Bathtub Faucet Buyer's Guide
Today's bathtub faucets go beyond functional, with designs and styles available to fit any tub you choose. Understand your options first before hitting the showroom floor.
Choosing a bathtub faucet used to be a simple, if uninteresting, affair. But today, when options include ceiling-mounted spouts, your faucet search will be a bit more involved. Here are some tips for narrowing down your options.
As noted earlier, these are for freestanding bathtubs, such as claw foot tubs or their more modern counterparts. This kind of faucet will come out of the floor with exposed pipes. It may simply rise above the tub rim to spill inside, or it may come through holes drilled in the tub. Either way, you need to love the look of the exposed pipes, and Phillipe Starck has figured out to make even those beautiful in Hansgrohe's Axor line.
These faucets are mounted on the flat surface around the tub, or the deck. You may see the term Roman tub faucet, which is deck-mounted with an arching spout. Decide if you want two handles — one controlling the hot and one the cold — or one handle. If you have kids or someone elderly using that bathroom, a single handle may be easier for them to maneuver. And to get your imagination going, take a look at KWC's beautiful Hansamurano tub filler with a glass disc that disperses the water.
First Things First
As you shop for a faucet, keep the type of bathtub you have or want in mind. If you have a yen for a freestanding tub, then you'll want a freestanding faucet — and, yes, that's a technical term. Be aware that if you own or are eyeing an antique or an older tub faucet sizes have changed in the last 50 years. You may need a vintage or custom-sized faucet to fit your classic soaker.
You'll have to pay for it up front, but buying quality now means you won't be paying during the life (or lack thereof) of your faucet. Look for an all-brass body, as opposed to brass- or chrome-plated. And keep in mind that the tub faucet has a larger flow rate than other household faucets, which means you can't use a kitchen faucet or your tub. Bathtub faucets should have a 3/4-inch supply line, as opposed to 1/2-inch for the rest of the house. Some tubs hold up to 60 gallons of water, so you'll want a faucet that can get the job done in a timely manner.
Style: Go With the Flow
Keep the style of your bathroom in mind when choosing a faucet. Don't get a Victorian-era replica if your bathroom is ultra modern. Pick your bathroom sink and tub faucets at the same time to coordinate the look. Another option you might find useful is a hand-held showerhead. Not only will it wash away your stress, it can also rinse off any remaining soap or shampoo.
Faucets come in many finishes these days, ranging from the usual polished chrome to polished or brushed nickel, brass, copper, gold and even black or white. Remember: More exotic finishes and colors may not come with the same warranty as more traditional finishes. Keep your whole bathroom in mind, since you'll want to coordinate other hardware, such as towel bars and the toilet paper holder.
If your bath doubles as a shower, then this is the most practical choice for you. Or if your tub is against a wall, a wall-mounted faucet can save space without sacrificing style, as you can see with Porcher's sleek Chipperfield model.
Finally, there's a faucet that defies categorization: Kohler's Laminar, which can be mounted either in or on the ceiling or wall.