All About Kitchen Faucets

Kitchen faucets are one of the most frequently used fixtures in any home. As the central water source for food preparation and cleanup, most homeowners interact with their kitchen faucet multiple times per day. With so much dependance placed on this common fixture, choosing the right kitchen faucet is an important decision that can greatly impact your daily life. This guide will explore all aspects of kitchen faucets, from different styles and features to installation and maintenance. Read on to learn everything you need to know to select the perfect faucet for your kitchen.

Styles of Kitchen Faucets

Kitchen faucets come in four main styles: single-handle, centerset, widespread, and wall-mount. Each has its own pros and cons to consider when deciding which is best for your space and needs.

Single-Handle Faucets

Single-handle faucets are the most popular and common choice for most kitchens. As the name implies, they have just one lever that controls both hot and cold water flow and temperature. benefits of this style include:

  • Simple Operation: With a single handle controlling all functions, these faucets are straightforward and intuitive to use. No guessing which handle controls what.
  • Space Saving: With everything contained in one spout and lever, single-handle faucets have a compact overall footprint. This makes them a good option for smaller sinks and countertops.
  • ADA Compliant: Single-handle faucets meet accessibility standards for operation with one hand. This makes them a good choice for universal design.
  • ** Contemporary Style:** The streamlined look of single-handle faucets fits in seamlessly with modern and contemporary kitchen aesthetics.

Potential downsides of single-handle faucets include limited temperature precision and possible handle wear over time. But for most kitchens, the simplicity and convenience of single-handle operation is hard to beat.

Centerset Faucets

Centerset faucets have the spout and handles combined in one unit, with the handles centered on either side of the spout. This gives them a neat, contained look that adds style to your sink area. Key benefits of centerset kitchen faucets include:

  • Compact Styling: With all components integrated, centerset faucets present a tidy appearance. They don’t take up much room on your countertop or sink.
  • Flexible Installation: Their pre-assembled construction makes centerset faucets easy to install on any sink with holes spaced 4 inches apart. No need for separate widespread handles.
  • Traditional Appeal: The familiar double-handle design gives centerset faucets a classic styling reminiscent of older kitchens. But internal components are fully modern.
  • Temperature Control: Separate hot and cold handles allow more precise adjustment of water temperature compared to single-handle models.

Downsides to centerset faucets include potential difficulty fitting them on non-standard sink hole placements. The compact styling also limits handle height. But for a timeless look with flexible installation, centersets are a sound choice.

Widespread Faucets

Widespread faucets have separate spout and handle components that can be spaced anywhere from 6 to 16 inches apart. This provides maximum flexibility for custom installation. Benefits of widespread faucets include:

  • Custom Positioning: Handles can be mounted further apart to accommodate larger sinks, wall-mount faucets, or specific user needs.
  • Contemporary Style: Separating the spout and handles has a sleek, modern look popular in contemporary kitchens. These faucets make a design statement.
  • Height Options: Separate spout and handles allow installing them at different heights as needed for functionality or visually appealing proportions.
  • Luxury Aesthetic: Widespread faucets have an upscale look, lending an air of luxury to the kitchen. Their high-end styling suits luxury homes and gourmet kitchens.

The main downside is widespread faucet installation takes more time and expert plumbing skills to integrate all components. But for ultimate flexibility and contemporary visual appeal, widespread models are hard to top.

Wall-Mount Faucets

As suggested by the name, wall-mount kitchen faucets are installed directly to the wall rather than on the countertop or sink. This frees up space and allows for continuous countertops or other custom designs. Benefits include:

  • Space Saving: Keeping the faucet off the countertop maximizes your available workspace area. This can make a significant difference in smaller kitchens.
  • Easy Cleaning: With no faucet base taking up sink space, cleaning the sink area is quicker and easier without obstructions. Food and debris won’t build up under the faucet.
  • Flexible Positioning: Mounting to the wall allows placing the spout and handles wherever desired to best fit your space and tasks.
  • Stylish Statement: Wall-mount faucets have an architecturally distinct look, lending a modern vibe to contemporary kitchen designs.

The main downside of wall-mount faucets is needing access behind the wall for installation and connections. But for wide open counterspace and modern appeal, wall-mounted kitchen faucets are a great choice.

Kitchen Faucet Features

Beyond just style, kitchen faucets incorporate a range of features that add functionality and convenience to their operation and use. Here are some of the most popular and beneficial features to look for when shopping for a new kitchen faucet.

Spray Head Options

Most modern kitchen faucets include some type of detachable or pull-down spray head, offering more versatility than a fixed spout alone. Some options include:

  • Pull-Down Spray Head: The spray head detaches from the spout and retracts back when finished using. This provides extended reach for filling pots or cleaning.
  • Pull-Out Spray Head: Similar to pull-down, but the hose and head pull out to the side rather than retracting back into the spout. Side-to-side movement can be easier.
  • 360° Swivel: Spray heads that swivel in a full circle allow aiming the water in any direction needed. Helpful for cleaning all around the sink.
  • Two-Function Spray: Spray heads with multiple settings, such as wide spray and concentrated jet, expand functionality for various tasks.
  • Touch Control: Buttons built into the spray head activate flow settings instead of a separate sprayer lever. This allows easy one-hand operation.

Choosing the right spray head features allows customizing your faucet for how you cook and clean.

Faucet Heights

Kitchen faucets come in a range of spout heights, from low-profile models to dramatic towering spouts. Considerations for faucet heights include:

  • Bar Prep: Lower spouts around 4-6 inches high are ideal for installation next to a sink prep area, allowing ample overhead room for tasks.
  • Multi-Purpose Sink: For utility sinks used for various functions, a higher 8-10 inch spout keeps the faucet and your hands out of the way when washing larger items.
  • Filing Pots: High spouts 10 inches or taller make it easy to fit pots and containers under for convenient filling with water.
  • Clearance: Make sure your chosen faucet height leaves adequate clearance from the backsplash. Too high and it may splash water onto the wall space around your sink.

Selecting the right spout height helps you customize your faucet functionality for how you specifically use your kitchen sink.

Motion-Activated Faucets

For hands-free operation, motion-activated faucets employ touchless infrared sensors that detect when hands are under the spout. Water flow turns on automatically without having to physically adjust the faucet handle. Benefits include:

  • Increased Hygiene: Eliminating handle contact reduces cross-contamination from dirty hands, important for hygiene in food prep areas.
  • Convenience: Motion activation allows easy on/off while hands are occupied washing dishes or handling ingredients.
  • Water Conservation: Motion faucets help conserve water compared to manual types by eliminating accidental leaving water running.
  • ADA Compliance: Hands-free faucets suit users with limited dexterity or mobility for accessible design.

While convenient, motion faucets do require periodic battery replacement and can have slower response times. But for hands-free functionality, they are worth considering.

Faucet Finishes

Kitchen faucets are available in a range of material finishes that allow you to not only tailor performance, but also aesthetic style. Some top options include:

  • Stainless Steel: A classic choice that blends with most sinks, stainless resists corrosion and matches other appliances. Brushed nickel is similar but warmer.
  • Chrome: Bright polished chrome has a clean mirror-like look that pairs well with crisp contemporary designs and glass vessels sinks.
  • Matte Black: Matte and black finishes add sophistication to traditional and modern kitchens alike with an understated elegance.
  • Gold/Rose Gold: Warm metallics like polished brass suit traditional luxury kitchens and transitional spaces with vintage styling.
  • Two-Tone: Combining finishes like stainless and brushed bronze accentuates the faucet as a stylistic focal point.

Finish choice impacts both appearance and durability. Select one that pairs well with your existing finishes and fixtures.

Choosing the Right Kitchen Faucet

With so many options for styles, configurations, and features, choosing the ideal kitchen faucet for your space can feel daunting. Here are some tips for selecting the perfect faucet based on your kitchen and preferences:

  • Consider your sink type/size: Make sure to choose a faucet that fits your existing sink holes and countertop space. Measure to ensure proper clearances.
  • Focus on daily use cases: How you specifically use your sink daily should guide priorities. Frequent filling pots? Seek height. Lots of produce washing? Focus on sprayheads.
  • Include family needs: Account for all household members’ heights and user abilities. Busy families may benefit from hands-free operation.
  • Match your kitchen style: Let your kitchen’s overall aesthetic steer choices like finishes and form factors to ensure coordinated cohesion.
  • Involve a designer: For upscale remodels, seek help from a kitchen designer experienced at selecting cohesive faucet and sink pairings.
  • Read reviews: Consult reviews and ratings for specific faucet models to confirm reliable performance and easy installation.
  • Consider budget: Prices for kitchen faucets vary widely. Focus spending on features you truly need rather than unnecessary bells and whistles.

Taking the time to carefully consider how and by whom your kitchen sink gets used ensures choosing the perfect faucet tailored to your unique space and needs. Don’t underestimate the importance of this everyday kitchen workhorse.

Installing a Kitchen Faucet

Once you’ve selected the ideal new kitchen faucet, it’s time to tackle installation. Replacing an older faucet with a fresh new model can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s appearance and function. Here’s an overview of the basic steps involved:

Gather Tools and Components

  • Faucet and components (hoses, gaskets, aerator, etc.)
  • Basin wrench for removing old faucet
  • Channel locks and pipe wrench
  • Plumbers putty or caulk
  • Flashlight for looking under sink

Turn Off Water Supply Lines

Locate the hot and cold water supply valve shut-offs under the sink and turn them off to prevent water pressure and leakage when removing your old faucet.

Remove the Old Faucet

Use a basin wrench to loosen the nuts holding the old supply lines, faucet tailpieces, and sink mounting hardware then lift the old assembly away. Also remove any old putty or caulk.

Prepare the New Faucet

Assemble all the new faucet components and hoses per the manufacturer instructions. Make sure rubber gaskets are properly seated. Secure supply lines with channel locks.

Mount the New Faucet

Set the base in place with plumbers putty or caulk sealing the edges. From above and below, install bolts through base holes and tighten. Don’t overtighten.

Connect Water Supply Lines

Connect hot and cold supply lines to the appropriate new faucet tailpieces with rubber couplings. Finger tighten then use a wrench for just 1/4 turn more.

Check for Leaks and Reseal

Turn water back on and check for any leaks. Tighten joints if needed. When leak-free, replace any sink caulk or putty to neatly seal edges.

And that’s it! You’ve successfully installed your shiny new kitchen faucet. Enjoy the updated convenience and style it brings your kitchen.

FAQs About Kitchen Faucets

Still have some lingering questions about selecting and using kitchen faucets? Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

How do you choose a new kitchen faucet?

Consider the size and setup of your existing sink, the style that fits your kitchen design, features like sprayheads that will improve functionality, your specific usage needs, and the overall look and finish you want.

What are the best kitchen faucet brands?

Top brands known for quality and performance include Delta, Moen, Kohler, American Standard, Grohe, Hansgrohe, and Pfister among others.

How much does it cost to install a kitchen faucet?

DIY installs can cost $75+ for tools and parts. Hiring a plumber averages $185-$245, more for added complexity. High-end or proprietary faucets themselves can run $500+.

Can I install a kitchen faucet myself?

With some DIY plumbing skills, basic faucet installs are doable. Experience helps with tasks like removing old fittings. Get help if supply lines require extensions.

How do you remove an old kitchen faucet?

Use a basin wrench to loosen nuts to detach supply lines and mounting hardware. Penetrating oil or vinegar may help free stuck faucet nuts and bolts. Remove remaining putty or caulk.

What are the best kitchen faucet finishes?

Popular finishes include stainless, chrome, matte & polished black, oil-rubbed bronze, brass, nickel. Choose based on design style, sink material, and desired warmth or coolness.

How do you clean a kitchen faucet?

Use a soft cloth, mild soap and warm water for day-to-day cleaning. For mineral deposits, use white vinegar. Avoid abrasive cleaners. Wipe down stainless faucets after use to prevent water spots.

How often should you replace a kitchen faucet?

Industry estimates suggest replacing kitchen faucets every 15-20 years. Signs yours needs replacing include leaks, loose handles, mineral buildup, difficulty controlling temperature, or outdated style.

Can you paint a kitchen faucet?

Yes, you can spray paint a faucet using specific bonding primers and paints made to adhere to metals. This allows changing finishes. Use faucet covers for temporary or removable color changes.

Should a kitchen faucet match cabinet hardware?

Matching your faucet finish to handles and knobs creates a cohesive, polished look. However, mixing finishes is fine too depending on your overall kitchen aesthetic as long as combinations flow nicely.


The heart of every kitchen, the humble faucet sees constant daily use for food prep, cleanup, and more. With myriad options for styles, finishes, spray options and innovative features, today’s kitchen faucets offer more choices than ever before to create a highly functional and beautiful focal point in your culinary workspace. Taking the time to properly select and install the ideal faucet tailored to how you specifically use your kitchen ensures this hard-working appliance enhances your everyday cooking experience for many years to come. From space-saving single handles and classic bridge designs to dramatic industrial looks and hands-free operation, today’s faucets combine form and function. Keep the insights above in mind as you explore the many excellent kitchen faucet choices available. Let style and performance guide you to the perfect model that makes prepping, washing and accessorizing as enjoyable as the meals themselves.