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It’s time to fix your fixtures

There are many new features in today’s fixtures

Posted: June 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The new nylon flex hoses for retractable hand sprayer nozzles are very flexible and resistant to kinking. Prices vary for fixtures depending on features and finishes.

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 If the finish on your kitchen faucet and related hardware is more akin to corrosion than chrome, or if your bathroom plumbing fixtures were put in when disco was the dance craze, it’s well past time to change these out. And if you are doing kitchen or bathroom remodeling on a larger scale, the plumbing fixtures might just be the focal point from which you begin.

“When you choose a faucet for your bathroom, you can match accessories, such as the shower head, tub filler, toilet paper holder, towel bar and robe hook,” said Armando Cruz, the plumbing manager at Pacific Sales in Valencia. “You can keep things consistent in one series and one color.”

If you haven’t paid attention to developments in plumbing fixtures in recent years, you will be amazed by the incredible selection of styles and features available, in every price range from basic to budget-busting. And a visit to the Pacific Sales showroom is truly an eye-opener in this regard, with an almost bewildering array of attractive fixtures to choose from. But if you need help figuring it all out, you will find that as well.

Here Cruz offers an overview of what is available on the market in kitchen fixtures, bathroom fixtures, shower fixtures and toilets.

 

Style and finish

Cruz said there are basically three general styles in plumbing fixtures: those with a traditional design, those with a contemporary look and those that might be considered “transitional,” or somewhere between the other two. Of course, your eye is the one that matters here, so don’t let a designer’s label box you in.

“You might have a traditional home, but you have more contemporary taste,” Cruz said. “Transitional might satisfy both.”

While you can get some fixtures in finishes such as matte black, pewter or white (or even have the manufacturer custom-plate the finish for you), Cruz said the most popular finishes these days are polished chrome, satin (or brushed) nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze. Some fixtures also come in polished nickel, which has a slightly more yellow tone than polished chrome.

“Chrome is generally the least expensive. Brushed nickel and bronze are usually more expensive,” Cruz said. But he added that many manufacturers now have both a “designer” line and a “more competitive” line, so you can find the style, finish and price that works for you.

As an example he pointed out a Moen “starter” faucet kit that was $233 in brushed nickel and only $178 in polished chrome.

 

Faucet flow

Cruz said that, for water conservation, all the newer faucets have regulators in them to provide a maximum flow of 1.5 gallons per minute, as compared to older faucets with 2.5 gpm. He added that you can still purchase faucets with 2.5 gpm, but new homes are now required by law to have the 1.5 gpm faucets. It’s the same with shower heads, too.

 

Faucet features

It’s really kind of fun to tour the fixture section at Pacific Sales and see the interesting and arty ways designers shape spigots, handles and all the rest. But when it comes to kitchen fixtures, other than the look of your fixtures (and of course the finish), it really comes down to what features you desire. Cruz pointed out several of these for me.

Touch-flow: In the kitchen, your hands are often handling food and so turning a faucet on and off manually can be a contamination hazard.

Some of the newer kitchen faucets (operated by batteries) can be set for flow rate and temperature manually via the handle, but then turned off and on with a slight bump from the back of your hand. And Cruz said the latest development, coming soon from Moen, is a faucet that does the same thing via motion sensors. The sensor in front allows small children with limited reach to activate flow (and shuts off by itself after a time if they forget).

Spray handles: Cruz said all the newer faucets with spray handle features now have nylon flex hoses instead of stainless steel. This is much quieter when pulled out and also much more flexible than stainless. Many of these faucets have magnetic locks to keep the spray handle neatly in place and some of them feature automatic retraction of the spray handle.

 

Rub to clean

Cruz said one of the latest developments in fixtures, for faucets and shower heads, is the rub-to-clean nozzle.

Made of silicone rubber instead of metal or other materials, these resist the buildup of minerals from our hard water. And, if minerals do build up, they don’t permanently bond to the material, as they would with metal. You can rub the buildup off.

 

Shower heads

When it comes to shower heads, the same choices are available in style and finish, as with faucets. But the styles can get pretty imaginative, especially with the “rain”-style shower heads, which simulate falling rain instead of a high pressure spray.

“A lot of people go with the rain heads, especially in the master bath,” Cruz said. He pointed out the various designs of these in the Hansgrohe shower head section, and noted that manufacturer offers “top-of-the-line quality in a midrange price.”

The detachable spray heads are quite popular these days, by themselves or as additions to the fixed heads, such as the rain heads, Cruz said.

“The hand sprayer is convenient for washing yourself and for rinsing down the shower,” he said. And he added that a hand sprayer on a slide bar makes a nice, adjustable-height shower head for families with children.

As with faucets, the price of a shower head system can vary. For example, a package for a Hansgrohe Metris hand sprayer, “ready for installation,” could run $900.

Toilets

Toilets can also be purchased in traditional or contemporary designs, and you can match the trip lever (handle) to other fixtures in your bathroom. Cruz said that, for water saving, all newer toilets come with the mandated 1.28 gallon flush.

“But what’s hot are the one-piece toilets,” he said. These are seamless where the tank meets the toilet, which looks more attractive and is much easier to clean than the two-piece style.

“Most new toilets also have the slow-close lids,” he said. With these, the lid drops slowly on its own after you give it a nudge to close, so there is no slamming.

“Many models also have the ‘comfort height,’” he added. These are 17.5 inches from the floor to the top of the seat, as opposed to older toilets with a 16-inch height. Tall people and older people find these much easier to use.

“You can go with the wall-mounted style for a truly contemporary look,” Cruz said. “It saves room and you can easily clean the floor under it.” These also have two flush buttons, mounted on the wall: one for liquids and one for solids.

Finally, at the top end, you can purchase toilets that have sensors to open the lid when you approach, and to flush and close the lid automatically when you are finished.

Pacific Sales, 29011 The Old Road, Valencia, CA 91355. 661-294-4400 or www.pacificsales.com for more information.

jwalker@the-signal.com

661-287-5524

 

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