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Kitchen Faucet Buying Guide

This comprehensive guide is a great place to research your next kitchen faucet. It will help you select one with the stylistic details and practical advantages you want for your kitchen. It includes pros & cons for each faucet type, faucet prices and much more.

kitchen faucets

Reasons to Update the Faucet when Remodeling

If your current faucet leaks, shows wear or rust spots, replacing it is an obvious choice. However, even when it still looks okay and functions reasonably well, the faucet might not be a good fit for your remodeled kitchen.

  • The faucet isn’t the right style: A faucet that goes with any kitchen style is a very dull faucet indeed, and there are few of them anymore. Today’s faucets exude character and style, so it makes sense to select a new one that enhances the overall kitchen design you’re working to achieve.
  • The faucet isn’t the right height: Are you tired of not being able to fill large pots in the sink because the spout isn’t high enough? Maybe your faucet spout is too high for the new deep sink you’ve installed, and there’s too much splashing. Faucet height plays a significant role in how it functions, so you want a good sink and faucet fit.
  • You want features your current faucet doesn’t offer: Perhaps you’re sold on a pull-down head for spraying off dishes or a touchless faucet because you frequently get your hands messy in food preparation. The faucet will be used dozens of times per day, so having the features that give you the functionality you desire will reduce hassle and make your kitchen work easier.

Faucet Style Choices with Pros & Cons of Each

There are eight common kitchen faucet styles to consider. Here is an overview of each including the advantages and disadvantages for each faucet type. See kitchen faucet prices for each type in the guide for Kitchen Faucet Prices.

Pull Down and Pull Out Kitchen Faucets

A spray function makes rinsing dishes and cleaning out the sink after use so much easier. A spray head on the faucet spout is within closer reach than one on the sink deck or countertop. Pull down faucets have an arched spout; pull-out faucets typically have either a vertical spout or one extending upward at a 45-degree angle. The advantage of pull-down vs. pull-out faucets is ergonomics. Most feel they are easier to use.

Most pull down or pull out faucets give you the option of switching from standard water flow to spray with the push of a button or lever. Pull out faucet spouts tend to be shorter than pull down faucets, a point to keep in mind as you put your kitchen elements together.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pull Down Kitchen Faucets

Let’s look at the pros and cons of these faucets, beginning with the reasons that they are so popular.

Pull down / pull out faucet advantages:

  • Many styles, finishes and heights are available
  • Rinsing dishes, the sink or the puppy is very easy
  • Splashing can be reduced because the head is closer to the item being rinsed
  • Pots and pans that are not in the sink can be filled using the hose
  • Some include magnets that help with docking the spray head on the spout

There are a few potential drawbacks too.

Pull-out / pull-down faucet disadvantages:

  • Some hoses are difficult to get back into the spout
  • Some heads are difficult to reattach to the spout
  • If not weighted properly, the spout head might dangle
  • Pull down hoses are sometimes shorter than pull out faucet hoses
  • It can be annoying and/or cause splashing if the head is left on high-pressure spray and you turn on the faucet expecting normal water flow

Most of the cons are specific to faucet models rather than applying to the faucet style as a whole. If possible, try out each faucet to get a feel for how it performs before you purchase one.

With pull out and pull down faucets, you really do get what you pay for. Opting for higher quality (and at a higher price) will help prevent problems. See the guide for pull out faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Wall Mount Kitchen Faucets

These faucets provide a distinctively different look than faucets mounted on the sink or protruding through the countertop. The plumbing is installed inside the wall before mounting the faucet. Wall-mounted faucets are especially popular with undermount sinks and farmhouse/apron sinks. Most are two-handle design, though a few single-handle models give you an option. An attractive backsplash and wall mounted faucet combination can really dazzle!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wall Mount Kitchen Faucets

While these faucets can be very attractive, they aren’t for everyone. Here are wall mount faucet pros and cons to consider.

Wall mount kitchen faucet advantages:

  • They are available in many styles and finishes, so you’ll have attractive choices for your kitchen design
  • Single-handle and double-handle units are produced
  • Models with pull-down spouts or separate sprayers enhance convenience
  • Cleaning the sink deck or countertop behind the sink is easier when a faucet isn’t mounted on it

The possible problems should be kept in mind too.

Wall mount kitchen faucet disadvantages:

  • Running plumbing into the wall is invasive and costly if you weren’t planning to tear out the drywall in the remodeling process
  • Pipes in an exterior wall are more susceptible to freezing in cold climates (and are not allowed in the building codes of many northern cities and counties)
  • Leaks inside a wall can cause extensive damage and require more invasive measures to repair
  • You might have to reach further for the faucet handles
  • Cheaper models with shorter spouts are difficult to use

See the guide for wall mount faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Single Hole Kitchen Faucets

Known for their lithe design, single-hole kitchen faucets feature hot and cold connections at the bottom of the spout with the valves in the body. Single handle styles are most common, but two-handle single-hole faucets are available too. While contemporary and modern designs are most common, you’ll find a few traditional looks to consider as well.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Single Hole Faucets

You might love them or leave them alone after reading these single-hole faucet pros and cons.

Single hole kitchen faucet advantages:

  • The single hole requires less installation hassle and time, an excellent choice for undermount sinks with the faucet installed through the countertop
  • Most feature minimalist design that looks great in a European, contemporary, modern or transitional kitchen
  • There is less faucet base to clean around
  • You’ll find options for style, finish, spout design, handles and features, though not as many as for two-hole faucets
  • Installation is easier than installing a wall mount faucet

Single hole kitchen faucet disadvantages:

  • The minimalist style doesn’t fit traditional and country kitchen design as well as it goes with modern looks
  • Most are single-handle faucets, and getting the precise temperature and flow rate you want from some single-handle models can be tricky

See the guide for single faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Double Hole Kitchen Faucets

Faucets that require separate holes for the cold and hot water lines remain the most common type with the widest number of styles and features.

Note: A double hole or two-hole faucet is not synonymous with a double handle faucet. Holes and handles are separate issues. A single-hole faucet can have two handles; a double hole faucet can have just one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Two Hole Kitchen Faucets

Here is why these are the most popular faucets and also why one might not be the right choice for your new kitchen.

Double hole kitchen faucet advantages:

  • They’re produced in the greatest range of styles, finishes, spout shapes, handle designs and features
  • Faucets are available to suit any kitchen style from very traditional to ultramodern
  • You’ll find many choices in your price range
  • They’re easy to install compared to a wall mount faucet

Double hole kitchen faucet disadvantages:

  • The larger faucet platform takes up more space on the sink deck or countertop
  • Cleaning behind the faucet is more difficult than cleaning behind single-hole models or beneath wall mount faucets

See the guide for double faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Bridge Kitchen Faucets

This faucet design will appeal to some right away while turning others off because they have quite a different look than what most of us are used to.

Most bridge faucets are double-hole kitchen faucets, though three holes are required for some. Rather than the hot and cold lines coming together in housing at the base of the faucet or beneath the countertop, they connect in an elevated length known as the bridge. The spout extends up and/or out from the bridge.

That description may be overly complicated; take one look at a bridge kitchen faucet, and you’ll understand the name. Bridge faucets are a favorite choice for period kitchen designs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bridge Kitchen Faucets

These bridge faucet pros and cons are ideal for comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the kitchen faucet types still in the running for your project.

Bridge faucet advantages:

  • The look is unique, favoring more traditional and period styles
  • You’ll find a good range of choices for finish and handle design
  • All are two-handle faucets, so mixing the flow and temperature of the water with precision is easier than with a single-handle faucet
  • They look good with topmount and undermount sinks

Bridge faucet disadvantages:

  • The two-handle design takes a bit more work than a single-handle faucet and isn’t as ergonomic
  • Operating two separate handles can be difficult for those with disabilities or arthritis
  • The risk of being scalded by turning on only the hot handle is slightly higher than with single-handle designs
  • The appearance isn’t a good fit for contemporary and modern styles

See the guide for bridge faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Waterfall Kitchen Faucets

One of the more elegant options, waterfall faucets allow water to cascade out of the spout in a unique manner. Most feature a flat spout that creates the waterfall effect, and various widths increase or diminish the look. Some are equipped with a color LED light that gives the water a tinted glow as it flows from the tap.

There aren’t hard and fast rules regarding what constitutes a waterfall design. Some have spouts that are not much wider than standard spouts, while others are open and more than an inch across.

Waterfall faucets with a broad platform at the top of the spout that water runs off with little pressure aren’t designed for kitchen use.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Waterfall Kitchen Faucets

While not necessarily more expensive than other types, a waterfall faucet bring a luxurious ambiance to the kitchen. Here are the pros and cons of waterfall kitchen faucets.

Advantages of waterfall kitchen faucets:

  • They are produced in a pleasing spectrum of finishes, spout style and handle design
  • Options include pull-down design for rinsing away food or soap and cleaning the sink
  • LED colored lights in some models enhance the experience of using the faucet
  • You have your choice of single-handle and dual-handle, single-hole and two-hole faucets
  • They’re suitable for undermount, topmount and farmhouse or apron sinks
  • They’re available in most price ranges

Disadvantages of waterfall kitchen faucets

  • Those with broad spouts might lack sufficient water pressure for effective rinsing of dishes, vegetables or the sink
  • Faucets with lights require a battery that needs to be changed periodically, and some might find this a hassle

See the guide for waterfall faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Vessel Sink Kitchen Faucets

This is a fairly narrow niche, since most homeowners don’t prefer a vessel sink as their primary kitchen sink. However, if you have a prep sink in your kitchen or simply don’t do much cooking, a vessel sink and faucet can be an option.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Vessel Kitchen Faucet

Strong on looks but poor on practicality, here are the pros and cons of vessel faucets.

Advantages of a vessel kitchen faucet:

  • Most have elegant, single-body design
  • There are several finish options to go with your kitchen style
  • Most are single-handle faucets, so turning them on an off is quick and easy

Disadvantages of a vessel kitchen faucet:

  • Most are quite short, don’t swivel and have little reach, so they’re not adequate for many functions you want in a kitchen faucet
  • Spray heads are not available on the vast majority of these faucets
  • In addition to the faucet, a vessel sink isn’t suitable for washing heavy pots and pans and doesn’t have the capacity required for an oft-used kitchen sink

See the guide for vessel faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Touchless Kitchen Faucets

These newer faucet types contain sensors to activate water flow. They are also called sensor faucets or hands-free faucets. Those with a handle are also called dual control faucets because you can use the sensor or handle to activate them.

Some have motion sensors in more than one location. For example, there might be one on top of the arched spout, useful for activating the faucet to fill a pot. The second sensor might be on the spout riser to be activated when you place your hands beneath the spout. The sensors are powered by either batteries or AC plug-in power.

Most faucets do have handles that can be used to adjust the water flow and temperature. When the faucet is turned off, the setting is saved.

A variation of the hands-free approach is found in faucets that are activated by a tap. If your hands are dirty, tap the spout with your wrist or forearm, and the water comes on to the preset pressure and temperature. These are called touch-on faucets or similar.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Touchless Kitchen Faucets

There is a lot to like about these faucets. Here are the pros and cons of touchless kitchen faucets.

Advantages of touchless faucets:

  • Sensor activation keeps the faucet clean and free of germs
  • They reduce water use and cost
  • Most have a single handle that allows you to control temperature
  • They’re available in many styles including goose neck spouts useful for filling large pots
  • Pull out and pull down spout sprayers are available on many models
  • You have an excellent choice of styles, finishes and handle designs
  • Some will automatically shut off after a few minutes to conserve water and energy and to prevent flooding when they are accidentally turned on (by the cat, for example)

Disadvantages of touchless faucets:

  • Some models have quirky sensors that create issues with activation and deactivation
  • The sensors require an energy source, so there is a cost factor for running them
  • Touchless faucets cost more than most due to the built-in technology
  • Some of these faucets don’t have a temperature adjustment, so warm water is your only option
  • If there is no automatic shutoff, high water rates or flooding might be caused by turning on the water accidentally

See the guide for touchless faucet costs for a complete price breakdown.

Top Kitchen Faucet Brands

Here is a list of the top kitchen faucet brands. We include the types of faucets they produce with the exception of waterfall faucets and vessel faucets which few brands make for the kitchen.

  • Kohler Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Grohe Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Glacier Bay Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Danze Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Pfister Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Brizo Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Blanco Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless & bridge
  • Franke Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless & bridge
  • Newport Brass Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless
  • Peerless Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless & bridge
  • Kraus Kitchen Faucets: Pull down and single hole only
  • Moen Kitchen Faucets: All
  • Delta Kitchen Faucets: All; touch-on, but not touchless
  • Elkay Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless
  • American Standard Kitchen Faucets: All but touchless

Faucet Materials: What is the Faucet Made Of?

We cover faucet finishes next. This is about the materials used to manufacture the body of the faucet that lies beneath the finish in many models. Here are your options with their pros and cons.

Brass: This metal is easy to cast and incredibly durable. It resists corrosion and can be easily plated with a wide range of finishes. In more affordable faucets, tubular brass is used in place of cast brass, and it is not as strong or durable. Some brass faucets contain lead, so look for a faucet certified to contain no lead or to have a certified safe lead content. The packaging will contain an NSF 61/9 symbol referring to the National Sanitation Foundation certification code for lead-free faucets.

Stainless steel: There is no lead in stainless steel faucets, so it is an appealing choice. Plus, stainless looks great and resists corrosion. Better grades of stainless steel include 304 stainless with 18% chromium and 8% zinc. It’s also called 18/8 stainless steel; 18/10 material is used in some faucets too. Cheaper grades of stainless steel can be brittle or weak.

Zinc: More affordable faucets are often made of zinc or alloys with zinc as the primary metal. It’s lightweight but not very strong or durable. Some brass faucets are outfitted with cheap zinc or zinc alloy handles, so that’s something you’ll want to pay attention to if that is a concern.

Plastic: The cheapest kitchen faucets feature plastic construction that is light and inexpensive, but lacks durability. The best plastic for faucets is known as PEX, a type of polyethylene. Other plastics should be avoided.

The Importance of Valve Construction

No one likes a leaking faucet! The valves in the body of the faucet are the key to water flow control and the prevention of leaks. As you shop for kitchen faucets, you’ll come across models with these types of valves.

Compression valves: These are the valves found in faucets with handles that rotate. As you turn the handle off, the valve screws down to close the opening, typically using a rubber washer or brass-on-brass seal. Compression valves wear out the quickest but are quite easy to repair.

Cartridge valves: These valves contain a sleeve that slides within a cartridge. Both the sleeve and cartridge are produced with openings for water to pass through. When the handle is raised, the holes align, and water flows. The higher it is raised, the more the water flows, ceasing when the handle is lowered and the holes no longer line up. Most cartridge valves are very durable and should provide 12-15 years of leak free performance at a minimum.

Ball valves: This is a variation of the cartridge design. A ball within the faucet body has a hole in it that allows water to pass through it into the spout. As the handle is raised, the ball rotates to roll the opening into alignment to produce water flow. Ball valves offer excellent durability too.

Ceramic disks: Many of today’s best kitchen faucets are manufactured with ceramic disk valves. The disks are ground for smoothness and fired at high temperatures for hardness. The disks slide across one another to align openings for water to flow through. Ceramic disk valves are produced for both single-handle and two-handle faucets. They are the most durable and the least prone to leaking. You’ll pay more for ceramic, but you’ll get better long-term performance.

About Kitchen Faucet Finishes

There are dozens of kitchen faucet finishes used today, and we’ll get to them shortly. First, though, you should know that how the finish is applied will affect its durability and resistance to scratches in the years ahead.

Powder coating remains the most common way to apply a finish. A powder is applied to the faucet body using an electrostatic charge that causes it to cling. Then, the coated body is baked on using high heat that causes the powder coating to form a tough skin over the underlying metal, usually brass, though plastic can be powder coated too. Most homes contain a variety of powder coated metal items such as metal chairs, racks, appliances and a furnace cabinet.

Since the 1990s, positive vapor deposition (PVD) has been an option too. The faucet bodies are placed in a vacuum and the coating material evaporates from a liquid into a gas vapor. The vapor molecules cling to the metal faucet body in such a way that they bond to form a layer that is very durable and resistant to scratches.

Some finishes aren’t coated with either of these methods or with lacquer. This is mainly true of bronze. The metal is treated to form a finish such as oil rubbed bronze, vintage bronze, distressed bronze or blackened bronze. These finishes are sometimes called living finishes because they will oxidize over time and a patina will develop, like the patina on a copper kitchen sink. Applying a coat of wax to the faucet will slow the oxidation process but not stop it.

For care of the faucet, you’ll have the option of letting the patina develop or of cleaning the bronze and reapplying oil. Keep in mind, however, that cleaning and applying fresh oil can produce mottled results that might not look like the original finish.

It’s best, if you choose a living finish, to allow it to develop naturally. Cleaning with a damp cloth or mild detergent and water won’t affect the patina as long as you don’t use an abrasive cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners of any kind on a living finish. Each faucet should come with clear instructions for care and maintenance.

Here’s what you’ll find as you shop for kitchen faucets:

  • Good faucets: Lacquer and thin powder coating
  • Better faucets: Thicker powder coating or a living finish
  • Best faucets: Premium powder coating, PVD coating or a living finish

Faucet Finish Options

Here’s an overview of the finishes you’ll find as you shop for kitchen faucets. Many of the names vary from one manufacturer to another, but these are the basics.

  • Brass: antique, satin, living, weathered, polished
  • Bronze: English, Venetian, Tuscan, Mediterranean, oil-rubbed, satin, brushed
  • Chrome: polished, brushed
  • Copper: polished, antique, weathered
  • Enamel: white, matte white, biscuit, ivory, gloss black, flat black, etc.
  • Gold: polished, satin, brushed, French
  • Nickel: polished, satin, antique, brushed
  • Stainless steel: polished, brushed
  • Wrought iron

Kitchen Faucet Prices

You’ll find detailed pricing information for all eight types of faucets we feature in our Kitchen Faucet Price Guide. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect to pay for your kitchen faucet in good, better and best ranges.

  • Starting price of kitchen faucets: About $40
  • Price range for good kitchen faucets: $100-$225
  • Price range for better kitchen faucets: $200-$900
  • Price range for best kitchen faucets: $750-$3,000+

Kitchen Faucet Buying Guide FAQs

This kitchen faucet Q&A covers other important topics.

Where are most kitchen faucets made?

China is the top producer of kitchen faucets. Most major retailers make at least some of their faucets there. Here is our list of top faucet brands and where they make their products:

  • American Standard: China, Mexico
  • Blanco: China, Israel, Italy
  • Brizo: China, US
  • Danze: China
  • Delta: Canada, China, US
  • Elkay: China, Israel, Italy, Taiwan
  • Franke: China, Israel, Switzerland
  • Grohe: Canada, China, Germany, Thailand, Turkey
  • Home Depot: China, Italy
  • Ikea: China, Italy, Turkey
  • Kohler: China, US
  • Kraus: China
  • Lowe’s: China, Malaysia, Taiwan
  • Menards: China, Taiwan
  • Moen: China, India, US
  • Newport Brass: China, US
  • Peerless Kitchen Faucets: China, Taiwan, US
  • Pfister: China, Italy
  • Rohl: England, Italy, New Zealand
  • Vigo: China

Are there other companies making faucets in the United States?

Yes, there are. In addition to those in the list above, manufacturers producing at least some of their faucets in the US are Kallista by Kohler, Phylrich, Restoration Hardware, Sigma, Sonoma Force, Symmons, Watermark and Waterstone.

I’m concerned about lead. How can I be sure there is no lead in the faucet I purchase?

First, remember that regardless of what a faucet is finished with, the body beneath the finish might be made of metal containing lead.

Manufacturers put Certified Lead-Free labeling on their packaging. Look for a stamp on the package reading NSF 61/9 to ensure the product meets safe lead level requirements. The marking refers to the National Sanitation Foundation’s International Standard 61 – Section 9. Additional information is available by calling 1-800-NSF-MARK or visiting www.nsf.org.

Do you have any tips for matching a sink and faucet?

Sure. The sink and faucet should be balanced in size. A high-arched faucet with a pull-down spout will look oversized for a single-bowl, 18” wide sink. On the other hand, you’ll need something that large to balance an apron/farmhouse sink where a short, 45-degree faucet would look too small.

I’m confined to a wheelchair. Are ADA faucets available?

Yes, they are. Most major faucet brands make a good variety of ADA-compliant faucets.

Should I choose the sink first or the faucet?

Most homeowners select a sink first while others find a faucet that is exactly what they want first. Most sinks will accommodate the need for one to four holes. Just make sure that the sink and faucet work together before they’re installed when it might be too late to return one or the other.

How many holes will the sink need?

Each faucet system requires one to four holes. Here are generalities:

  • One hole: Faucets with integrated, single handles
  • Two holes: Faucets with separate hot and cold handles
  • Three holes: Two handles plus the spout protruding through the base
  • Extra holes are required for a side sprayer, filtered water or hot water spout, soap dispenser or air gap for the dishwasher.

I’m replacing my faucet, and the sink has too many holes for the faucet I chose. What can I do?

See if an accessory known as an escutcheon or cover plate is available for the faucet. It sits beneath the faucet on the sink deck and is used to cover holes. Or if you absolutely have to, you may need to replace your kitchen sink.

Related Content in this Series

View other guides in this series which you may find useful.