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All About Bathroom Faucets

Knowing the basics about bathroom faucet configurations, materials, finishes, valves, features, and options will help you make the best choice.

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Style and finish choices are obvious differences in bathroom faucets; while other variations aren't quite as noticeable, they make a difference in how a faucet installs and functions. Another factor is cost, and generally, higher-priced models are better quality. Here's how to spot a winner.

The configuration of the bathroom faucet affects the styling, but it matters most if you're replacing a faucet for an existing sink. Configuration options include:

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Center-Set Faucet

A center-set bathroom faucet is most common and features a spout and one or two handles mounted on a base that fits over three closely spaced holes in the top rim of the sink. It is usually the most affordable and easiest to install.

Widespread Faucet

A widespread bathroom faucet offers hot and cold handles separate from the spout. A mini widespread faucet set will sometimes adapt to holes drilled for a center-set version.

Single-Hole Faucet

A single-hole bathroom faucet combines the spout and handle on one stem (or two handles attached to a single stem). A single, lever-style handle lends a sleek look and can offer easy operation for anyone with limited hand function. If you prefer the simplicity of a single-hole faucet, but your sink has three predrilled holes, look for a single-hole faucet equipped with a base plate (also called an escutcheon) to conceal the extra holes in the sink.

Wall-Mount Faucet

A wall-mount bathroom faucet extends from the wall and is often paired with a vessel-style sink that sits on the counter, rather than below the counter surface. Select a wall-mount model with a spout long enough for water to flow into the sink and not on the countertop. One benefit of a wall-mount faucet is that the countertop and sink are easier to clean with no faucet base or handles to work around.

Materials and Finishes

There is an enormous range of finishes to suit your style and other hardware. Finish options include stainless steel, chrome, nickel, bronze, wrought iron, and brass as well as enameled colors. Keep in mind that a "living finish," such as oil-rubbed bronze, is designed to age and isn't usually warrantied. Select this finish if you like a natural patina and imperfect look. Some manufacturers guarantee that the finish will last a lifetime, so always check the warranty.  

For a long-lasting bathroom faucet, explore what is underneath the finish. Look for a faucet with a solid-brass body (rather than plated die-cast metal alloys that will eventually corrode) and few or no plastic parts.

Features and Options

Pullout spray—A spray head or spout tip attached to a pullout hose comes in handy for washing hair or rinsing out the sink.

Antiscald valves—This safety feature balances the flow of hot and cold water to deliver a preset temperature every time.

Touch-sensitive—A simple touch anywhere on the spout of this faucet turns the water on and off at a preset temperature.

No touch—Rather than turn on the water flow via a handle or a touch of the finger, swish your hand in front of the infrared sensor to turn on the faucet. A mixing valve delivers water at a predetermined temperature. Remove your hands from in front of the sensor to shut water off.

LED lighting—Special lighting colors the water stream to set a mood and communicate a modern vibe.

Quarter-turn ceramic cartridge—This valve allows you to turn the faucet fully on and off in a fast quarter-turn of the handle.

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