Kitchen Faucets: Think buying a faucet is as easy as going to your big box store and buying whatever is on sale? Well that’s one way of doing it, but beware: You might get them home and find that there was a whole list of considerations that you just didn’t ….um….well…. consider, and you might end up with something that doesn’t work the way you anticipated.
Here are 4 things you have to know about a kitchen faucet before you spend any money.
1. What finish should I buy?
If the last time you looked at a faucet your choices were chrome or brushed chrome, you’ll be surprised by the number of choices on the market:
- chrome - typically the least expensive finish. Sparkly, but shows finger prints.
- brushed chrome – less expensive than stainless steel, but the brushed finish shows fewer water spots and finger prints
- stainless steel – a popular option that looks a little more substantial than chrome.
- brushed stainless – thestainless steel in a matte finish
- polished nickel – a very luxurious looking, shiny finish that is a warmer hue than chrome or stainless, but a much higher price
- brushed nickel – the matter version. When seen side-by-side with brushed chrome or stainless, you’ll see a huge difference in color
- polished brass - a bit of a throw back to the 80’s, but brass is back!
- antique brass – a dulled down version which, in its current incarnation doesn’t look as cheesy as it did in the 80’s
- champagne bronze – a very soft silvery golden hue that can bridge the gap between stainless and brass
- bronze – a different look with different manufacturers, but generally on the brown end of the color spectrum. Good for old-fashioned style kitchens
- slate – its color almost a graphite grey, resists finger printing and has a very contemporary look
Chrome is usually the least expensive choice, with the specialty finishes adding a significant amount to the price. But sometimes, the specialty finish can be the detail that really makes you happy, so then the extra cost might be justified. Find the Kohler Antique kitchen faucet here.
Price Pfister’s new slate finish complements GE appliances slate finish, which would be a nice touch. It’s a finish that shows fewer finger prints than a polished finish of any color, so that could be a huge advantage, depending on your tolerance level for maintenance. Find a collection of Price Pfister Kitchen faucets here
Brass finishes for residential interiors are coming back in a very big way. But if you’ve been-there-done-that and just can’t wrap your head around going back to the shiny yellow finish, consider Delta’s Champagne Bronze. It’s not as ….well…brassy as brass, but has a very soft, golden hue that will keep you current without the blast from the past. Find a selection of Delta’s Champagne Bronze faucets here.
2. Single or double handles?
Not all single handle faucets are created equally. When discussing kitchen faucets with my clients, I usually recommend a single lever faucet with the lever control on the top of the faucet rather on one side or the other.
I find this to be the most practical option since it allows you to control the temperature and flow with whichever hand is free at the time. If you’re holding a pot in your right hand and want to turn on the water with a faucet whose handle is on the right, you have to awkwardly cross your left handle under the spout and vice versa. The exception to this is if you get a touchless faucet. More on that below….
A wall-mounted, two-handled faucet is typically used with an apron front sink, other wise known as a farm house sink. Careful attention should be paid to the spout reach. If it’s too short relative to the positioning of the sink, filling a pot of water will be a frustrating experience and washing dishes and pots will meant hitting the back of the sink as you try to rinse the soap off. The drawback of this faucet, beyond that and having to use two hands to control the flow and temperature, is that with no sprayer, it’s harder to clean the sink. The advantage is that there is no cleaning issue around the base of the faucet which isn’t sitting on the counter. But if the faucet has to be replaced, it’s a much bigger deal than a deck-mount with one hole. The wall tiles have to come off to get to the valve. Find a selection of Kohler wall-mounted faucets here.
A deck-mounted, two-handled faucet has similar limitations to the wall-mounted faucet, with the addition of having to clean around the two escustcheon plates covering the water supply holes. This is where a lot of grunge will collect. If this faucet ever has to be replaced, there are two holes in the counter top, which are unlikely to match up with a new faucet.
The Kohler Sensate faucet and Delta Addison faucet have no-touch technology, which is particularly handy when your hands are all sticky with food goo, you won’t get it all over the faucet when you want to turn on the water. With the Delta faucet, before starting your meal prep, use the handle to turn on the water and set the temperature then turn on and off with a touch of any part of your body (get your brain out of the gutter. Just sayin’ ) on any part of the faucet. There is a battery in the housing under the sink which will need to be changed periodically. Kohler’s Senate faucet uses an A/C adapter, so while there are no batteries to change, if there’s a power failure, you’ll have to use the manual control.
3. What style should the faucet be?
If your kitchen cabinet style is on the traditional side, I always think it looks odd to see an ultra contemporary faucet.
There’s no way to hide this piece of equipment, so in my professional opinion (leave your money on the counter!), it should either be a style in keeping with the kitchen or transitional, which is neither too contemporary or traditional and can work with many different styles.
A modern faucet will look great in a kitchen with very clean, sleek lines and glossy materials like glass and lacquer on the cabinets, but will also work with matte finishes with no fussy details.
4. Sprayer or none?
In my humble (ok, that’s a lie) opinion, a kitchen faucet without some kind of sprayer is very inefficient.
Not only does a faucet sprayer make it easier to clean the sink, if you don’t have a dedicated pot-filler faucet, you can sit a pot on the counter and reach it with the sprayer to fill it, rather than lifting the heavy weight out of the sink. A restaurant style spray faucet isn’t really any more functional for residential use than other types of spray heads, but it sure looks good, if you like that sort of thing. Find a selection of faucets with sprayers here
Since I have a
humble opinion on just about everything, a faucet with an escutcheon plate and plastic side sprayer is no exception. The escutcheon plate is typically used when the sink has a flange that sits on top of a laminate counter. It covers the various water supply holes and over time collects debris and goo around it, since it’s not easy to clean. The plastic side sprayer, will usually have a PVC hose and both the hose and sprayer itself are prone to cracking and leaking. Yucky. The advantage is it’s very low cost.
You also have to be sure that the faucet will fit in the space between the back of your sink and the wall, that the faucet reach is long enough so you can fill a pot of water, but not so long that it’s in the way.
Have I confused you to death? Hopefully you’re not too overwhelmed and you feel armed with the information you need to make a smart choice for your kitchen. But if you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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