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The Bathroom Faucet Buyer Guide

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Does your bathroom still have a 1980s brass faucet with plastic handles? Is it rusty or leaking (or worse, both)? Then it’s time for an upgrade. We created this buyer guide to ensure you choose the best faucet for your home that will last for years. Read below to learn more.

The Basics

Bathroom faucets are faucets specifically made to fulfill the needs of the bathroom. Stationary and without a swivel or pull-down spout, bathroom faucets accomplish all of their requirements with just the turn of a handle.

Installation Type

Bathroom faucets need to fit into or coordinate with bathroom sinks. Due to this, bathroom faucets are available in several different installation types. If you will be keeping your existing sink and simply upgrading your faucet, you will need to choose a faucet that has the same number of faucet holes as the sink. During a total bathroom renovation, however, you have the option of choosing the faucet first and then selecting a sink that matches your faucet. Either way, your faucet installation type should be classified under one of the following options:

Widespread

Widespread bathroom faucets are faucets where the handles are separate from the spout. Widespread faucets handles are usually 8 inches apart from each other and are connected to the spout below the sink by pipes and tubes. The spread of the handles makes them easy to clean because you can reach the entire handle and spout; however, the accumulation of water between the handles is a common complaint.

A close up of a chrome faucet on a granite countertop sink

Mini-Widespread

Mini-widespread faucets are the little sister of widespread faucets. The handles of mini-widespread faucets are usually 4 inches apart from one another and the spout and handles connect beneath the sink in a single unit. Mini-widespread faucets tend to be low profile, making them a fantastic option for those that would like the look of a widespread faucet but have a shelf or medicine cabinet hanging within a few inches of the faucet, eliminating the option for a widespread.

A close up of a chrome mini-widespread bathroom faucet on a porcelain sink

Centerset

Centerset faucets include the faucet spout and handles in one compact unit. Although the spout and handles are in one unit, centerset faucets still require 3 faucet holes. These faucets can be slightly hard to clean because the handles are so close to the spout, leaving small nooks and crevices for dirt and grime to form.

A close up of an oil rubbed bronze bathroom faucet on a marble countertop with an orange wall behind it

Single Hole

Single hole faucets combine the spout and handle into one unit. Single hole faucets, also known as single handle faucets, leave more countertop space for toiletries and are easy to clean. While most single hole faucets have a modern aesthetic and are very streamlined, the increased demand for single hole faucets means there are now many traditional and contemporary options on the market as well.  Tall single hole faucets are often paired with countertop and vessel sinks, and are commonly called vessel faucets.

Finish

The material on the outer layer of the faucet, or the finish, is the first thing homeowners look for when choosing a faucet. Luckily, bathroom faucets come in a variety of finishes, allowing you to choose a faucet that matches the other fixtures in the bathroom. Each finish ages differently and requires a range of maintenance.

Chrome

Perhaps the most common bathroom faucet finish, chrome is a universal neutral that works with a variety of décor aesthetics. Chrome also shines where light hits it to add a little sparkle to the bathroom without overpowering. Because of its shiny surface, chrome shows fingerprints and water spots very easily. Like with stainless steel refrigerators, many homeowners complain that they feel they must constantly wipe the fingerprints off their faucet. This level of maintenance should be a consideration when it comes time to make a purchase.

A close up of a chrome bathroom faucet on a marble countertop

Brushed Nickel

A close second to chrome in terms of popularity, brushed nickel is a more muted silver metal. The nickel receives a special treatment to form a brushed appearance on the surface of the faucet, which in turn disguises most water spots and finger prints. Therefore, brushed nickel bathroom faucets require very little maintenance.

A close up of a bathroom faucet with the water flowing

Brass

Designers and homeowners alike a bringing brass back into the bathroom, but in a much more muted way. Muted brass finishes are a great contrast to marble and other stone countertops. Brass can also add a splash of color to a white bathroom. Just like brushed nickel, non-shiny brass hides fingerprints easily for less cleaning. While polished brass fixtures may best be left in the past, it could be time to embrace muted, unpolished brass in your home.

A bathroom countertop with two sinks, two brass faucets, marble countertops, and white subway tile backslash

Oil Rubbed Bronze

Oil rubbed bronze is a dark finish that is not quite black and not quite brown. This finish is another neutral that goes with everything, making it a popular choice for homeowners that are worried about having to replace their fixtures as their design tastes change. Toothpaste and soap gunk are very easy to see on oil rubbed bronze faucets; however, fingerprint marks are non-existent.

A centerset, oil rubbed bronze bathroom faucet with a stone backsplash behind it

Other

Bathroom faucets are also available in many other finishes including copper, white, and satin black. Whatever your design style, there is sure to be a finish to match.

Features

After choosing your preferred installation type and finish, consider these additional features before selecting a bathroom faucet.

It’s Electric

Mainly used in commercial applications, electronic bathroom faucets can be installed in the home as well. Electronic faucets contain sensors that know when hands are nearby, triggering the water on and off. Businesses with large public restrooms prefer electronic faucets because they reduce the amount of water used and prevent a faucet from being left on for long amounts of time. This same principle can also be applied in the home in a child’s restroom. Small hands that can’t reach the faucet handle yet will also benefit from an electronic bathroom faucet. Plus, you reduce your risk of a distracted child (or adult) leaving the water running.

A hand below a electronic faucet

Select Your Handles

Completely transform the look of your faucet by switching up the faucet handles. Lever or bar handles, cross handles, even handles with crystals on top, the choice is yours! Remember this if you find a faucet you prefer but not the handles; handles can be bought separately.

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Planet Friendly

Two common features of bathroom faucets are also great for the environment.

EPA WaterSense Certified or low-flow faucets use a maximum of 1.5 gallons of water per minute. Low-flow faucets have special filters on the faucet spout that allows the faucet to be low-flow without sacrificing performance. As the standard bathroom faucet currently uses 2.2 gallons of water per minute, the 30% decrease in water usage not only helps the planet, but your water bill as well.

Low-lead is another important feature to look for in a faucet. In faucets made prior to 1997, lead was able to leach into the water, which would then be consumed by anyone that would drink the water. Because consuming lead is a health hazard, now all faucets  are federally regulated to reduce the amount of lead inside. Low-lead compliant faucets have less than .25% total lead content.

We hope this buyer guide has helped you choose the best faucet for your bathroom. Ready to shop? Explore bathroom faucets on SUPPLY.com today.

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