Kitchen Faucets: What’s Important and Which Faucet is Best For Me?
A curious thing about human nature is that we tend to take our time and meticulously research before we make a big purchase. Take for example a bathtub – it is an indispensable instrument for hygiene, and both physically big and a large investment in terms of money. Naturally, it is vital that we get our bathtubs and our geezers and our air heaters correct. However, this also means we can gloss over the more minuscule things. Case in point: faucets. It is the most basic of things, it will be part and parcel of our plumbing system. But most importantly, a faucet will be something you will be interacting with several times a day – much more than your bathtubs and shower panels.
When we install plumbing in our new homes, we will usually keep faucets at the end of the list – sometimes unceremoniously slap it on as an afterthought.
Here’s the thing: you will not think the world of faucets until that one pivotal kitchen faucet suddenly clogs and stops working.
But since you have come to read this anyway, you probably already know why getting a good faucet can mean a major quality-of-life improvement.
Depending on where your priorities lie, water faucets will come with quite a large spectrum of pricing. A faucet, as you may know, can cost anything from $100 to $1000. This steep pricing curve is due to the varying degrees of materials used to build this faucets. It can use all things from PVC to metal. Good faucets are not just done and dusted in an assembly line; they will have parts that are individually designed and manufactured to impress – valve cartridges made of either brass or ceramic, and so on. Moreover, the design and finish will also factor into the overall quality and pricing of a faucet. A masterful work of craftsmanship can be spotted immediately, you will not need me to point you in its direction.
It can be a hassle to strike the right balance between quality and pricing in the faucets available in the market today, because there is a baffling amount of different brands, their different gimmicks and strong points, and a plethora of factors in how the different models are engineered. But worry not, I have done the research for you.
I have personally tested 14 different popular brands and several of their faucets. As a homemaker, I always have a hunch for the good products even without prolonged usage. But I still have used these products over a period of 5 years to monitor how much the performance changes over a couple months. Anyhow, since a singular perspective can be opinionated, I have done everything to ensure that what I pick as the superior product is the collective consensus. I have read nearly all reviews related to the tested faucet products on amazon, reddit, and third-party blogs and factored them in, and then I have gone on to hold a poll among my email subscribers – 1000+ of whom voted – based on personal user experience to hand-pick the best faucets you can buy at a given price range.
Now that we are done with the pleasantries, let us get to the important bit.
The three qualities that I believe essentially determines how good a faucet will serve you are: A. Ease of use, B. Mileage (i.e. how it will hold up over a longer period of time), and C. The quality of manufacture.
Here are the four various faucets that have been the top-notch favourites in their categories for the customers, and I have also found them to turn out as good as they say in my personal experience.
Note that while finish and design is also an important aspect, a preference in aesthetics is always subjective. All of these recommended faucets will come with several options to let you pick your choice of colour and finish.
The perfect fit for a washroom sink:
American Standard 2555.821.002 Town Square Widespread Lavatory Faucet
Bigger faucets look much more grandiose in most home designs, but here is the best option when you prefer it smaller. I personally have them installed on a large basin. A widespread basin takes up quite a bit of vertical space. But these are reasonably small in height compared to the average pull-down faucet, leaving out enough space for a wall-mounted mirror above it.
These should get straight 10/10’s for ease of use, because all I need is to flick the top knob once for the water to start flowing. This is perfect because I can use it when I’m squinting my eyes shut with a facemask on. After a year or so, I expected I would need to apply extra effort into getting this tap-and-done system to work, but it amazingly still works as it did on the first day.
It is fully made of brass, so you don’t need to worry about decay and/or rust. The aerator works fine, too.
You have some flexibility for hose connections – it can be either 6 or 12 inch according to what works best for your current plumbing setup in your place of choice.
I have no personal plumbing proficiency, and had it installed by a professional, but as the general consensus reads, it is easy to install as well.
In terms of looks: It offers three options between the classic polished chrome finish, a darker satin nickel finish. For when you have your restroom set up for a vintage look, there is an oil-rubbed bronze finish option if you are willing to spend an additional $100.
When you need a dinky faucet:
American Standard 7415.101.295 Portsmouth Monoblock Faucet
You can go king-size when the place and occasion fits it, but if you just want a small standalone faucet for the outhouse sink, this is possibly the best option you are going to get.
Note that this is absolutely basic and does not have more advanced tools like spray pattern and so on. This sets the bar low for it by default, and I have found it to perform reasonably well with the capacity a small standalone faucet can get. Since there is not much ground to cover, I will just state my experience with this in brief.
I have it installed on a tiny sink at the back lawn. I primarily use it to wash my cars on weekends with a hose, and the water flow capacity is incredibly good for such a small package. As for technicalities, the flow of water has an upper limit of 1.2 gallons per minute.
This faucet is perfect when you need a modular water source in a crammed/limited space. If you have a larger sink, though, go for other options. It does not exactly look aesthetically out of place since it is modern in design, but for a slightly larger price range you can get bigger multi-spray modish faucets if you are not limited by space, or can make do with bigger, more complex taps.
This has a good old-fashioned lever on it that you will need to flick in order to turn it on. I have been using it for two years, and the lever has not jammed once yet.
The brass finish has not accumulated signs of rust even though I have it installed practically outdoors, and this should speak for its durability. Speaking of which, the Portsmouth Monoblock comes with three finish options. I have a satin nickel finish, but you can go with a polished chrome finish (cheaper), or a more aristocratic-looking oily bronze finish.
The ultimate multi-purpose wall-mount faucet under $200:
American Standard 7298.152.002 Heritage Wall-Mount
I have this installed in the restroom, and as a disclaimer, I will first mention that this has no variants in terms of look. You get a standard chromatic metal finish, and that’s it. However, if you look past the lack of choice in design and colour, I have found that the American Standard wall-mount overall just feels better than the other options in the price range.
Like all other American Standard products, where it particularly shines is its durable brass finish. Three years of usage, and still looks as good as new.
Other than that, the other features are pretty basic. There are two taps for either hot or cold water. It gets all the basic stuff right: the flow is reasonably good, the lever handles turn smoothly. The left lever has been less smooth of late, but you really have to stand and compare flicking them on and off side-by-side to notice. Another plus point is that there has been absolutely zero dripping in three years of usage.
If you want a state-of-the-art pull-down faucet, the best pick is
American Standard 4175300.075 Colony Soft 1 Handle High Arc.
Most of the pros of the above-mentioned 7298.152.002 Heritage Wall-Mount carry over to American Standard’s top-selling pull down faucet. The brass finish has a lifetime warranty against wear and tear, and there is absolutely no dripping. Dripping is a deal-breaker, you don’t want a kitchen faucet dripping water every ten seconds. The loud reverb can even keep you up at night.
The pull-down function works even better than what it sounds like, and the flow of water is as smooth as you want for doing your dishes. There is also an adjustable spray feature if you want spread-out individual jets of water.
Another thing to note (and an additional perk for this faucet in particular, I believe) is that I have installed it directly on my sink without an escutcheon (i.e. an additional flat circular base). There has been no leakage in the nine months that I have been using it.
There are a lot of options if you want to customize. First off, you can select between two base designs. There is a slim design if you prefer its aesthetics, or there is a bulkier classic design. Both come with the choice of either a polished chrome finish or a more matte-ish stainless steel exterior.