Buying Guide

Leaky faucets should now be a thing of the past with quality valves and durable finishes now common on all but the cheapest products. Most faucets also come with warranties that cover leaks and stains. In our experience we see few performance differences between brands, and our advice is based on finish. 

The exterior of some faucets are bombarded with charged metal atoms that chemically bond to the surface of the base metal in a process referred to as physical vapor deposition, or PVD. Different metals provide for different finishes, including nickel and bronze. PVD finishes resisted the best attempts at scratching, although corrosives like drain cleaner can stain them. 

Chrome, another popular finish, is durable but can be scratched with a heavy-duty scouring pad. Use common sense when cleaning faucets and they will stay scratch and stain free. 

Single-handle pullout faucets are presently the fastest-growing style, and combine a spray head with a spout for convenience and flexibility. Of course our findings are applicable to other faucet designs as well.

Bronze finishes aren’t the same

Bronze offers an alternative to the shiny metal look. Note though that without the PVD finish these offer the least resistant finish.

Side handles are harder to use

In our experience single-handle faucets are easier to use. Those with a side-mounted handle aren’t as easy, especially with dirty hands when you’re trying to keep the handle clean. There’s also less clearance between this type of handle and the backsplash, and knuckles can get banged when turning on the hot water.

Count holes

Most sinks come with mounting holes drilled for faucets. Note that if you’re not changing sinks, you’ll need to match what you have or get a base plate to cover extra holes. The base plate, which is sometimes included, can also be used to cover holes in a countertop if that’s where your faucet will be installed. It is not recommended to drill additional holes in an existing sink or countertop.

Consider spout styles and function

Straight-spout models are compact and often inexpensive, but it can be necessary to move the faucet to fit a big sink under it. Gooseneck models have higher clearances but can splash if the sink is shallow. No matter what type you might select, ensure the faucet head swings enough to reach the entire sink, especially with wide or double-bowl sinks. Remember to keep the faucet proportional – a large sink usually looks odd with a small faucet, and vice versa.

Think about installation and repair

Replacing a faucet and a sink together is easier because one can install the faucet in the sink or counter before the sink is put in it’s final place. Fittings able to be tightened with a screwdriver also speed up installation. Long water-supply hoses help with connections lower in the sink cabinet, where tools are easier to use. Even though most faucets are guaranteed not to leak, if one does, the manufacturer will usually provide only the replacement part, leaving you to install it.

Types of faucets

There exists two main types of faucets. Remember that if you are replacing an older faucet, your choice is usually limited to the configuration of the current sink and/or counter. If you are installing a new sink and faucet at the same time, these are the types of faucets to consider.


These are the traditional setup, with separate hot and cold handles to the left and right of the faucet.


Single-lever faucets are easier to use and install than two separate side-mounted handles. They take up less counter space, and they’re more convenient if your hands aren’t clean and you’re trying not to dirty the handle.


They may not allow quite as precise temperature adjustments as do two side-mounted handles.

Side-mounted handles

These are the traditional setup, with separate hot and cold handles to the left and right of the faucet.


Two handles usually allow for slightly more precise temperature adjustments than a single lever.


A faucet with side-mounted handles is harder to install. With less clearance from the backsplash, one is more likely to bang the knuckles in turning the handle. And side-mounted handles are less convenient if your hands aren’t clean and you’re trying not to dirty the handles.