The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Faucets: 8 Things to Consider Before Buying

Here’s what you need to know to find the right kitchen faucet for your home.

statement blue kitchen tour display shelves sink faucet
Photo: Anthony Masterson 

Thoughtfully chosen faucets are essential for any kitchen. Given the wide range of options, it can seem a bit overwhelming to find the right one. You can choose from single-handle, double-handle, or bridge faucets that can also be touchless, voice-, or mobile-activated. Plus, the spouts can be swan neck, standard, or pot filler. Faucets are offered in configurations that might include spouts equipped with pullout and pull-down sprays, side sprayers, and soap, lotion, or drinking water dispensers.

When thinking about installation, you need to consider the height, depth, and width of your basin, the number of basins needed, the number of holes in the deck, and the range of movement you desire.

Overcome with options? There are certainly a lot of considerations when buying a new faucet. And since they're built to last, it’s best to buy a faucet that you’ll love for the long haul. This means making sure your choices pair well with your other kitchen finishes. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the best type of faucet for your home.

Which Types of Faucets are Best for Installation and Operation?

The easiest faucet to install and use is the single-handle faucet. It only requires one hole. Turning it on and off, and controlling the temperature is regulated by one handle. However, it is easy to accidentally turn the handle to very hot temperatures.

If temperature control is what you want, double-handle faucets are safer for achieving your ideal temperatures and cut down the risk of accidental scalding. When remodeling, you need to consider the existing holes in your sink. If you are considering a new deck, make sure there are enough holes for features such as side sprayers.

In terms of installation, wall-mounted and kitchen stove pot fillers require forethought. Water lines in the walls are not always easy to install. And technology offers attractive features like voice activation, but connectivity or software problems could overcomplicate this very simple kitchen staple.

kitchen with blue base cabinets and white shelves over sink
Dane Tashima

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Faucet

1. Spouts

Check that the faucet is proportionate to your sink's size and that the spout reaches as close to a sink's center as possible. Remember that too-tall gooseneck faucets create splashes in shallow sinks, and low-arc faucets might need to be moved to accommodate oversized cooking gear.

2. Basin

Consider the width, height, and depth of your basin and the size of your pots and pans when choosing your faucet. The range of movement of your faucet is also important. If you have more than one basin, you want to make sure the type of faucet you choose can reach all basins comfortably.

3. Holes

Installation varies for different types of faucets, though most are attached through holes cut into the sink. A deck-plate faucet's components are mounted on a single plate; other faucets' components are individually installed in up to five holes. In cases where it's difficult to cut holes in a sink deck, such as an apron-style or undermount sinks, wall-mount faucets provide a stylish solution.

When replacing a faucet, choose a model compatible with your sink's existing cutouts. Think about the diameter of holes and the space between them. If you're buying a new sink, you can customize the number of holes to fit your preferred faucet.

4. Faucet Valves

Faucet valves control the water flow and temperature. They are located inside the body of the faucet and their capabilities and maintenance differ by model and manufacturer. 

Ceramic-disk faucets: These are durable and trouble-free. They sport a single handle that controls two ceramic disks that slide over each other to regulate water flow and temperature. These ensure a drip-free faucet. 

Cartridge-style faucets: If outfitted with a replaceable cartridge housing a flow mechanism, these can be either single- or double-handled. 

Ball faucets: They have a single handle that rotates a ball that moves across inlet holes to regulate flow. 

Compression valves: These are mostly found in older two-handled faucets. They boast compression systems, with washers that open and close as handles are turned.

5. Design Styles

No matter the design, most faucet types include contemporary, transitional, or classic styles. Traditional faucets often feature curved lines and detailed ornamentation, whereas contemporary styles tend to be sleek and streamlined. Once you've decided on a design style, select a finish that matches your decor and cabinetry. 

6. Faucet Finishes

Stainless Steel and Chrome: Easy to clean, these faucets are available with polished, brushed, or matte finishes at every price point. This sleek silver finish is often used in modern and contemporary kitchens.

Nickel: These faucets come in brushed or satin finishes and endure best when treated with a titanium top coat. Keep in mind they show fingerprints and water spots easily. 

Copper: This finish lends richness to your kitchen and stands up to everyday wear and tear.

Brass: Traditional brass and bronze faucets come in high-gloss, satin, or brushed, and antiqued or oil-rubbed finishes. Polished finishes work well in modern and retro designs; antiqued and oil-rubbed finishes further age-old appeal. Brushed and matte finishes adapt to almost any style. Remember, these faucet finishes can chip or scratch.

7. Useful Additions

Filtration System: Purity of water is a concern now more than ever. Lots of faucet models come with built-in filtration systems

Sprayers: Faucet sprayers are handy for a full range of cleaning. They also save water. Pull-down sprayers are mounted in the spout, whereas side sprayers come out of a separate hole. Side sprayers tend to have more leaks and drips.

Wall Mount: A wall-mounted faucet over your stove is another option to consider if your sink is some distance away and you don’t want to carry over heavy pots. Known as a pot filler, kettle faucet, or pasta arm, this single-temperature faucet allows you to directly fill water over your stove. Just remember you need to have the proper plumbing access for this feature.

8. Faucet Tech Features

Last, but not least, smart technology is a new consideration when shopping for a kitchen faucet. You can now turn your faucet on and off with a wave of your hand thanks to motion sensor technology. Recent features include voice activation and mobile apps to control smart faucets. However, there’s always the possibility of a failure in connectivity or a device malfunction. Make sure that you’re aware of manual overrides that allow you to go back to basics if your smart faucet is on the fritz.

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