Friday, December 30, 2011

Add Vintage Flair to Wall Coat Hook Racks and Coat Hook Trees with Black Cast Iron Coat Hooks

For the DIYer, creating a list of New Year’s resolutions often also results in them adding to their already long list of home projects. For example, resolving to stay more organized in the New Year can add any number of projects to their DIY project list. While the project may be as simple as adding a conveniently located garment hook in a closet, it may also be more involved like creating a unique wall mounted coat rack or freestanding coat hook tree from scratch.

Whether the project is simple or complex, cast iron hooks should be considered when developing the project’s shopping list. Cast iron coat hooks are an attractive and typically more affordable alternative to solid brass and bronze coat hooks. Cast iron hooks are also available in styles that range from simple single and double utility hooks to large and highly decorative Victorian coat and hat hooks. Most cast iron coat hooks on the market have vintage designs based upon original antique hooks and are, therefore, excellent choices for DIY projects that have a period theme. A negative of cast iron hooks is that, unlike solid brass hooks that are offered in a wide array of finish options, cast iron coat hooks are commonly only offered with either a durable black powder coat finish or offered with natural or antique iron finishes.

Just in time for the New Year, Shop 4 Classics has added the latest selection of cast iron hooks from Antique Revelry. Antique Revelry’s cast iron hooks have vintage designs and have durable black powder coat finishes. Below, is a sample of Antique Revelry’s current selection of cast iron hooks along with a few ideas on how each hook can be used to help maintain organization in the New Year:

With a simple design common to antique coat hooks found in classrooms throughout the country, Antique Revelry’s School House coat hook is sturdy and affordably priced making it an excellent choice for wall mounted multiple-hook coat racks located in mudrooms and changing rooms.

In contrast to the School House hook, Antique Revelry’s Grand Victorian cast iron coat and hat hook is an extra large hook featuring an elaborate antique design. The Grand Victorian coat and hat hook is designed for display as well as utility. This antique coat and hat hook will add eye-catching vintage flair whether it is mounted individually on front foyer walls or used in sets to complete a DIYer’s custom-made coat rack tree.

Antique Revelry’s Fleur de Lis coat rack hook is the perfect decorative cast iron hook for the DIYer wanting to create a prominently displayed wall mount coat rack. This black cast iron coat hook features an ornate twisted double hook attached to a sturdy base cast in the shape of the ever-popular Fleur de Lis symbol. Enhancing the look, the Fleur de Lis coat hook mounts with machine screws from behind the base rather than with wood screws from the front. Mounting from behind conceals screw heads from view resulting in a refined look.

For DIY projects that call for a ceiling hook, Antique Revelry offers a truly unique rotating triple ceiling hook. This cast iron ceiling hook is an ideal solution for applications requiring items to be stored overhead like utility and laundry rooms.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shower Enclosure Support Braces: A Thrilling Look At Shower Curtain Ring & Rod Support

Brace yourselves! Today, we are discussing shower enclosure supports. It is a thrilling subject that is sure to have you on the edge of your seat.

A shower enclosure brace usually consists of two or three pieces:
  1. The flange that attaches the brace to a wall or ceiling is called an escutcheon.

  2. The brace bar is a straight bar that is usually offered in an assortment of lengths.

  3. Depending on the shower enclosure, the brace may include a clamp to attach the brace to the shower curtain ring. Other shower enclosures assemble with the use of tees. Braces for these enclosures thread into tees at the ends of the enclosure and, therefore, no clamp is included with these braces.

The shower enclosure brace bar is designed to be cut with a tube cutter. The position of the shower curtain ring is adjusted by modifying the length of this bar. The brace bar is threaded at one end. Always cut from the end that is NOT threaded. Depending on the manufacturer, the bar may thread into the escutcheon or it may thread into the tee/clamp. The opposite end (unthreaded end) of the bar is secured with a set screw. Again, it will depend on the manufacturer whether the set screw is part of the escutcheon or the clamp.

Shower enclosure kits usually include two or three braces with the kit. Shower curtain rods may not include any additional support. If greater stability is desired, additional shower enclosure braces are available for most shower curtain rings and shower curtain rods.

The first thing that you should know before purchasing additional shower enclosure braces is that not all shower enclosure braces are the same. Shower curtain rings and rods are not governed by a universal standard that guarantees that all tubing is the same. If shower enclosures and rods aren't subject to industry standards, it then reasons that the braces required to support them also are not standardized.

Extra braces attach to the shower ring or rod with a clamp. Shower enclosures that assemble with tees include braces without clamps (as described above) but any additional braces for even these enclosures attach with a clamp. The clamp allows the brace to install almost anywhere along the length of the rod. Because the clamp attaches to the curtain rod and curtain rod tubing comes in different sizes, it is important to make certain the clamp fits the shower rod diameter. The most common tubing for shower curtain rods is 1" outside diameter. The tubing for clawfoot tub shower curtain rings is typically 7/8" outside diameter or 3/4" outside diameter.

While additional supports provide stability, it comes at a price. Their financial expense generally isn't significant but each additional brace clamped to the shower curtain rod creates another obstruction for the shower curtain. Shower curtain pins won't slide past a shower enclosure brace. If the enclosure only has two braces, the curtain can be hung split around one brace so that both ends of the curtain can then be pulled around the perimeter of the shower curtain ring to the opposite brace. If more than two braces are used, there may be sections of the curtain that do not move. Multiple shower curtains can also be used but this can result in gaps. Your goal should be to use as few shower enclosure braces as possible to prevent interference with the shower curtain yet still provide adequate support for the shower enclosure.

If all this talk about shower enclosure braces did not provide the adrenaline rush you anticipated, we still have not addressed irregular shower enclosure installations. Tall ceilings, vaulted ceilings, the absence of adjacent walls, skylights, windows, and other engineering predicaments can complicate the installation of shower enclosure braces. Many shower enclosure manufacturers offer adapters to solve shower enclosure brace installation problems. Angled ceiling adapters replace the shower enclosure brace's escutcheon to allow for vaulted ceilings. Couplers can be used to join two brace bars end-to-end to create a longer shower enclosure brace. Wall braces can be converted to ceiling braces (and vice versa) with the use of elbows. The thing to remember when solving shower enclosure brace installation problems is that there is no uniform code to ensure that every adapter will work with every shower enclosure brace. Check specifications and instructions carefully.

Shop 4 Classics offers shower enclosure braces and brace adapters for shower curtain rings and shower curtain rods from Sign of the Crab, Sunrise Specialty, Elizabethan Classics, and Cheviot Products. Visit Shop 4 Classics for our complete catalog of shower enclosures, shower enclosure braces, and shower enclosure brace adapters.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Floor Mount Freestanding Tub Fillers and Showers by Sign of the Crab

As another the New Year approaches, it is clear that freestanding bathtubs are one of the hottest trends in bathroom design and distinctive floor mount tub filler faucets and shower enclosures are freestanding tubs’ crowning jewels. Freestanding bathtubs are nothing new as for years antique inspired clawfoot bathtubs and pedestal bathtubs have been a stylish alternative to common built-in bathtubs. Evolutions in freestanding bathtub design, however, are making this style of bathtub so much more popular. A wide array of truly unique modern adaptations of the freestanding bathtubs is now being offered alongside clawfoot and pedestal style freestanding bathtubs. New modern style floor mount tub filler faucets and floor mount shower enclosures are also being offered in addition to vintage style clawfoot faucets and shower enclosures.


In keeping with the times, Sign of the Crab’s 2012 product line includes a greatly expanded collection of floor mount freestanding tub filler faucets and shower enclosures. Their 2012 freestanding faucet and shower line-up includes both vintage and modern designs. Their vintage collection of floor mount tub fillers and floor mount shower enclosures feature traditional designs inspired by original antique clawfoot tub faucets and showers. Sign of the Crab's vintage-inspired faucets and showers have porcelain accented lever and cross faucet handles and are available in all of their faucet finish options including oil rubbed bronze. For modern and Art Deco themed baths, Sign of the Crab added the Deco line of floor mount tub filler faucets. Featuring more angular designs and Art Deco style metal faucet handles, Deco faucets and shower sets are offered in all finish options except oil rubbed bronze.

Since inception nearly forty years ago, Sign of the Crab has been committed to quality and reliability. Every Sign of the Crab faucet is tested under water with air at twice the household pressure to ensure that they are of the highest quality on the market. Quality was a key reason why Shop 4 Classics began offering Sign of the Crab’s faucets and fixtures almost ten years ago. Shop 4 Classics now proudly offers Sign of the Crab’s complete catalog of kitchen and bath fixtures and plumbing products.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Repairing Faucet Leaks and Replacing Faucet Handles: Clawfoot Tub Faucet and Bathroom Sink Faucet Maintenance

In a tight economy, we think about making do with what we already have for just a bit longer. We might have replaced a leaky clawfoot tub faucet in a thriving economy but now we look to repair it. In better times, the wear and tear on an old bathroom sink faucet might have convinced us to replace it with a shiny new antique reproduction sink faucet. In today’s economy, we budget more conservatively. We appreciate the charm and warm patina of a vintage faucet. If only it weren't for that persistent drip or broken handle, the current faucet would be just fine.

Repairing an antique faucet can be financially rewarding as well as a source of pride. Finding faucet repair parts, however, can lead to frustration and a great waste of time and money if not prepared. Faucet parts are not universal. Although they may superficially appear to be the same faucet, the internal parts aren't necessarily interchangeable. The mechanical differences can make locating parts to repair an old faucet a challenge.

The most common cause for leaks is a worn out valve. Most antique faucets employ compression valves. Gradually, manufacturers switched to lower maintenance ceramic disk valves. Some faucet manufacturers, such as Strom Plumbing, offered compression valves and ceramic disk valves simultaneously. With the exception of the valves, the faucets are identical. However, the valves are not usually interchangeable; at least not without a conversion performed by the manufacturer. To determine if a valve is a compression valve or a ceramic disk valve, uninstall it from the faucet and inspect it. Compression valves have a hard rubber washer at the bottom of a stem assembly. When the washer wears out, the valve leaks and the faucet drips. Replacing the rubber washer is frequently the only repair required for a compression valve. Ceramic disk valves rely on rotating ceramic disks inside a cartridge. Replacing the cartridge will remedy drips for a faucet with ceramic disk valves. There is no single compression valve or ceramic disk valve design however, so determining the type of valve employed is only part of the equation.

Recognizing which valve requires repair is another piece of the puzzle. The valve for the hot water handle and the valve for the cold water handle are not always the same valve so it can be important to know which valve is leaking. Determining if a faucet is dripping hot or cold water isn't always obvious. One at a time, turn off the water at the supply to determine which valve is leaking. If a clawfoot tub faucet has two outlets (i.e., tub filler and shower), it will also have a diverter valve to switch between functions. If the clawfoot tub faucet no longer switches between tub filler and shower, or if both are engaged simultaneously, replacing the diverter valve should solve the problem.

In some cases, the direction that the faucet’s handles turn can be a factor in locating a replacement valve. Generally speaking, faucet manufacturers offer a choice of handles for the same faucet. Lever handles usually turn in opposite directions but, depending on the manufacturer, cross handles sometimes turn in the same direction. If your faucet looks identical to another faucet but the handles are different, there may also be a difference in valves. Replacing a valve while ignoring the difference in handle styles could result in a handle that turns in the opposite direction after repair (e.g. counter-clockwise vs. clockwise). See "Vintage Faucet Soap Opera: As The Handle Turns".

The valve stem holds several useful bits of information that are important to locating a replacement part. Like Lucky Charms cereal, valve stems have many shapes. Square, star-shaped, and gear-shaped stems are common. The points on a star-shaped or gear-shaped stem are referred to as "splines". The number of splines can vary. The diameter of the stem can also vary so measure this as well. Often the stem is partially visible so it is finished to match the faucet. Check the size and shape of the valve stem, number of splines, and finish to help ensure a match.

Valves are the part most frequently repaired or replaced but faucet handles can also be replaced to restore a faucet. If valves aren't universal it would figure then that the faucet handles that fit it also are not universal. Installing a faucet handle with a gear-shaped opening on a square valve stem defines the old axiom of fitting a square peg in a round hole. Assuming that the handle fits the stem, there may still be an issue if you switch from cross handles to lever handles or vice versa. As described above, the handles on a faucet with lever handles turn in opposite directions but the same rule of thumb does not always apply to cross handles.

Knowing your faucet's manufacturer and model number will provide a huge advantage. It may not be enough for antique faucets but it certainly provides a great start. Faucet manufacturers don't typically print their name or model number on the faucet. If you can't recall this information, didn't record it, or can't locate the original documentation, identifying a faucet online that looks similar can help but provides no guarantee. The clues provided above can be used in addition to (or in lieu of) the manufacturer name and model number to help identify repair parts.

Shop 4 Classics offers Strom Plumbing by Sign of the Crab, Sunrise Specialty, and Elizabethan Classics clawfoot tub faucets, antique reproduction bathroom sink faucets, and parts to repair them. Visit Shop 4 Classics for discount prices and great selection that should make the tough times a little easier to take.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reviving Your Tudor Revival Home: Home Hardware & Plumbing Choices for Your Tudor Home Restoration

The Tudor Revival architecture, which drew inspiration from original English Tudor architecture of the 1500’s, emerged in England during the late 1800’s and quickly spread to the United States. Popularity of Tudor Revival style in the United States reached its peak during the 1920’s and ended as the Country entered World War II at the start of the 1940’s. Much of Tudor Revival architecture’s appeal in the United States was the style’s connection to England, which was considered the leader in intellect, wealth, and sophistication of the day. This desire to be connected to England was particularly keen during this time as many wished to separate themselves from the wave of new immigrants from the rest of Europe. Tudor Revival architecture was a mark of elevated status and therefore was popular for homes of the upper and upper-middle class and buildings of prestigious science and educational institutions.

Hallmarks of Tudor Revival architecture include steep gabled slate roofs and facades constructed of a mix of brick, stone accents, and decorative half timbering. Prominent chimneys topped with decorative chimney pots, narrow windows featuring a pattern of diamond panels, and a stone Tudor archway above the front entry are also common Tudor Revival architectural elements.

The interiors of Tudor Revival homes in many ways are a reflection of their exteriors. Heavy wood beams on the ceilings, dark wood paneling along the walls, and wide-plank wood floors are contrasted against the Tudor home’s surrounding white or light colored plaster work. However the focal point of most Tudor Revival homes is their large stone hearths, which are just as grand as the home’s exterior chimneys. Decorative carving in the home’s wood and stone work include stylized images of English flora and fauna including the Tudor rose, thistle, deer and other woodland creatures. Tudor home's of the truly wealthy also include elaborate carvings and art work of famous characters from English history and family crests that conveyed the home owner's English lineage. Richly colored accents including tapestries on their walls, ornate rugs on their floors, and stained glass accents on exterior windows were added to help brighten Tudor home's otherwise dark interiors.

Shop 4 Classics has all the hardware that you will need to complete your Tudor home renovation. Below are just a few ideas of hardware and plumbing products that you may wish to consider for your project:

Tudor Revival Door Hardware and Door Knockers from Brass Accents

Brass Accents' line of door hardware includes the Oxford door hardware series which is a reproduction of Sargent & Company’s Belfort pattern circa 1894. The backplate takes the shape of the Tudor arch and includes accents resembling patterns found on Tudor wood paneling and half-timbering. Consider pairing the Oxford backplates with Brass Accents’ Maltesia knob which features a design resembling the Tudor rose. Brass Accents also offers a lion head door knocker with a uniquely English twist. The stately lion head door knocker’s drop ring features a bust of a Shakespearean character.

Old European Inspired Solid Bronze Door Hardware and Accents from Coastal Bronze

Coastal Bronze manufactures a variety of solid bronze door and gate hardware cast with rustic textures resembling that found on old European cast iron hardware. In particular, Coastal Bronze’s Euro series of door hardware and gate hardware features accents inspired by old world designs.

Early 1900’s Reproduction Baseboard Heat Registers by Mission Metalworks

Mission Metalworks produces replicas of the classic single-damper slanted baseboard heat register that were so common in homes of all types constructed in the early 1900’s. Their reproduction baseboard heat registers are available with Grid and Cathedral style grille patterns and in the two most common baseboard register sizes of the period.

Cast Iron Tudor-Inspired Heat Registers from Antique Revelry

Decorative black cast iron heat registers by Antique Revelry are an ideal upgrade for wall heat vent covers found in Tudor Revival homes. The diamond grill work pattern resembles geometric designs found on stone and wood work of English Tudor style homes. Their Tudor heat registers are also available with white and black cast aluminum grilles that are lighter in wieght making them perfect for wall and ceiling vents.

Tapestry Holders, Curtain Tie Backs, and Carpet Holders from Brass Accents

Elaborate tapestries and ornate carpets added rich colors to Tudor home interiors. Decorative tapestry hangers and carpet holders by Brass Elegans help keep them all in their place and looking good.

Period Reproduction Faucets and Fixtures from Sign of the Crab

The kitchens and baths of the early 1900’s contained a unique set of faucet and fixtures. Sign of the Crab specializes in period reproduction plumbing products. Sign of the Crabs product line includes cast iron tubs, clawfoot tub faucets and showers, vintage sinks, and antique reproduction kitchen and lavatory faucets.

Check out Shop 4 Classics’ Tudor Style Guide for more information and ideas about Tudor Revival style homes.