The Best Bathroom and Kitchen Sink Faucets

Choose a spectacular new faucet packed with features that make it harder working and last a lifetime.

In the market for a new faucet? Sure you can buy a boring cheapie for $50 that will cost you more in the long run for repairs or replacement. Spend a bit more and get one of these spectacular gems packed with hardworking features that will last your lifetime.

All photos are courtesy of the manufacturer, unless otherwise noted.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Overview

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.

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Hands-free operation

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.

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Water-savers

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.

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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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Ergonomic design

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.

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