You spend a lot of time in your kitchen. It’s the place where food is prepared, sure, but it’s also your home’s main gathering place and often its centerpiece. And while many different elements all go into making your kitchen the perfect piece, from the countertops to the range to the appliances, few can make or break the room as quickly as the kitchen faucet.
Often overlooked, the kitchen faucet is both a completely utilitarian piece of hardware and a decorative element. In its most simple form, it serves simply as a tool for washing dishes, filling pots of water, watering the plants, washing your hands – virtually anything you need water for. At the same time, it can also be a very handsome decorative piece, complementing the kitchen design and adding its own flair to the décor.
For those reasons, choosing a kitchen faucet might seem a bit daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be. Sure, there are some technical details that need to be taken into consideration, but they are relatively easy to figure out. You might, honestly, have more trouble deciding on the style and finish you want your kitchen faucet to come in; there are virtually endless possibilities. And while there are many different brands to choose between as well, some are worthier of your consideration than others.
Below, we break down the most important things you need to know about choosing the right kitchen faucet for your home.
First, What Are The Best Kitchen Faucet Brands?
There’s certainly a wide sampling of faucet brands and makers out there, from trusted household names with decades (or even centuries) experience to newcomers just getting in on the action. Our favorite brands include…
Moen’s history goes back to 1937, and they’re easily one of the most-recognizable names in faucets of all kinds. They essentially the single handle faucet design found so commonly on sinks of all kind these days, and they’ve continued that innovation today, creating all different kinds of faucet technologies, from Power Boost, which increases spray power and water pressure without increasing water consumption, to MotionSense, which uses touchless motion sensors to activate the faucet and turn on the water with a simple wave of your hand. Their faucets are high-quality, backed up by a lifetime warranty, and run the gamut of styles from simple $100 fixed faucets to high-end pull-down faucets with motion sensors.
Delta is another very well-known faucet brand with a long history. They also have something for nearly every style, kitchen and price range, from the Old World-style Cassidy line of faucets to the sleek and contemporary Trinsic line. They’ve also got a whole host of cool features to back that all up; their Touch2O sensors provides a touch-activated counterpart to Moen’s MotionSense, while their MagnaTite Docking uses magnets to keep their pull-out faucet heads firmly and adequately docked into place. They also have DiamondSeal, which actually embeds diamonds into the cartridges for an extremely watertight, durable seal.
All Delta’s faucets are built to the highest standards of quality, many of their nicer ones are built from metal, and have Delta’s name behind them.
German faucetmaker Grohe has been making faucets as long as Moen and Delta, and they have all the precision that people have come to expect from German engineering. Most of their faucets are befitting for modern and contemporary homes, thanks to their sleek European style, and can be found populating all tiers of the price spectrum. One Grohe feature we really like are their SilkMove Cartridges, which are ceramic alloy coated with Teflon for a super-smooth, durable, watertight seal. They also have fantastic spot and rust-resistant finishes. We also just really like the way they look.
Kraus doesn’t have all the storied history of its counterparts above but has become very popular brand among homeowners redoing their kitchens over the last few years – mainly due to their affordable price tags. Most Kraus faucets will run you less than couple hundred dollars, while offering style and features that compete with their more expensive rivals. They’ve got everything you’ve come to expect from modern faucets, too, with magnetic docking heads, an All-Brite stain repellent finish, and even ceramic cartridges – formerly reserved for high-end faucets.
A mainstay of the faucet world, Kohler has been around for a long, long time – over 140 years. They offer a wide variety of faucets in all price ranges, but most of their high-end models can be found for significantly less than a similar Delta or Moen faucet, while still offerings tons of features including: Docknetik magnetic docking systems; MasterClean sprayfaces, which make cleaning nearly effortless, and Sensate, their touchless faucet technology. They use come with angled sprayheads that make it easier to spray down dishes and power off grease and grime.
Danze, like Kraus, hasn’t been around nearly as long some of these storied brands. But their faucets have already proven themselves to be high-quality, reliable pieces with function as good as their looks. Many of their basic models are also quite affordable, without skimping out on quality. If you like all the high-tech features these other brands offer (magnetic sprayhead docking, lights illuminating the sink, and touchless sensor technology), Danze has those covered too (with Snapback retraction, Did-U-Wave sensors, and LED lights, respectively). And if you like doing things yourself, Danze has created most of their models to be DIY-ready, for a quick, painless install.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Faucet
Of course, choosing a faucet brand alone isn’t enough to get you started. There’s a host of other things you need to consider, such as faucet style, finish, sink mounting options, flow rate. Here are the most important.
What Style Are You Looking For?
When we say style, we meant two things: the actual decorative style the faucet comes in, and the kind faucet it is (pull-out, pull-down, two-handle, etc).
The style of faucet you decide to go with will most likely depend on your kitchen, and the style it’s decorated in. In terms of aesthetics, if you have a contemporary or modern kitchen, you’ll probably want to opt for something sleek and minimalist, such as a European style faucet. Likewise, if your kitchen has an Old-World or Farmhouse look, you’ll probably want a faucet just a little bit more old-fashioned. Of course, this can simply be a matter of personal taste and preference.
Types of faucets you can choose between include pull down and pull out faucets, where the sprayheads pull out of the faucet on a hose for spraying dishes down and getting more reach; two-handle faucets, which use a handle on each side of the faucet for selecting hot and cold water; touchless or touch-activated faucets, with electronic sensors allowing you to activate the sensor with a wave of your hand instead of touching the handle; and commercial-style faucets (sometimes called Fusion-style), which are modeled after the faucets found in commercial kitchens, and have long, pull-down faucets on a spring, for reaching around the sink and kitchen and spraying down dishes forcefully.
A Word (or Several) About Finishes
That beautiful European-style faucet you’re looking at may look like stainless steel, but it’s most likely not. Instead, it probably consists of a brass faucet body with a shiny stainless-steel finish. (Some cheaper faucets have plastic bodies with metal plating. Avoid those whenever possible). This goes for nearly all faucet styles and finishes.
When it comes to finishes, there’s a lot of them out there. A few common ones you’ll see are:
Chrome: Chrome is a popular finish for kitchen faucets, especially modern and contemporary styles, thanks to its attractive, nearly-reflective shine. The one problem with chrome, however, is that picks up dirt, grease, fingerprints and water spots very easily. Some brands combat this by giving their chrome finishes a special stain-resistant coating. Custom chrome finishes you might see include polished chrome and brushed chrome.
Stainless Steel: Stainless Steel, like Chrome, gives the appearance of something modern and utilitarian, but without all the shine. It’s one of the more popular finishes, for this reason, but like Chrome, can be very difficult to keep clean; it will also come in many different versions of a stain-resistant finish that repels water spots and fingerprints.
Bronze: Bronze isn’t quite as modern a finish as Chrome or Stainless Steel, but it has caught on tremendously in recent years. It’s more fitting on older style homes – those with Victorian and Old-World décor come to mind – and lends a classy, sophisticated look. And when it comes to having different variations on the same finish, Bronze outdoes everyone else; you’ll see finishes called Oiled Bronze, Brushed Bronze, Polished Bronze, Mediterranean Bronze, Venetian Bronze, Champagne Bronze, just to name a few.
Black (And White): Black and white aren’t nearly as popular options for faucet finishes, but you still find an assortment out there (a lot more matte black than you will white). While not the first color to come to mind when you think of kitchen faucet finishes, they tend to work well in contemporary kitchens, complemented by black countertops and stainless-steel appliances. They’ll generally be a Matte color, as opposed to have a shine or reflection.
Other finishes you’ll probably see are Nickel, Brushed Nickel, which are extremely durable, and sometimes even Gold.
Other Things You Need To Consider
Flow Rate and Water Pressure
Flow rate is an important consideration. Nothing is worse and more inconvenient than a faucet where the water comes out slowly and without any force, making everyday tasks seem like they take ages. Most quality faucets will have a flow rate of 1.8 gpm, which isn’t anything fancy but is enough for most everyday uses. Ideally, if conserving water isn’t a concern, you’d find one with a flow rate of 2 to 2.2 gpm. Anything less than 1.5-1.8 gpm – stay clear.
As mentioned, that stainless steel finish might look great, but that’s really a brass or even plastic faucet underneath. Brass is the most common and usually the best, though you will occasionally see faucets made of different alloys and metals. It’s far more durable than plastic and will last much longer; plastic parts tend to come loose and spring leaks, among being wholly unsturdy.
Ceramic disc valves are best. Ceramic valves give the tightest seal, the smoothest operation, and the longest-lasting, most durable build. Other kinds of valves include compression valves, which are generally much cheaper and have been around the longest, but use rubber washers that wear out much faster, leak, and are generally quite unreliable. You’ll also likely see ball valves, which work with washer-less faucets. They also don’t last as long, eventually corroding and leaking, which necessitates replacing the entire faucet, or at least the handle. Finally, there are cartridge valves, some of which are made from ceramic and use a moveable stem cartridge that moves up and down when the handle is turned, controlling the water flow. If a leak springs up, you simply replace the entire cartridge with a new one, making them very easy to maintain.
Installing any faucet necessitates holes in the sink and countertop for it to fit into. If you have a single-handle faucet with no other parts, it will likely fit into a one-hole sink. But if you have multiple handles, a side sprayer or soap dispenser, you’ll need more mounting holes. Some faucets require two, three and even four mounting holes in the sink.
Many faucets that only require one hole come with optional mounting plates, also called an escutcheon, which fits over the other holes in the countertop and allows you to install your one-hole faucet easily and seamlessly.
Some Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
Moving on from finishes, it time to start finding the right style faucet for your home. To do this, you’ll probably need to ask yourself a few of these questions…
Is It Easy To Clean?
Between fingerprints, grease, dirt on your hands and water spots, faucets tend to pick up a lot grime, and your otherwise reflective stainless or chrome piece ends up looking like your dirty windshield after even just a few days of heavy use. That’s why so many brands now equip their faucets with stain and spot-resistant finishes, which resist water spots and grease from building up, and are easy to clean; they often require no more than a quick wipe with a rag or wet paper towel to go back to looking brand new and shiny.
Also, pay attention to the sprayface, where the water actually comes out of the faucet. Minerals in water, such as calcium and limestone, tend to build up on them over time, which is unsightly but can also eventually result in clogging. Many brands now include specially-designed, easy to clean sprayface surfaces made of rubber that resist mineral buildup and can be wiped clean with just your finger, or maybe a wet rag.
What Spray Modes Does It Have? Is There An Aerator?
Ideally, you want a faucet with at least two spray modes – a high-powered jet or spray, that is helpful when cleaning dishes and powering grime and food of surfaces, and a stream mode, which is used for more general purposes. Also make sure the stream mode is aerated; that is, the faucet is equipped with an aerator that mix air into the water stream. This does two things. First, it prevents the water from splashing, reducing the volume of water coming out and splitting into two streams. Second, it gives the appearance of increased water pressure, by creating a small area of high pressure behind the aerator, increasing the water’s speed as it comes out of the faucet.
Technical explanations aside, make sure your faucet has an aerator, and can toggle between spray modes with a button on the sprayhead.
How Is The Sprayhead? The Hose?
Everybody who has ever used a cheap faucet knows how obnoxious a weak, drooping sprayhead and hose are. They just hang there like a dead fish, and you have to fight the hose to get it to retract it back into the sprayhead. And when you do, the spraywand won’t stay docked, and falls right out.
For that reason, you’ll want to choose a faucet with a high-quality, snappy sprayhead that has some tension when you pull it out, retracts easily and smoothly, and docks right back in place firmly – and stays there. Many brands now include counterweights to help with this. And whenever you find one, a stainless-steel hose can be a huge improvement over cheap plastic tubes.
Is It Easy To Install? Can you DIY It?
Finally, whatever faucet you pick, know if you want to install it yourself or hire a professional to take care of that for you. Most faucets are now designed to be easily installed by almost anybody, without even the slightest bit of DIY-savvy. They often have quick-install system that make things simple, requiring no tools. All you have to do is slide the faucet in place, screw on the included bolts or brackets, attach the water line, and tighten the pipe fittings. It’s that easy. If your sink has more holes than your faucet requires, you may need to use an optional mounting plate or escutcheon, but these are just as easy to figure out.