A faucet is the hardest working part of your house.
Think about how many times a day you use it and
how tough life is when it's not working. But aside from
supplying water, a faucet can deliver the “wow” to your
kitchen or bathroom. “Your faucet is like a piece of functional
artwork,” says kitchen designer Mary Jane Pappas.
“Its design and the way it feels in your hand have a major
impact on the mood of your entire room.”
Sure, you can buy a basic faucet for $50. But you're likely
to get something nondescript that will cost you more in
the long run for repairs or replacement. Spend about $250,
however, and you'll get something spectacular that's
packed with features and will last your lifetime. You can
also spend a lot more on style, high-tech features and
exotic finishes. You can even buy a faucet that lets you
check your e-mail! (Check out the ultra-cool faucets at
trendir.com.) Here are just a few of the gems we found.
Hands-free, sensor-activated faucets are moving beyond
public restrooms into residential bathrooms and kitchens.
Why would you want one? Aside from the cool factor, they
save water by automatically switching the flow on and off
while you shave or brush your teeth. They also help prevent
the spread of germs, which can be a big deal with kids
and is nice in the kitchen when you have raw chicken on
your hands. Just make sure yours has an override switch
that lets you keep the water running when you want to fill
pots. Most are powered by standard “AA” batteries or can
be hard-wired to a 120-volt circuit, and some even generate
their own power.
There are lots of water-saving faucets on the market, and
manufacturers have gotten much better at balancing conservation
and performance so you don't have to sacrifice a
strong stream to save water. Most water-saving faucets use
special aerators that increase airflow to compensate for
decreased water flow, giving you the same flow strength
as other faucets. You'll find a huge variety of EPA
WaterSense–certified faucets for the bathroom, and the
choices for kitchen faucets are on the rise. Most let you toggle
between two or three flow rates.
Pull-down & pullout
Pull-down and pullout faucets are the most popular style.
They let you move the water to where it's needed—like the
farthest corners of your sink or on top of your counter. Most
are designed for kitchens, but there are a few for bathrooms,
too. Pullouts are shorter than pull-downs
and may fit better in smaller
kitchens with overhead cabinets.
Pull-down models have high-arc
spouts, which give you more
working room in your sink but
can splash more. Buttons or toggles
on the spray nozzle let you
pause the flow and switch
between different flow rates
and water patterns.
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New faucets are all about convenience and function. Gone
are the nonpivoting spouts and hard-to-turn handles.
Today's faucets feel good in the hand and provide extreme
flexibility to help deliver water where and when you need
it while adding high style to your home. Slim joystick-style
levers have replaced clunky handles; highly articulated
spouts fold, lift and stay where you put them; and
wall-mounted faucets can give your room a sleek look and
make cleanup a snap.
Faucet Buying Tips
- Shop where the pros shop to get high-end
faucets for less. Check out plumbing supply
stores, irawoods.com and faucetdepot.com.
- For reviews and ratings of faucets
and faucet manufacturers, visit
- The finish affects the cost. Chrome is the least
expensive. Color finishes, nickel, oil-rubbed bronze,
and stainless add $50 to $250 to the price.
- The highest quality faucets are made of solid
brass. These are especially recommended for hard water
areas where corrosion is a problem.
- Better valve systems are worth every
penny. Leak-free, washerless ceramic
disks and cartridges can last your lifetime.
- Two-handle faucets are cheaper and
give you precise temperature control. But
single-handle faucets are easier to use.
- Be sure the faucet you're considering uses
the same number of mounting holes as your
sink, or get a base plate to cover extra holes.
- Two-handle faucets are easier to clean if the handles
are 8 in. apart instead of 4 in. Single-handle
faucets are the easiest to clean.
- Some faucets are available with extra-long water
supply hoses that are easier to connect lower in the
- Some manufacturers sell faucet bodies
and handles separately, so you can mix
and match styles and finishes
- Most lavatory faucets include the drain assembly,
but most kitchen faucets don't. You have to buy the
drain and basket strainer separately.
- Gooseneck (high-arc) faucets have
higher clearances for pots but can
cause splashing in a shallow sink.