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What’s PVD? September 4, 2007

Posted by hipster in Lavatory Faucets, Style.

What is PVD?  What does it stand for? What does it mean?  Do you even want it?  These are the questions I am being asked, so I am obliged to answer.

PVD has a lot of different definitions. I have heard “Particle Vapor Distribution,” “Particle Vapor Deposition,” “Physical Vapor Deposition” and several others as well.  Whatever it’s called, it’s effective, and PVD finishes are unlikely to be scratched or blemished. So the question is, “how does this process differ from the typical finishing process?”  The answer is very very very subtle, about the size of a molecule.

Normally when a product is finished, it is coated in a conductive liquid, hung on a conductive bar and dipped in a bath.  The product is charged with electricity and an ionic bond is formed between the liquid and the product. In other words, dip it and forget it.

PVD on the other hand works on much of the same principle, but instead of a chemical bath products are set in a chamber and given the same charge.  A vacuum in the chamber is created and a bar of finish is placed in the chamber.  This bar is blown up and its particles hover in the chamber and are affixed to the product.  This forms a molecular bond, which is much stronger.  Where a bath will cause a rush of molecules to bond, the PVD process causes one molecule at a time to bond to the product.

So what are the end results of the PVD process?  A finish that will last longer than a finish that went through the bath process.  One of the drawbacks of this process is it takes a lot of energy and time.  These are two things that manufacturers don’t often have.  Usually you will find PVD in chrome and brass only.

Chrome and brass are easy metals to finish with as they are so responsive to bonding.  If you are looking for a sturdy finish on a bathroom faucet, I would recommend Newport Brass, or Danze.  Newport Brass is a leading manufacturer that specializes in obscure and hard to find finishes.  They do all their work custom, and they have several PVD options.

Until next time.


Deposits On Your Faucets? August 24, 2007

Posted by hipster in Lavatory Faucets, Repair, Shower Systems.
1 comment so far

Calcium deposits, white flakes on your beautiful finish; what can you do? Well the answer is fairly simple.  Vinegar.  The vinegar is acidic enough to eat through the white film but not your finish. You are going to need:

·        Water

PH Scale·        Vinegar

·        A soft bristled toothbrush.


You need a mild acid to get rid of the calcium deposits.  Soap would be a good choice, because it has a low pH of 6.  The problem is soap actually chemically reacts to the minerals in the water and is the cause of that film. Vinegar’s pH is usually between 2 and 3.5.  Water has a pH of 7 and the lower the pH the more acidic the product is.


Now you aren’t going to scrub straight vinegar onto your faucets.  You’re actually going to dilute it down to about a cap full for a cup of water.  If you want to do a really thorough job, use filtered water. Also, don’t forget to test the mixture on a concealed part of the faucet, and its better your mixture be too weak than too strong.


This trick can be used to clean your shower heads.  The scum and calcium build up is the number one killer of shower heads, so a regular soak isn’t a bad idea.  There are lots of little problems some vinegar water can solve.

What tools should you use? August 22, 2007

Posted by hipster in Lavatory Faucets, Repair.
1 comment so far

Be sure to begin your project on the right foot, by using the right tools. Here are a list of tools and why they help.

Pipe Wrenches: They are designed just for plumbing problems and are far superior compared to a normal wrench when dealing with plumbing. When you are using a pipe wrench take a towel and wrap it around the pipe you are working with. That way it won’t get scratched up.

Plumbers Tape: Plumbers tape or silicon tape is a tape you will wrap around the threads of your pipe. It will make sure you get a water tight seal on your connection. Pull and wrap the tape two to three times around the male threads of a pipe and then screw it into place.

Auger: What do you do if you have a leak? Use the right tools. An auger is more commonly referred to as a pipe snake. It removes and breaks up clogs in your line. Also, at about $30 for the basic auger, it might be a good idea to pick one of these tools up, just in case a punger can’t cut it.

Tube Cutter: It does what it name implies. It cuts tubes. If you need to adjust a pipe or cut a pipe, these little pieces will do the job. Sometimes designed shaped like a “C” you simply roll your hand over it and the tube gets cut. These cuts are always clean and straight if you use the tool correctly.

Detection Device: The big daddy. About ten thousand dollars will get you a snaking device that can help you detect leaks, clogs and all sorts of plumbing abnormalities. This is no do-it-yourself tool, but neat to look at anyways.

While you are using your tools remember safety. Always pull the wrench, don’t push, last thing you need is your hand in a wall. Also, don’t use a wrench to lift or bend a pipe, they have another specialized tool for that, it’s called a pipe bender.

One of the beautiful things about plumbing, especially when considering bathroom faucets is that it’s so easy. Anyone who has used a garden hose can fix a faucet for the most part. If you do get stumped though, don’t be ashamed; get a professional to help you out. That’s what they are there for.

Let’s Talk Bronze Faucets! July 17, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Lavatory Faucets, Roman Tub Faucets, Shower Systems, Style, Tub & Showers.
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I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I like better than shopping for faucets!  Ok, I’m not THAT crazy (yet).  But, one of the most popular things people do shop for when looking to upgrade their faucet is a “bronze faucet”.  This can include “venetian bronze” (Delta Faucet), “Brazen Bronze” (Kohler), Brushed Bronze (everyone), and all the others that people can think up adjectives for: hammered, distressed, antiqued, chocolate-covered…  (I swear that last would be a hit).

 Kohler K-12182, Brushed Bronze  Delta Faucet, 3555RBLHP  Moen T6125 ORB Finish

Seriously though, bronze faucets are a hot item.  Rustihttp://www.faucetdirect.com/index.cfm/page/product:display/productId/TS511ORB/manufacturer/ShowHouse%20by%20Moen/categoryId/86c, “olde-worlde” style, not to mention they can go great if you are doing more darker tones in a room.  Also, these faucets often have a design that may add to their antique look – more stylized spouts, lots of metal texture on the handles, etc.

Frozen in time or Living Finish?
Beware – some of the faucets, especially those that aren’t of the bigger manufacturers tout “living finish” faucets, or “genuine” bronze.  These will continue to change over time from air moisture, oils, dust, etc.  Most manufacturers are pretty honest about it, as some people DO look for these.  It’s often hard to get a genuine looking “weathered” faucet.  These are usually a base-bronze or similar metal that just doesn’t have a sealant, so they will fade from bright, splotch or patina.  If you’re not looking for this effect, check the product details to make sure they say the finish is sealed.  Even then, be careful about cleaning the faucet and taking off the sealant.

Finishing Touches
Every brand does their bronze differently – everyone thinks that their’s is better (of course!).  Do you like it darker?  Lighter?  A bit of antique added so there is some dark on the textured areas?  A lot of antique so only a little of the bronze shows through (a dark faucet with lighter metal accents)?  So much to choose from…. Let’s take a close look at the most popular out there:

  Thousands of variations, limited blog space…  Hopefully, this gives you a good sampling of what is out there in the land of Bronze Faucets!

How To Clean A Brushed Nickel Faucet July 13, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Lavatory Faucets, Repair, Roman Tub Faucets, Shower Systems, Tub & Showers.
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Kohler Devonshire Brushed Nickel Faucet 

With EasyOff and Sandpaper!  Err.. No.  I know it’s tempting, especially with those hard-water deposits.  White gunk so calcified it might look like a excavated fossil, not your bathroom sink faucet.  Or just all splotchy with finger and smudge-marks…  Why does brushed nickel show that so much?  Yech.

What to use? 

#1 – Avoid anything that you would use on the floor or oven.  If you have to get decked like you are going to be conducting chemical warefare with rubber gloves and a face-mask, you’re sure to ruin the nice finish (not to mention the warranty).  Also, some basin/tub cleaners are caustic or acid/ammonia-based, and can harm brushed nickel (read the bottom of this post for more).

#2 – Try a simple soap (dish-soap), a clean rag (not from the work-shop please) and water.  These are usually soft enough to remove finger-smudge marks, which Brushed Nickel is most prone to.  Avoid using scented hand-soaps as these might leave additives or have things like scrubbing-grit.

#3 – The drain parts of a faucet (called the “pop-up” drain) that have matching trim also often need to be cleaned.  Since these usually has water deposits, softer cleaners like Bon-Ami, Barkeeper’s Friend, Zud or Soft Scrub might be good.  Again – beware of anything that is made for harder substances like tile or flooring.

#4 – Do not use scratch-pad sponges like Brillo or steel wool.  These can take almost anything off of steel, but can take the finish patina or protectants – even the nickel, off the faucet.  Soft cloth please!

Why be so careful?
I’m glad you asked!  Most often decent big-brand faucets (like Moen, Delta, Price Pfister, Kohler) have “Lifetime” warranties on the faucet’s finish and function.  They will cover if the finish suddenly starts peeling, but only if a corrosive substance isn’t involved (Ooops, I used Liquid Plumber on the pop-up drain – not covered).  Using those will void that, and admittedly, most DO have a pretty decent warranty department.  Delta Faucet was one I dealt with frequently and they had a fast response.

So, there is the warranty to consider, but also the finish itself.  Each brand has it’s own special finish that they tout will last for “all-time”.  Delta’s is called “Brilliance“, Kohler is “Vibrant“, Moen’s “LifeShine“, and Price Pfister’s “Pforever Pfinish” (they like “Pf’s” – sorry, I’d link that one too, but their site doesn’t have the info). 

What it comes down to, is most of these have a cool PVD finish, which is Physical Vapor Deposition.  This is technobabble for the finish was put on atom by atom (ya, thats a tight bond).  Chances are it won’t PEEL (or crack, chip, etc).  But it might tarnish, fade, etc.  Most of these have a simple seal on them to protect against all the abuse that comes about on a bathroom sink.  Those harsh chemicals can take off that off that protective layer.

http://www.faucetdirect.com/index.cfm/page/product:display/productId/3026/manufacturer/Herbeau/categoryId/64/finish/Weathered%20BrassFaucets that have a vintage or or old-world look or finish be warned – These might have a “living finish”.  They are supposed to tarnish, patina, mottle or fade due to air/moisture exposure.  So cleaning them may take them back to the original base metal, but that may be up to you and you’re preferences.

Lastly, be careful of the internal parts.  Soaking the faucet with rubber or plastic corrosive chemicals can break down pieces that keep the faucet from going BLOOEY.  This includes the crunchy bits like seats (o-rings), valves, or even some basic silicone that may have been used for lubricant for smooth movement (I can’t use a pun here that wouldn’t get me in trouble).

So, you need to clean your faucet.  What do you do?  WHAT DO YOU DO?  If you have the instruction manual (yeah, right), that almost always has a “Care and Maintainence” section.  Failing that, most manufacturers have websites that have the info posted.  What it comes down to is you can use simple soap and water, but if you use something harsher beware of not damaging the finish, warranty and/or internal parts.

Update (9/29/08)
With the recent comments, I am updating this post with more info on specific cleaners to avoid, and things you can look for to see if that cleaner is safe.  NOTE: As most cleansers can change their formula, it’s hard to say “just use this!” so I’ll try to stick to those things that don’t really change, like white vinegar.

Chemicals/Cleansers to avoid using on Brushed Nickel: Delta Faucet states in their FAQ to avoid abrasives and polishes, including bleach-based cleansers.  They specifically state to avoid Scrubbing Bubbles, Lysol Basin Tub, Soft Scrub and Tile Cleaner (avoid on the brushed nickel – it probably works just fine on tile/tubs/sinks).  Beware product that say they “remove rust or tarnish” – those containing hydrofluoric, hydrochloric and/or phosphoric acids, anything with caustic agents (usually mentioned in the warning sections of the product). 

Kohler mentions to avoid anything with ammonia, bleach or acid.  Kohler also suggests considering Windex Original (has “Ammonia-D”?), Fantastic Antibacterial Heavy Duty (avoid the Bleach version!), Comet Bathroom Cleaner (Comet has citric acid – 6%). 

Moen doesn’t suggest anything specific other than 50/50 of white vinegar and water, and a soft cloth.

If I did not mention it before – never use a “Brillo” or other scratch-pad sponge.  It’ll get burnt stuff off the bottom of a pan and will remove any protectant if not the actual nickel off the faucet.