Selecting Bathroom Faucets

The style of faucet you select will have a significant impact on how your client’s bathroom will look, and how your fixtures will function. There are two main factors that affect the faucet style: the number of handles, and the shape and length of the spout.

Faucets are available in both single- and double-handled models. Most traditional faucets have two handles, while more contemporary-looking faucets often have one. Most spout styles are available in both models.

Don’t make a selection based on looks alone; durability is the key to your clients’ continued satisfaction. Comfort in the hand as one turns water on and off also is a factor given how many times the faucet will be used.

Make sure the faucet set you select is the proper size and design to fit the sink. Most vanity sinks come with holes drilled in their rims to accommodate standard faucets and plumbing components. Three basic faucet styles are designed to fit the predrilled holes.

Single-handled faucets have a more contemporary style. The controls can be located above the spout or to one side. Single-handled faucets have one spout and one handle that control the flow of both the hot and cold water. They generally are safer and more convenient to use than their two-handled counterparts. Users can turn on the water with their arm or elbow when hands are full or dirty. If the faucet can be equipped with a memory-setting accessory (which stops the handle in the same place every time), users will get water at the same temperature every time it is turned on.

Center-set faucets can be either contemporary or traditional in styling. Center-set faucets combine a spout and handle(s) in one unit. These faucets have either single-handle or double-handled controls. Lever-style handles are easier to operate, especially for the elderly and children. Cross-style handles go well with traditional bathroom décor, but can be more difficult to grip and turn. Most center-set faucets are designed for a three-hole basin, with the outside holes spaced 4 in. from center to center. However, some have a single-post design that requires only one hole.

In a spread-fit faucet, handles and spout are independent of each other. Spread-fit faucets offer greater design flexibility since you can adjust them to fit mounting holes in the sink up to 12 in. apart. They can be individualized even more if they are mounted on a countertop next to the sink. For example, you can place the spout on a rear corner and the handles off to one side. These faucets are handy for tight installations that lack the space for a full faucet at the back of the sink basin. This type of faucet offers a more traditional look than single-handled faucets and you can combine different style handles and spouts for a custom look.

Wall-mount faucets are attached to the wall as opposed to the sink or the counter. These faucets are designed for unusually shaped sinks, such as antique bowls or other vessels that have been modified for use in the bath.

Spouts vary in length, height and size. When selecting a spout for your client’s sink, coordinate it with the fixture. For example, a tall spout which drops water from a greater distance than typical needs a deep sink basin to contain the additional splash resulting from the greater height.

Sink faucets are used frequently every day in bathrooms, so they should complement how the sink will be used most often. The standard sink faucet is classic, cost-effective and suitable for almost any style of sink. Standard faucets have short spouts that extend just over a sink basin. These faucets may be too low for anything other than rinsing off a toothbrush or filling a glass of water.

Crescent, or gooseneck, faucets have tall, curved necks that can add an elegant look to a deep sink. This is also a more comfortable height for washing faces or hands.

Another option is the faucet spout with an integral and detachable spray head that often is used in kitchens. Remember, spouts that are high above the rim of the sink tend to splash if the sink basin isn’t deep enough to contain the splash.

Safety always is an important concern in any bathroom project; consider incorporating the following key accessories into your next project:

  • An anti-scald device limits the water temperature, eliminating the possibility of accidental scalding.
  • A temporary-memory device attaches to a single-handle faucet and restricts the handle so that it can’t reach the hottest setting.
  • Electronic hands-free operation/motion-sensor faucets assist people with disabilities, arthritis sufferers, children and anyone with wet hands.

Once you have chosen a style, examine the construction and finish of the brands and models you’re considering. Generally, a well-made faucet will feel heavy and solid in your hands.

The finish on a faucet affects its appearance, price and maintenance. Faucets are available in a wide range of finishes:

Chrome finishes are available in polished, brushed or matte. Polished chrome is extremely hard, easily cleaned and doesn’t oxidize; brushed or matte chrome has a softer appearance and is just as durable.

Brass fixtures are available in polished, satin, and antique finishes. Look for those with titanium finishes, which are scratch- and fade-resistant.

Baked enamel or epoxy-coated finishes are available in a wide range of colors. Unfortunately, they are prone to chipping and fading over time, and some chemicals can damage their color.

Nickel also is available in polished, brushed or matte finishes and offers a softer tone than hard chrome.