Faucets/Bathroom Buying Guide

  • Getting Started

  • Functional, faucets also are designed to enhance the beauty of the bathroom. Available in many styles, types and finishes, bathroom faucets will deliver fresh water into the sink for decades with a minimum of maintenance. Faucets sold in the United States are regulated for water flow rate and lead content.

  • What to Consider

  • Lifestyle: If this is a family bathroom and several generations of the family will be using the faucets and sink, consider the ages and height of the family members. Wall units are interesting, but may not be reached by the very young or the older generation. If the individuals using the faucets are older, install an ADA appropriate type of handle, such as a lever or touch-activated faucet.

    Space: Counter space often is a premium. Several space saving options are available, such as wall-mounted faucets. Shelving or a medicine cabinet over the sink may limit the height of the faucet to be used.  If installing a faucet in an existing sink, note the number of holes and their configuration for purchasing a faucet set that will fit. A deck plate may be available to cover extra holes if a change is made — but check to make sure it will work.

    Finishes: Coordinating the sink faucet with tub or shower sets is recommended. A variety of faucet finishes are available, and may not be the exact color from manufacturer to manufacturer, but unless directly next to each other, the slight differences should not be obvious.

    Style: The architectural style of the bathroom will have an impact on the faucet design. One and two handle types are available in contemporary to traditional to colonial styles.

  • Types

  • Single Handle faucets are often found in commercial settings but also work well on a sink fitted into a tight space. The handle is set on the spout and twists side to side from hot to cold. If the sink has more than one hole, but this type of faucet is desired, look for one with an optional deck plate to cover the other hole(s).

    Two Handle Faucets are designed for using each handle to moderate the hot and cold water from the faucet

        •  4-Inch Centerset faucets are mounted on a deck plate and are designed for sinks with three predrilled holes 4-inches apart.   

        •  4-Inch Minispread faucets are installed on the same type of sink, three predrilled holes 4-inches apart, but consists of three separate pieces, not mounted on a deck plate.

        •  8-Inch Widespread faucets are created for sinks with three predrilled holes 8-inches apart. No deck plate is involved.

    Vessel Filler Faucets  are single hole units designed with a taller spout to provide water into a vessel sink that is mounted onto the counter, not under the counter, as most sinks are installed. Measure the height of the vessel sink to ascertain the minimum height of the vessel faucet.

    Wall-Mounted Faucets are installed on the wall above the sink, not through the counter or the sink. The pipes supplying the water must be run through the wall higher than the sink and not underneath the vanity. When deciding on a spout, make sure it is long enough to reach over the sink for the water to run into the drain.

  • Handle Styles

  • Lever handles are the most popular style as they are easy to use for children and for older adults. Available in single hole or three hole configurations.

    Cross handles look like a cross with the spout in the center. Not as easy for children or people with disabilities to use. Mounted usually in a three-hold configuration.

    Knob handles are created with an acrylic or metal knob that may be slotted or grooved for easy turning.  Most often designed for a three-hole sink, but may come for use in a single-hole set up.

    Single handle faucets will contain one handle often connected to the spout, but may be designed with the single handle through a second sink hole next to the spout. The handle turns to control the hot and cold water. Easy to use for children and older adults.

    Motion or Touch Activated faucets are available on a few bathroom faucet sets and are pre-set for the water temperature. Activated by touching the spout or waving the hands underneath the spout, which provides a germ-free environment. An electrical hook-up is necessary to operate these.

  • Construction and Maintenance

  • Valves: The operational portion of the faucet, stopping water flow.

        •  Compression valves employ a rubber washer to control the water flow. These washers are easy to replace.

        •  Ball valves use a ball to control the water flow on single handle faucets. Be careful that the ball is metal, such as stainless steel, as plastic balls will require replacing. The stainless ball is guaranteed for life and, if that guarantee is included with the faucet, the manufacturer will replace the metal ball for free should a problem arise.

        •  Cartridge valves will last a long time, and the seals, which last from five to 10 years, are replaceable easily by a homeowner.

        •  Ceramic disk valves should last 20 years to 50 years — the disks rub against each other to control the water flow. Ceramic technology is such that these rarely malfunction.

    Faucet Body: Brass is the traditional material for creating faucets and with its copper content, it is mold and mildew resistant. Other metals and plastic may be used, but these are rather inexpensive units and may not have the same life expectancy, requiring replacement.

    Finishes: Bathroom faucets are available in a wide array of finishes from brass, bronze, chrome, nickel to copper and even gold. These finishes may be polished to a high gloss or brushed to hide fingerprints and water spots, or even antiqued. Finishes are sprayed on and then baked at high temperatures to reduce flaking  and scratches.

  • Accessories

  • Decorative handles are available for specific faucets to complement the room design.

    LED lights can be installed on the spout. The lights are activated when the water flows.

    Pop-Up Drains can match the faucet finish.

    WaterSense® is an EPA promoted program to produce faucets, and other water consuming products, that use less water.

    Towel bars, robe hooks, toilet paper rolls that match the faucet design are available from several manufacturers on specific designs.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Type: Touch activated and motion sense faucets are more expensive and will require the expense of an electrical hook-up.  

    Construction: All brass bodies are more expensive than other metals and plastic.

    Finishes: Depending upon the finish, a higher cost is demanded.

    Brands: Various brands have earned reputations in the industry and their products are perceived as higher quality, thereby garnering a higher price.

    Maintenance: Lowest cost products will be need replacing and maintenance more frequently than moderately priced products. If the budget only permits the lowest priced product, just note that maintenance will be an issue.

    Installation: Some building codes will require a licensed plumber perform installations, depending upon the product and the complexity of the installation.