Single-handle faucets continue to gain in popularity thanks to their stylish silhouettes, simple space-saving installation, and speedy one-hand operation, which ensures the user has one hand free for food-prep and washing-up tasks.
A single lever (positioned on the front, top, or side of the spout or inset into a sink deck) adjusts water flow and regulates temperature. The lever activates one of three types of operating systems: ceramic disk, cartridges, or ball. Models might be installed as a stand-alone spout (sometimes equipped with a pull-down or pullout sprayer) or on a mounting plate. Depending on the model, a side sprayer might be integrated into the mounting plate or installed individually. Some faucets come with a soap or lotion dispenser. Wall-mount models are also available as pot filler faucets and main sink faucets; main sink models are more expensive than their conventionally set counterparts.
Lever placement might impact how well a single-handle faucet works, notes Consumer Reports (consumerreports.org). Their researchers found that single-handle faucets required the least effort to use but that those equipped with side handles were problematic. Users tended to hit their fingers on the backsplash when manipulating side handles, and if their hands were dirty, that mess transferred to the backsplash or wall.
With that said, the majority of one-lever faucets are compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations because they are simpler to activate than two-handled versions.
You'll find the majority of these faucets in the $60-$600 range and in chrome or stainless-steel finishes, though they are also available in bronze, nickel, brass, black, and white. Basic models tend to be low-profile, but gooseneck styles with side or pull-down sprayers can be found for under $100.
Mid- to high-range faucets supply make-a-statement profiles, including statuesque spiral designs and multijointed wall units, and top-notch conveniences such as spouts that swivel 360 degrees, touch- and motion-sensor controls, water-saving and temperature-preset systems, leak-proof designs, and lime- and fingerprint-resistant finishes.
When it comes to shape, spouts range from classically understated to architecturally appealing. There are traditional goosenecks and low-arch styles done up in Victorian style or Tuscan-inspired patinas. Squared-off spouts top tall pillar bases; streamlined versions with moveable joints offer fold-up convenience. Levers also vary in shape (from flat to winged and cylindrical) as well as in size, so it's important to give each faucet you're considering a test run before you buy.