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Bathroom Faucet Buying Guide

The right faucet can add a special look to your bathroom. Different designs, styles and features allow you to dress up and personalize your space. Explore the options and learn what to look for in your next bathroom faucet.

Bathroom Faucet Buying Guide

Faucet Mounting Type

Single Hole Faucet

Not all faucet types work with every sink, so it's important to make sure the faucet you choose will fit your sink or basin. Standard faucet drillings are widespread, center-set or single-hole.

Widespread Faucets: They have a spout with separate hot and cold water handles. All pieces appear to be separate. Widespread faucets are available from 6-in to 16-in drillings for 3-hole predrilled installation basins.

Center-set Faucets (mini-widespread): They're made for 4-in predrilled with 3-hole installation basins. They combine a spout and valves on a single base unit. Center-set faucets may have a single-handle mixing lever or two handles mounted onto a 6-in plate.

Single Hole Faucets: They may have a single handle mixing lever, two handles or may be touchless or touch-activated. Some single hole faucets have an optional cover plate for predrilled 4-in-drill installations.

Wall-mounted Faucets: They're available for above-the-counter and freestanding basins that require a long spout for extended reach. They won't work with basins that have predrilled holes. Wall-mounted faucets require a separate wall-mounted valve and drain for installation. Make sure the spout is long enough for adequate basin clearance. Check that the sink is deep enough to prevent water splashing on your floor or countertops.

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Faucet Color and Finish

Coordinate your faucet color and finish with the rest of the fixtures and accessories in your bathroom. Choices include:

  • Black
  • Brass (antique or polished)
  • Bronze
  • Chrome (matte, brushed or polished)
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Iron
  • Nickel (brushed and pearl)
  • Stainless Steel
Good to Know

Spot-resistant finishes simplify cleaning.

Good to Know

Some faucet sets come with a combination of finishes, such as brass and chrome that offer a more unique look. A combination finish can also be a cost-effective way of making a change in your bathroom. For example, if you currently have brass fittings you could update with a chrome and brass faucet. Then you can leave your brass tub faucet or shower head and your items will still coordinate. Just remember to stick to the same finish (example - polished vs. antique).

Faucet Control Options

Lever Handles

There are a variety of options for the simple act of turning a faucet on or off. Think about who'll be using your bathroom before you make a selection.

Lever Handles: Their design makes them easy to grip and turn. Lever handles are available in many decorative styles.

Joystick: A control similar to a lever, with a different look and a different range of motion.

Cross Handles: Models offer different finishes to coordinate with the room's décor.

Knobs: These function like cross handles, but offer a different style.

Push-buttons: Turn the water on with a push instead of turning a handle or knob.

Touchless: Motion-activated faucets don't require handles or knobs at all. Simply place your hands under the spout to activate. A mixing valve allows you to control the blend of hot and cold water, and comes standard with some models but must be purchased separately for others. Some touchless faucets also include a manual override lever as an optional way to control the water flow.

Touch-activated: Like touchless models, these faucets don't require you to manipulate handles or knobs. Activate them or turn them off with a simple tap. A handle controls the water temperature and acts as a manual control.

Faucet Construction

Every type of faucet has an inner valve that controls the flow of water through the spout. The valve quality, with or without a washer, determines the reliability and durability of the faucet. The best choices are faucets with solid brass, brass-based metal or corrosion-resistant workings.

Faucets with a Washer
Compression-valve Faucets: They're a common type of faucets. They work by means of a stem that rises and falls to open and close the water's passageway.

Washerless Faucets
Cartridge Faucets: They use rubber O-rings inside a cylindrical cartridge to control the flow of water. These faucets are very reliable, especially if equipped with a brass cartridge.

Ball Faucets: They have a rotating metal or plastic ball that regulates the amount of incoming water. With only one moving part, the likelihood of a malfunction is greatly reduced. A plastic ball will eventually wear out, but a metal ball is designed for longevity. 

Ceramic Disc Faucets: They're nearly maintenance-free. They have two ceramic discs that move against each other in a shearing action, blocking water or allowing it to pass through. The seal is watertight because the discs are nearly flat.

Other Faucet Considerations

With the wide variety of designs, there are additional options you can look for to help you find the best faucet for your needs.

Integrated Supply Lines: This means you don't need to purchase the lines separately.

Matching Pop-up Drain: This drain will complete your new look.

Decorative Handle Buttons: These can add a nice decorative touch.

Water-efficient Designs: They're built to use less water while matching the performance of less efficient models. According to EPA.gov, by installing a WaterSense® faucet an average household can save more than 500 gallons of water a year.

LED Lights: They'll activate when you turn on the water, giving your faucet a unique appearance.

Waterfall Faucets: These don't use as much water pressure as standard models and offer a distinct look.

Also look for bath accessories – towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks and toilet paper holders – made to coordinate with the design of some faucet models.