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No one thinks too hard about their kitchen faucet—until it’s time to spend real money on a new one. Whether you’re installing a whole new kitchen or just looking to update around the edges by replacing your existing faucet (or your faucet betrayed you and stopped working properly), you’ve suddenly realized there are many more decisions involved in choosing a kitchen faucet than you might have imagined.

Choosing the right faucet for your kitchen is an important decision. Not only is the faucet front-and-center in your design, making its look a crucial aspect of any remodel, but it’s also something you’re probably going to touch and use multiple times every single day. The wrong choice will doom you to that tiny wince of disappointment every time you wash a dish—or actually diminish your kitchen’s usability and efficiency. Don’t worry, though: Choosing the right kitchen faucet isn’t as hard as it might initially appear.


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Before you start thinking about the style and function of your faucet you should take some measurements. Faucets aren’t a generic fixture where one size fits all—the dimensions of your kitchen will have to be factored into your decision.

First, measure your sink—width, height, and depth. Measure from the center of the faucet mount (typically one or more holes right behind your sink, but see below for more possibilities) to the center of the sink. You’ll want to make sure your faucet doesn’t extend farther than that, or you’ll have a hard time not spraying water all over your floors.

Measure from the back edge of the sink to the wall. Unless you’re going with a wall-mounted faucet, you need to check that the faucet you select will fit in that space without having its movement inhibited. Then measure from the countertop to the bottom of the cabinets above (if there are any). Faucets can range from pretty short to very, very tall, so you’ll want to know just how tall you manage.

  • Pro tip: If you’re installing a counter-mounted faucet, add a few inches to this measurement, because you might need extra vertical inches when installing the faucet. It will have to be lifted up so its stem can be placed into the hole drilled for it. If your upper cabinet doesn’t allow enough room to manipulate the faucet into place, you’ll have a problem.

Finally, if replacing an existing faucet, look at how it’s installed. Count the number of holes you’re dealing with (typically ranging from one to five) and measure their diameter. It’s possible to go from a faucet that uses more holes to one that uses fewer—and it’s possible to drill new holes if you want to reverse that—but that should be part of the plan, not a sudden surprise when you unpack your new faucet and start installing it.

Now that you know the basic dimensions you’re dealing with, you can think about the style of faucet that defines you as a person.


When it comes to kitchen faucets, there are a range of basic styles to choose from. There’s some overlap here, and plenty of variations, so the answer to the question of how many styles of kitchen faucet there are will vary depending on who you’re asking, but the basics boil down to:

  • Single-handle. Yup, this has exactly one handle. You move it horizontally and vertically to adjust pressure and the mix of hot and cold water. These are ideal for small spaces (especially limited counter space, since they can be installed in a single hole). The downside is that you will never figure out how to balance the hot and cold water properly.

  • Double-handle. If you have a bit more room or just like the look, a faucet with two handles will give you more precise control over the temperature mix. These can require anywhere from one to three holes.

  • Bridge. A bridge faucet is a double-handle faucet with the two handles connected to the center spout in a kind of upside-down “T” configuration. They require one to three holes and are usually best for larger sinks.

  • Wall. A wall-mounted faucet pops out of the wall in front of the sink. These require plumbing to be run up into the wall and aren’t easy to add to an existing kitchen—you’ll have to open up the wall and hire a plumber. But if you have a small counter or an undermount sink that prevents you from drilling holes into your countertop, a wall-mounted faucet is the right choice.

It comes down to how much space you have and how important it is to control the temperature of your water. Small space and don’t care? A single-handle will work best. Big sink and need to get within three degrees of your target temp? A double-handle or bridge-style faucet is best.


Once you know the basic style you want, it’s time to get down to the details:

  • Holes. As mentioned above, unless you’re installing a wall-mounted model, most faucets require anywhere from one to five holes drilled into the counter. There’s some flexibility here—you can buy deck (aka escutcheon) plates (some faucets come with deck plates provided) that cover up holes you don’t need with your new faucet. You can also buy bridge-style and double-handle faucets that only need one or two holes, despite having separate hot and cold taps. And if you’re willing, you can drill additional holes into your counter to accommodate a different style of faucet. But the easiest thing to do will always be to choose a faucet that uses the same number of holes as your existing one.

    If you have more than one hole, you can also consider installing a faucet with a separate sprayer or a soap dispenser—or both.

  • Spout. The spout is where the water comes out, and there are a few considerations:

    • Straight. A straight spout just out at an upward angle, which allows it to fit under low cabinets or other situations where there isn’t much clearance. These can either swivel from side to side or be stationary.

    • Arched. You might see these referred to as “goosenecked” faucets; the spout curves down like the handle of an upside-down umbrella. These usually require more vertical space. Additionally, look back at your measurements to make sure the arch doesn’t come out too far—it should be positioned over the center of the sink. There are also versions of the arched spout referred to as “pre-rinse” or “professional” faucets—these are the kind with the spring coils and fancy extras designed for a commercial kitchen. They are designed to have a high flow rate to blast dirty dishes or rinse off items during food prep. These can look cool in your non-professional kitchen (and be useful if you cook a lot), but also require more vertical space.

    • Vessel. A vessel-style faucet is designed to work with vessel sinks. They tend to be taller with a very short spout, and won’t work well with a traditional or undermount sink.

  • Sprayer. These days most faucets will include a sprayer feature. This can be either a separate piece (requiring its own hole in the counter), or incorporated into the spout in one of two ways:

    • Pull-down sprayers are typically found on arched spouts. You pull down to use them.

    • Pull-out sprayers are usually used with straight spouts. You pull them out, towards you, to use them.

  • Valves. The way a faucet controls the flow of water matters; there are four fundamental valve designs, each with their own pros and cons:

    • Ball. A ball faucet has a single handle on top that rotates a ball-shaped valve to open or close the hot and cold water supply. These tend to be the most affordable, but also the most leak-prone.

    • Cartridge. These faucets house the valve assembly inside a replaceable cartridge. That makes them relative easy to repair although your mileage will vary on how long the cartridge lasts, as they are susceptible to hard-water buildup.

    • Compression. This is old-school: You turn the handle and washers open and closed to control water flow (you still see these commonly on hose spigots). They tend to leak, but are usually pretty easy to fix with a new washer.

    • Ceramic disc. The newest valve technology in use, ceramic valves are not prone to leaks and last longer than other valves. This makes them generally the best choice.


There are some other considerations when you’re looking for a faucet that you should consider:

  • Filters. Some faucets have a built-in water filtering feature that lets you get clean, purified water directly from the tap.

  • Lighting. Some kitchen faucets have LED lighting capabilities, which can be helpful when using the faucet in low-light situations. Some LED faucets also change the color of the LED light based on the temperature of the water, giving you a visual clue whether you’re about to put your hands in lava or a glacier.

  • Touch/Touchless. Just like everything else these days, you can buy “smart” faucets with varying degrees of, er, smart. The features typically include the ability to turn on your faucet either by tapping it, via motion sensing, or even voice activation. This can be a great feature if you routinely have dirty, grimy hands and don’t want to get your shiny faucet dirty, or if you just like bossing your kitchen around.

Finally, consider how you’ll use your faucet. If you routinely cook elaborate meals, a high arch with touchless activation may make the most sense. Consider your kitchen to be the place where you store your soda in the fridge and your shoes in the oven? A simple straight faucet might suffice. And, of course, you can also simply buy a faucet because it looks cool.

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