Bathroom Faucet Buying Guide
A bathroom faucet can serve as a vanity or sink's crowning glory, as a subtle complimentary feature. The faucet can completely change the look of a bathroom, so picking a good one is essential. Shopping for bathroom faucets does not have to be complicated though, with the knowledge of key types and terms.
Three-Hole FaucetsThree-hole faucets are traditional bathroom faucets with three separate pieces - a spout and two handles. Three hole spreads can be 8" widespread faucets, 4" minspread faucets, or 4" centerset faucets, determined by the distance from handle to handle. Widespread faucets have 8" standard spreads, though some models can extend further. Mini spread faucets are designed to fit in small spreads with three separate pieces. Centerset faucets are very common and offer compact, one-piece designs with one ot two handles.
Single Hole FaucetsA more recent trend, single hole faucet fixtures insert into one slot and have a lever or handles attached to the spout. These types are easy to install and perfect for smaller spaces. Converting a three-hole mount for a single hole faucet can be as simple as installing a deck plate if desired.
Floor & Wall FaucetsSome vanities or sinks do not have faucet holes or the ability to add them easily. For these types of lavatories, wall and floor faucets are used. A wall faucet will mount directly to the wall, with basin beneath it for an vintage appearance. Floor faucets mount directly to the floor and reach up over the basin, which can create an elegant look in with freestanding sink basins.
Vessel Sink FaucetsVessel sinks require different faucets than top and undermount sinks due to their height. The faucet needs to sit at least 2 inches above and extend far enough over the basin for proper function. Many vessel sink faucets are available for this purpose and come in both single hole and three hole spreads.
The handles of the bathroom faucet should be user-friendly and aesthetic. Some common types of handles you will see include crosses, which are easy to grasp, levers, which offer easy operation, and traditional round handles. Both one and three hole faucets are available with a wide variety of handles, and several one-hole faucets are even available with two handles for those that prefer them.
Faucet Valve Types
There are four primary types of valves used in modern bathroom faucets, including ceramic disk, cartridge, compression, and ball. Ceramic disk valves are more expensive, but utilize two ceramic disks to control water flow. This design is very responsive, durable and maintenance free. Cartridge valves feature rubber o-rings that control water flow in a cylindrical cartridge. They are long lasting and easy to repair. Compression valves use rubber washers to stop water flow which are cheap to replace, but are prone to wear and drip. Ball valves use a slotted, rotating ball to control water flow in single handle faucets. This design has a tendency to leak, but is durable and reliable.
Faucet Materials & Finishes
Most faucets are made from alloy and brass, but the finish options are many. A traditional brass finish can be polished or antiqued for rustic looks, but should be sealed or cleaned regularly to prevent tarnish and corrosion. Stainless steel is prized for its ability to repel stains and waterspots, and is moderately priced. Chrome finishes are very popular in polished and matte textures as it is easy to maintain, durable and versatile. Nickel finished are also popular in satin and brushed textures as it is easy to care for and complimentary with many contemporary fixtures. Gold and silver finishes can also be found for luxury appearances, but may be more prone to scratching and less easy to maintain.