How to Choose A Kitchen Faucet
How to Choose A Kitchen Faucet
The sink and faucet area is one of the most-used in any kitchen, and are often treated as a design focal point for the room. Upgrading your kitchen faucet is an easy and economical way to give your space a quick design refresh, or complement a whole kitchen transformation. A new faucet changes the look of the whole space. Be smart about the choice so that you find the best fit for your home and know what to look for before you buy.
It’s no surprise that the kitchen faucet is one of the most well used items in the room, but what might be news is how many improvements have been made to this simple fixture. There are many more options than just the selection of comfortable handles for the hot and cold water lines. It’s a good idea to explore the different styles, finishes, and features that are available when selecting a new faucet. The right design will look great for years, and add to the value of your home - all while meeting the demands of your busy kitchen. Take a broader view of what the options are and bring home the best fit.
Before you shop, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you want the end result to look like. Take stock of the styles and colors you want to emphasize and accent in your kitchen, as well as the size of your sink and countertop to compare as you consider a new faucet. The most important part about choosing a new faucet is that you be happy with the new addition to your kitchen after the installation, so always keep the final product in mind as you browse.
Grab the measuring tape, because it’s time to get some numbers. It’s usually easier to find a faucet that works in the space allowed than it would be to rebuild the kitchen to accommodate a faucet. As with all home improvement projects, picking a new faucet requires some educated placement decisions, a general idea of what you want the finished sink area to look like, and the scope of the tasks it will be used for.
This means you should know how wide and deep the basin is, especially in comparison to the size of plates, pots, and pans you plan to wash in the sink. Any faucet you buy will need to have a high enough spout for these chores and others, as well as a low enough placement to avoid excess splashing that will make a mess outside of the sink.
Similarly, if you are looking at a deck-mounted faucet, know how much room is available behind the sink to install the faucet. A wall-mounted faucet needs to be placed with the spout extending over the center of the sink, which requires taking into account the space between the interior edge of the sink and the wall. For that, you will compare the sink measurements to the size of the faucets as you narrow down the selection.
Measure the countertop behind the sink, and the diameter of the pre-drilled holes and the distance between their centers. You will need to know the width of the sink as well as the depth between the wall and sink edge. This is important for both the installation and the regular use of your faucet, as you’ll need to be sure there is room between the wall and faucet to fully articulate the faucet handles or levers.
As you search for a new kitchen faucet, you’ll see a number of other options to choose from that influence the overall style and operation of the faucet in your home. It’s a good idea to understand the basic configurations before you choose, to be aware of the product information and ensure you get exactly the features you want.
In a counter- or deck-mounted installation, drinking faucets can be mounted on the counter or sink edge. Deck mounted is the more common style, and it helps draw attention to the sink as a design element in your kitchen. Here you’ll find the largest variety of faucets, ranging from single-hole mounts to up to three-hole mounts, in all sizes and finishes.
Wall mounted kitchen faucets are often found in more commercial or industrial locations, with a unique and modern style. Home kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and greenhouses often rely on wall-mounted faucets for their space-saving design. In smaller kitchens with limited counter space, wall mounted faucets free up the counter and allow different design options for the sink, and unique plumbing profile lines.
Valves regulate water flow and temperature from the faucets. They’re the basic control inside the faucet body that makes the water pour from the spout and aerator, turning on or off at your command with the turn of a handle. The different valve types work differently, which changes the capabilities of the design, and it also means that they require different kinds of maintenance over the long term. The valve type often describes the basic operation of the faucet, naming the moving parts that stop the water from leaking. There are many types, but there are four that are more common to come across.
Ball valve - A ball valve is recognized by the single handle near the base that can control the water flow and the water temperature by pivoting and rotating to blend the water as needed.
Disk valve - A ceramic disk valve faucet handle can move up and down to control the flow of the water, and side to side to control the amount of hot or cold in the mix. It gets the name from the two flat disks inside the faucet mechanisms that create the seal to control the water flow; moving the handle will separate the disks and allow the water through to the spigot. The disk valve can be replaced without replacing the entire faucet.
Cartridge valve - Cartridge valves are hollow valves that are often found in faucets with blade handles because they only need turned to as much as a 90-degree angle to work. The cartridge rotates to block the water line to the spout. For a single handle faucet, the cartridge moving up and down will allow the water flow, and turning the handle left to right will control the temperature. When there are separate handles, such as in a three or four hole sink set up, two individual handles can control the hot and cold water lines separately to mix in the faucet. Cartridges can be replaced without needing to replace the entire faucet.
Compression valve - A compression valve is usually found in older fixture styles. They look like the traditional faucet, with the 360 degree, turn-screw, knob handles. Hot and cold water are managed by separate handles, and in more vintage set ups, they can be routed to different taps as well. Turning the handles will tighten or loosen an internal washer, and that compression closes the water line. Because of how they are built, a busted compression valve will often require replacing the whole faucet rather than a few internal pieces.
If your sink is a drop-in, undermount, or farmhouse design, it is likely to have a set of holes drilled or pre-punched into the deck for the faucet and other plumbing fixtures. The faucet itself can take up as many as 3 holes, depending on the type of faucet you choose, and other fixtures like soap dispensers can be installed for your convenience, too. Whether you will choose one hole, two, or even four holes along the sink deck depends on the kind of look or style that you want as much as the kind of faucet you choose.
Single-hole faucet with a pull-down sprayer - These can include the high, gooseneck faucets with the tall, drastic arch leading to the spout, as well as the more industrial-style pre-rinse faucet with the durable springs and lever handle along the spray-hose for added reach and control. Others mount the handle on the faucet body, while touchless models require no handle at all; just wave at the side-mounted sensor, or for tomorrow’s kitchens, give a voice command to start up the water.
Single-hole faucet with a side-spray - While it may be a single hole faucet, the smaller side spray will occupy a second hole pre-drilled in the sink deck or countertop. This is a simple, clean look that doesn’t take up too much extra room on the deck and offers versatility and utility. Two-hole escutcheon plates are available to accent the design, or to cover up a third hole in the sink that might not be needed.
Two-handle faucet (3-hole layout) - To emphasize the artistic design of a faucet, some fixtures will have hot and cold water as separate handles, one on each side of the center faucet. It visually helps take up a little extra space along the sink edge and draws attention as a design focal point. They are also very easy to use while doing the usual sink-based chores, with one-handed hot or cold water at the turn of a handle. An escutcheon plate cover can also be utilized cover one of three holes, to allow a faucet with a single, separate control handle.
Bridge faucet with side spray (4-hole layout) - A bridge faucet will have two temperature handles alongside a center water flow pipe. The hot and cold water will travel up their dedicated handles and then mix in the connection between them on the way to the spout. A bridge faucet can take up three holes or two, depending on the style you choose, and will usually require a separate side spray as the bridge connection prevents the extending hose feature.
There isn’t much to be done with a stainless sink faucet; the entire purpose of it is as a water source, and the water is either on or off, right? Not exactly. The shape of the faucet changes from one design to another, and companies like Moen, Delta, Brizo, and Kohler are constantly looking to improve how the kitchen faucet interacts in the home. It started with the basics, like the side spray and the pull-down faucet. Now, technology-savvy companies have even wondered: why should you have to dirty up the finish with soapy fingerprints when waving a plate under the faucet could turn the water on? And their ideas and solutions improve year after year, all to make the kitchen life a little easier with a wide variety of standard features to choose from.
Side sprayer - A classic staple at the kitchen sink was the side sprayer. The smaller faucet is located at the end of an extendable hose, offering directed water pressure exactly where it is needed, whether cleaning the pots and pans, scrubbing the sink, or watering a potted plant.
Pull-out faucet - The pullout faucet offers all the convenience of the side sprayer without taking up any extra space on the sink edge. The hose extends down toward the sink or at an angle just above it, which adds a slight advantage in reach.
Electronic faucet features - A growing trend in today’s homes is the addition of smart technology, computerized mechanics that help make the everyday chores a little easier. The kitchen sink can now be turned on and off with the wave of a hand thanks to motion sensor technology installed in the faucet body. Other designs include the ability to control the sink by talking to it, taking hands-free activation a step further with voice-activation. Electronic features are safe and convenient, but they may require professional installation. Sinks with electronic features will need to be installed with access to a reliable power supply, so keep their placement in mind during your kitchen remodel plans.
Water filtering - Some kitchen faucets are available with built-in filtration options that can purify your tap water to make it drinkable, right from the faucet. These high-capacity faucets are capable of delivering as much as 1GPM of water, filtering out common problem chemicals like chlorine, lead, mercury, and even pesticides and pharmaceuticals.
Drinking water dispensers - Whether filtered and cold, or ready for cocoa or tea, dedicated drinking water dispensers can be installed at the sink. They are sized to fit in the same holes that a regular kitchen faucet would use, but they are designed to pour water at a slower rate, more appropriate for filling drinking cups. They are usually found as part of a filter kit, and many include hot water dispensers that store and maintain water at a drinkable temperature just right for tea.
Finally, one of the most important details when selecting a brushed stainless kitchen faucet is choosing the perfect finish. The finish determines the color and durability of the faucet for years to come. From stainless steel, to copper, to modern black, the finish can be found in a variety of metals and colors to coordinate with the accenting colors of your kitchen hardware and appliances. Newer finishes are designed specifically to resist the oils of fingerprints and smudges, making it easier to keep clean and helping to keep your family healthy. As it turns out, it’s even okay to mix metals in your home decor, so go with the style that you like.
Chrome is currently one of the most popular finishes because of its versatility. It is durable, easy to find, and easy to match with accessories and other fixtures.
A brushed nickel finish is very durable, keeping its finish longer and resisting wear and tear.
Copper finishes provide a bold and rich feel to your space. With the ability to ‘heal itself’, the more it gets used, the better it looks.
If you’re looking for a good balance of durability and style, you can’t go wrong with stainless steel.
At the end of the day, make sure you pick a faucet that works with your style. While some finishes tend to be more durable than others, on the whole, most finishes will stand the test of every-day wear and tear. So really focus on style here, and find something that matches your space.