By John Riha
In any bathroom overhaul, the faucets are the crown jewels. Available in a spectacular array of shapes and finishes, even modestly priced faucets present worlds of possibility. Add in the options for interactivity and water conservation, and today's bathroom faucets offer homeowners every convenience.
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, where are the faucet opening. You'll also need to consider which features you want, as well as how much faucet your budget will allow. 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—often a single lever—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.
The good news: In their zeal to bring new products to market, fixture manufacturers have created more finish options than Lady Gaga has costumes. Thanks to modern protective clear-coat sealers, even not-so-expensive faucets can boast of lifetime warranties for their finishes.
The bad news: You'll have to choose from a mind-scrambling cornucopia of possibilities that 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.
Let's not overlook gold, which today might be considered an investment as well as a decorative preference.
If the choices give you sensory overload, try these decision-making tips:
- Forget the metal and concentrate on the look. 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