The Faucet Bible: The Ultimate Buyers’ Guide To Best Rated Kitchen Faucets

Uncle Paul’s Choice: Delta Leland Single-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O Technology

As a homeowner, getting your kitchen renovated can be both exciting and stressful. On one hand, you’re doing away with the old and finally building the kitchen of your dreams, and on the other hand, your kitchen is a wreck, you may be dealing with construction noises in your home all day, and be unable to use it for the duration of the renovation.

After the dust settles, the new countertop, tiles, fresh appliances, and brand-new sink have been installed however, you’ll have one final item that really puts the icing on the cake – your new kitchen faucet.

Sure, it may be the smallest item in your renovation (the reason why many people completely forget about it until the last moment), but it deserves the same amount of attention that you gave into picking out your kitchen sink.

Why?

Your kitchen faucet is the centerpiece to your operation. It’s the one spot in your entire kitchen where you can fill your glasses with water, wash your dishes, cook, clean, rinse your fruits and veggies, and do just about anything that requires the use of water.

If you walk into your kitchen, chances are that you’re going to use your sink for something. Your sink and faucet serve as the central command center to your entire kitchen operation. Without them, you’d be left empty-handed. Whether you’re putting water in your bowl of oatmeal, putting the kettle on, or simply washing your hands, it’s safe to say that you probably use your sink and faucet a lot more than you realize.

When you first think about it, the first thing that you’re likely to realize is how little attention that you’ve actually ever paid to your kitchen faucet in the first place.

When you walk into somebody’s kitchen the first thing you’re concerned about is probably what’s in their fridge, or how fancy their stove works. As a result, you’re left at a loss when your contractor asks you what type of faucet you’d like to have installed in your home.

You’re not the only one either.

Every month, we get emails from our readers asking us what type of faucets they should get and if it even matters what they get in the first place. So, in order to make your life (and shopping experience) a bit easier, we decided that we would go ahead and lay everything out for you in a simple, easy-to-read buyer’s guide that breaks down everything that you’ll ever need or want to know about kitchen faucets.

In this article, we’re going to go over everything from faucet design and materials to extra features such as built-in filters and high-pressure spray nozzles. Towards the end, we’ve even included a handy FAQ section to answer some of the most commonly-asked questions that we’ve received from our friends and followers.

Take out a pen and paper because you’ll definitely want to take some notes!

Best Kitchen Sink Faucets 2018

Model
Design
Handle
Price
 

Delta Leland
Pull-Down Touch
Single
$$

Moen Arbor
Pull-Down Touchless
Single
$$

Delta Essa
Pull-Down Touch
Single
$$

Kraus KPF-1602SS
Pull-Down
Single
$$

 

You Might Need A New Faucet If…

Perhaps you’re still toying with the idea of just keeping your old faucet. Granted, this is usually the simplest option, but as life often teaches us, the simplest option is often the least rewarding. If you already have an amazing faucet, then keep it! However, if you’re renovating your kitchen, then you’re probably unsatisfied with the way that you’ve been doing things.

Here are some great reasons to start looking for a new faucet.

Your Water Pressure Is Too Low Or Too High

Each faucet is going to be a little bit different when it comes to how much water pressure they provide. Obviously, this is going to be somewhat dependent on the pre-existing pressure in your house, but the design of the faucet has a lot to do with how fast your water comes out.

For instance, some faucets are designed to be eco-friendly to reduce water waste and save you money on your water bill. These will feature a smaller orifice and will usually have some extra O-rings and pressure regulators built in which reduce the flow of water.

While these may save you money, they often don’t provide the much-needed extra pressure required to wash heavy grease and oil off of your pots and pans. If you’re the type of person who spends a lot of time cooking in the kitchen and dirtying up dishes, then you’ll likely want a faucet that provides higher water pressure.

Your Faucet Is Leaking

Most leaky sinks are caused by bad O-rings in the handle of the faucet. To replace these, you’ll often have to disassemble the entire faucet, which can be just as much of a pain as replacing the faucet itself.

Another reason it’s a good idea to go ahead and replace your faucet is that while the O-rings may be the surface cause of your leak, the actual design of the sink can contribute to quicker than normal wear and tear on the fragile rings. Many customers who get their kitchen faucet leaks fixed are unpleasantly surprised when they begin leaking again just a few weeks later.

Additionally, if you’ve already spent a lot of money renovating your kitchen, then the last thing that you need to do is immediately subject it to water damage resulting from a leaking faucet.

You’re Tired Of Getting Splashed In The Face

We’ve all used those sinks before. You know the ones that literally spray you in the face if you don’t hold the spout the right way or adjust the water pressure just the right way. If water is bursting out of the seams and soaking everything around it, you should definitely replace your faucet.

You Want More Room To Wash Your Dishes

One of the most common reasons that people get a new faucet outside of ongoing kitchen renovations is so that they have more room to wash their dishes. When people move into their first home, they usually don’t have a whole lot of dishes. After a few years, though, almost everybody is likely to not only have more dishes but to have larger dishes as well.

If you’ve ever tried to wash a large pot, pan, or griddle in a tiny sink with a low faucet, then you’ll quickly realize that it’s almost not even worth the trouble. After a certain point of trying to get the water to hit the pan just right, you may as well just give up and use the outdoor hose.

The easiest solution to this problem is simply to get a taller faucet that gives you plenty of room to maneuver around all of your dishes, no matter how big they are.

You Want To Raise The Resale Value Of Your Home

Last, but not least, putting in a new kitchen faucet can significantly raise the resale value of your home. Before you can list your house on the market, your real estate agent will schedule an appraisal which will take into account all of the improvements and renovations that you’ve made.

These will then be reflected in the final listing price that you can ask for your home. A simple kitchen sink and faucet replacement can add thousands of dollars to the resale value of your home, even if they only cost you a few hundred dollars.

Things To Consider When Shopping For A Kitchen Faucet

Finding the perfect kitchen faucet can be pretty difficult especially if it’s not something that you’ve already done before. To most people, the faucet is just a faucet, and they’ve never really spent any time considering all of the different aspects and features that go into designing one. However, these are the features that separate average faucets from faucets that really perform and add to the value of your kitchen experience.

Before you hit the market and start searching for faucets, here’s everything that you need to consider when you’re looking for your next kitchen faucet.

Faucet Type

The most important decision to make when choosing your new faucet is the type of faucet that you need. In general, faucets come in two categories; wall-mount faucets and deck-mount faucets. Which one you get will depend both on the way that your sink and countertop are set up as well as the pre-existing water lines and delivery methods.

Let’s take a few minutes to go over the advantages and disadvantages of these two types.

Deck-Mount

Deck-mount faucets are the most popular design by far. As you would assume from their name, they’re mounted either directly to or behind the sink to the surface of the countertop. The water supply comes from underneath the sink and this style of sink will usually have a long, arching spout to allow for the movement of dishes below.

The main advantage of these faucets is that they’re simple and easy-to-install. Your existing sink may already have holes cut for the spigot, but if it doesn’t then it’s usually an easy enough process to outline and drill new holes through the counter behind the sink.

The one disadvantage of deck-mount faucets is they tend to break easier than wall-mount faucets. Not only are they exposed to more pressure, bending, and other movements, but if your sink isn’t made of a sturdy enough material, they can eventually warp the thin metal lining of the sink.

Also, if you opt to drill new holes in the countertop behind the sink, you have to make sure that they’re absolutely perfect the first time. If you make the wrong hole in the wall, it’s easy to plaster it up with fresh drywall. You can’t replace fill-in holes on a hard granite countertop, though.

Wall-Mount

Wall-mount faucets tend to be a lot smaller than your traditional deck-mount units. This is because they hang above the sink and therefore don’t require the long, arching spout to create space. Instead, they usually favor a more minimalist design and you’ll commonly see them used in traditional farmhouse setups.

Aside from styling, the other major reason why some people opt for a wall-mount design is if their water supply pipes come from the outer side of the house instead of from underneath the sink. While this is usually uncommon in traditionally-built homes, you’ll often find it in homes that have had extensive renovations or which have been built on land which is hard to dig trenches for underground lines.

Styles

The main thing that you’ll be looking at as a buyer is the style of the faucet. Of course you’ll want a faucet that matches the finish of your existing kitchen appliances such as your stove and your fridge. However, you may also want a style that compliments the overall theme of your kitchen, be it sleek and modern or old-fashioned and traditional.

When you’re looking at faucets, you’ll find that they’re usually divided into several broad categories:

  • Traditional
  • Contemporary
  • Transitional

Traditional designs and styles which imitate the type of faucets which you would expect to see if you walked into a home or office in the mid-1950’s. However, they may also feature a more traditional farmhouse look which is ultra-minimalist. These artisan-style faucets may be made from brass or even wood to achieve the right look.

The next style that you’re going to come into contact with is your contemporary styles. These are the faucets that you see in those fancy commercials. They’re sleek, modern, and feature sharp angles, minimal materials, and usually have a brushed-stainless or chrome appearance.

For those of you who are in the middle and appreciate both sides of the fence, you have what designers refer to as a transitional style. These reflect some of the classic elements of design but feature a touch of the modern when it comes to the materials used and advanced features.

Contemporary

Contemporary designs are constantly evolving over time. Out of the three broader styles, these are the faucets which change the most. What may be considered contemporary one year, will quickly revert into a traditional or transitional design the next.

Today, however, contemporary designs are very minimalist. They often appear industrial or feature small geometric shapes that are designed to stand out on a smooth background or to blend into an already geometrically-themed background.

They often feature rectangular or oval shapes with sharply-contrasting angles, tubes, and defined edges. Some often feature a blade-like spout that turns the stream of water into a thin, flat stream. Water stream manipulation is another one of the primary goals of contemporary designs. Instead of your usual circular stream of water, contemporary faucets will take some of the bubbles out of the water and make it appear clear, clean, and natural.

Traditional

Although the allure of sleek and modern contemporary designs seems to be taking over the realm of new construction and modern projects, the renovation scene is full of traditional-style renovations seeking to capture the homely feel that we’ve lost over the decades.

One of the primary reasons for this is that most Americans live in older homes, and the modern contemporary faucets just don’t fit with the pre-existing home design the way that a more traditional faucet can. Many homeowners after performing a contemporary renovation of their space eventually revert back to their original traditional fixtures.

Aside from their simplistic, easy-to-use design, traditional faucets also just make your house feel like a home. They provide an aesthetic reminiscent of the days that you spent growing up in your small family home back in the days when you still needed a stool to reach the faucet handle. No matter how much technology and home design advanced over the years, it can never replace the value of our childhood memories and the nostalgia for home.

Another nice thing that most kitchen salesmen won’t tell you is that traditional style faucets are almost always cheaper. It’s because they’re made simpler. Parts are interchangeable and they’re far easier to fix than their modern day contemporary counterparts.

The technology in contemporary style faucets will quickly become obsolete and repairs can become quite expensive over the years. Traditional faucets, on the other hand, will remain just as easy and inexpensive to fix as they’ve always been.

Transitional

Finally, you have what designers refer to as your transitional faucet designs. These faucets are the best of both worlds. They feature the traditional shapes, design, and functionality which everybody is already used to with the sleek finish and creative styling of contemporary options.

These faucets have become increasingly popular over the past few years as the nostalgic wave has swept across the country. Homeowners want the homely feel of a traditional-style faucet, but they’re not quite willing to give up the sleek finishing and high-tech appearance that they’ve already become used to.

From the point of view of pricing, transitional faucets are also a great middle point. They aren’t anywhere near as expensive as most contemporary designs but offer a lot of the same styling that matches perfectly with contemporary appliances such as stainless-steel refrigerators, stoves, and modern convection ovens.

Faucet Handles and Valves

The one thing that you’ll notice really differs from faucet to faucet is the handle design. Handles can come in almost every shape and style that you can imagine and can range from one-handle designs to two-handle designs, and some even have foot pedals for easy access.

The handle is where all of the sink’s general functionality is controlled from. In the handles are the valves which control both the water’s temperature and the pressure depending on how far the valve is allowed to open or close.

In this section, we’re going to tell you everything that you’ve always wanted to know (and everything you never thought you’d need to know) about faucet handles and valves. From the Moen single-handed faucet valve design to traditional screw valves and foot pedals, you’re about to get a full crash course in faucet handles and why they matter when you’re shopping for your next kitchen faucet.

Double-Handle

The double-handle design is by far the most popular design when it comes to faucets. In your typical double-handle faucet, one handle controls the flow of the cold water and the other controls the flow of the hot water. The two streams then pass through the valve, mix in the spout, and result in the warm stream of water that you use to wash your hands.

The double-handle design is the most foolproof and sturdy design that you can choose. The valves are simple and easy to fix, and on top of that, they rarely ever break due to their simplicity.

They’re also a lot easier to control and less fickle to precise movements. As long as you hook the right water valve up to the handle during the initial install, you shouldn’t have any major problems down the road. The most you may have to do is replace a few small O-rings here and there to keep the faucet from leaking.

When you’re looking at double-handle faucets, you’ll usually run into two different types of valves:

  • Stem valves
  • Compression valves

Stem valves are more common in most contemporary or transitional-style faucets today, however, compression valves are still commonly used in traditional faucets. Let’s take a couple of minutes to discuss both styles of faucet valves.

Stem Valves

Stem valves are far more common these days. These are the faucet handles that you turn on a 90-degree angle. When they are pushed back, the valve is closed and water doesn’t flow. When they are pulled forward at a full 90-degree angle, they are all the way open and water is flowing at maximum flow.

These valves are very easy to use, and they give the user finer control over the flow and temperature of the water as they’re able to gauge these qualities simply by looking at the angle of the handle between its close point and open point.

Compression Valves

Compression valves are similar to that which you’ll find on most outdoor hose spigots. They usually require a full 360-degree turn or more to fully open or close. The primary mechanical function behind compression valves is as simple as it gets – a screw. As you twist the handle close, it restricts the flow of water. As you twist the handle open it allows more water to flow through the opening.

Compression valves are the oldest form of valve and were the first to be used in the original sink designs. The reason for this is their overall simplicity. If you can put a screw with some O-rings into a pipe, you’ve pretty much got yourself a compression valve.

They almost never break and they’ll last for years, which is why you’ll almost always see them used exclusively on traditional-style faucets. While their major pro is their durability, their biggest con is that they require a lot of extra twisting and turning to turn on and off which can be a big turn-off for people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen using their sinks.

Single-Handle

In 1937, Moen (one of the most popular brands of faucets in the world today) had the idea of controlling water flow and temperature with one easy-to-use valve. His idea would go on to revolutionize the plumbing industry.

The basic concept revolves around a ball valve which has three openings: one for cold water, one for hot water, and one outlet which leads to the faucet spout. Pushing the handle upwards opens both inlet valves all the way and allows the water to quickly flow through. This pressure can then be adjusted in varying degrees.

Besides controlling the pressure, the single-hand ball valves also control temperature. By turning the faucet to the left or right, the user can choose the degree to which the hot and cold water streams mix. Although it can vary from model to model, the left-hand side usually controls the cold, and the right-hand side usually controls the hot.

While the concept didn’t fully catch on for decades (mostly due to some initial design flaws), it is now one of the most predominant faucet handle and valve designs in the world. The technology has improved enough now that they are far more durable than they used to be.

That being said, however, this style of faucet is still far more volatile than a more traditional two-handle compression or stem valve. You can still expect any one-handle design to need repairs or O-ring replacements about twice as much as a two-handle faucet handle design.

Handle Shape

In the early days of the faucet, every handle was pretty much the same. It was a simple cross handle consisting of an easy-to-grab cross shape cut from wood or crude metal. As it became increasingly more common to have a faucet sink in one’s house over the years, handle shapes became far more eloquent than they had ever been before.

Crude shapes were replaced with rounded shapes and curved edges utilizing the latest technology to brush and carve high-quality metals and even stone into shapes that were both beautiful and functional.

For the most part, faucet handle design is completely a matter of personal preference, and the shape will have a very little effect on the way that the faucet actually functions. However, when you’re shopping for your next faucet, you’ll definitely come across some of these terms, so it’s a good idea to know some of the basic styles and handle shapes.

Cross Handles

Cross handles are the most common design among traditional-style faucets. The design is some form of a cross-section between two levers. This shape of handle is easy to grab and twist even when your hands may be wet and slippery.

Lever Handles

Lever handles feature a straight bar which can be anywhere from 2-inches long to 6-inches long depending on the style. This handle shape is usually accompanied by a stem valve and the straight lever shape makes it easy to pre-determine the temperature and pressure of the water based on the position of the handles in relation to their 90-degree area of movement.

Blade Handles

Blades are a very common design when it comes to bathroom faucets, however, they can sometimes be seen on kitchen faucets as well. This design features a rounded handle with a small blade sticking out from the side which makes it easier to turn. Their low-profile design means that they’ll rarely be in your way, and you won’t have to worry about knocking them the wrong way by accident.

Joystick Handles

Joystick handles are the most common handle to be seen on one-handle faucet designs. The joystick makes it easy to control the three-way valve controlling the system. It’s easy to see which way is up and down (pressure) and the lateral position (the temperature).

As we just mentioned above, though, this style of handle is especially prone to breaking, so you have to be sure not to put too much pressure on the handle and put it past its maximum movement range.

Foot Pedals

You’ll rarely see these in your average household kitchen design. However, when you are looking at kitchen sink and faucet designs for industrial use, or you just want to be able to use your sink hands-free, then foot pedals are a great option to consider.

Essentially, foot pedals work by bypassing the handles and valves on your faucet. Instead of mixing in the faucet spout, the hot and cold water streams are mixed and controlled by a valve system controlled by the pressure applied to spring-loaded foot pedals.

If you do a lot of cooking or you just want to save money by not having to keep the water flowing all the time, then foot pedals are a great way to achieve this. The nice thing about these is that they can be attached to any faucet and can usually be switched on and off with a simple valve if you wish to revert back to using your original faucet handles.

Faucet Design

Now that you know a little (or a lot) more about how faucets work, and why the internal components matter when it comes to the way that your sink works, it’s time to talk about some surface considerations.

These design features are mostly personal and preferences will differ greatly between people depending on their various desires and needs. Things such as faucet height, pull-down faucets, high-pressure pre-rinsing features, and built-in water filters are all great additions, but it’s worth noting that they’ll also add to the initial cost of the faucet.

Height

In general, the best option is to get the tallest kitchen faucet that you can find. This will give you the most room to work with and you won’t have to worry about running out of room to wash all of your dishes. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about it getting in the way of your arms and hands while you’re still cooking.

However, no design is perfect and without its own trade-offs. The main disadvantage to a high faucet is that it takes away from your vertical space. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you have a small kitchen area. You need to make sure that you have enough room to accommodate your existing cabinetry and any additions that you plan on making over time.

Another thing to consider is the weight of the faucet. Taller faucets will usually be heavier and will put more strain on your countertop. That being said, if you’re opting for a tall faucet, make sure that your countertop or sink is sturdy enough to support it.

Pull-Down Faucet/Faucets With Pull-Down Sprayers

Pull-down faucets make sense for those that handle heavy duty cooking. Like faucets with pull-down sprayers, they boast functionality and design by making it efficient to use your faucet wherever or however it is needed.

The problem with most regular faucet setups is that they often do not have enough room or depth in the sink to permit washing a variety of materials. The overflow makes it awkward to spread the water around and for that reason, it makes cleaning using your faucet more of a hassle. Beyond cleaning, it allows for filling up water jugs, vases, or whatever other manipulation based tasks that will allow you to freely access your water as needed.

Many faucets with pull-down sprayers come with a magnetic setup that restrains the pull-down sprayers from wobbling or being damaged by arduous usage over time.

Pull-Out Faucets

This is a really neat design that has come around during the past few years. It’s a contemporary design that’s usually pretty tall. The tip of the spout can be pulled down and controlled to make washing dishes far easier and quicker than you’re used to.

The design is a hybrid between the industrial pull-down design that’s seen in most restaurant dish pits and the elegant contemporary designs of today’s nicest kitchens. It can be used as a standard faucet which sits in place and falls down.

However, if you’re trying to get all of your dishes washed, all you need to do is pull out the tip of the faucet and it’s snaking connection pipe will trail behind. When you’re finished, simply slide the hose back into the faucet spout and it will remain in place with a magnetic clipping system.

Touch Faucet

Touch faucets are a nifty concept because you can control or activate a variety of functions that get the water flowing with just a simple touch. While it seems superfluous at first thought, it’s obviously more than just a style choice.

When cooking or cleaning, it’s easy to get sticky stuff all over your hands. Touch faucets are nifty in that they allow you to go relatively finger free. All you need for most to activate is to tap the faucet to activate it. This means you can elbow touch or knuckle touch it without having to get whatever is all over your hands on the handle of the faucet or otherwise.

Touchless Faucet

This is when we truly get into sci-fi territory.  As you’ve seen at select restaurants and hotels around the world, it’s become more and more common to have hands free faucets that are sensor or laser activated.

These can be outlet or battery powered and are as easy to activate as putting your hand or whatever in front of or under the sensor. They’re not as pricey as one might expect but they are still crafted more often than not from high-quality brass or other materials.

Many offer water conservation capability that is up to standard for a variety of heavily regulated locations as well.

Extra Features

Now that we’re finished talking about the actual design of the faucet, let’s take a few minutes of time to go over some of the extra features that may be of interest to you. Some of these features may come stock with your new kitchen faucet, but you may be required to purchase them separately from the manufacturer or an approved third-party.

High-Pressure Mode

High-pressure mode is usually a feature seen on pull-out or pull-down kitchen faucets. If you look at the tip of the spout, you’ll see a small button or switch that you can use to switch the faucet water flow from a stream to a spray.

This high-pressure spray makes it easy to wash dishes, rinse your vegetables, and clean your sink. One thing that you’ll need to consider about this feature is that over time, the small holes in the high-pressure shower nozzle can become clogged with food particles, mineral deposits, or mildew.

This means that it’s a good idea to remove the nozzle at least once every few months and soak it in a cleaning solution to break down any build-up that may be hindering the flow of water through the small holes. You can also use a small needle or toothpick to clean out the holes.

Built-In Water Filters

One of the great things about living in a first-world country is that you can drink the tap water without fear of getting sick. That being said, it doesn’t mean that all tap water is created equal. Some tap water can taste metallic, musty, or even like chemicals.

Sometimes this is due to the chemicals in the tap water and main lines, and other times it’s just old pipes in your home. Either way, though, a water filter will make even the foulest-tasting tap water taste almost exactly like a high-quality bottled water.

These small, high-tech filters are usually attached to the tip of the water spout, however, they are sometimes built into the base of the faucet. They filter water on-the-spot and the small filters trap small particles such as metal and cleaning chemicals that may be in your tap water. With these chemicals removed, your tap water will be good for drinking.

Finish

The final feature that you’ll need to decide on when purchasing your new kitchen faucet is the finish. You can pretty much get any color that you want, so you really just want to find something that blends in with your overall kitchen design.

Here are some of the most common finish colors that you’ll see:

  • Brushed stainless
  • Chrome
  • Matte black
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Rose gold
  • Gloss black
  • Bronze

Whichever finish you end up choosing, however, you’ll want to make sure that it’s high-quality. One of the first things you’ll be able to notice about cheap faucets is that the finish will start to chip away after just a few months of use.

Faucet Materials

Most faucets these days are made from stainless steel. However, there is still a high-end market for brass faucets and a low-end market for zinc sinks.

Brass is what old-fashioned faucets and water lines were made of, so the appeal is usually for traditional-style faucets. Zinc or ZAMAC is an alloy that combines zinc with other materials such as aluminum and magnesium to create a metal that’s resistant to corrosion. The tradeoff, however, is that it doesn’t look very nice.

Model
Design
Handle
Price
 

Delta Leland
Pull-Down Touch
Single
$$

Moen Arbor
Pull-Down Touchless
Single
$$

Delta Essa
Pull-Down Touch
Single
$$

Kraus KPF-1602SS
Pull-Down
Single
$$

Final Thoughts

Renovating your kitchen is one of the most exciting things that you can do for your home. Unlike your typical room renovation, you are replacing parts of your house that you’ll actually be able to use in your day-to-day life.

At the center of it all are your kitchen sink and your new faucet. That being said, make sure that you spend some time researching your options and try to find the faucet that fits your needs the most. You’ll be glad you did.