Three-handle tub shower faucet sets — three affordable designs

tub and shower faucets with three handlesLela writes:

Pam, can you help me find an affordable yet quality tub and shower faucet set in the 1950?s style? I need the hot, cold, and the middle knob for turning on the shower. I looked on Restoration Hardware and EACH ONE is $300-400! We have to get the work done soon, so I’m hoping to find something quick. When I did a Google search it lead me to you…. Thanks for any ideas you have.

I respond:

I don’t have any experience relative to their quality, but why don’t you look here –> Locke Plumbing tub-and-shower faucets. They seem to have several three-handle design available, at good prices. Update: Commenter pointed out that these may not be to code any longer — something to do with new anti-scalding designs; please consult with a licensed professional so that you can make an informed decision about this issue.

Locke Plumbing was a tip from Russell a few years ago. Remember Russell… of the “Seabee House.”  Oh my, aren’t these three handle tub-and-shower faucets sets just beautiful to behold. Like sculptures. I like the look of the Sayco — the very first set — in particular. Actually, I love it. But I am like that about chrome and brass and plumbing in general. When I was a kid, roaming around the hardware store was my favorite. So of course, I spent a whole hour roaming around the Locke Plumbing site in general. Remember: Russell’s initial recommendation of Locke was as a place to find parts.


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    • Christina says

      I bought #1 and love it. My plumber wouldn’t install it (scalding laws) but I did. it works with my period-mostly-honest remodel.

  1. Jason says

    I have a Moen that looks like item 2(not original to the house obviously), but boy oh boy do I love item 1!! I have heard, that licensed plumbers here in Delaware are not allowed to put these in anymore because of a scalding hazzard. So they put that ugly metal plate across and put in a 1 handle version. However, they are sold in stores so I don’t know how accurate that is.

    I don’t know – as I’ve also heard they can turn into a cutting the plumbing out of the wall job when you replace them (glad I have an access door – some don’t I guess) so I’m just going to leave mine as long as they keep working ok. I need the plastic pieces for the middle of the knob, the kit I think is around $18 according to the Moen customer service people – so will probably pick that up sometime. Mine seem to have some give in the wall – like the plumbing will move forward a pit if you pull on it – I don’t likey! Must need a bracket or something in the wall.

  2. says

    Lela – If you are just looking for the same handle replacements as what you already have (if you have a 50s style currently, but it is worn out and corroded from time and use) you can usually order the same handle set from a specialty plumbing store. I just did for a 50s American Standard shower 3 handle set. Just bring in your old handles and they will let you know. Also, if you just want to change out the handles, be careful as the water valve stems (under the handles) usually are made to go with a specific knob/handle. So say you had American Standard knobs/valves/ currently, you probably could not use Kohler knobs on those valves.

  3. tear-down townie says

    While I have no experience with the Sayco brand, I did learn this in my attempts at finding a three handled faucet set with decent knobs for our never-ending bathroom renovation/restoration:

    Valve bodies that are not constructed using a one piece casting but are brazed together from separate components (such as the one included in the first set shown) appear to have a greater chance of things being misaligned. If not fixtured correctly when they were assembled, the valve stems can end up sticking through the wall at different angles.

    Unfortunately, the faucet set with most authentic looking handles that I found locally was also the cheapest, and had this issue. If I remember right, I ended up with MOEN or DELTA instead.

    • pam kueber says

      Okay: Another thing to consult with a licensed professional on: Latest plumbing standards, why they exist and whether you should upgrade. Thanks tear-down, for that info!

  4. Scott says

    Those Sayco faucet handles look awfully similar to the taillights on ’59 Pontiacs. I love ’em!

    If you like the Sayco shower/bath set, make sure you check out . This is the outfit that makes Sayco faucets and they have matching kitchen and lavatory faucets! I can’t comment on their quality but they do say that they’re an American owned company which hopefully means some of their products are manufactured stateside.

    Also, if you happen to be a “car guy/gal,” you’ll be interested in finding out that Briggs Plumbing is a direct descendant of Briggs Body Mfg., the company that produced car bodies for Packard, Chrysler and other companies up until the 1950’s.

  5. MCM is Grand says

    We had good luck with American Standard – Enfield designs at Lowes. For the tub, I wanted Newport Brass but that was very expensive locally. You might want to try for better pricing. Good luck!

  6. Tina says

    Wow, I wish I had found those Locke faucets when I was doing my bathroom re-do! The top set would have been perfect and is a great price.
    I ended up with a set from California Faucet. These are all their tub/shower sets – I went with Aliso since I found the COOLEST EVER sink set from Rohl in starburst (unfortunately discontinued now). The nice thing about California Faucets is the pieces are sold separately, so you can change etchucheons (sp?), tub spout, or shower head (which I did).
    My contractor told me the same thing about scalding, but put the set in without a problem. I personally love the 3-valve set up, so I can control both temp and water pressure. Yes, you have to be careful not to turn off the cold all the way after the hot is up to temp, so I always return the water to the tub faucet before turning it off. If it worked for 50+ years of use, I hope I can use it as well as my predecessors!
    First post to retrorenovation – long time lurker, and thank you for this awesome site!

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome out of lurking, Tina! Thanks for the California faucets tip, as I recall I recently wrote about their bathroom faucets — this seems to be a brand that readers really like. I’d love to see your sink!!! If you are interested, email me photos at retrorenovatio [at] gmail [dot] com.

    • Patty says

      I Googled around and apparently scalding can occur if somebody else flushes a toilet or is using another water source in the house, and suddenly the cold water is drawn away from the person in the shower/tub. Kind of scarry, especially if you have kids. It looks like the anti scalding device measures the temperature and is in the walls. Something to keep in mind. Apparently this is a real issue to consider.

  7. Danielle says

    I just bought one yesterday at Home depot. It is a rebuild kit by Danco and cost 75$. It is made to remoodle Price and pfister faucets. It comes with everything you need to turn an existing 3 knob faucet into a “vintage” crossbar faucet!

  8. Barry says

    If your original tub & shower set is intact but just worn out inside & out, Danco sells all the replacement parts and remodeling kits to rebuild them just like new. That’s what I did to both my 50’s Price Pfister shower and tub, they look beautifully original and work great! Home Depot sells them.

  9. Eliza Jane says

    Pam, thanks for posting a link to the seabees house! I have to do something with my kitchen. I’m tired of it. But I was at a loss what to do with all this amber colored wood. That picture of the seabee kitchen with red curtains – I can do that! I am totally inspired now.

    • ChrisH says

      If you’re doing the work yourself be sure to pack the escutheons (big chrome rings that cover the holes) with plumber’s putty. That will keep them from rusting.

  10. mcmgirl says

    What beautiful sets. Wish I needed one. However; I do need a sink faucet & went to the Locke Plumbing site & purchased a discontinued Delta I have been looking for. Put my order in anyway. Hopefully they still have it in stock since they indicate supply is limited. Thanks for reminding me about Locke Plumbing!

  11. MHooper says

    Why didn’t I find this site sooner???!!!!Ouch again.
    I needed new fixtures for the tub in my early 70s house. I was in a hurry with lots of family issues and didn’t catch that the set i chose from a sample high on the wall at Lowe’s wasn’t made of metal. The box was too light for metal, and I didn’t even realize….dum…dum.

    Gave the box to the plumber and moved on to tend to other situations.
    When I went back to check on the job, the guy was on his back with his head under the cabinet, installing ‘plastick-y’ piping after cutting off all the metal he could reach (which disappeared from the house when he left). It look like H*** inside the wall.
    And the fixture rings don’t stay against the tile wall properly.
    I was stunned to see the chainsaw massacre job he did and could have sat down and cried.
    I’m wondering if it’s worth a do-over. I want to sell the house and am hoping the new fixture shine will win out over the deficits. Faint hope.

    I think I’m going to cry again……right now. Then i’m going to look at the great links you all have provided…..and have another good cry.
    Maybe I’ll get over this one someday. And maybe not……..

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