Bathroom sink faucets are no longer style-less commodities. Our expert shares tips to help you better select which faucet is right for you.
If you're doing a complete bathroom remodel, a faucet seems almost unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But you should put the same thought into choosing your new faucet as you do that marble countertop or vessel sink, including understanding how your sink choices affect your faucet options. If you just want to perk up a tired old bathroom, a new faucet is a great — and functional — way to do it.
Pay Now or Pay Later
You may sputter a bit at the price of some faucets, but paying for quality now can save you searching for a plumber — or new faucet — later. Look for solid-brass construction instead of plated metal, and check the warranty. If you need to pinch pennies, consider a different finish. Polished chrome is one of the most popular finishes because of its timeless color and least expensive price tag.
Bathroom sink faucets come in four basic varieties, based on the configuration of the sink on which they're mounted: 8 inches, also called widespread; 4 inches; single hole; and wall mount. The first three can be mounted on the sink deck. If your sink has holes for a faucet, measure the span between the centers of the two outermost holes to determine which kind of faucet you need. If you have an undermounted or a vessel sink, you can choose a wall-mount faucet or put a deck-mounted faucet in the vanity countertop.
If you're remodeling or just adding zing to an old bathroom, you can avoid busting the budget by keeping the same type of sink or by choosing one that can use the same kind of faucet. This will keep down your plumbing labor costs.
Most of the 8-inch or widespread faucets have three pieces, the tap and the hot and cold handles, which means some 8-inch faucets can fit holes not exactly 8 inches apart.
If the span is 4 inches, a 4-inch faucet is what you need. These usually have a base and come in one solid piece. Another option is a 4-inch mini-widespread — a seeming contradiction in terms — that comes in three pieces, like an 8-inch widespread, but it will fit a smaller sink with a shorter spread. Again, some of the mini-widespread models can be used with less-than-standard measurements.
Single-hole faucets have one stem and may have a single lever to control the water flow and temperature, or they may have two handles attached to a single spout. Either way, it needs only one hole for installation.
For a vessel sink, you can choose either a wall mount or a deck mount, and drill the appropriate holes in either the wall or the counter, respectively. Stephanie Jones, a designer with Casa Bella Design Center in Naperville, Ill., advises following the manufacturer's guidelines but remaining flexible when it comes to vessel sinks and their faucets.
"Each one is a little different. I installed double vessel sinks with wall-mounted faucets for a 6-foot, 8-inch man and his wife. We followed the manufacturer's guidelines, but the faucet ended up being too low for him."
However, some general rules for a wall-mount faucet do apply. It should have a long enough tap to reach over the sink — ideally with the spout above the center of the bowl — and the tap should have a minimum of 1-inch clearance above the sink rim.
Configuration isn't the only faucet decision you'll need to consider. Design variations abound with today's bathroom sink faucets, providing a great opportunity for coordinating with your other choices. Is your bathroom contemporary, rustic or traditional? As you can see, manufacturers offer products in all of these styles.
The Match Game
Your faucet should match or complement the tub faucet as well as other hardware in your bathroom, such as towel racks, hooks and the toilet paper holder. Choosing from a manufacturer's design series can take away the guesswork when making your decisions, Stephanie says.
"I don't think I've ever done a bathroom with faucets of different brands, although I have used shower heads from a different company when I couldn't get what I needed, like a body spray," Stephanie says.
In those situations, she did, however, match the faucet finishes. So even if you don't opt for exact matches between all your plumbing fixtures, stick with the same finish or color. And that brings you to an array of choices, from the ubiquitous — for a reason — chrome, to polished or brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, brass, copper or even colors. Whichever you choose, consider how it will look with all your other design choices and pay close attention to the manufacturer's warranty.
And, finally, like any other remodeling choice, you'll be living with your bathroom faucet for a long time. So pick one you love.