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.
Toto's Axiom EcoPower faucet uses a small internal turbine to generate its own electricity when the water runs. Isn't that cool? It has to be used 10 times a day to stay fully charged, so it's best in high-traffic areas. Visit totousa.com.
Nearly hands-free, Brizo's Talo faucet with SmartTouch technology is activated by a light touch anywhere on its spout or handle. An LED light indicates when SmartTouch is active and the faucet is on. Visit brizo.com.
Not completely touchless, Delta's Pilar Waterfall high-arc faucet lets you tap it on and off with your forearm, elbow or any other body part. The handle adjusts the flow rate and temperature, and the faucet operates manually, too. Visit deltafaucet.com.
The Lumino faucet has a storage cell that transforms light into electrical energy. The illuminated ring visually indicates the water temperature. Visit sloanvalve.com.
Kohler's touchless battery-powered gooseneck faucet (K-10952-4-CP) for single-hole installations has a mixer handle that allows you to preset the water temperature. It features solid brass construction and includes a 6-volt lithium battery that lasts three to five years. Visit homedepot.com.
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.
Toto's Ryohan EcoPower lavatory faucet is a sleek, water-saving, hands-free model that uses a small internal turbine to generate its own electricity when the water runs. Beautiful and spendy. Visit totousa.com.
Moen's Dorsey eco-performance faucet is a budget-friendly, low-flow option for the kitchen. It has a traditional-style pullout spout and three water-flow settings. Available at home centers and moen.com.
The Pasadena lavatory faucet is a stylish, economical and eco-friendly option from Price Pfister. Available at home centers and pricepfister.com.
Delta's Leland kitchen faucet offers water efficiency in a high-arc pull-down model with a spout that swivels 360 degrees for complete sink access. Available at home centers and online retailers. Visit deltafaucet.com.
Kohler's Revival wall-mount lavatory faucet keeps countertops uncluttered. Available at online retailers and plumbing supply houses. Visit us.kohler.com.
Image provided by HSP: Tom Fenenga
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.
IKEA's commercially inspired HJUVIK single-lever kitchen faucet includes a flexible dish sprayer that rises 18 in. above the countertop. Available at IKEA stores and ikea.com.
Kohler's Purist faucet offers a pared-down style that works well in contemporary or transitional kitchen designs. The pullout spout has a push-button diverter to switch from stream to spray. Visit us.kohler.com.
KWC's Eve faucet transforms the stream of water into a glowing light source thanks to an LED activated by a switch in the pull-down spray nozzle. Pricey but gorgeous. Available from online retailers. Visit kwc.com.
American Standard's Green Tea widespread bathroom faucet has a pullout wand spout that makes giving your pet a bath, washing your hair or cleaning the sink area a breeze. Visit americanstandard-us.com.
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.
Kohler's Karbon faucet (available in both wall- and deck-mounted kitchen and bathroom models) has a pivoting multi-jointed spout that lets you park the multifunction spray head wherever you want. It's pricey but cool. Visit us.kohler.com.
IKEA'S OXSKAR single-lever kitchen faucet is a study in ultra modern, easy-to-use design. Available in chrome-plated brass, it's IKEA's priciest faucet. Simplicity doesn't always come cheap. Visit ikea.com.
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 starcraftcustombuilders.com.
- 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 sink cabinet.
- 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.