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  • Faucets
March 30, 2016

Choosing a Kitchen Faucet

Its decision time. You need to replace that old kitchen faucet, but you are stymied by the expansive and diverse choices on the market. How do you begin to choose The process can be made manageable by asking yourself a few key questions. What type of sink do I have What type of faucet mechanisms are available for my sink and how do they compare Will I need any accessories What type of spout design suits my particular work needs What style will match my decor?

Sinks are pre-drilled with one, two, three or even four holes. The first thing you need to do is take a peek under your sink and see how many holes are there. You could be deceived by a top view since base plates may or may not be covering additional holes. If you have only one hole, you are automatically limited to a faucet that requires only a single opening. n the contrary, if there are multiple holes, you'll be able to consider almost any design, including a single-handle faucet by covering up the extra holes with a base plate. Often one hole is distant from the others and used for an accessory like a spray hose or soap dispenser.

There are two general mechanisms by which faucets operate: with washers and without; or as you'll see them referenced, compression and washerless. Compression faucets had been the standard for decades. They control water flow by means of washers being compressed inside each of the two handles. any older homes still have this type of device, and parts are widely available to repair them; but it is becoming much harder to find new compression models.

Today, the faucet of choice is washerless because they are so much more efficient than compression. The washerless category can be further sub-divided into ball and cartridge styles. The original washerless faucet was a ball design. It is easily recognized by the ball shape at the base of the spout and a single handle which allows rotation in any direction controlling water flow and temperature. Like the compression type, these models are still found in many homes and can be readily repaired, but new ball models are also becoming scarce.

The ball design has given way to the cartridge mechanism, which requires much less maintenance. A cartridge in the stem regulates water flow and temperature by moving up-and-down, and side-to-side. The cartridge can be made of various materials: ceramic, brass, plastic and others. The latest innovation in cartridge design uses ceramic discs which regulate the water flow through their sliding action. Since ceramic is inherently an extremely durable material it is considered the optimum choice by many experts, but many companies have developed their own trademarked, long-lasting materials as well.

Evaluate how you use your faucet. Most people prefer to have a spray hose. If you already have a side hole, a new faucet with a matching sprayer can usually be found; but there are several other options to consider. You can cover the hole with a cap and select a pull-out or pull-down spray faucet. Or, you may use that hole for a soap dispenser and still choose a spray faucet. Pull-down faucets typically have a taller spout which means more clearance for large pots etc. The pull-out styles have a lower profile but offer a longer handle which is easier to grip when spraying. Both styles usually have a button on the sprayer to change the type of water flow.

Some people have grown up with the standard two-handle compression faucets and feel more familiar with the new two-handle cartridge versions. Others welcome the quick, easy motion of a single-handle. The choice is primarily one of personal preference. Most singles have the arm on the top of the stem, but more and more models are locating the handle on the side, especially on the taller faucets. Two handle models offer more creative options in design such as the use of a variety of materials as inserts or grips in the handles. And if there are special needs to be met, keep in mind that many faucet styles meet the standards of the ADA American Disabilities Act. Cross-style or wrist blade handles make operation simpler especially in these situations.

Since the late 1980s, motion-sensing faucets have become more and more popular. Though predominantly found in public facilities, they are also being used in many homes. One key considerations for choosing these hands-free styles is to make it easier for children who may not be able to reach the handles farther away. Another is that children often forget to turn off the water when finished. Elderly people suffering from arthritis and other disabilities will benefit, and sanitation is improved since no touching of handles occurs with dirty hands.

A few additional thoughts If you often use large pots in your sink, you may opt for a taller, goose-neck style spout. However, if you use it with a shallow sink, splash-back could be a nuisance. Make sure the spout swivels enough to cover the complete area of your sink. For a unique look that leaves the deck clutter-free, consider a wall mount faucet. And for the gourmet kitchen check out a high-arch, commercial style model with a spiral spring and pre-rinse sprayer.

After all the points of functionality are reviewed, the decision comes down to one of personal taste, and the desire to match the room decor. There are contemporary, avant-garde, European, classic, ornate, antique, and dozens of other artistic approaches to faucet design. Additionally, there are numerous choices of finishes. Beyond the ever-popular chrome, you'll find copper, brass, gold-plated and many more options, most in a matte, gloss or satin appearance.

The right faucet for you is the one that matches your existing fixtures, usage needs, and artistic flair. In today's kitchen, the faucet can make a visual statement of your good taste and serve all your practical needs as well.