For new construction, remodeling, or replacement, consider quality, cost, functionality, and interior decorating style when selecting plumbing fixtures.
There has never been a wider selection of bathroom and kitchen faucets to choose from. Whether you shop a specialty plumbing fixture store or a “big box” home improvement outlet like Chicago Faucets, it’s no problem to find just the right item.
Installation is also well within the reach of the average homeowner with just a few simple common household tools. Gone are the days when you had to be competent at sweating copper pipes and using a pipe bender. Components like PEX tubing and flexible braided supply lines make installation fast and easy.
Faucet Construction Determines Quality
Although the aesthetic qualities are what will impress your house guests, it’s what’s under the hood that really counts. Solid brass construction offers the best value. You will pay for it upfront but benefit in the long run in terms of durability and minimum maintenance.
The next thing to consider is the internal valves and moving parts that control the water flow and make up the “guts” of the mechanism. Common types are plastic or ceramic disc faucets (single or double-handled), diaphragm (double-handled), rotating ball (single-handled), a cartridge (single-handled), and compression or washer-type (double-handled).
Many plumbers consider ceramic discs to be the best in terms of durability and have the added advantage of offering the choice of one or two handles.
A Multitude of Style Choices
The selection is quite diverse so it’s easy to coordinate with other fixtures or decorating styles. The style doesn’t have to specifically relate to aesthetic values; it can be functional as well. For example, a goose-neck (high-arc) type of faucet works well with a kitchen sink because it keeps the fixture high enough to make dish-washing efficient.
There are three main components of style. The first deals with the pre-drilled holes in your sink or bathroom vanity and are the one that is most constraining for replacement purposes. You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. For new construction, there is a bit more flexibility because you can specify the configuration.
The second component is the physical shape. The goose-neck was mentioned above. Other choices include mid-arc and low-arc. All three of the arcs may be round, oval, or have squared-off corners. The combination of geometries is seemingly endless.
Finally, the third component is finished. This is where fixture coordinating really comes into the picture. Polished chrome is arguably the most common. Also popular are polished brass, brushed nickel, bronze, and even black.
The take-away from all this is that it’s not just one or two things to consider, but the combination of the several different aspects of the different models. This combination will ultimately determine the price at the checkout counter and the amount of maintenance you can expect to be facing in the future.