Kitchen Faucet Selection Guide

The kitchen faucet is the workhorse of the food prep and clean-up centers. Among the key selection criteria are finish, faucet type and spout shape.

Over the last several years there has been a dramatic increase in the various technical innovations and finishing options available. Polished chrome is the most popular finish for kitchen fittings and hardware. It is extremely hard and does not oxidize in the air as do most other metals, thereby eliminating the need for regular polishing. Chrome is electrochemically deposited over the nickel-plated base metal. The nickel provides luster, brilliance and corrosion prevention, while the chrome contributes color and tarnish resistance. It is a very bright and durable finish.

A brushed chrome finish is created by using a wire wheel to score the surface of the component part. This can result in a surface with sharp peaks and valleys that does not take the chrome finish quite as well during the plating process because the coating shears away from the peaks and accumulates in the valleys.

A matte chrome finish produces a similar appearance without producing noticeable brush marks or the sharp peaks that are difficult for plating. This process is similar to sand blasting the components with fine glass beads to create a soft matted surface that plates better, to produce a finish as durable as polished chrome.

PVD Finishes

PVD stands for Physical Vapor Deposition, a process NASA developed for protecting metal. The process is used to apply metallic finishes over chromed brass. The “satin nickel” or “polished brass” finish the faucet wears is deposited on and then bonded to the chrome undercoating.

Differences in the alloys in the vapor deposited on the faucet yield different color finishes. PVD prevents corrosion, tarnish and scratches more effectively than the acrylic-coating process it has replaced. Typical finishes available are Brushed Bronze, Dark; Brushed Bronze, Medium; Brushed Nickel, Polished Nickel and Polished Brass.

Types of Kitchen Faucets

The choice of faucets includes these common configurations:

Bridge. A horizontal connector (bridge) joins hot and cold water sources, and the bridge is a prominent design feature above the countertop or the deck. These faucets—by definition—are two-handle.

Single Hole Faucet. A single handle control that may include a side spray. It requires only one installation hole; the spout may or may not swivel.

Gooseneck. Also called a “high arc” faucet, these deck-mounted faucets feature a tall, arching spout that provides generous clearance underneath. The spout usually swivels.

Pot Filler. These are typically wall mounted, jointed faucets behind the range so that pots can be filled on the range top. There are also deck mounted faucets. Utilizing a pot filler without a sink does not provide any receptor for water other than the pot on the stove.

Pro Style. Over-scaled pull-down faucets that bring a restaurant look into a residence. Typically, they have a long hose or an elongated gooseneck with a spray head that offers choices of spray heights. They are not ideal for islands because they are visually intrusive. The oversized faucet may need to have a support bar holding it in-place to the countertop or wall to provide rigidity.

Pull-Out and Pull-Down. A hose or spray head emerges from the faucet spout and the combination pulls down or out, increasing the faucet’s reach. A button, lever or toggle changes the water stream to a spray.

Two-Handle. Before single-lever control faucets arrived 50 years ago, two-handle faucets were the only options. Now they are chosen for their traditional look. Handle choices can strengthen the design message. They are typically deck mounted, but may also be wall mounted.

Wall Mounted. Wall mounted faucets can have a decidedly traditional Old World look or be extremely contemporary.

Spout Shapes

The shape of the spout affects the functionality of the sink. A “goose neck” spout has a high arc and is ideally suited for a family that engages in quantity cooking or a lot of canning.

Spouts are generally available in 10-in., 12-in. and 14-in. lengths. Longer spouts are needed for corner sinks, or if you are installing integral sinks in a countertop in a custom arrangement and separating them a bit farther than is the norm.

Helpful Hints for Specifying Fittings

  • Positioning the Sink Holes. Locate faucet holes along the ledge of an under-mounted sink carefully: they need to clear the sink rim edge. For top-mounted sinks, lay out the hole drilling carefully, with the faucet on-site. Check hole spacing if using a two-handle faucet to ensure clearance.
  • Overall Countertop Depth. Make sure you have enough room behind the sink for some of the oversized “pro,” a more elaborate faucets. Faucets with controls behind the spout are particularly problematic, and might be better placed diagonally to the side of the sink.
  • Extra Thick Countertops. Special planning may be needed for oversized, thick countertops: the shank length of the faucet needs to accommodate the counter thickness.
  • Oversized Sinks. If the faucet does not have a pull-down spray or a side spray, verify that the spout swivel has a wide enough arc to reach all the sink bowls. Two-handle faucets—including bridge-style faucets—may not work with some double bowl sinks.