Photo of kitchen sink and faucet (C) J Wiley, S Bliss Kitchen & Bathroom Faucet Choices

  • FAUCETS & CONTROLS, KITCHEN & BATH - CONTENTS: Best Practices Guide to choosing & installing plumbing fixtures, sinks, tubs, & faucets for kitchens & bathrooms. Finish Choices for Faucets. A Guide to Kitchen & Bath Faucet Styles. Guide to Bathroom or Kitchen Faucet Materials. Valve Types Used in Bathroom or Kitchen Faucets, pros/cons/properties of faucets using compression valves, ball valves, sleeve cartridges, ceramic disc cartridges
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Sink or tub faucet selection advice:

This article discusses kitchen or bathroom faucet types, finishes, features, and valve controls, including the advantages or properties of faucet valve types: faucets using compression valves, ball valves, sleeve cartridges, ceramic disc cartridges.

We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.

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Design Guide to Choosing Kitchen & Bathroom Faucets

Faucet with scald control, Molde Norway (C) D Friedman

The faucet shown in our photo (left) is installed in a hotel in Molde, Norway and includes built-in anti-scald control. For added safety against getting burned by hot water in kitchens and baths, see Scald Protection for Bathrooms, Tubs, Showers.

As noted in Chapter 6 of Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:

Manufacturers offer a vast array of faucet styles and finishes. Most homeowners choose single-level models for the convenience of one-handed control, and chrome remains the most popular finish because of its durability and easy cleaning.

New finishing technologies permit nearly any color or metallic finish with similar durability.

Most faucets also have improved valve systems that make leaky faucets a thing of the past.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Finish Choices for Faucets

Most faucet finishes are guaranteed for life. Chrome, the most popular choice, is easy to clean and very resistant to scratching. For a colored finish, the best choice is an epoxy coating.

These come in a wide range of colors and are also very durable and easy to maintain, but they can be scratched with an abrasive scouring pad. Also solvents, such as nail polish remover (acetone), can soften the epoxy coating.

Many higher-end faucets now use a new high-tech plating technology called physical-vapor deposition or PVD, which can imitate almost any metallic finish from brass to pewter to gold. PVD finishes are as hard as chrome and easy to maintain, although they can be stained by drain cleansers containing lye.

Tub faucet Norway (C) D Friedman

Also, abrasive pads, such as steel wool or ScotchBrite®, can scratch these or any finish with enough effort. Where scratching is a concern, a brushed or satin finish is preferable, since it will help conceal scratches.

Solid brass faucets usually come with a lacquer or similar coating to protect against tarnishing. The metal will tarnish, however, when the coating eventually wears off or where it gets scratched. As an alternative, many manufacturers now offer “tarnish-free brass” finishes using PVD technology. Marketed under a variety of names, these finishes are actually applied over a chrome-plated faucet and have the durability of chrome.

A Guide to Kitchen & Bath Faucet Styles

Copper sink outdoors El Charco del Ingenio (C) Daniel Friedman

Most homeowners find single-handle faucets more convenient, and experts consider them safer for kids than separate hot and cold levers, which are more likely to cause a scalding injury.

The copper sink and faucet shown at left is installed outdoors at El Charco del Ingenio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

While the sink is attractive and easily accessed, the practice of extending an outdoor hose bib horizontally some distance out from the wall to provide a faucet over the sink is asking for leaks in the copper piping. To operate this faucet without bending the copper pipe requires some delicacy.

Faucet handle tip:

Whatever kitchen or bath faucet5 style is chosen, keep in mind that for faucet handles, levers are easier to manipulate than knobs, particularly for anyone with restricted mobility.

Lavatory (sink) faucet height tip:

Lavatory faucets should be low enough that they do not hit people in the head if they lean down to wash their face. An offset faucet or one that swings out of the way can provide greater useful space.

The faucet spout in a kitchen should be high enough to accommodate large pots and long enough to reach all the basins in a multi basin model.

Illustration of Kohler kitchen sink and faucet unit (C) J Wiley, S Bliss

One that swings out of the way can increase the useful space. High-arch or gooseneck designs are often a good solution (see Figure 6-48).

Figure 6-48

[Click any image or table to see an enlarged version with additional detail, commentary & source citation.]

Pullout spray spouts are also very convenient, but avoid those with flimsy plastic hoses.

Look for a durable double interlock hose that will not kink.

Details about anti-scald protection and devices are found

Guide to Bathroom or Kitchen Faucet Materials

Underneath the finish, the base material for most faucet bodies is brass, zinc, steel, or cheap alloys called “pot metal.” Some economy models use plastic.

The highest-quality faucets use solid forged or machined brass, which will last the longest and require the least care, particularly in areas with hard water.

Cast brass is also used, but it is not quite as durable. Midrange faucets use brass or chrome plating on zinc alloys, which provides good durability, but must be replaced when the plating wears through. Plastic, steel, and pot-metal bodies are usually the least durable.

Valve Types Used in Bathroom or Kitchen Faucets

Dripping faucet (C) Daniel Friedman

The faucet valve is the mechanism that regulates the flow of water when you turn the lever or knob. There are four basic types, each with pros and cons.

Watch out: while most faucet manufacturers do a great job of stocking replacement and repair parts for faucets, once the faucet is installed, the cost of repair parts may approach the cost of installing an entirely new faucet assembly. We found that some brands (including Kohler™) can list stunning prices for small replacement parts for faucets, cartridges, and handles - DF.

Kitchen & Bath Industry Associations

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc.


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