Learning about kitchen faucets probably won’t be the most exciting thing you do today, but it’s important that we get a basic understanding of the features we should be looking for. Because we use our kitchen and bathroom faucets so often, we’ll want to choose those that will last for a really long time without problems, and that work with our house design and preferences. Here are 12 kitchen and bathroom faucet quick tips.
1. Choose a faucet with ceramic disc valves, instead of old school washers. Thankfully, most modern, quality faucets will have ceramic disc valves. These ceramic valves don’t wear out like washers do, so they help your faucet stay drip free for many, many years. It’s especially important to choose these durable ceramic-disk valves if you live in a region with hard water.
2. Look for solid brass construction (we're talking about brass construction, not just a brass finish). Solid brass faucets will last longer than faucets made with other materials and they require less care. Solid brass is less likely to corrode than lower quality metals.
To figure out if a faucet is solid brass, pick it up. It should feel heavier than non-brass units. And take a look on the packaging for the words "all brass.” You’ll want the faucet that says all brass body as opposed to “all metal” or ZMAK (or ZAMAK or something similar).
If the faucet says "all metal" or ZMAK, the faucet is made of lesser quality metals, often a zinc alloy. These cheaper metals can be plated with brass or chrome so they look very much like high quality brass faucets, but beware because they'll look good, but not perform as well as all brass faucets.
Be careful of the term "Brass construction”, which almost always means that some of the parts are ZMAK. What you’re looking for is ”All brass construction."
3. Most quality faucets have a lifetime or near lifetime warranty, but don’t over-expect. Most faucets are guaranteed not to leak, but if they do, the manufacturer will give you only the replacement part (and usually not a whole new faucet), and it’s up to you to have it installed. And the warranty typically only applies to the original buyer.
4. Choose a PVD finish. PVD stands for physical vapor deposition and makes faucets scratch resistant. Staining, however, may still occur. Many finishes, including nickel, brass, bronze, copper, and pewter, are available with a PVD finish.
5. Make sure your spout (where the water comes out) swivels at least 180 degrees, especially when buying a large, 2 or 3 bowl sink. You'll need that flexibility to reach all parts of the sink.
6. Choose a gooseneck faucet if you wash a lot of tall pots. The long neck of a gooseneck faucet give you higher clearances for washing those tall pots, but they can cause splashing if your sink is shallow.
7. Install a single handle faucet if you want a faucet that's easy to use, easy to install and one that takes up less space. Single handle faucets are also a little more contemporary in style. The disadvantage of a single handle faucet is that you can’t make the precise temperature adjustments that your can with two-handle faucets.
8. Choose a two handle faucet for a more traditional look. The two separate hot and cold handles let you more precisely control the water temperature. The cons of a faucet with two handles are that it is harder to install and you need both hands to adjust the temperature.
9. Consider a faucet with pull-out & pull-down spout with sprayer or a separate sprayer for easy cleaning. The pull down spout is a space saving option that will help you spray down vegetables, an oversized sink and large pots and pans.
10. Select a hands-free or touchless faucet if you often find yourself in the kitchen with messy hands. These faucets have a motion sensor that turns the water on with a wave of the hand, so you can turn the water on even with full hands, or hands that are covered with flour. Hands-free faucets are most common in the kitchen, but you can also find hands-free bathroom faucets.
Look for a model with and easy-to-find sensor that’s front of the faucet instead of a sensor that’s towards the bottom or back of the faucet. And remember that hands-free activation is better than those faucets that require you to tap the faucet to get water flowing because that place that you touched will need to be cleaned.
11. Have a pot-filler faucet installed if your sink is located far away from your stove and you regularly fill large pots with water for cooking. Although locating a faucet over your stove can be very convenient, but what I’ve read repeatedly is that most people hardly ever use their pot fillers. Strongly consider your cooking habits before you invest in a pot filler faucet since you’ll not only have to buy the faucet, but you’ll also have to pay extra to have a waterline installed near your stove.
12. Choose a faucet with a metal finish that works with the other metals in your kitchen or bathroom. These days, almost anything goes—shiny silvery chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, brass, matte black, copper, gold and rose gold faucets were all featured at this year's Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show (KBIS).
The most high maintenance finishes are chrome and black finishes because they can easily show water spots. And some brass fixtures need to be polished or they will tarnish. The most classic, timeless finishes are chrome and nickel, and warm metals like brass, copper and gold are unique and unexpected.
And what about mixing metals within the house or within a single room. Is that ok? Yes, it perfectly ok, if that’s what you like. Some people want all the metal fixtures and hardware within the house to consistent, and that’s fine too.
But if you like the idea of mixing metals, just make sure that the mix looks intentional instead of haphazard. To make your design of mixed metals look intentional, choose 2 or 3 metal finishes and use those finishes at least 2 or 3 times within the space. That way, each metal finish has coordinating partner in the same space.
So, in the kitchen, for example, you could have several stainless steel appliances and choose a matte brass faucet and matte brass light fixtures. All the stainless steel appliances match each other and the faucet and light fixtures match each other, giving the design a coordinated, intentional look.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
That’s it for this week. I hope you learned as much as I did. Come back next week for another episode of Build Your House Yourself University--BYHYU.