Whether you plan to remodel your kitchen or your bathroom, The faucet is an essential element that faithfully delivers hot or cold water as needed. However, we barely notice them until they start leaking or need to buy another one.
So it might come as a surprise that today’s faucets are better performing, feature rich, longer lasting and easier to install than ever before. This faucet buying guide will help you narrow down your faucets to find one that fits your home in function, style, and cost.
1. Basic functions of the faucet
What’s in the faucet? Almost every faucet has three basic parts: the control, the spout, and the sprayer.
Whether it’s two handles or a single lever, the faucet controls activate the water, switch between hot and cold and mix two temperatures. Controls can even be hands-free or touch-sensitive.
2) Nozzle and body
The spout and body of the faucet determine its appearance and function. Spouts can be low and out of the way, or long-necked, high and arched to better accommodate colanders and cauldrons.
Popular finishes such as chrome, nickel and stainless steel complete the look.
Features once considered extras, like sprayers, are now common on more modern faucets. Sprayers are invaluable for filling large pots and cleaning dishes and are sometimes integrated into the spout (pull down or pull out) or integrated into the side, sink apron or countertop.
2. Counterbore configuration
The pre-drilled holes (number and configuration) of the sink are an important factor when choosing a faucet.
Always consider the number of holes on your sink and their configuration. If you are replacing the faucet and keeping the existing sink, the configuration must match. But if you’re planning to replace your sink, this is less of a concern because you can buy a new sink to match the faucet configuration.
TIP: Since the deck may cover the sink’s hole structure, look under the sink cabinet to count the holes.
1) Without holes
Countertop or wall-mounted sink faucets are suitable for sinks that do not have pre-drilled holes.
Holes are drilled in the countertop by the counter manufacturer or in the backsplash by the builder.
2) A hole
Single hole sinks gather all the hoses from below in one bundle. It is common for faucets for this type of sink to have controls on the body of the faucet.
3) Two holes
One hole receives water from the main sink faucet unit in two-hole sinks. A sink sprayer or soap dispenser can be inserted into the second hole.
Tip: If you have a two-hole sink and don’t need the second hole, you can easily cover it with an inexpensive round plastic dish that’s mixed with the sink material.
4) Three holes
Three-hole sinks are common because they allow users the flexibility to add two handles and a faucet without the need for a deck to hide unwanted holes. However, if you like the style and currently have a three-hole sink, nearly every “single-hole faucet” includes a deck plate to cover the two extra holes.
5) Four holes
Four-hole sinks are also common because the sink sprayer can be placed on the side rather than clustered with the rest of the sink controls.
3. Type of faucet
In addition to sink type and sink configuration, when choosing a faucet, it is important to consider the installation method, the number of handles required, and the type of sprayer you prefer.
1) Deck-mounted, counter-mounted or wall-mounted faucets
Deck mount faucets are included with integrated faucet mounts. The controls are tight and tight. However, cluster design can make cleanup more difficult.
Counter-mounted faucets move the faucet to the sink apron, which tucks it back onto the countertop behind the sink.
This frees up more sink space. Overmount-mounted faucets cost more overall due to the additional countertop fabrication expense.
Wall mounted faucet
A wall-mounted faucet behind the sink gives the kitchen a chef-centric professional feel while freeing up the sink and counter.
However, these faucets tend to cost up to 30% more than other faucets and do require professional installation. Also, most wall-mounted faucets do not include sprayers. Countertop mounting is required for the sprayer.
2) Single or double handle faucets
A single-lever faucet has a control, usually a lever, that can be tilted to mix hot and cold water. The single handle is great when you need to turn on the water quickly and easily.
If you’re trying to get the perfect temperature, a single-lever faucet can slow you down.
The two-handle faucet is simple and classic. This type of faucet rarely fails because it does not have a mixing cartridge.
But the controls are discrete and take up more sink apron or countertop space than a single-handle unit.
3) Pull-down, pull-out or side sprayers
Pull down sprayer
Simply pull down on the nozzle tip and the pull down faucet sprayer transforms from an arched fixed nozzle to a hose sprayer.
Pull-down sprayers are great for filling large pots, and are best for large farmhouse sinks. But sometimes, the sprayer won’t retract fully when the counterweight gets caught in an obstruction under the sink.
Unlike a pull-down faucet, a pull-out faucet sprayer is pulled directly toward the user.
Pull-out faucet sprayers have a lower profile, which means they’re less visible on the sink. Additionally, they have a long hose that reaches all areas of the basin. But they don’t work well in large pots, and they often don’t retract like drop-down models.
The side spray fits into the faucet base, in the hole in the sink backsplash, or in the hole drilled in the countertop.
Side sprayers are flexible. But they do take up extra countertop, sink apron, or mounting plate space.
4. Types of faucet surface treatment
Brushed metals such as stainless steel, bronze, nickel or matte black can hide fingerprints. Chrome and gold can pick up fingerprints, but wipe clean easily.
- Stainless Steel: The matte stainless steel finish that has been loved for many years, gives the faucet a soft brushed metal look.
- Nickel: Nickel finishes are slightly less glossy than stainless steel and have a warm, neutral tone that goes well with other colors in your kitchen.
- Chrome Plating: Chrome-plated faucets are highly reflective and have a smooth, mirror-like finish.
- Bronze: Bronze has a traditional oil-rubbed look and matches well with off-white, gray and tan paint colors.
- Black: Matte black finish faucets work well with all types of kitchen layouts and decors because black is such a versatile color.
- Gold: Gold finishes are trending again. They have a warmer undertone, a departure from the dazzling golds of decades past.
5. Faucet Cost by Type
|pull down faucet||$60 – $1,100|
|single tap||$25 – $800|
|two faucets||$22 – $800|
6. Precautions for faucet installation
Will you install the faucet yourself or have a contractor or plumber do it for you?
You’ll find that snap-on hose connectors and easy-to-install faucet mounts are now standard on many models if you’re looking to DIY. For these faucets, most fittings are installed by hand and take about 30 minutes to install.
A plumber or contractor can also help install the faucet, especially if the water supply line needs to run from the home water system to the sink area.