Kitchen faucets are among the hardest working fixtures in your home. Along with the kitchen sink, the faucet gets used countless times per day and should be durable enough to provide years of dutiful service.
The right faucet can also add beauty and style to your kitchen but as a hard-working member, it needs "the right stuff" to ensure it provides trouble-free operation day after day.
Comfort and ease of use are other important features to look for because you'll use it so often.
Choices are plentiful, particularly when you consider all the combinations of design style, finish and handle configurations.
More important than style however is functionality and durability. You'll want to take some time to learn about the latest options and technologies that come with today's faucets to make sure you find one that meets your needs.
Choosing a kitchen faucet requires a blend of your own personal taste and style, a little bit of "technical" knowledge and an understanding of what you'll ask of your new fixture. With regard to the latter, it could mean something as simple as "bringing the water to the sink" or something more complex like convenient on-and-off features or versatility for multi-function use.
Whatever your desires might be, spend a bit of time getting familiar with both the functional and aesthetic features so that you'll ultimately make good buying decisions.
There's more to a kitchen faucet than just its finish and handle configuration. Getting to know the differences among the the various technologies will do two things: first, it'll help you understand faucet specifications and descriptions when you see them, and second, it will help you determine which particular type of faucet works best for you, based on your needs and budget (because not all products are created equal).
To get a good handle (pardon the pun) on understanding what there is to know, let's break them down into 4 key factors:
When choosing a faucet, you'll need to decide whether you want a two-handle or a single lever configuration. Two-handled faucets generally have a more traditional look and provide one handle each to operate the hot and cold water.
Two-Handle Gooseneck Faucet with Side Sprayer
A single-lever faucet combines the operation of hot and cold water together through the operation of a lever. The orientation of the lever will govern the amount of water coming out of the spout as well as the temperature.
The number of handles and any options like side sprays and filtered water dispensers will also determine the number of holes required in your sink, your countertop, or both.
For example, a single-lever faucet with no additional accessories requires only one hole whereas a faucet with two handles and a side
Single-Lever Pull-Out Faucetsprayer will need 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 deck or on the wall. Wall mounted faucets include both the primary faucets as well as specialty items like pot fillers.
The key point 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 plans you'll need to stay with the original location. If you're doing more extensive remodeling or building new, you have a choice of mounting configurations.
Bridge Style Faucet
Style features to consider include things like spout design (conventional, gooseneck), lever locations for single handle faucets (on the side, behind the spout), faucet handle shape and size (smooth, multi-lobed, minimalist) as well as design motif like traditional, contemporary or commercial/professional style.
Even how a kitchen faucet is styled has some bearing on its function. Conventional spouts, the kind that project out are roughly a 45-degree angle, usually have good reach but may be limiting when trying to fill large pots. Gooseneck faucets on the other hand typically to a better job accommodating large cook pots because of the higher location of the spout opening relative to the sink.
Their are numerous kinds of finishes and they include chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, hand-rubbed bronze, stainless steel, brass and others.
Bridge Faucet in Rubbed Bronze Finish
Beyond these "color related" coatings is the process by which some of them are applied. More and more faucets today receive a "PVD" finish, which is just a fancy acronym for a less-understandable process called "physical vapor deposition".
In short, this space-age process deposits metallic ions in vaporous form on the surface of the faucet. High tech aside, the practical aspect is that it provides a very tough surface protection, making the faucet very resistant to corrosion, tarnish and even scratching.
In contrast, certain finishes that are meant to "age" like hand-rubbed bronze, don't have a PVD finish. Chrome faucets don't usually have them either
Colored Faucetas the chrome provides it's own tarnish-proof protection, although tests have shown that PVD coatings are over 20 times more abrasion resistant than chrome. Some types of PVD finishes include brushed bronze and nickel as well as polished brass, gold and nickel.
Another type of faucet finish includes colored coatings, usually applied using a powder-coating process that's baked on. They offer an alternative to the metallic finishes.
Kitchen faucets are made from stainless steel, brass and even plastic. Plastic can come in non-metallic colors, but in the long run, it's durability won't compete with a good brass or steel faucet.
Brass faucets come in two varieties: cast brass and tubular brass. Of the two, cast brass is typically thicker and more robust than tubular brass. Brass also needs to be coated to prevent tarnishing. Common coatings include chrome plating as well as any of the PVD coatings mentioned above.
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.
The mechanism that actually controls and delivers the water through the faucet is the faucet valve. If there's any part of the faucet that might eventually wear or cause problems, it's the valve.
There are four types of faucet valves: compression, ball, cartridge and ceramic disk. The important distinction between these types of valves is the relationship between their construction and their overall level of reliability (in other words, how long before you have to get your faucet fixed).
Compression valve faucets are noticeable by separate hot and cold water handles. They're 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 drippy faucets. However they're usually easiest to fix.
Ball valves are used with 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 utilize a brass and plastic cartridge that's more reliable than the washer system used in compression faucets. They're also less complex than the ball valve which means fewer chances of problems and easier repair when something does go wrong.
Ceramic disc faucet valves use 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 disks. This type of faucet construction is considered the most durable and long-lasting, though it is more expensive than the others types.
Now that you're a little more familiar with the particulars of a kitchen faucet, let's take a look at some basic considerations you should think of when choosing one.
If you're just buying a new faucet, then your options will be limited by your existing sink configuration.
Bottom line - choose a faucet and sink that will work together in order to avoid headaches and product returns later on.
Fewer requirements for faucet holes (as with a single-handle faucet) also mean fewer holes to be drilled in a countertop, making for a slightly easier and cheaper countertop installation, particularly if your countertops are stone.
This really isn't a problem with pull-out and pull-down faucets since these features effectively increase the range of where the water can be delivered.
Note How Faucet & Accessories Come Through Ctop and SinkCustom countertops require the knowledge of how many holes your faucet configuration needs ahead of time. That doesn't mean extra holes can't be drilled after the countertops are installed but it may require more hassle and cost than if they're made and installed pre-drilled for the kind of faucet you'll install.
|Which Faucet Handle Might Feel Better To You?|
Kitchen faucets have truly developed into one of the key tools of the kitchen and while its primary purpose is still to deliver the water, today's faucets do so with an amazing array of conveniences and functional options.
So before you make your final faucet decision, make sure you're up to speed on the various features and technologies that are available.
Motion detectors are operated by a remote electronics package that operates off of household current or batteries (battery power will work during a power outage whereas systems tied into the home's electrical system won't). Water temperatures and flow times can be pre-set giving you additional control over faucet operation.
Pull-Out Faucet with Spray Head On/Off ButtonTaking the concept of the old side spray a few steps forward, these faucets provide a removable spout head connected to a hose that snakes through the spout, greatly increasing the reach and accessibility of the faucet stream.
Pull-down and pull-out faucets differ primarily in the orientation of how the spray head comes out of the faucet spout but both serve the same purpose.
Hornbeam Ivy makes a "pull-off" style in which the gooseneck spout is really just a channel that houses a steel braided hose with a spray head. The gooseneck doubles as a receptacle for the hose as well as a conventional "spout" when the hose and spray head are placed back in the spout's channel.
Professional Style FaucetCommercial style faucets are available to add to the arsenal of commercial grade kitchen appliances and fixtures. Characterized by pull-down sprays and high gooseneck styles for clearance, these faucets make for a serious kitchen.
The Price Pfister Kenzo faucet is another style departure with an open, squared-off U-shaped channel for a spout. You'll pay more for these design innovations but you're at least guaranteed that your kitchen will be a style leader.
Faucets are a blend of aesthetics and functionality. You want something that looks nice but that also works well for you. There's a huge variety of choices out there and while it might seem a bit overwhelming it doesn't have to be. The following steps provide some guidance in pulling this all together.
If you're buying a new faucet and sink, such as during a kitchen remodel or for a new home, make sure the two are compatible, both functionally and aesthetically (one doesn't overpower the other and the sink has the correct number of holes for the faucet).
If you'd like some specific information about shopping for Delta faucets check out the article on that subject. You'll see what specific features and benefits these products offer as well as get some shopping recommendations too. (Just click on the image below).
If you need help choosing a kitchen sink to go along with the faucet, see the articles highlighted below.