Advice needed on updating tub/shower fixtures

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by rhosch, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. rhosch

    rhosch New Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    I could really use some advice.

    We're remodeling a bathroom with new vanity/sink, tile, and paint. The new vanity/sink came as a pre-fabbed unit with fixtures installed. We liked the look of the total package... now I'm left trying to figure out the least painful way to update the tub/shower fixtures to be a little closer match.

    I don't know the brand of the sink fixtures, but the style is a cross handle sort of Elizabethan look. Finish is brushed brass/bronze... not dark oil-rubbed or bright polished, but somewhere in-between.

    The existing tub/shower fixtures are American Standard AquaSeal, and though they're 30+ years old we haven't had any problems out of them. We'd really like to update the look to complement the rest of the bathroom. Shower surround is mud/tile, and I've stripped the old tile but left the mud walls in preparation to re-tile the bath and shower surround. I have complete access to the back of the shower.

    I know I can replace the drain, showerhead, and spout/diverter without much trouble, but of course it's the handles that are going to be a pain. If I could find a way to update just the handles and get the shower head/spout/drain to match pretty close I'd be very happy with that. I looked at the Danco stuff at the local Lowe's, but they didn't have much in stock. Looks like they make "universal" handles in brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze - either would be a better match than the old chrome that is there. Looks like they also have canopy models, cross models, and lever models under the "universal" section.

    OK, so the questions...

    Any experience with universal handles? Any suggestions on where to look for some that are compatible with these American Standard stems, and have modern finish options like brushed or rubbed brass or nickel?

    If universal is a no-go, where do I go from there? The current setup is two-handle, but I know that is getting scarce now. With the mud wall, I'd hate to start punching more holes for a single handle, and there is a 2x4 right down the center that I'd have to move or deal with. I guess I'm capable of cutting out the old steel-pipe installed valves and stuff, I would really just rather not. And I'd rather not spend many hundreds of dollars just to update the "look" of perfectly good fixtures.

    I'm hoping someone can suggest an easy way to get this done. Help?
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    First, your 30-year old shower control valve should be replaced to meet current code while you are remodeling. This means it will have the mandated scald-guard technology. This also usually means a single handle control. The two-handle controls usually are thermostatically controlled. It is simpler to use a diverter tub spout, but you could add a handle if you use a separate diverter valve and use a conventional spout.

    Trying to match the vanity colors and style might be tough. Another hassle is repair and maintenance on it if you don't know the brand, or it is a 'house' brand. You may never be able to get parts. If you are lucky, that could be a long time, but no guarantees.

    Depending on who you ask, you'll get different answers to what's 'best'. Pick a brand that has a decent guarantee and has been around for awhile. Some that come to mind are Delta, Moen, Price-fister (sp?), Grohe. Note, I'm purposely excluding Kohler - too many changes, hard to find parts, long time to get them if you do.
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  4. rhosch

    rhosch New Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    So you're suggesting that I cut out the old valve and plumbing, replumb, move that 2x4 and put another hole through the cement for a new single handle valve, so that everything is up to code. I guess if I do have to replace the valve I'll go that route and just do a new single handle.

    But is there any hope of finding replacement handles that would work and save me the trouble and more importantly the money necessary to replumb?
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