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:
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:
We will now explain the key factors in choosing the right faucet for your specific needs in the kitchen.
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.
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.
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
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
Cartridge Valve Faucets
Ceramic Disc Faucet Valves
Things to Keep in Mind Before Choosing a Faucet
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.
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
Water Filtration Faucets
Hands Free Operation / Motion Sensor Faucets
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.
Pull-Down, Pull-Out and Pull-Off Faucets
High Temperature Limit Stops
Aerator Faucet Heads
Water Conserving Faucets
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.