Friday, November 27, 2009

Spout Clout: Choosing a Clawfoot Tub Faucet

There is a veritable cornucopia of things to consider when choosing a clawfoot tub faucet. We’ve discussed plumbing code, finish, mounting location, valves, and a few other factors in this space already. There are other clawfoot tub faucet selection criterion that we will likely address in the future but today, Black Friday, this space is all about spouts.

Just as there are many clawfoot tub faucet criterion to consider, there are many clawfoot tub faucet spout variations to consider. The most common clawfoot tub faucet spouts are summarized below.

Clawfoot tub faucets with a gooseneck spout feature a spout that is shaped like a goose’s neck. The outlet on the gooseneck spout is usually above the clawfoot tub rim; making this spout a code-friendly choice.

The spout on many British telephone faucets is often compared to an elephant’s trunk. It is a long curved spout with a wide mouth. The term “British telephone”, by the way, refers to the way the handheld shower rests in the cradle above the faucet body; resembling the way the receiver rests in the cradle of an old telephone. The elephant trunk spout makes no contribution to the British telephone faucet moniker.

Clawfoot tub faucets with a nozzle spout have a short ripped nipple extending below the faucet body. Old-timers have been known to push a rubber hose on the nozzle to create a makeshift shower.

Finally, there are clawfoot tub faucets with a large spout that resembles brass horn instrument that you might imagine a portly young man blowing into in a Thanksgiving Day parade marching band.

It is a common misconception that the larger the spout, the greater the flow rate. It is not the spout but instead the valves that determine how fast the faucet will fill your tub. We can’t say that size doesn’t matter however. The size of the spout does impact its appeal. A small clawfoot tub faucet with an inconspicuous spout will be more balanced with a small clawfoot tub while a large clawfoot tub faucet with a prominent spout will be more proportional to a larger bathtub.

In some cases, it may be desirable to match the clawfoot tub faucet’s spout with the sink faucet’s spout. Plan your faucet selections to coordinate the faucet spouts just as you might with handles and finish.

Other than its impact on code compliance, the spout’s influence on your clawfoot tub selection is largely a matter of preference. You could fill a horn of plenty with the number of spout variations but choose a clawfoot tub faucet with a spout that best suits your style and personal requirements.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Choices in Faucet Finishes

Brass has long been the metal of choice for faucet construction. Early brass faucets were not plated and or coated with a protective finish. As a result, these unprotected brass faucets required a lot of effort in the way of cleaning and frequent polishing in order to maintain a shiny finish. Because nickel was far less susceptible to tarnishing, nickel became the preferred finish from the late 1800’s until the 1930’s. Chrome plating was introduced in the 1930’s and soon chrome plated faucets became the finish of choice. With the introduction of protective coatings, brass became popular once more. Today’s sophisticated coatings are much more scratch and corrosion resistant insuring a lasting polished brass appearance. For decades chrome and brass were essentially the consumers’ two options when choosing plumbing. Today, however, choice in finish is one of the major considerations when selecting a faucet. In addition to chrome and brass, manufacturers now typically offer their faucets in polished nickel as well as satin nickel. Polished nickel appears much as it did at the turn of the century and is generally considered to have a warmer appearance than that of chrome. Satin nickel is a nickel finish that has been brushed to create a softer and less lustrous finish. No discussion of modern finish options would be complete without discussing the popularity and options of the oil rubbed finish. Although the tone varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, oil rubbed bronze faucets are typically flat black in appearance. Some manufacturers offer bronze finished faucets that are more brown than black. Therefore, care should be taken when pairing faucets, plumbing, or bath accessories from different manufacturers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Decorative Vent Covers: Shaking off the Cold in Style!

Kansas City’s weather reminded me that winter is fast approaching. Temperatures dipped into the 30’s and cold rain persisted throughout the weekend. I appreciate the changing seasons in the Midwest and even enjoy the first couple of months of winter. Outrageous heating bills withstanding, I find it incredibly comforting to come out of the cold to a warm home. Hearing the furnace kick-on got me reminiscing of memories of my childhood huddling over a heat register thawing myself after spending hours sledding down what then seemed to be a monstrous hill in our backyard. I recall that old heat register was far from decorative. In fact, the gray steel register looked like it was designed to appear as a piece of the furnace in the basement rather than hardware that would be in plain sight at the front entry of our house.

Amazingly, these same steel heat register are still the standard builders' grade vent covers installed in homes built today. Shop 4 Classics, however, offers a wide range of highly decorative vent covers. These cast iron, brass and bronze vent covers can be used throughout the house or selectively in high visibility locations depending on your budget. Below is an overview of the various types of decorative vent covers available at Shop 4 Classics.

Classic Grills Bronze Vent Covers
Classic Grills manufactures cast bronze air return grills and heat registers in many styles including: Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Victorian and traditional. Classic Grills also has unique grape vine and tropical bamboo themed vent covers. Most of their bronze grills are offered in light brown, dark brown and antique burnished brown. They also offer grills in white bronze with a satin finish.

Hamilton Sinkler Bronze and Brass Vent Covers
Hamilton Sinkler also offers bronze air return and heat registers. Their bronze grills feature a rich brown patina and are available in a very popular scroll design as well as contemporary styles. Their Strathmore vent covers are constructed of solid brass and are available in polished brass, antique brass, satin nickel and black finishes.

Brass Elegans Brass and Bronze Vent Covers
Brass Elegans’ Victorian and contemporary solid brass air return grills and heat registers are available in a variety of finishes including polished brass, antique brass, pewter and dark bronze. These same vent covers are also available in solid bronze with a dark brown patina finish.

Reggio Register Cast Iron, Aluminum and Brass Vent Covers
With sizes ranging from small toe-kick grills to very large floor grates, Reggio Register’s vent covers are available in probably the widest range of sizes on the market. Although Reggio Register is best known for its popular Victorian style vent cover, they also offer a contemporary grid style vent covers as well as high velocity circular vent covers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clawfoot Tub Shower Diverter Fervor

A diverter is a valve that has a single inlet and two outlets. Rather than open and close like most valves, a diverter valve alters the flow of water from one outlet to the other outlet. In terms of the clawfoot tub faucet, the diverter switches between the tub filler and a shower. The shower may be a stationary overhead showerhead or it may be a handheld shower. A second diverter, known as a handheld shower diverter, can be added to the clawfoot tub shower to provide the option of tub filler, stationary showerhead, and handshower.

One of our most frequently received questions is, "how do I add a shower to my clawfoot tub faucet?" Unfortunately, if the faucet does not have a shower diverter, it will not support a shower. If the faucet does have a shower diverter, the diverter’s likely function is to choose between spout and handheld shower. Sign of the Crab also offers faucets with a shower diverter that can be capped off so the customer can build the shower as their budget permits. However, even these faucets have a shower diverter (third) handle which makes the diverter easy to recognize.

If your faucet has a shower diverter, it will support a shower. If the faucet has a handshower but you want to convert it to a stationary shower, you will need to remove the handshower bracket from the faucet. A shower riser will be attached in its place. As I previously indicated, adding an overhead shower to a clawfoot tub faucet does not necessarily eliminate the option of a handheld shower. You simply need a second diverter. The first diverter switches between the tub filler and the shower. The second handheld shower diverter then switches between the stationary shower and the handheld shower.

Shower diverter and handheld shower diverter connections are not dictated by an industry standard. The presence of a shower diverter valve makes it likely that the clawfoot tub faucet will support a shower but the parts required to complete the conversion will depend on the clawfoot tub faucet. Check with Shop 4 Classics for help identifying the correct parts to complete the conversion from clawfoot tub faucet to clawfoot tub shower.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Add Old World Charm of Belle Foret Faucets and Sinks to Your Kitchen

Is adding a classic sense of style at a reasonable price a requirement for your kitchen remodel? If so, consider some of the latest products from Belle Foret. Belle Foret faucets and sinks feature Country French inspired panache and are offered at prices where superior style meets the modest budget. Shop 4 Classics now offers Belle Foret’s latest offering of kitchen faucets and sinks.

Belle Foret faucets' timeless appearance captures the charm of old world craftsmanship while their construction includes today’s highest quality materials and component parts. For example, the control of the water flow is done by replaceable, yet durable, cartridges or arrangement of seals that allow water flow when the holes or ports are lined up in the proper configuration.

Belle Foret’s new apron front sinks blend style with the functionality and durability required for today’s working kitchen. They are constructed of Fireclay, which is denser and much heavier than vitreous china. Furthermore, pairing their sinks with your kitchen’s décor and appliances is made easier as most of their fireclay sinks are now offered in bisque as well as standard white.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toilet Day: The Toilet's Time To Shine

National Toilet Day takes place on November 10. In honor of this momentous occasion, we at the Shop 4 Classics Old House Blog bring you some toilet fun facts to ponder on your next visit to the restroom.

Other terms for the toilet include commode, water closet, the john, the throne, the can, the loo (British), the latrine (military), the potty (juvenile), and the head (nautical).

Sir John Harrington is credited with inventing the flushing toilet and is the inspiration for the term "the john".

Despite popular belief, Sir Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet. Furthermore, Sir Thomas Crapper was never knighted and, therefore, is not officially a Sir. While researching this piece, I tried to speak with a Crapper about their undeserved family legacy but could not find one in the local white pages. Perhaps the Crappers prefer to remain unlisted.

A recent survey by the appliance company Amana found that only 7% of consumers say they can not live without a bathroom. The other 93% are severely constipated.

I once gave a padded toilet seat to one of my best friends as a wedding gift. It was a joke inspired by how he spent much of his bachelor party. The padded toilet seat is now a family heirloom that has traveled with the family and, to my knowledge, still serves my friend today--although we do not discuss this frequently.

The average person spends 3 years of their life sitting on the toilet. Makes you wish you had a padded toilet seat.

Toilets in boats were originally placed at the front of the boat; which was called the head. Hence, the source of the term "the head".

One of the most memorable scenes in "Christmas Vacation" involves the toilet in Cousin Eddy's RV. It It happens. It happened on a rented houseboat on a weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks to some friends and me. The incident was blamed on "bad carrots" by literally a boatload of engineers.

National Toilet Day is November 10. World Toilet Day is November 19. Apparently, the toilet is an invention so significant that it deserves two opportunities to celebrate.

While these anecdotes are presented in fun, the flushing toilet is a serious contribution to indoor plumbing. If your toilet isn't looking so sharp, consider replacing it with one of the many two piece toilets offered by Shop 4 Classics. We offer many styles with either round or elongated bowls. For a classic bath, consider a pull chain toilet from Elizabethan Classics or a pillbox toilet from Sunrise Specialty. For more modest changes, treat your toilet to a new toilet tank lever or toilet paper holder from Sign of the Crab.

Have a wonderful National Toilet Day from your friends at Shop 4 Classics!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New York State of Mind

In honor of the World Series Champion New York Yankees, we feature the Nostalgic Warehouse New York doorplate series in this space today. Much like the New York Yankees, The New York doorplate design is a classic that has been popular for over a century. Befitting of its namesake, the New York doorplate sets are sophisticated, understated, and unpretentious. Okay, so maybe that isn't exactly New York's reputation but the Yankees and the New York doorplate sets do have one more thing in common. They are both winners! And if you are not a New York fan, Shop 4 Classics offers many, many other door hardware options to choose from.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Vintage Themed Cabinet Hardware from the John Wright Company

If you are looking for an easy fall fix-up project, consider dressing up your kitchen cabinets with stylish knobs from the John Wright Company. In addition to highly traditional designs, the John Wright Company’s collection of cabinet knobs also includes knobs with ornate designs, eye-catching hexagon shaped knobs, and very rustic odd shaped knobs. All knobs are constructed of solid cast iron and are available in unique finishes like vintage iron, aged copper and oxidized brass. Pair a distinctive John Wright designed knob with any one of their numerous finishes to arrive at a fresh look that compliments your kitchen cabinets and décor.