Bathroom Faucet Basics

Tips for selecting quality bathroom faucets from four standard types.

Most bathroom faucets receive heavy daily use, so don't choose one that simply looks good -- also consider ease of use, safety, and durability. With faucets, price is a fairly accurate measure of quality. A warranty is a good indication of a higher-quality faucet.

The best sets are made of brass and come in various finishes and designs. Some brass faucets can contain relatively high levels of lead. If lead in your water is a concern, look for lead-free brass faucets and always allow the faucet to run for a minute before drinking the water.

Faucet finishes include chrome, polished brass, colored epoxy coating, pewter, nickel, and gold. Polished brass finishes usually are coated to keep them from tarnishing. Chrome is the standard finish for most faucets because it is durable and cleans up easily.

Make sure the faucet set is the proper size and design to fit your plumbing fixture. Most sinks have holes predrilled in their rims to accommodate standard faucets and plumbing.

Standard Faucet Types

Faucets come in four standard types: center-set, widespread, mini widespread, and single-control.

Center-set, widespread, and mini widespread faucets are similar: They have separate control handles for hot and cold water, plus a spout. The difference among them is that center-set faucets are connected above the sink deck and appear to consist of a single unit; widespread faucets have no visible connection between the controls and the faucet because the valves and mixing chamber connect underneath the sink. With a mini widespread, the spout and handles are designed to mount in center-set holes with the handles 4 inches apart to resemble a widespread.

Single-control faucets also consist of a single unit but have one central control device (usually a prominent lever or knob) instead of two separate control valves. Although single-control faucets can be elegant and convenient, they sometimes are trickier to operate. Choose them with caution for bathrooms intended for use by either the very old or the very young. To prevent the possibility of hot-water burns, choose a faucet with a built-in temperature-limiting valve.


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