Kitchen Faucets – Buying Tips

A Selection Guide to Buying Kitchen Faucets

By Mark J. Donovan

Regardless if you are buying a new kitchen faucet as part of a remodeling project, or simply just replacing your existing kitchen faucet, there are several kitchen faucet buying tips that you should first consider.

If you are looking at kitchen faucets as part of a complete kitchen remodeling project then you have fewer concerns. If on the other hand you are replacing an existing kitchen faucet, then first and foremost you need to make sure you buy a kitchen faucet with the same number of holes in the kitchen countertop as the old kitchen faucet.

Buying Kitchen Faucets? – Check Holes Before Buying

There are your traditional 3-hole kitchen faucets with separate hot and cold handles, and there are your 1-hole kitchen faucets with a single integrated handle and spout to choose from.

In addition, the 3-hole kitchen faucet models frequently require a fourth separate hole for the sprayer and/or soap unit.

With a complete kitchen remodeling project your kitchen faucet options are completely wide open. You can either use the traditional faucet with separate hot and cold handles, or the one-piece centerset faucet with integrated handles and spout, depending on your preference.

Though the one-piece centerset faucet has gained in popularity in recent years, traditional 3-hole kitchen faucets still are ideal for both contemporary and classical kitchen styles. Some also feel that they have better water temperature control with traditional faucets.

Kitchen faucet buying tips

Many homeowners choose one-piece centerset faucets due to their sleek look and ease of use. In addition to integrating both the hot and cold handles into one handle/spout assembly, many one-piece centerset faucets also integrate the sprayer unit as well.

Other Kitchen Faucet Buying Considerations Include:

  • Height of spout
  • Style and finish
  • Water volume / Flow Rate
  • Integrated filter mechanisms
  • Maintenance and ease of repair

Buying Kitchen Faucets? – Consider Style and Finish

It is important that your kitchen faucet style and finish blend in well with your kitchen cabinet and hardware selections. Normally you want to match the kitchen faucet finish with the finish of your cabinet hardware (knobs / handles). If you are planning a contemporary kitchen design, then an integrated handle/spout kitchen faucet may make more sense.

Also, if your specific cooking preferences require the frequent use of large pots and pans then you will want to make sure you select a kitchen faucet with a tall, curved spout.

Consider Water Volume / Flow Rates when Buying a Kitchen Faucet

Though regulations today specify the maximum water flow rate out of a faucet to be 2.5 gallons per minute, there are still choices. Normally homeowners want high water flow rates out of their kitchen faucets to aid in cleaning dishes, so make sure you read the fine print on any kitchen faucet box before you buy it.

Kitchen Faucets with Integrated Water Filtration Systems

A few newer kitchen faucet models also integrate water filtration systems into their heads. Normally you can select water from either the water filtration spout hole or the normal spout hole, pending if you are looking to drink the water or clean with it. Water filtration systems need regular maintenance and could affect water flow rates so keep this in mind when investigating these types of kitchen faucets.

Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet

Mechanical Considerations when Buying Kitchen Faucets

Mechanically there are a few major kitchen faucet designs. Some use compression valves and cartridges, and others use ball valves, or washerless valves. Others even use ceramic disks for turning on and off the water. Each has their unique advantages and disadvantages. Some are easy to repair and some are more durable and expensive than others.

Compression valve kitchen faucets are the most popular and the least expensive, however they are limited to traditional separate hot and cold-water faucets. The compression valves are made out of rubber and grind against the valve seat to form the seal. They are notorious for wearing out after only a few years, however they are easy to repair. Most homeowners can replace a compression valve.

Washerless valves do not use washers and valve seats. Instead they typically employ O-rings. They are typically lower maintenance than compression valve based kitchen faucets.

Ball Valves are used on integrated handle/spout faucets and also employ O-ring seals. The ball valves have slotted openings that control the mixing of hot and cold water out of the spout.

Ceramic disc valves are the latest trend in kitchen faucet technology. They are designed with much more precision and are thus used in higher quality, more expensive kitchen faucets. Typically ceramic disc valve kitchen faucets are guaranteed to not wear out or leak.

So before you go out and buy a kitchen faucet, make sure you look at all the kitchen faucet options, and fully understand your own kitchen requirements before buying one.

For help on your kitchen remodeling project, see my Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive kitchen remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

Related Information

Additional Kitchen Remodeling Design Resources


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