There are lots of plumbing manufacturers out there. Many of the foreign ones have some really high end designs, and sometimes high price points to go with it. This may be great for a splurge in a powder room, but always consider the issue of getting parts when something goes wrong. It can sometimes be a little difficult.
We have always recommended Kohler and Moen products. We have found them to be consistent performers, and their designs are up to the moment, as well as classic. Best of all, they are Made in America. Even better, you can get parts easily if anything does go wrong. I have even gotten a retrofit part for a Moen faucet that was eleven years old. They both have a wide range of price points and pairings that will be easy to match fixtures for bathrooms. Ferguson Enterprises has one of the best websites and representatives for Kohler, (and many other products). They are great to deal with, and can ship a wide range of the country.
Hint – don’t even try to match two different company’s colors for fixtures, unless they are really far apart and you have actual samples an not just card colors
There is one top competitor to Kohler’s toilet, in our humble opinion, and that is the renowned Japanese “Toto” toilet. I know it sounds strange, but once you have experienced the pricey bad boy, you will understand. They do have a beginner toilet that directly competes with Kohler.
Hint -By the way, yes, it’s true, we in the business, have a great deal of fun discussing your bathroom remodel. We always tried to make it as fun as possible discussing your most private room with you. Body jet discussions are always a kick too. So join in – we’re going to talk about it anyway. And if you ask for a black toilet, you have no idea what you’re in for.
Note – vessel bowls means cleaning both sides.
Showers need their own section because of shower pans (the floor) and shower doors.
Shower faucets, body jets, rainheads, personal shower heads, etc. are also another issue.
We will start with the finishing product first and that will tell you what your construction will have to be. Selecting your finished product will depend on style, function, budget, & maintenance. Here’s the top possibilities:
- Tile – any kind, almost any size depending on your drain. River pebbles are included in this bracket. This will be on a bed of cement over a rubber membrane.
- Fiberglass – standard sizes and color in pre-molded pans. Installed with standard framing.
- Acrylics – standard sizes and wide variety of colors in pre-molded pans. Installed with standard framing.
- Solid Surface Materials – can be custom sizes or pre-molded. Wide variety of colors, Installed with standard framing
It seems like every manufacturer calls their doors different names, either Framed or Frameless, depending upon rather slight variations. You must make sure you see the exact picture and understand the description of exactly what your door will look like.
Framed Shower Doors generally means there is a metal frame all the way around the glass. This is usually the least expensive way to go. The glass is therefore thinner having the support of the metal. The glass can be any style, clear, frosted, sanblasted etc. In some, you can even have your choice of handles. You can almost always have your choice of metal colors. The issue that makes this framed and frameless choice fuzzy is that some companies offer doors that have just a metal header and refer to them as semi-frameless.
Frameless Shower Doors by definition do not have any metal surrounding the glass. They do have metal hinges of course to keep them in place and swing the door. The glass should be a heavier weight so they can support themselves properly. You can usually select different types of handles and types of glass styles. These doors have a much higher price point than framed doors.
Make sure you review and understand exactly what you’re getting when it comes to shower doors. These days, there are a great many choices.
Shower Faucets, Fixtures and More
There’s lots of things you can do in your shower these days. Anything from a whirlpool Foot Massage to Rainheads. The most popular are the Body Jets. You can locate them to hit you just about anywhere. You have probably seen these “shower power towers” in magazines.
When you are deciding on all these fixtures, take into consideration, not only the costs, but your water pressure. Most homes are not plumbed to enable all these items to work at as you may imagine. Typically, the best the average home can expect is for three of the items to work at one time, say the main faucet and two body jets. Definately bring this up with your plumber if you are thinking of a super shower. You may have to spend some major dollars to heavy up the line to that bath.
Sink Faucets – How to Use What and Where
There are sooooo many styles you could easily make yourself crazy. That’s why we recommend going with a name brand that’s trusted and within your budget. There are a few “rules of thumb” that we generally use during selection time:
Powder Rooms – go nuts, get anything you want, the more unusual the better. Bur even if you are stinky rich or pretending to be, don’t get the 24K gold plated, it’s just tacky unless you have the castle to back it up. Just remember you have to find accessories, (mirror, T.P. holder, etc.), to match the finish.
Master Bath Sink or Sinks? – it is hugely popular to have two sinks in the Master bath these days. But don’t feel obligated to do it if that’s not your lifestyle. Many people would prefer the extra counter space, it’s your bathroom.
Toilets – New Heights Literally and Figuratively
This might sound strange, but unless you have tried some of these new toilets on the market, you have no idea what is happening in the world of toilets. No longer are toilets to be sneered at as a “must have” fixture. They are becoming the “must see” of the properly remodeled bath. If you’re not sure yet what I am talking about, go to a plumbing showroom like Ferguson and take a look. Kohler and Toto are competing for the top spot in the USA right now. Toto has the edge in the xtreme market with it’s onboard computer systems and the Washlet. But for the general market, they both carry a superb Comfort Height, low flush, (but with a good rush), nicely designed model.
Low Flush – basically we are down to 1.3 gallons of water to flush a toilet, which if you buy a cheap toilet with a small trap and thin porcelain coating and ill designed flush system, your going to have to invest in a snake drain. It’s going to get ugly quickly.
Types of Tubs
Built-Ins (type of installation) – These can be surface mounted on a deck or undermount, depending on the materials you use for the decking.
Free Standing – Many beautiful styles have appeared lately, just remember the special faucet issue, it seems not that many choices yet. Check to make sure if they are insulated for heat retention, this is a big issue for non-cast iron tubs, especially large water capacity, such as Steeping tubs.
Whirlpools – It seems not quite as popular as they once were, but they now come with even more gadgets. It is always a must to get the in-line heaters. You can now do jets, bubblers, aromatherapy, cromatherapy, music, vibratechnology, TV…whatever works for you
Comfort height is the newest marketing word for older people, baby boomers, with crummy knees.
Faucets for Tubs
Deck Mounted faucets are still the most popular, but please don’t install them in the middle of the platform of the tub where you are most likely to enter the tub,… ouch! Also you should always include a hand held personal shower, not only great for personals, it will save you lot’s of aggravation when it’s time for cleaning a giant tub.
Wall Mounted faucets will obviously need to be sized correctly along with the tub placement, and you will have to consider an access panel most likely on the opposite side of its’ wall.
Free Standing faucets are used with Free Standing tubs. They are a system you need to buy as an incusive package with the risers for the correct height of your tub. If your are doing all faucets in your bath, start with the selection of this piece first since these are most limited and you will need to color match to these units.
Ceiling Mounted faucet – extreme cool factor, but consider how practical.
If you’re thinking about room additions, always remember to think bathrooms along with the addition.. They have one of the biggest paybacks for your investment. No one ever says you have too many bathrooms.