There are so many bathroom faucets available in such a variety of shapes and finishes that it is difficult to pick one. Before choosing bathroom faucets, you’ll need to consider a few factors, such as whether you’re using an existing sink or buying a new one, and where you want the faucet opening. You’ll also need to consider which features you want, as well as your budget. Other considerations include the size of your bathroom and what sort of faucets are typically found in similar homes in your area.
If you’re retrofitting a new faucet to an existing sink or buying a complete sink ensemble, be sure to match the type of faucet to the hole openings in your sink.
Single-hole faucets combine the spout and mixing handles into one unit that requires only one drilled sink hole. For retrofits, some models include a bottom plate that will cover existing three-hole openings. Single-hole faucets are ideal for smaller sinks, such as powder room baths. Their simplicity reflects modern sensibilities.
Center-set faucets fit standard three-hole sinks (with outer holes drilled 4 inches apart). They’ll have either a single lever or two handles mounted on a 6-inch plate. They’re ideal for most bathroom sinks.
Widespread mounts have three separate pieces: Two handles and the spout. The standard distance between the handles is at least 8 inches, and the three pieces tend to be larger than other types of bath faucets. Smaller versions, called minispreads, are designed for standard holes drilled 4 inches apart.
Wall mount faucets have gained popularity along with freestanding or vessel-type sinks that require longer spouts that extend well over the top of the bowl. Not every faucet fixture can be easily categorized. Kohler, for example, makes a faucet that’s integrated into a mirrored wall cabinet. All you see is the tiny flow control lever peeking out from the bottom of your mirrored self.
Manufacturers have created more finish options than you can choose from. You’ll have to choose from a million possibilities which include polished chrome (the long-standing industry stalwart), brushed chrome, polished nickel, brushed nickel, hammered nickel, stainless steel, bronze, brushed bronze, oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass, black, white and decorative ceramic. If the choices are stressing you out, try these decision-making tips:
- Visit a showroom where all the finishes are on display, and select the one you fall in love with.
- Coordinate all your finishes in each bathroom so that your hard surfaces; including towel bars, lighting fixtures and door hardware, have the same finish.
- Polished finishes are elegant but require constant upkeep to keep them looking sparkly
- Brushed finishes are better at hiding water spots and fingerprints, which is great if you have kids
Many manufacturers hire well-known designers to craft their models. Not surprisingly, much of the design focus is on the spout, and recent introductions include spouts that deliver water through narrow tubes, down open chutes and through roller-coaster curves. Articulating-arm faucets have migrated from the kitchen into the bathroom, presumably so you don’t have to move your toothbrush to the stream.
Low flow faucets
The technology used to achieve these exceptionally frugal flows either is built into the faucet body or applied to the aerator, the little screw-on tip that fits on the end of your faucet. To date, most manufacturers have focused on the aerator to avoid wholesale retooling of product lines. Smartly engineered low-flow aerators will automatically adjust for pressure fluctuations, successfully restricting water while maintaining a full, powerful flow.
A faucet aerator is a small screen on the end of a faucet that introduces air into the water stream. The purpose is to soften the stream, making it splash less. Restricted-flow aerators help reduce water usage, although certain tasks such as filling the sink, simply take longer.
Motion-activated. The hands-free faucet is gaining wider acceptance. Newer models include motion-activated on/off, flow control and temperature adjustment with multiple pre-sets. Although some motion-activated faucets operate in a less intuitive manner than conventional faucets, the novelty is enough to encourage some folks to add them to their bathroom repertoire. These faucets require battery or AC power.
Self-powered motion activated. A refinement on motion activation, which requires battery or AC power, is a faucet that generates its own electricity. Using a tiny turbine that’s powered by water flow, faucets from Autotap create and store electricity used to power the infrared sensors that detect motion.
Laminar flow. If you like your water soft and silky, this is the faucet for you. Standard aerators add air to the water stream to make the flow feel lighter—the bubbles make the water stream appear frothy white. But laminar flows are created from dozens of tiny, parallel sheets of water. The water flows in a clear, solid-looking stream that won’t splash when you’re washing your hands.