How to Choose the Right Kitchen Faucet

Kitchen faucets are among the hardest working fixtures in your home. Along with the kitchen sink, the faucet gets used numerous times a day and should be durable and reliable enough to provide years of worry free service.

The right faucet for your kitchen should be attractive and fit with the decor, however, since it is such a hardworking fixture in your kitchen it can’t be “just another pretty face” to ensure it provides years of trouble-free operation day after day.

Whether you are remodeling your kitchen and installing updated fixtures, or just looking to replace a tired old kitchen faucet, chances are you may find yourself somewhat overwhelmed by the array of faucet choices currently available. The basic kitchen faucet types available include:

  • Pullout
  • Single handle
  • Two handle
  • Two handle wall mount
  • Water filtration
  • Pot filler

While these are the most common styles in kitchen faucets, each of these have several different variants that are designed to provide you with customized functionality to fit your specific needs.

There is much more involved in choosing a kitchen faucet than just its finish and handle configuration. When you have a better understanding of the differences among the various technologies you will be able understand the basic faucet specifications and descriptions, and you will be able to better decide on a faucet that works best for you, based on your needs and budget.

In addition to the various types of kitchen faucet available, there are 4 key factors to consider, which include:

  • Configuration
  • Style
  • Finish
  • Construction and Valve Type

We will now explain the key factors in choosing the right faucet for your specific needs in the kitchen.

Configuration
The configuration of a faucet refers to things like the quantity of handles, mounting style (wall or countertop) and the configuration of the spout (conventional or pull-out/pull-down).

You need to decide whether you want a two-handle or a single lever configuration, when choosing a faucet. Two-handled faucets generally have a more traditional look and provide one handle for each of the hot and cold water.

A single-lever faucet combines the operation of hot and cold water together through the operation of a single lever. The orientation of the lever will regulate the amount of water coming out of the spout as well as the temperature.

The number of handles and any other options like side sprays and filtered water dispensers will also determine the number of holes required in your sink, countertop or both.

A single-lever faucet without any additional accessories requires only one hole, whereas a faucet with two-handles and a side sprayer will require 4 holes (one for each handle, the spout and the side sprayer).

The mounting style refers to where the faucet is mounted (on the countertop or wall mount). Wall mounted faucets include both the primary faucets as well as specialty items like pot fillers.

The main factor here is that how your faucet is mounted will determine where the associated plumbing needs to be. If you’re just replacing an existing faucet with no additional remodeling, you’ll need to stay with the original location. If you’re doing a more extensive remodel or building from scratch, you have a choice of mounting options.

Faucet Styles
A faucet’s style primarily refers to its functional and aesthetic design. This is usually the factor that is the primary determinant in choosing a faucet, at least initially. When you start looking for a new faucet you typically look for a style that appeals to you and then proceed to the other deciding factors.

Style features to consider include things like spout design (conventional or gooseneck), location of the lever for single handle faucets (on the side or behind the spout), faucet handle shape and size (smooth, multi-lobed, minimalist) as well as design like traditional, contemporary or professional style.

However, style isn’t only aesthetic. Style also has some bearing on how the faucet will function. Conventional spouts, which extend out at roughly a 45-degree angle usually have good reach but might not be ideal for filling large pots. Gooseneck faucets, on the other hand, typically do a better job at accommodating large pots because the spout opening is higher over the sink.

Finish
A faucet’s finish refers to the surface coating on the spout and handles. The finish provides both a decorative appeal and a protective coating.

There are several different faucet finishes available and they include chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, hand-rubbed bronze, stainless steel, brass and many others.

In addition to these colored finishes is the process by which some of them are applied. An increasing amount of faucets are receiving a “PVD” finish, or Physical Vapor Deposition. This is a process that adds metallic ions in a vaporous form on the surface of the faucet. It provides a very tough surface protection, making the faucet very resistant to corrosion, tarnish and even scratching.

Finishes that are meant to “age”, as in the case of hand-rubbed bronze, don’t have a PVD finish. Chrome faucets also don’t have the finish because chrome provides it’s own protection against tarnishing. However, test have proven that PVD coatings are over 20 times more resistant to abrasion than chrome. Some types of PVD finishes include brushed bronze and nickel, as well as, polished brass, gold and nickel.

Colored coatings are another type of faucet finish, which are usually applied using a powder-coating process that’s baked on. These finishes offer an alternative to the metallic finishes.

Construction and Valve Type of Faucets
A faucet’s construction is the material it is made from, as well as, how its made and the type of valve it uses to control the flow of water. All the beauty and style aside, this is what determines how well the faucet operates and how long it will last.

Kitchen faucets are now made from a wide variety of materials including stainless steel, brass and even plastic. Plastic faucets are made in a wide variety of finishes and colors, including non-metallic colors. However, where durability and longevity of wear are concerned, they don’t come close to their brass and steel counterparts.

Brass faucets come in two varieties:  cast brass and tubular brass. Cast brass is usually thicker and more durable than tubular in most cases. Brass also needs to be coated to prevent tarnishing. Common coatings include chrome plating and any of the other PVD coatings we mentioned.

Stainless steel offers strength and durability, combined with excellent corrosion resistance. It also provides a good match to kitchens with stainless appliances and / or sinks.

One of the most important parts of the faucet, in regards to reliability and delivery of the water, is the faucet valve. If there is going to be any part that will eventually wear or cause problems, it is the valve.

There are four types of faucet valves:  compression, ball, cartridge and ceramic disk. The most important distinction between these types of valves is the relationship between their construction and their overall level of reliability.

Compression Valve Faucets
Compression valve faucets are noticeable by separate hot and cold water handles. They are the oldest and simplest form of valve, controlling the water by turning a screw-like handle that compresses a valve against a seal, usually a rubber washer. These valves tend to wear out the fastest, causing dripping faucets. However, they are usually easy to maintain.

Ball Valves
Ball valves are in single lever faucets. Slots within the ball valve regulate and mix the hot and cold water flow through the back and forth, side to side motion of the lever on top of the valve body. These valves don’t have washers but do have more parts making them a bit more complex.

Cartridge Valve Faucets
Cartridge valve faucets use a brass and plastic cartridge that is more reliable than the washer system used in compression faucets. There are also fewer problems with this type of faucet because they aren’t as complex as the other types of valves. This also means they are easier to repair when something does go wrong.

Ceramic Disc Faucet Valves
A ceramic disc faucet valve uses two highly polished and very hard ceramic disks that slide across each other. This movement controls the water flow by opening or restricting the passage of water through openings in the disk. This type of faucet construction is considered the most durable and long-lasting. However, it is more expensive than other types of valves to fix when something goes wrong.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Choosing a Faucet
Now that we’ve discussed the many different types and styles of faucets you have to choose from, we will discuss some of the basic considerations you need to think of when choosing one of them.

When possible, choose a faucet and sink together. This can help you avoid potential problems that could come up if the two fixtures are purchased separately. The sink also needs to have enough holes to accommodate the faucet you choose. Both will also need to match the countertop, if your faucet will be mounted on the countertop surface.

If you are just buying a new faucet, then your options are limited to your existing sink’s configuration.

The bottom line is, whenever possible, choose a faucet and sink together that will work well together to avoid headaches and product returns.

Single-lever faucets offer several conveniences that include the ability to have one free hand to hold dishes, food or anything else while the other can make adjustments the water control. Two-handled faucets require you to use both hands to turn on the water and regulate temperatures.

There are also fewer requirements for faucet holes, which means fewer holes needed to be drilled into the countertop. This also means an easier and cheaper countertop installation, especially if you have a stone countertop.

Choose a faucet size that complements your sink. A large faucet will tend to overpower a small sink, while the opposite is true when a small faucet is used with a large, three-bowl sink.

Make sure the faucet you choose has adequate reach, meaning that it can swing in an arc large enough to dispense water to a good portion of the sink’s basins. The faucet’s reach is determined by the horizontal distance from the spout opening to where it connects to the sink or countertop.

In regards to pull-out and pull-down faucets, this isn’t really an issue because these features effectively increase the range of where the water can be delivered.

When possible, choose your faucet before your countertops. Custom countertops require the knowledge of how many holes your faucet configuration will require ahead of time. This doesn’t mean that additional holes can’t be drilled after the countertops are installed, but it may require more hassle and cost than if they are made and installed pre-drilled for the kind of faucet you plan on installing.

Faucet Technologies
Even though the main purpose of a kitchen faucet is to deliver water, with current faucet technology, today’s faucets do offer an amazing array of conveniences and functional options.

You owe it to yourself to look into all of the new advancements in kitchen faucets before making a decision. Some of the advancements in kitchen faucet technology include:

Adjustable Height Faucets
Being able to adjust your faucet’s height up or down can be a huge convenience for several reasons. Pfister’s Elevate EXT faucet allows the user to move the faucet spout up or down with 3 different height settings. This is a huge benefit when filling tall pots and containers, as well as doing other kitchen activities.

Water Filtration Faucets
Installing a kitchen water filtration faucet can help take care of water taste and purity. These types of faucets are used along with a water filtration system, usually a filter cartridge that installs below the sink. They are designed to be compatible with filter units.

Hands Free Operation / Motion Sensor Faucets
Hands free faucets provide added levels of convenience. If your hands are dirty or if you have touched raw meat, you can just put your hands in front of the faucet to turn on the water and wash them off.

Motion detectors are operated by a remote electronics package that operates off the household electricity or batteries. These faucets have a battery backup in case of a power outage. Water temperatures and flow times can be pre-set giving you additional control over faucet operation.

Touch-Sensitive Operation
The Touch?O faucet from Delta and the Pascal faucet from Brizo allow the user to turn the faucet on and off with just a touch to the handle or spout. This is another way to avoid contaminating the handle from soiled hands because you can just touch the spout with your wrist or forearm to control the water. These types of faucet are also helpful for children who may not be able to reach the faucet handle but can reach the spout.

Pull-Down, Pull-Out and Pull-Off Faucets
This style faucet borrows the concept of the side spray faucet and allows the user to remove the faucet’s spout head, which is connected to a hose that snakes through the spout. This greatly increases the reach and accessibility of the faucet stream.

Variable-Flow Heads
Several faucets are now designed to conserve water and that’s achieved by regulating the water flow through the faucet head. However, there are times when you need more water pressure for cleaning dishes or other tasks. Delta Faucet’s Multi-Flow technology gives you the flexibility to quickly switch back and forth between different flow rates.

Easy-Clean Surfaces
Surface coatings like the EverClean from American Standard offer a finish that resists spotting and soiling and enables easy cleaning with a dry cloth. These types of coatings allow your faucet to look clean longer between cleanings.

High Temperature Limit Stops
Faucets like the Kohler Forte and Delta Faucet’s DIAMOND Valve faucet have an added sensor that you set the maximum temperature to eliminate the risk of scalding. The stop restricts the movement of the handle so that it’s impossible to run water that’s too hot.

Aerator Faucet Heads
This option adds air to the spray stream for a more gentle spray stream for a more gentle spray when you need it. Aerator faucet heads are ideal for washing fragile fruits and other delicate items or to avoid splash.

Water Conserving Faucets
Several faucets have a water conservation feature which use less water without any reduction in water pressure or flow.

Faucets are a combination of aesthetics and functionality. You want to choose one that looks good but that also works well for you. There is a huge variety of choices out there and while it may seem a bit overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be.

Moen Kitchen Faucets
Delta Kitchen Faucets
Pfister Kitchen Faucets
Danze Kitchen Faucets
American Standard Kitchen Faucets
Grohe Kitchen Faucets
Hansgrohe Kitchen Faucets
Blanco Kitchen Faucets
Moen Pullout Kitchen Faucets
Delta Single Handle Kitchen Faucets