Faucets are among the details that can spell the difference between a moderately successful bathroom design and a truly remarkable one. But forget about choosing a faucet solely on its looks. Functionality, comfort, and durability are key, too.
Compression-type faucets depend on washers to manage the flow. Newer types use other means, such as balls, cartridges, and disks for easier use with less maintenance.
Ball faucets have a rotating ball inside that moves over water inlet holes and permits water to flow, regulates the flow of hot and cold water, and shuts off the water altogether.
Cartridge faucets come in both single- and double-handle configurations. Designed for ease of repair, the flow mechanisms are housed in a cartridge that can be replaced when leaks occur.
Disk faucets rely on a pair of ceramic disks that slide over each other to regulate water flow and temperature. These faucets are typically the most durable and trouble-free.
Although there are no hard-and-fast rules about pairing a vintage-style faucet with a classic sink or a contemporary faucet with a modern sink, in general, the closer the combination of styles, the more pleasing the overall effect. The same principle holds true for other types of bathroom faucets, such as showerheads and tub fillers.
As you shop for faucets, you'll find everything from traditional two-handle models that recall the designs of a century ago to the newest one handle designs that look like contemporary sculptures. Faucet prices start at $60 for the most basic models and run as high as $1,000 or more. Solid-brass die cast parts are a sign of quality, but they often come with steep price tags -- anywhere from $250 to $1,000 or more.
If you're in the market for a less expensive faucet, beware of models with plastic shells or handles. Their price may be attractive, but their durability and resistance to scratches are likely to disappoint.