Choosing Bathroom Sink Faucets

The most common types of bathroom sink faucets include single-handle, 4-in. center set and widespread.

Single-handle controls are located above the spout or to the side of the spout. Single-handle bathroom faucets are available with different length spouts. Therefore, be sure you specify the proper length for the planned use. Longer spouts are required when used in conjunction with vessel sinks.

The control is turned either left or right, pulled up or down, or pushed front to back. These controls are sometimes confusing to individuals not familiar with their operation.

When evaluating the function of single-handle faucets — at the lavatory or any other fixture — there are two key factors: the faucet’s comfort zone swing and the volume control swing or lift. The typical faucet must be adjusted for both of these factors with use. Some faucets may be turned off leaving the control in a memory position. This allows the user to leave the faucet preset at a comfortable temperature setting for the next use.

Four-Inch Center Set

Small faucets are available where the spout and two separate handles require three holes and are laced along a single escutcheon plate. The drilling is generally 4 in. on center for this type of faucet. Although this is generally an economical faucet because the handles are very close to the spout, it may be difficult to clean. Unless it has lever handles, some people may also find it difficult to use.

Widespread Faucet Set

Some decorative faucets eliminate the escutcheon plate and separately mount the spout and two handles. The spacing is flexible and may be anywhere from 8 in. to 12 in.

These faucets are usually more attractive and are easier to use and to clean. Lavatories with a standard platform mounting offer an 8-in. spread. Lavatories which are designed to be used with counter-mounted faucets can feature a spread from 6 in. to 12 in.

Comfort Zone

Human beings are comfortable using water that ranges from 95° F to 105° F (35° C to 40.5° C). The distance of the fitting swing within this comfort zone determines how much adjustability is offered to the user. The total distance of travel from cold to hot should be as great as possible. A handle with a 120-degree arc from the hottest setting to the coldest, and with a 40-degree arc within the comfort zone from 95° F to 105° F (35° C to 40.5° C) is a functional, safe fitting design.

Volume Control

Most single-handle faucets have a 15-degree lift from the off to the fully on position. Some faucets offer a 20-degree lift. This lift range starts with the valve in a closed position and at the top of the scale the valve is completely open. The ideal faucet design allows the water flow rate to be increased gradually as the faucet valve is opened with a lift/twist/turn action.

The water flow should begin at 1 degree off the lift and continue in a gradual increase that is in proportion with the degree of movement. This type of fine-tuning offers the user a faucet that is safe and easy to use. Unfortunately, some single-handle faucet designs do not allow the water flow to begin until the faucet reaches approximately 7 degrees of the movement. With this type of fitting, the range of control for the user is dramatically decreased.

Electronically Controlled

One of the newest innovations in plumbing fittings is the electronic water control. There are two versions: proximity and touch pad.

Commercial use of proximity products is widely accepted. For example, public restroom lavatory faucets that deliver water at a set temperature and volume are activated when the user’s hands are placed underneath the spout or as the individual approaches the lavatory. This type of operation is not as successful residentially because clients want to be able to control the on/off capability, the water temperature as well as the volume of the water flow. Consequently, touch pad controls are more popular residentially.

Touch pad controls contain several functions: hot and cold water variations; incremental volume increases; a digital readout; and memorizing the ideal setting of temperature and flow rate for up to five persons. These controls may be installed flush with the countertop or as part of a faucet.

Bathtub fittings include the valve, the spout and (as a separate component) a waste/over-flow. A separate hand-held personal shower may also be included in the mix for the bathtub.

In addition to making sure the supply line, valve and spout are correctly sized to fill the bathtub in a reasonable amount of time, be sure the spout and valves can be properly connected on the fixture rim or on the bathtub deck.

Most deck-mounted fittings will require connection from underneath the finished deck. This means you must also plan access for future servicing. Some manufacturers now provide “quick connect” systems which allow you to attach the deck-mounted spout more easily than in the past.

Make sure the overall deck ledge depth is less than the overall dimension of the spout outlet. Alternatively, the spout might actually be part of the bathtub.

The bathtub may also serve as a combination shower. In this installation, the fittings include the bathtub filler/spout, a diverter valve that allows the water to be directed down to the bathtub spout or up to the showerhead and the showerhead itself.

These three elements are typically installed on a common wall in a straight line. However, installations can be more elaborate with the addition of a hand shower.