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Posted by Anne Burkley | Feb 07, 2010

Finding the Right Kitchen Faucet

Take into account appearance, mechanics, measurements and durability.

Choosing a kitchen faucet is mostly about looks and performance, but there are a few other considerations to take into account before you buy. Faucets range from $50 to over $1,000, depending on the style, finish, faucet type and features. The best advice for faucet shopping is to choose the most durable faucet type in a style you like with a finish that works in your kitchen or in your kitchen plans. If you are building new or doing a complete remodel, your choices are limited only to budget. If you're replacing your current faucet you'll be limited to the hole-configuration of your sink and may have to add adapters to the water lines. Faucets in all but the lowest of price points are available in different styles. No matter what style you choose, take the following elements into consideration while shopping.

Mechanics

While to the average buyer mechanics might not be the most interesting part of faucet shopping, it is quite important. The mechanics will affect the durability and the maintenance of the faucet. Kitchen faucets generally come in three types: ball, cartridge and ceramic disc. All three of these types of faucets are washerless, meaning there is no rubber seal that will wear out and cause a leak.

A ball faucet is common in the kitchen. It has a single handle and the component that controls the water flow and temperature is a metal or plastic ball with slots that align with the hot and cold water. It has the most parts of all the washerless faucets and is most susceptible to leaks.

Cartridge and ceramic disc faucets rarely leak or need maintenance. Both faucet types come in single or double handles. All the parts that are subject to wear in the cartridge faucet are contained in a replaceable cartridge, though they rarely need attention. Ceramic disc faucets are the latest technology and most dependable. They often have a lifetime warranty. Two ceramic discs control both the temperature of the water and the flow.

Mount

As mentioned above, you will have to be sure that a new faucet matches up with the hole configuration in the sink or the counter. Base plates can be installed to cover holes in sinks and counters that are no longer needed, though you may not like the look. It isn't recommended to drill new holes into existing sinks and counters. If you are remodeling or building new, you might decide to get a wall-mounted faucet for a fresh look.

Handles

Kitchen faucets are available with one or two handles to control water flow and temperature. The single handle is often part of a unit, but some are mounted separately to the side of the faucet for a custom look. Because a lot of multitasking goes on in the kitchen, single handles are popular. Double handles are available and offer more precise water and temperature control, but they aren't as convenient if your hands are dirty or full.

Spout

When you are choosing a faucet, be sure that the spout reach will cover most of the sink. Many spouts also double as pull-out sprayers, making rinsing food, filling pots and cleaning the sink easy. The neck height of the spout also is important. Gooseneck spouts offer a tall clearance in the sink which is great for washing large pots and pans, but some may not cover the entire area of a sink - particularly if the sink has multiple bowls. Also, if you have a shallow sink, keep in mind that a high neck will create a larger splash.

Finish

Chrome is the standard in faucets. It's the least expensive and most durable. It has, however, fallen out of fashion in the past few years as consumers opt for the softer look of brushed chrome, oiled bronze, copper and satin nickel finishes. An added physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish will make these finishes scratch resistant. Higher-end faucets are available in many enamel colors, but the enamel can chip.

The kitchen faucet adds style and functionality to the room. Choose something you love that is durable so that it lasts a lifetime - or at least until you want to update your kitchen!

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