The Ultimate Guide to Faucets: Spouting off!
By Mikael Short & the Vevano Home Team
June 2, 2021
A wide variety of faucets can complete your sinks, showers, and tubs throughout your home. Function is the name of the game when it comes to choosing a faucet—but, of course, we know style is also a factor.
When choosing a new faucet, first ask yourself how you want to use it and where it will reside within your home. That way, you know what function is needed and what materials and designs will best support your home’s style.
Before buying a new faucet, it’s also essential you know the dimensions of the sink and counter (if applicable) so that your new faucet fits within the space and doesn’t bump into anything—and so you get the correct kind of mount with the proper number of holes necessary to install.
Here is everything you need to know to choose the perfect faucet for your home.
Faucets may look straightforward, but knowing which parts are which—and the correct terminology—can help you understand the faucet’s functionality and make repairs in the future.
Spout - This is where the water pours out from the faucet.
Handle or Lever - Either single-handle or two-handle, handles or levers on a faucet control the water flow and temperature. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Deck Plate or Escutcheon - Sometimes called a hole cover deck or escutcheon plate, the deck plate provides a seamless look to your faucet while concealing any unused holes or shielding other functioning parts of the faucet.
Valves, Cartridges, & Stems - Valves provide a seal within your faucet and help regulate and control the water flow and temperature, often connecting to cartridges within levers to do so. A valve usually sits at the base of the stem within the faucet. Ceramic valves are highly recommended for longevity.
Aerator & Flow Restrictors - This attachment is inside the spout’s mouth in many kitchen and bathroom faucets (though not so much laundry room faucets, since it would obstruct the high-power water flow). An aerator is essentially a screen to mix air with water stream to reduce the flow, thus using less water.
Faucets are often categorized by the room they’re found in, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Faucets may also be organized by functionality or task-specific areas like bathtubs, showers, or bars.
Common types of faucets include kitchen faucets, vanity faucets, utility faucets, bathtub faucets, and shower faucets. Some are suitable for multiple areas—a two-handle kitchen faucet can easily work in a laundry room as a two-handle utility faucet— but not all faucets are interchangeable (you can't use a showerhead as a vanity faucet, for example).
Here are a few of the possible kitchen faucets that can help you get the job done in the kitchen sink. Keep in mind that a kitchen sink faucet could incorporate multiple types listed here, and many popular styles are a combination of types.
For the ultimate convenience, you can turn on the faucet while adjusting the water temperature and pressure in one motion with the single-handle faucet. This is the most popular type of faucet, no matter the type of sink. It’s easy to install, only requiring one hole with minimal connections. You can go the high-end route and install a single-handle faucet with motion or touch-based sensors for even more convenience.
More stylistic than functional, the two-handle bridge faucet reveals the plumbing around the faucet, giving a more traditional look for your kitchen sink. Some modern bridge faucet styles include a pull-down spray nozzle, or you can easily install a side sprayer if needed.
If you want high-pressure water performance, the pre-rinse faucet is where it’s at. Often with a roto-flex gooseneck spout, which is flexible and adjustable, the pre-rinse faucet has a high flow rate. This faucet is high-value as it’s excellent for cleaning dishes, conserving water, and filling pots quickly.
Typically, pull-down faucets have a gooseneck spout where a spray nozzle at the end can be pulled down and away from the faucet base. It combines the best of a side sprayer with a standard spout. We recommend pull-down faucets with a magnetic dock since the spray nozzle tends to be heavy. Hoses will vary in length. Also, look for pull-down faucets with a spray button that stays in place when the water turns off.
When selecting the pull variety of faucets, aim to have them reach the corners of your chosen sink with their spray for easy cleaning.
Similar to the pull-down faucet, the pull-out faucet allows you to pull the spray nozzle away from the spout. Usually, the pull-out faucet has a shorter spout, which is suitable for kitchens without much headroom above the sink. It typically has a longer hose than pull-down faucets, though its cord is more prone to kinking.
Common in restaurant kitchens, pot fillers are making a comeback in home kitchen renovations. With robust water flow rates, pot fillers are wall-mounted faucets above the stove that make it easy to fill a pot without having to carry it from the sink to the stove. They often have an articulating arm to allow the spout to reach any pot on the stovetop and fold it up against the wall when not in use. Pot fillers are what you want for convenience for high-volume cooking and other kitchen tasks. The installation of pot fillers is complex since a water line needs to be added behind the stove, so a professional’s opinion is needed.
This is the miniature version of a standard kitchen faucet, so they come in various styles that could incorporate any of the other designs listed here. A bar faucet with a pull-down spout, for example, is excellent for rinsing veggies or other prep if attached to a prep sink. It’s good to match your bar faucets with the main sink in your kitchen in both style and finish. If it’s a solo bar faucet in an entertaining room, match it to the room’s decor instead.
If you want clean drinking water with the pump of a handle, a water dispenser is what you need! Water dispensers are often attached to the side of a sink or a prep sink and likely incorporate a filtration system, a reservoir, a reverse osmosis system, or even a system to control the temperature to your ideal taste. They have a thin spout and low water flow and take up little space—great for wet bars.
Ideal Materials & Finishes for Your Kitchen Faucet
Chrome is durable and easy to clean and polish. Fingerprints don’t stand a chance on chrome. Stainless steel is similar to chrome in its hardiness, though with a flatter shine and a bigger price tag. Brushed stainless steel can often hide scuffs and scratches too.
Nickel comes in a variety of finishes (polished, satin, brushed, etc.) but is also more challenging to clean since water stains and fingerprints don’t come off as easily.
Flat finishes such as matte black or oil-rubbed bronze, while trendy and beautiful, are more prone to chips and scratches.
Consider the color and finish of both the sink and faucet to make sure it matches your vision for your kitchen. It’s also helpful to consider the color and finish of your existing or desired hardware in the room (such as cabinet handles or pulls) to pick a faucet finish to match or complement your style.
Bathroom and vanity faucets have fewer types than kitchen faucets, but it’s still important to know which one you need and why you need it for your bathroom.
This is the most common vanity faucet style. It contains three holes—one each for hot and cold water levers as well as the faucet—that sit close together and centered over the sink (4” between the left and right holes). The classic centerset fits small and regular-sized vanity sinks.
More common in kitchens, all the plumbing fits through one hole in the sink or countertop. This faucet type is versatile since you can install the single-hole faucet into centerset or widespread faucet sets with a deck plate.
This faucet has three holes like centerset, though more spread out, often 8” - 16” between the exterior holes. The widespread faucet is more flexible in design and spread since the water handles are separate from the faucet. Widespread faucets are common in modern and contemporary styles and pair great with statement sinks.
This type of faucet is a tall single-hole faucet attached to the countertop, typically with a single handle and often specifically designed for vessel sinks. Vessel sink faucets are generally modern in design. Usually statement pieces themselves, waterfall vessel faucets are trendy. The key is to choose a vessel faucet that clears the top of the sink basin by at least an inch.
The spout and lever handles for this type of faucet mount to the wall, so you can determine the height based on your sink. Wall-mount faucets are good for vessel sinks or vanities with little counter space. Available in single or double-handle designs. This design requires more planning as the plumbing is contained within the wall above the countertop or sink.
Ideal Materials & Finishes for Your Bathroom Faucet
While vanity faucets can come in various materials, safe bets include chrome, stainless steel, and nickel faucets as they are more affordable, durable, and have a timeless quality.
Oil-rubbed bronze is trending right now, particularly for farmhouse and high-end finishes. The sturdy and long-lasting solid brass tends to go in and out of style and is on a current upswing in popularity as a finish as well. Both brass and bronze are high-end styles and develop a patina over time.
Though your vanity faucets don’t need to match your shower or tub faucets, they should coordinate well in similar finishes (matte/shiny/etc.).
Whether you have a shower, bath, or shower-tub combo, there’s a corresponding faucet (or two) to go with it, and that will determine your experience as you bathe.
Types of Shower Faucets
Shower faucets are quite versatile, though only applicable in showers or shower-bath combos. Choose the one that supports the kind of shower experience you want to have.
A basic shower faucet consists of the showerhead, trim, and shower valve. If it’s a tub shower faucet, there can also be a tub spout, diverter valve, a hand shower, and additional jet nozzles.
The shower-only faucet is ideal for a standalone shower rather than a bathtub-shower combination as it doesn’t have a tub spout, only the showerhead.
Your showerhead is what will make or break your shower experience—the best often have several spray settings for you to choose from. Some even incorporate a hand shower you can remove from its dock for more precise cleansing. Showerheads come in a variety of styles, shapes, sizes, and spray patterns.
Hand showers are small showerheads attached to a hose that connects to the wall, offering great functionality to your shower. Hand showers are often complimentary to a shower-tub faucet set or even part of the showerhead itself. Hand showers are especially functional when combined with an adjustable bar for higher or lower reach.
Relatively new to the scene, shower panels often incorporate different kinds of water dispensers for your shower, from multifunctional showerheads to multidirectional jets. This is an advanced shower system, often with a technological panel to control all the features.
Types of Bath Faucets
The type of tub you have will determine what kind of bath faucet will suit your needs, and from there, you can choose the style that most appeals to you.
This is the most common and most affordable type of bath faucet, and it’s also one of the easiest to install. Wall-mount faucets are great for drop-in shower and bath combos where space might be limited. It comes in different types: standalone, spout-only faucet (for when you’re simply replacing the spout), spout-only faucet with diverter, and bathtub and shower faucet sets. This final option is ideal for ensuring style and finish are the same throughout your bath or shower.
Deck-mount bathtub faucets sit on the ledge (or the deck) of your tub. This makes it ideal for drop-in or undermount bathtubs or even standalone tubs. Holes in the tub’s deck will indicate if it’s built for a deck-mount faucet; if there aren’t holes, you may need to drill holes, which could be tricky to accomplish depending on the tub’s material. Deck-mount faucets often don’t come with a diverter for a showerhead, which may need to be purchased separately. However, some designs come with a hand shower attached to the deck.
Nothing says luxury like a freestanding bathtub. Mounted on the floor, freestanding bathtub faucets have an exposed piping from floor to spout. Freestanding bathtub faucets come in various designs so that you can complete the look and function of your freestanding bathtub no matter your aesthetic. However, thanks to their material and high style, they also come with a higher price tag than other types of bathtub faucets.
Evoking the luxury of Roman bathtubs, the Roman bathtub faucet often has deck-mounted features and an arched spout, leaning heavily on traditional features. Now quite versatile, the Roman faucet also has new designs inspired and adapted to modern and contemporary styles for simplicity, some even forgoing the arched spout, and is available in deck-mount, wall-mount, or freestanding faucet styles.
Ideal Materials & Finishes for Your Shower or Tub Faucet
Solid brass is the best material for tub and shower faucets since it is so dense it stands up to water corrosion and can last a long time. Brass finishes are also quite sturdy. It is a more premium option. Copper and stainless steel are also durable, while aluminum and iron are popular for their lower price point.
Nickel, pewter, and chromium also work well for your shower and bath faucets.
As for finishes, polished chrome, satin nickel, and bronze finishes help keep your bathroom faucets pristine and less prone to scratches.
If you have the convenience of having a separate laundry room with a sink to take care of your household’s laundry needs, you’ll want a laundry faucet that supports your tasks. Simple and functional should be the standard for your laundry faucet. The size and hole spread will determine which faucet best fits your laundry room sink. Some kitchen faucets may fit, but measurements are needed to ensure a good fit.
Utility faucets are meant for utility sinks, both of which are larger than your standard kitchen or bathroom sinks and faucets. A utility faucet is all about function, often made of metal, and can attach to a hose. They sometimes feature a swivel spout along with hot and cold water levers. They usually come in deck-mount or wall-mount designs. They are designed with the intended labor in mind and are intended for deep sinks to catch all the splashing.
Wall-mount faucets come in handy in small laundry room sink setups because they save space, especially when paired with a standalone utility sink without a deck plate. They also come in a variety of designs and styles, even utility, so you can find a wall-mount faucet that works for your laundry room. Most often, they contain a long spout and two handles.
A bridge faucet provides both the two-handles for great water temperature control while revealing the plumbing in a traditional style that looks like a bridge. A bridge faucet is a stylistic choice with vintage appeal, making it a great fit in laundry rooms with a farmhouse, colonial, cottage, or traditional interior.
Most laundry tub faucets come with a two-handle design since they last longer due to their simple construction. For better control of water temperature, a two-handle faucet will provide the hot and cold controls to make sure you clean your clothes without ruining them.
If you prefer the ease of using a single-handle faucet (more commonly seen in kitchen faucets), they can also be functional for a laundry room sink.
Faucets come in a wide range of styles that match any aesthetic you’d like—from traditional and farmhouse styles to contemporary, transitional, or modern aesthetics. If you’re not sure what style to look for, chat with our expert design team.
The most popular faucet style is the single-handle faucet, thanks to its versatility and ease of use. In different finishes, this kind of faucet can be catered to almost whatever style you want. Two-handle faucets have a more balanced traditional look that can look classy in a bathroom.
The material of your faucet will determine how durable it is and how long it will last. It may cost more to get high-quality materials for your faucet, but it’s a good investment, particularly for sinks that get the most action.
The most commonly recommended materials that make up faucets include stainless steel, brass, bronze, nickel, pewter, lead, and chromium.
The material is what the faucet is made of, whereas the finish is the topmost layer that determines the look of the faucet while also protecting the faucet. Faucet finishes also tend to correlate with the color of the faucet.
Other faucet finishes and colors:
- Bronze or Brushed Bronze - On trend and develops a patina with age, though may be prone to scratching or chipping if it has epoxy coating. Oil-rubbed bronze doesn’t show fingerprints or water spots.
- Nickel/Satin Nickel - Nickel comes in a variety of textures and colors, though they tend to collect fingerprints and water stains, so they’re not as easy to clean.
- Satin Brass - Stylish and trendy, it develops a patina sheen over time.
- Chrome - Most durable, resistant to fingerprints and scratches, and easy to clean.
- Black or Matte Black - Trendy, though prone to chipping and scratching with epoxy coating.
Typically, faucets don’t come with the sink but are bought separately. Remember to consider the sink you’re pairing a faucet with when choosing a new one!
The sink you’ve chosen will have 1 to pre-drilled holes for faucet and faucet accessory installation. These pre-drilled holes may determine what kind of faucet you get, though you can use a deck plate to cover any holes you don’t need. Avoid getting a faucet requiring more holes than your sink or countertop has.
From there, look at the dimensions of your chosen kitchen sink and select a faucet that is proportional to it. One way to determine if a faucet is a good match is to measure the spout’s reach or how far it reaches over the sink. We recommend a faucet that extends between a quarter or halfway across the sink, so the water stream hits the middle of the sink, if not near the drain.
A high-arch spout of 8 inches may have its conveniences, but it may not be as fun if it’s blocking your view out of your kitchen window or gets in the way otherwise (if there’s a cabinet blocking its path, for example). Short spout faucets have their place but know that they don’t always have the swivel option that many high-arch faucets do.
The depth of the sink and the height of the faucet spout is also a consideration due to the “splash zone” that may result. A shallower basin may splash out more with a higher spout, so that’s also something to plan for.
A proportional spout is ideal so your sink and faucet coordinate well. Find a faucet height that also pairs well with the depth of the sink too.
Matching Other Hardware in the Room
Ideally, you’ll want to match your faucet finish with the other hardware in the room, whether that’s cabinet door handles, towel bars, mirror trim, lighting fixtures, etc. That way, none of your finishes clash or mismatch—which can look haphazard and unappealing.
Aside from practicality and style, we recommend a faucet with a ceramic valve to make your faucet truly last without dripping.
Now you can identify which kind of faucet you need in your home!
No matter the need, function, or room of your desired faucet, we hope this ultimate faucet guide helps show you the various options available for you.
In the end, a faucet should sit proportionally to the sink it pairs with while offering the functionality and style you desire in the space you want it in. If you need help, we have expert designers available to help you choose the best faucet for you!