0 gpm total), faucets (max 1.8 for the kitchen and 1.5 gpm for bathroom faucets) and toilets (1.28 gpm). In addition, some municipalities, like the City of Napa, are adopting even more stringent requirements for energy conservation.

There has been some concern in the decorative plumbing industry regarding Calgreen and the remodeling industry. At this time it appears that Calgreen will apply only to new construction; so you can still add a multi-outlet shower to your master bath remodel. Water usage in toilets however, will be determined by a different requirement.

Porcher LXP WaterSense Veneto Toilet

California AB 715 was signed into law in 2007 and requires all toilets installed in California to be 1.28 gallons per flush by 2014. This is accomplished by requiring manufacturers selling toilets in California to offer an increasing percentage of 1.28 gallon models. Currently 67% of all the toilets a manufacturer sells in California must be 1.28gpf (by January 2014 it will be 100%). What this has meant for our showroom is that there are now certain models of Toto and American Standard (to name the two biggest) that are no longer available for shipment to California.

Toto Drake II Dbl Cyclone 1.28gpf Toilet

Both Toto and American Standard have upgraded most of their models to 1.28 gpf although there are a few exceptions to that. I have seen some concern about the functionality of 1.28 gpf models but I do not think there is reason to worry. We have for the last two years had a Toto Drake II 1.28gpf toilet installed in one of our public restrooms and it has been trouble free and easy to maintain. Some cities in Napa, Marin, Solano and Sonoma counties have offered rebates to encourage the replacement of 3.5gpm + toilets with 1.28 GPF models (see a list here).

Resistance to the use of water saving products is understandable. Low quality devices do often offer substandard performance; but it is not true that all water saving products are a drag to use. Manufacturers like Toto, Porcher, Hansgrohe, Grohe and others have invested heavily in engineering and design to produce effective products. Hansgrohe’s various air technologies result in low water shower heads that feel like much more water than is actually being used. Toto’s new Double Cyclone flush not only flushes well but has an action that results in a clean bowl; one of the greatest challenges for a low flush toilet. Grohe has designed their signature pullout kitchen faucets to meet low water standards while providing the performance Grohe is known for.

Hansgrohe Air Technology

California has always been a leader in green building and what has started here is likely to spread across the country. Water saving is here to stay and we are fortunate to have so many ways to meet the new requirements without giving up performance.

ROBERN – Exceptional Design and Exceptional Quality

Robern M Series Ganged Together with Vertical Lights

The medicine cabinet starting out as a small mirrored box recessed into the wall above the bathroom sink; it provided a handy place to store medicines or other bathroom supplies. A good idea yes, but not always well thought out. These cabinets didn’t really take into account the wet conditions in a bathroom. They were subject to rust or water damage and weren’t large enough to store much.

Enter Robern. Based in Bristol, Pennsylvania since 1968, Robern has become the leading producer of mirrored bath cabinetry and residential bath storage solutions. Robern took a look at the medicine cabinet and saw many things to improve; quality of construction, available storage space and appearance. Here’s what they did.

Robern Metallique Brushed Nickle

Make the Basics Better

In the past medicine cabinets were typically made from either steel or wood, neither a good choice for the bath. Steel, while sturdy, was subject to rust while wood products absorb moisture and warp; neither ideal for the water rich environment of the bathroom. After some trail and error Robern settled on aluminum as the best choice for the box construction; sturdy, easy to clean and non-rusting. Robern than added a water-tight gasket to seal the door and prevent steam from getting inside the cabinet.

Robern Cite with Oxblood Leather Frame

A Cabinet is Born

Thus the Robern “M” Series was created. Originally the “M” Series included two cabinet heights (30” for MT and 40” for MP) and three widths (16, 20 and 24”). Robern also decided to offer deeper cabinets than had been available in the past; in addition to the typical 4” they added the option of 6” and 8” depths. True, these would not recessed completely in a standard wall but these could be partially recessed, giving one a great deal more storage space with just a 4” extension off the wall. Finally Robern added mirrors to the interior of the cabinet which was attractive and useful for seeing different angles.

Robern M Series with Nightlight

Smart Options

Once they got the basics Robern started adding options that made their cabinets even more effective. They added internal electrical outlets as an option. These allow one to store an electric toothbrush or hairdryer or other appliance out-of-sight, handy and plugged in and charging. Once electrical had been added it was easy to supply a defogging option. A nightlight option was also added. Another useful option is a lock-box addition; medicines can be secured away from children for safety. One of Robern’s most recent addition is a “cold storage” option; a chilled compartment inside the cabinet for the storage of temperature sensitive cosmetics or medications.
By this point Robern already had a great product but they realized there was more they could do. They created a system that allowed one to design multiple cabinet installations. Accessories that allow one to stack cabinets vertically or gang them horizontally or combine cabinets with wall mirrors, shelves or sink top opened up all sorts of possibilities. Then Robern brought out a series of cabinets that replaced the traditional mirror with decorative glass panels. These can be used in the bath or extended into other rooms; entryways, bar/entertainment areas and dressing rooms are a few ideas.

Robern Framed Cabinet Antique Gold

Design, Design, Design

Having come up with so many functional options Robern turned its attention to the visual aspect of their product. The mirror door had always been available in a plain or beveled edge. Next Robern added the option of a wood frame; three profiles in a selection of wood or metal finishes. That was just the beginning. Robern slowly introduced four collections featuring unique framing options.
Cite – This collection is aimed at an urban look with frames available in black, parchment or oxblood leather.
Fairhaven – This is a traditional country look with white frame and crown.
Metallique – Clean profile frame available in polished chrome, brushed nickel or Monaco gold.
Candre – Framed in glass and chrome, the frame glass may be white glass or tinted gray.

Robern Fairhaven Collection Cabinet

Uplift – Looking at Cabinets a New Way

As you can see Robern offers a tremendous array of design options. But it still wasn’t enough. So Robern introduced the “Uplift” cabinet. This time Robern completely reconfigured what we typically expect from a medicine cabinet. The “Uplift” gets its name from the fact that the door does not swing open but instead slides up revealing the entire cabinet interior. The inside has been designed with multiple shelves, interior lighting and defogger, interior electrical outlets, cosmetics organizer, swing-out magnifying mirror and an optional TV mounting to accommodate up to a 22” flat screen inside the cabinet. Matching sconce or pendant lights are also available.

Robern Uplift Side by Side

TV and Music in the Bathroom

Enough right? Nope. This year Robern has introduced TViD. TViD allows the integration of a small screen and sound system into an M series cabinet. The Smart Position screen provides access to TV in the bathroom without having another appliance to worry about. The TViD has an MP3 dock and can be operated from the interior control panel or with a universal remote.


As you can see the offering from Robern is both extensive and exciting. But wait, there’s more! In my next post I will discuss other Robern cabinet collections and accessories. If you would like to see these products for yourself please visit out showroom.

Space Solutions for a Small Bath Remodel

Do you have a small bathroom that just isn’t what you need? No storage, no countertop space and no room to move. Perhaps you would like to remodel but can’t think of how to make it better? Here are a few ideas that might help make that small bathroom a more functional space.

Duravit Vero for Small Bath - Wall Toilet

In-Wall Tank Toilets

In wall tank toilets are very common throughout the world but few people in the US are familiar with them. These toilets use an inside-the-wall carrier which provides the flushing mechanism as well as the support for the bowl. By placing the tank inside the wall a system like this saves several inches of space in front of the toilet; 6 – 8 inches when compared to a standard elongated toilet. In addition, these models allow you to set the bowl at the standard height or to raise it to a more comfortable height.

Geberit In Wall Carrier for Dual Flush

 In-wall tank systems have been around for many years and there are millions installed worldwide so you can be confident in this system. Geberit is the best known provider of carriers but in the last couple of years both Grohe and Toto have entered the market. Originally a 2×6 wall was required but now there are carriers available for the 2×4 walls typical of residential construction. All carriers currently available by these manufacturers are for dual flush bowls.

 Of course the in-wall tank is only part of the equation; you will also need a flush actuator and a bowl. There are several companies making really attractive toilets for in-wall carriers. Duravit, Lacava, Porcher and Toto all offer wall hung bowls with Duravit offering the most extensive collection of styles. Flush actuators mount on the wall at the top of the carrier and also provide access to the tank should service be needed. In some cases it is also possible to mount the plate on the opposite side of the wall or to get a remote actuator button that can be mounted for easier access. These plates are available in a variety of finishes and styles.

Lavaca Suave Wall Hung Toilet

Wall Hung Vanities

Ronbow Wall Hung with Drawer

One common problem with small bathrooms is a lack of storage space. You might have room for a small vanity but it may make a small room seem crowded. A wall mount vanity, being open underneath, can avoid that sense of crowding while still offering some needed storage space. Even though there is a sink many of these cabinets today have a drawer that is shaped to allow the drain to pass through while still providing some drawer space. In other cases there is a drawer concealed behind the main door.

Another option is a vanity with legs like the Fairmont Woodwood. This cabinet gives you both a small drawer and a towel shelf while still providing an open look. Vanities with this open style can be found in both traditional and contemporary designs. The second concern with small vanities is countertop space. One solution is to use integral sink top to provide some counter space in a small dimension.

Wall hung cabinets start as small as 18″ so there is a model to fit even the smallest bathroom.

Wall Cabinet Storage

Robern M Series 70" Cabinet - Lots of Storage

 A lot of us think of medicine cabinets as a small mirrored cabinet above the sink, OK for storing same bottles and such but not really good for much else. That started to change when Robern got into the business. Starting with the humble medicine cabinet Robern has created an extensive collection of wall cabinets for the bath. There are many things that make Robern different from the rest. First there is the quality of construction. Robern makes the box out of aluminum to prevent rusting and water damage. The interior as well as the door are mirrored and the door seal prevents moisture from getting inside the cabinet.

 Robern’s other strenght is all the storage solutions they offer. First, they have not only taller than standard cabinets but also extended depth; six and eight inches. These can be partially recessed into the wall giving you enough space to store toilet paper, towels, etc. without extending too far into the room. Extended depth cabinets are available in 30”, 34”, 40” and 70” height and 15”, 19” and 24” width making it possible to find the right size for your needs.

 Robern cabinets also offer some optional features like interior electrical outlets which allow you to store small appliances out of sight but ready for use.

Wall Accessories

Smedbo Hook Swing

 A common problem in modern baths is having enough space for towel bars. One solution is to use hooks instead. These can be located in small spaces where a regular bar may not fit. Smedbo and Alno both make some interesting multi-hook products for small spaces. Towel shelves with bar or double towel bars allow you to hang two or more towels in a small space. An unusual accessory is the hairdryer holder. One of these will get that hair-dryer off the countertop and gives you a place to put it that is safe and convenient.

Alno Classic Weave Reserve Tissue Holder

Spare toilet paper holders are common in Europe. These give you an easy place to keep that spare roll. Or perhaps you prefer a double tp holder? Wire baskets are available in a wide selection of sizes and styles and can be really useful, especially in the shower.

 Some even offer additional hooks to keep a shaver or washcloth. There is a pretty wide range of cost for these baskets depending on both style/size and on construction. It does pay to get a better quality one as the cheaper versions have a tendency to rust.

 There are many products available today that can solve all sorts of bathroom challenges. If you are looking for a solution please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help.

A Sampling of Bath Accessories (Towel Bars and Such)

Towel bars are one of those things that you don’t think much about most of the time but these are an important part of a successful, functional and even a beautiful bathroom.

CSI Bamboo Collection

Sonia Eletech Towel bar

Sonia Eletech Towel bar

Many faucet lines offer matching accessories. Delta, Moen, American Standard, Grohe and many others offers towel bars and accessories to match their faucets. There are also many companies that specialize in bathroom accessories including Sonia, Alno, Smedbo and Ginger.  Companies that specialize in accessories generally offer a wider range of choices and models than faucet makers do. For example if you want a 30” bar or a choice of sizes for robe hooks you may have to go to a specialty maker to find what you need. On the other hand if you are working with a specialty finish or have an unusual design you may want to stick with the matching accessories.

Bathroom accessories are available in a very wide range of prices; for a 24” towel bar you could spend $20 or $500 (and all points in between). Like many things price will depend on what it’s made of, the construction, the finish and the design.

Sonia Nakar Glass Shelf with Towel Bar

Here are a few of the specialty lines were offer at General Plumbing Supply.

Sonia

Sonia is a Spanish company that sells bath accessories, vanities, and sinks.  Sonia has 11 collections of accessories, each of which offers 4 sizes of towel bar (12”, 18”, 24” and 30”), double towel bars, hooks, towel rings, tumbler holders, soap dishes, soap dispensers, toilet paper holders and toilet brush set.  Sonia also offers a selection of wire baskets and mirrors.

Smedbo Freestanding TP Holder with Brush

Smedbo

Smedbo is a Swedish manufacturer of fine bath accessories. They are known for some innovative ideas like their hairdryer holders and multi-hook systems. The collection “Living” is a group of multi-use grab bars in straight, curved and “V” forms.

Smedbo Spa Hook Swing

 In addition Smedbo makes some useful floor mount accessories and shower seats. The floor mount (or freestanding) series includes tp holders and towel rails. Smedbo alsi has a great collection of hooks that can be used in the bath or other rooms of the house.

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Creative Specialties International (CSI)

Fina Collection by CSI

CSI is probably best known as the maker of accessories to match Moen products as well as curved shower rods and products for home safety.  The decorative bath accessories are divided into three collections; “Moen”, “Inspirations” and “Donner”.  The Moen collections are accessories to match 11 Moen designs while the Inspirations groups include traditional, contemporary and transitional styles. Donner is focused on commercial and competitively priced product. The CSI “Home Care” group

 includes grab bars, shower seats and other universal design products.

Lacava

Lacava offers accessories only as a small part of their line but they have some interesting pieces. “Brick” is a series of ceramic shelves that can be used in wet applications as well as dry. “WaterBlade” is a stainless steel shelf assembly available polished or brushed. “Kubista” is a very geometric design; clean lines executed with precise edges and proportions. “Trevi” softens the geometry but maintains the clean look.

Lacava WaterBlade SS Shelf

Lacava Trevi 13 Towel Bar

Codes and Laws – What’s the Difference?

In the plumbing industry there is a dizzying amount of information to be considered when selecting and installing plumbing fixtures. For the showroom this means that our sales staff must know about issues of quality and style but also must be familiar with codes, laws and regulations (national and local) as well as the fundamentals of installation.

 Something that is consistently confusing to both our staff and customers is the difference between a law and a code. When referring to codes we are typically speaking of requirements outlined in the “Uniform Plumbing Code” (UPC), developed by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). IAPMO is a member based organization that is focused on increasing public health and safety through developing comprehensive plumbing and mechanical systems throughout the world.

The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation

The UPC is written for international use but no one is obliged to follow it unless it has been adopted by the local government. Typically a state will adopt the UPC (or one or two others) and local governments (especially large cities) may then amend the adopted code to meet local requirements. For example San Francisco and Los Angeles code requires certain things based on earthquake safety.

It would be too complicated for me to outline which code is applicable in which area and that isn’t really the purpose of this post. The point is that plumbing codes exist to promote public safety and are not legally binding in the sense that you probably aren’t going to get arrested if you install something that is not “code approved”. This is not to say that codes can be ignored. Building owners who have non-compliant work done on their building may be subject to fines or something more serious if some injury were caused. Code enforcement is generally accomplished through the permit process during which building inspectors will review work and judge that it meets the requirements of the prevailing code.

Something that many homeowners do not understand is that the code is open to a certain amount of interpretation; it is up to the inspector to determine if the requirements of the code are being met and this is not always clear. An example from many years ago happened in San Francisco, where it was required that there be a vacuum breaker used if a hand shower was to be placed on a tub deck (to prevent dirty water being sucked up into the clean water supply). This usually meant a separate vacuum breaker installed on the wall but one plumber we worked with realized that a lift diverter integrated into a tub spout would accomplish the same thing. The inspector did not initially agree but after long explanation and demonstration finally realized the plumber was correct and “passed” the installation (this is one of many reasons why working with experienced building professionals is so important).

California Green Building Standards

2011 has brought us the implementation of “CalGreen” the biggest change to the California code in years. CalGreen involves many different areas of building and is aimed at reducing waste of energy and water. This will affect the plumbing industry by increasing conservation requirements for water, specifically by requiring reduced flow rates in faucets and limiting water output in showers. This will mean no more multi-outlet (carwash) showers in homes affected by CalGreen codes.

The challenge we are facing is that it is not 100% clear yet where (and how) CalGreen will be enforced. We know that it will apply to commercial building and new construction but are not clear how remodeling projects will be affected. Different municipalities and inspectors may interpret CalGreen in various ways and these interpretations may change over time.

Another and lesser known function of IAMPO is product certification. An inspector may require a contractor to provide the “IAMPO listing” for products installed on a job. In order to receive IAPMO approval a product must go through a rigorous process of testing for compliance with IAMPO standards and codes. Having a product that

IAMPO R&T logo

 is “IAMPO Listed” or “UPC Approved” is an indication that it is fit to do the job it is intended for. In this age of Internet sales and importation, IAMPO approval offers consumers one good way to judge product suitability.

Plumbing codes are designed to protect the health and safety of the public by developing comprehensive plumbing systems throughout the world. Codes are important but are not the only regulations that affect the plumbing industry. In my next post I will discuss some local and national laws that influence our industry.

Choices for Bath Tub Faucets

Most of us probably have a tub/shower in at least one bathroom in the house. The typical set up where there is a bathtub that is filled with a wall mount tub spout and valve (there is probably a shower head and a diverter somewhere as well). For many of us this is our only experience with a bathtub and we probably don’t think much about it.

American Standard Ceramix Tub Shower

But what if you want a different sort of tub? What if you want something bigger? Maybe free standing? Maybe you’d like a special spout or perhaps no spout at all? What do you do then? I’m glad to say there are lots of choices.

There are three things to consider when selecting a tub filler faucet; how fast will it fill the tub, where is it mounted and what does it look like? Of course cost is a factor as well. Of the three the first point is probably the most easily overlooked, which may be a big problem in the long run.

Jason Casarsa 72" - Round Be Sure to Have a High Flow Filler!

If you do not work with faucets on a regular basis you may not realize that faucets can have different flow rates. For example, a bathroom sink faucet flows about 2.2 gallons per minutes (gpm); fine for washing your hands but imagine how long it would take to fill an 80 gallon bathtub? If you are installing a larger than standard tub (something over 60x30x14) you will want to think about how long the faucet will take to fill that tub with water. Most tub manufacturers provide specifications including how many gallon of water are needed to fill and operate that tub and it is wise to check those specs out before you buy a faucet.

Sigma 500 Series Wall Mount Tub Spout with Pressure Balanced Valve

 

The next consideration is where the faucet is to be mounted. It may be wall mounted, deck mounted, tub mounted (for freestanding models) or floor mounted. Let’s look at wall mounted first as this is the common form.

As I mentioned above a typical wall mount tub filler usually includes a shower head as well. Under current code

 such a valve is required to be scald guard; either pressure balanced or thermostatic. A pressure balance valve, which is the common choice, rarely flows more than 5-6 gpm and so may not be a good choice for a large tub. In addition, most pressure balance valves are “cycling” meaning they control temperature but not volume (just on or off). If you are someone who likes to soak in a tub for a long time you’ll probably want to be able to control the water between a trickle and full on.

Rohl Wave Wall Mount Tub Filler - Not for a Shower

If you have a wall mount situation you can also consider using a thermostatic valve or, if you do not have a shower, a two handle wall mount faucet. Either of these can fill a large bathtub quickly.

Larger bathtubs are commonly installed “deck mounted” that is, there is a flat deck around the bathtub rather than walls. Not surprisingly, this kind of installation calls for a deck mount tub filler. These are sometimes set on the rim of the tub as well. Either way you will want to make sure that the spout is of a size that will clear the tub rim and reach into the tub effectively. Most such fillers have two handles but many faucet makers have started offering thermostatic tub fillers that offer a great flow rate and better temperature control.

Grohe Atrio Thermostatic Deck Mount Tub Filler with Handshower

Freestanding tubs, especially old fashioned claw foot type, may have the faucet mounted directly on the tub although this is not common. As freestanding tubs have become more popular floor mount fillers have followed suit. These are mounted directly on the floor with the water supply coming up from below. We are seeing many new contemporary styles, both single and two handles. A word of caution though; many of these models do not have high flow rates so may not be suitable for some tubs.

Axor Massaud Floor Mount Tub Filler - For the Freestanding Bath

 

Altmans Double Ribbon Spout - Working in Showroom

Altmans Crystal Tub Filler

There are some amazing tub fillers available today. Altmans has long had a reputation for making some of the most beautiful Waterfillers (as Altmans calls them) available today. Their crystal spout has a wide sheet of rippled glass over which the water flows. Their double cascade spout produces twin ribbons of water (we have a working model in our showroom). The Altmans Dolphin is a classic design; playful and beautiful.

Altmans Dolphin Deck Tub Spout

 

Hansgrohe has a collection called “Massaud” (see above) which features a flat sheet flow spout design. Graff has produced an unique wall mount tub filler.  “Luna” is a stunning piece with a tub spout that is like a piece of art, gently curving off the wall in a long graceful arc.

Graff Wall Mount Tub Filler with Handshower

 

On the other hand, perhaps you prefer a really contemporary look and would like to eliminate a tub filler from view. If so then the Geberit “Cascade” may be the solution for you. This is essentially a tub spout that is incorporate into the tub drain leaving the deck spout free (be aware that in most area you will be required to install a vacuum breaker).

Geberit Cascade Tub Filler - Not a Typical Spout

This is a tiny sample of what is available for tub fillers. The majority of manufacturers making quality faucets will make a deck tub filler to match their lavatory sets. In several of these photos you will see a Hand Shower included. This is a great accessory in a large tub; both for rinsing off and for cleaning the tub.

We display many of these fillers in our showroom and are happy to provide additional information.

Price Pfister Professional

Price Pfister is not a name that is often seen in plumbing showrooms but this 100 year old brand deserves another look.

Price Pfister (or Pfister as it is now called) can be a good choice for the consumer with an eye on the budget. Pfister makes a large selection of products that are distributed through both professional and retail distribution. What does this mean for the consumer? There are probably two main points. Products made for one may not be available through the other, in other words you won’t be able to buy a professional product at a big box store (and vice versa). Secondly, professional grade product is an upgrade from retail with all metal parts and industrial valves plus supply nuts and tools for easier installation. Plus the Professional products have a dedicated service team at PP to help.

PP Kenzo Widespread Faucet

If you go to www.pricepfister.com and look at the top on the page you will see a link for the Professional Site. While you may see what appear to be the same faucets on both sites please note the different stock numbers which designate professional vs. retail product. Here at General Plumbing Supply we work primarily with the Professional product but can also access the retail product, allowing us to offer our customers the full range of options. Let’s look at a few of the Professional products that Pfister is making today.

Price Pfister Ashfield Pull Down

In the kitchen Pfister was the first company to introduce a moderately priced pull-out spray faucet. Today, PP offers several pullout and pull down models of kitchen faucet.

PP Ashfield Bridge Pulldown

Ashfield is a traditional style with lever handles modeled on an old water pump. Ashfield series includes the pull-down in a single and side-mount handle model as well as a bridge faucet; one of very few bridge styles offered in a moderate price range. The Ashfield series also includes a standard gooseneck with side-spray and deck mount handle. The Ashfield collection is available in chrome, brushed nickel, Tuscan Bronze, Rustic Bronze and Rustic Pewter (not all styles available in all finishes).

PP Marielle Pullout

Marielle has long been one of the more popular styles from Price Pfister. In the kitchen the Marielle series

PP Marielle Bar Faucet in Antique Copper

 includes a traditional pullout as well as a single handle faucet with side-spray and a traditional high spout with deck mount handle and spray. In addition the Marielle bar faucet group offers standard finishes like chrome as well as more exotic colors like Antique Copper.

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For the Bathroom Pfister continues to create interesting designs at a reasonable price.

Kenzo is one is the few open spout model lavatory faucets on the market today. Available as a single hole, widespread or wall mount Kenzo is a style that can be the centerpiece of any bathroom design. In addition to faucets the Kenzo group offers complete shower systems including rain head and slide bar systems. Kenzo is available in polished chrome and brushed nickel.

PP Contempra Lavatory Faucet

PP Kenzo Shower with Slide bar

As the name suggests, the Contempra group is about clean, modern lines. This group includes single, centerset two handle and widespread faucet models in polished chrome and brushed nickel.

I mentioned Ashfield as part of the kitchen collection but it also has a place in the bathroom. The Ashfield Bath takes the open spout idea and interprets it in a more traditional look, available as a single handle, widespread or vessel faucet. Ashfield Bath also includes a gooseneck for a 4” or 8” lavatory with matching shower and deck tub sets. Ashfield bath is available in polished chrome, brushed nickel, Rustic Bronze, Tuscan Bronze and Rustic Pewter.

PP Ashfield Vessel Faucet

This is just a glimpse of what Pfister has to offer today. All Pfister faucets sold in California meet the lead free guidelines of California AB1953. For more information you can check out the Professional site here or  you may call or email or visit our showroom in American Canyon.

KITCHEN BATH INDUSTRY SHOW 2011 (KBIS)

This year KBIS, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, was held at the Convention Center in Las Vegas. While this year’s show was lightly attended compared to recent years there where still many interesting things to see. Here are some highlights.

 AMERICAN STANDARD

This was a chance to see many of their new bathing products first hand. The new seated

AMS Seated Shower

 shower is, I think, a great alternative to a standard pan or tub. It is an easy retrofit and offers security and flexibility for anyone looking for a safer shower.

 Door tubs also offer a secure bathing option but are limited by slow draining which may require the bather to sit for 10 minutes or more while the tub drains so the door can be opened. To solve this AMS has introduced their “quick drain” system which clears the water in 3-5 minutes. We were able to see this demonstrated and it does work as described.

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AMS FunBath Fire Engine

Also this year AMS introduced what they are calling the “Fun Bath”. The Fun Time Bath fits over a standard bathtub and transforms it into a safe and fun bathing experience for parents and children. It raises the bathing well allowing parents to bath children without bending over plus, the designs of fire engines, castles and cartoon characters are fun for kids.

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 JASON INTERNATIONAL

Jason introduced two products this year. Their zero threshold shower base features a linear drain and seat and can retrofit into an existing shower space.

 The really exciting introduction was of Microsilk. Microsilk is a totally new creation for hydrotherapy. To quote Jason, Microsilk is “all about the bubbles”, a cloud of oxygen rich bubbles enters you pores and lifts out dirt and impurities. We will be bringing Microsilk to the American Canyon showroom in the coming weeks.

MicroSilk by Jason

 ROHL

Rohl introduced several new products. Although they are not known primarily for bath

Perrin & Rowe Victorian and Deco Toilets

 fixtures Rohl does offer several fine bath pieces. To this collection they have added two new toilets, “Victorian” and “Deco” by Perrin & Rowe. There are handcrafted in Stoke-on-Trent, Englan, a place well known for fine china.

 Farmhouse kitchen sinks have been a specialty of Rohl for a long time. This year they have introduced two new models. One features a thinner edge which may be preferred for a more transitional design. The second is a Shaws double bowl model with a casement face.

Rohl Viaggio in Old Iron

 “Old Iron” is a new finish loosely based on a pewter but with a deeper charcoal look.

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TOTO

This year Toto has expanded the collection of toilets using the “Double Cyclone” technology. The “Legato” and “Aimes” 1 piece toilets are actually very similar, differing only the style of trip lever.

Toto Legato 1pc Dbl Cyclone Toilet

Toto Aimes 1pc Dbl Cyclone Toilet

 Toto is also introducing two new dual flush models; one uses a side-mount trip lever rather than the typical top mounted dual push button system. The second is more basic price-point product.

 The Toto Aquia dual flush wall hung toilet has been very popular but difficult to get. We are told that Toto is currently in the process of moving  production of this product to one of their Atlanta, GA plants. Toto currently produces all of its one piece toilets in the United States and will continue to move production to the Americas.

Aquia Wall Hung Toilet

 AMEREC STEAM

They are the first steam company to come out with a water proof music system that operates independently of the steam system. The system allows one to mount the docking station inside the shower (or outside) and is operated with a remote. The system supports up to 8 speakers. Amerec plans to release this product in June 2011.

 NATIVE TRAILS

NT has always been a company focused on sustainability. This year they are bringing out their “Vintners Collection”. These vanities are made from wine stain oak staves which have been colored by the Chardonnay or Cabernet wines in which they have been soaked for years. There is also a wall-hung “Bordeaux” vanity made from reclaimed barrels which have been disassembled and sealed. Finished with a copper or stone countertop these are unique pieces.

Cabernet Vanity by Native Trails

Bordeaux Wall Vanity by Native Trails

Many of these products will be appearing in our showroom over the next few months. For information please feel free to call or email. We are happy to tell you more.

Clawfoot (Freestanding) Tubs – a Perennial Favorite

Clawfoot tubs have been around for years and remain a favorite choice for many remodeling projects. But why are these tubs so popular and is a clawfoot tub the right choice for you?

Clawfoot Slipper Bath by Sunrise

Sunrise Specialty Slipper Tub

 At one time the clawfoot tub was about a very traditional look. When I started in the plumbing industry in San Francisco in the early 90’s a dream bathroom often included a clawfoot tub with polished brass faucets and big porcelain handles. That style has evolved; brass has been replaced with brushed nickel and the classic clawfoot has been joined by more contemporary versions of freestanding tubs.

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Sunrise Specialty Tub Set

 In fact today it may be more accurate to talk about “freestanding” rather than “clawfoot” tubs as the classic clawfeet have been replaced with pedestal bases, wood frames, metalwork supports and even designed to sit directly on the floor.

 There are a few points to consider if you are thinking about having a freestanding bathtub. Some obvious things, like will it fit in the space and do you like the way it looks, are fairly easy to decide. Other factors like what it is made of (cast iron, acrylic, cast product) and water delivery requirements may require some additional thought.

 Traditional clawfoot tubs were made of cast iron and cast iron continues to be a common choice. A cast iron clawfoot tub will require the outside to be finished, usually by painting, as it will be rough iron (often you will have a choice of ordering painted or unpainted for finishing onsite). The shape of the feet may vary, ball and claw and Imperial are two common styles, and come in various finishes (white, chrome, brass, etc).

Bainultra Essencia Bath

 Originally it was common to have a shower setup over a clawfoot tub. This usually requires a ring and shower curtain to prevent water from ending up on the floor. These days I find most freestanding tubs do not have showers overhead and require just a tub filler. Traditional clawfoot bathtubs might have the faucet attached to the tub wall, tub deck or floor mounted with an “over-the-rim” spout. Most of the modern freestanding tubs do not have space for a deck or tub wall mount and so the tub filler is floor mounted. There have been some very beautiful floor mount tub fillers created in recent years.

Lacava Arch Tub Spout

Axor Urquiola Tub Filler

A couple of tub companies have created a faucet pedestal that is designed to fit against the bathtub to provide a horizontal deck that can accommodate a standard deck mount tub filler. This may provide you with more choices of faucets.

 The majority of freestanding bathtubs are “soakers”; there is no jetting system available. There are a few exceptions to this. Bain Ultra offers the “Thermomassuer” system on all of their freestanding models (including a footed tub). Jason and MTI also offer freestanding bathtubs with an air system. There are few (if any) manufacturers offering whirlpool systems on freestanding tubs (as there is no way to hide the pipes).

Jason Carrera CR553P

 Most of the freestanding baths that offer air systems are made of double wall acrylic (Jason and BainUltra and others). Now we are seeing many of the contemporary styled model being made of a “cast stone” or resin product.

Wetstyle InImage Motif

 Here are some of the latest in freestanding tubs…

Wetstyle Be Collection Tub

Wetstyle bathtubs are at the top of the design ladder.

Wetstyle Be detail

 The “Be” collection takes its form from a walnut shell which creates a tub interior that cradles the bather. Wetstyle “Image-in” is a beautiful option that adds a textural design to the tub exterior (see above).

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 Lacava is another design-centric manufacturer. The “Suave” freestanding model uses cast resin and wood to create this unique bathtub. The “Ovale” is an egg form designed to envelop the bather.

Suave Bathtub by Lacava

 BainUltra has several Thermomassuer freestanding models including the footed model “Cella” bathtub. This month BainUltra is introducing their “Essencia” tub; a unique look that we are looking forward to seeing.

Bainultra Cella Clawfoot Thermomassuer

Victoria and Albert created the Lido and Lido Grande decorative faucet stand. This clever product allows one to install a standard deck mount tun faucet with a freestanding tub. Victoris and Albert offers a large selection of traditional and contemporary bathtubs.

Victoria & Albert Lido Support

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