7 Types of Kitchen Faucets — And What You Should Know

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If you need a new kitchen faucet, you might be surprised just how many varieties are available these days. It's not just a matter of deciding whether you want a stainless steel or oiled-bronze finish and whether you want a single-handle faucet or two-handle faucet.

These days, a modern kitchen may have a kitchen sink fitted for up to five holes. You'll also need to decide what shape you want your spout, whether you want a pull-down or pull-out faucet, whether you want a touch or touchless faucet and more. With so many types of kitchen faucets available on the market today, it takes a bit of research to find out your options before you actually decide what will work best for your home.

Sink Holes and Types of Kitchen Faucets

Not long ago, sinks had only one to three holes in them for attachments, but as more features have been introduced to the market, sinks now have as many as five holes. This is to accommodate not just the faucet and its handles but also additional features such as a soap dispenser, a water-filtration faucet, a hot-water dispenser, a dishwasher air gap, a side sprayer and more.

Before you really start shopping for a new faucet, you need to think about the number of holes that are cut in your sink. If you don't have a sink already, if you are going to do a wall-mounted sink or if you are using an undermount sink with a still-uncut countertop, this won't be an issue because you can either buy your sink based on the faucet or you'll need to custom install the faucet in your wall or countertop.

If you're buying a faucet to fit a particular sink, you'll need to buy according to how many holes it has. A single-hole configuration, for example, is usually only suited to a single-handle faucet. With a two-hole configuration, you could have a traditional single-handle faucet and a sprayer or soap dispenser. If you like the classic look of a spout with separate handles on each side, you'll usually need at least three holes.

It is possible to cut new holes into a sink, but because this often requires a professional, it's generally preferable to just buy a new faucet with as many holes as your sink. If you're buying a new sink and are still unsure what kind of faucet you'll get, remember that it's easier to fill in the holes than to cut new ones, so it's better to buy a sink with too many holes than too few. If you have extra holes after the faucet is installed, you can always fill them with accessories or cover them with faucet-hole covers.

Kitchen Faucet Spout Shapes

Just as there are many handle configurations ranging from bridges to single-handle faucets with the spout apart from the handle, kitchen faucet spouts can come in a number of shapes and sizes. Almost all of these shapes can be sold with a swivel or a pull-out spout. Some of the most popular designs on the market today include:

  • Straight neck: Shoots straight from the body in a mostly straight line, offering a long reach with a low clearance

  • Shepherd's crook: Resembles the hooked stick traditionally carried by sheep herders, which can provide a little extra clearance for tall pots while providing additional aesthetic appeal

  • Gooseneck: Provides high clearance for particularly deep pots and jugs. There are both high- and low-arc goosenecks, with the low arcs taking up less vertical space but the high arcs making it easier to fill bigger pots and jugs.

  • Articulating: A fully adjustable spout with multiple joints that is very useful for both cleaning and filling large and tall pots and pans

Single-Handle Kitchen Faucets

While there are seemingly infinite types of kitchen faucets, when it comes to handle numbers, there are only two types of faucets available: one-handle or two-handle faucets. With a single-handle design, you turn on the water flow with one handle and then adjust the handle between the hot and cold sides until you reach the right temperature and water pressure.

Generally, one-handle faucets only require a single hole for installation, although some designs set the handle apart from the spout. Most homeowners prefer single-handle kitchen faucets because they can be controlled with one hand, but some people feel they can better control the water pressure and temperature with two separate handles.

Two-Handle Kitchen Faucets

With a two-handle design, there are separate handles for cold water and hot water. To get warm water, you need to turn on both handles and find a desirable median water temperature and pressure between the two. As opposed to single-handle faucets, two-handle designs usually require a three-hole design — one for each handle and one for the spout.

However, there are bridge-style designs that work for two holes, wherein the spout rises above the sink and connects between the two handles. There are also designs for one-hole installation where the two handles sit off each side of the spout.

Aside from increased control over the settings, some people choose two-handle faucets simply because they like the more classic aesthetic of these designs. It is worth keeping in mind, though, that a two-handle faucet offers double the potential for a leaky handle.

Pull-Out Kitchen Faucets

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to pull-down versus pull-out faucets. In fact, many people believe the two faucet types are the same, which makes sense given the similarity of the terms and even their functionality. Indeed, both faucet styles have a retractable spray head at the end of the spout, which can be useful for cleaning or filling large pots.

While a pull-out faucet is designed to pull out and spray far beyond the reach of the spout, pull-down faucets usually have a spout with a high arc, so the sprayer is designed to only pull down and spray below the spout. As such, pull-out faucets are usually lower and have longer sprayer hoses, while pull-down faucets usually have high arcs with a shorter sprayer hose.

Faucet Assistant points out that pull-out faucets make it easier to spray things outside of the sink, which can make filling large items easy and can make cleaning counters simpler. These hoses provide more control and can be maneuvered into any position, and as a result, they splash less. If you have cabinets, shelves or other items above the sink, you're likely better off with a pull-out faucet, as these do not have such high arcs. On a similar note, pull-out faucets are available in most spout styles, whereas pull-down faucets are usually sold in gooseneck shapes.

Pull-Down Kitchen Faucets

Due to the fact that pull-down faucets usually feature a high arc, they also usually feature a locking or magnetized dock to hold the sprayer in place, whereas pull-out spouts are usually held with nothing more than gravity and friction. This means pull-down spouts are less likely to get kinks or have retraction issues since they only pull down, and the head locks in place.

Other benefits include the fact that pull-down faucets make it easier to fill particularly large jugs and pots than pull-out faucets. Because the sprayer shoots straight down, they are easier to use with deep sinks. Also, they tend to be more comfortable to use since they generally just pull down rather than having to be twisted and turned into position.

High-Tech Kitchen Faucets

Two of the biggest changes in kitchen faucet technology are the addition of touchless and touch faucets. While many people think touch (touch-sensitive) and touchless (hands-free) faucets are the opposite of one another, these are both high-tech designs that are easy to use when your hands are dirty, but they operate in different ways.

Whereas traditional kitchen faucets require you to turn a handle to use the water, both touchless and touch faucets allow you to turn on the water without touching the handle. Touchless faucets use a sensor that can tell when a hand or object is in front of them, and touch faucets respond to physical touch anywhere on the faucet, so you can even turn them on with a touch of your forearm. Both options require either batteries or electricity from your home, but it is worth mentioning that the risk of electrical shock is minimal.

While some people worry that touch faucets will turn on and off as they are cleaned, the reality is that they only respond to a quick touch, not prolonged touch or rubbing. On a similar note, while it's very rare for pets to accidently turn on touch faucets, they can turn on touchless faucets just as easily as a human, and some animals even learn to use these faucets to get fresh, running water on demand.

Some benefits of both of these types of kitchen faucets include:

  • Letting you avoid making a mess or adding germs to the faucet when your hands are dirty, though touchless faucets make this easier than touch designs

  • Saving water by turning off quickly and easily. This can be particularly handy when you can't use the handle to turn off the water immediately for one reason or another.

  • Safer for young children since they can turn the sinks on and off without having to reach the handles at the back of the sink

Of course, there are still some drawbacks to these enhanced faucets as well, such as:

  • More expensive and more difficult to install than traditional faucets

  • Using batteries or electricity costs more than using a traditional faucet

  • Enhanced features will not work when the power is out, although these faucets can be operated manually when necessary

  • Changing the temperature is sometimes difficult on these devices. Most require manual adjustment, although some touchless faucets allow you to touchlessly adjust the temperature settings. Surprisingly, Kitchen Faucet Blog points out that some of these high-tech faucets do not allow you to change the temperature at all without adjusting the supply line knobs under the sink.

Pot-Filler Kitchen Faucets

One of the trendiest additions to high-budget kitchen remodels is the addition of a pot filler, which is an adjustable faucet installed above a stove that pours cold water directly into large pots so they don't have to be carried across the kitchen. These faucets are made of a number of bendable pipes that can be pushed against the wall while cooking to keep them out of the way and then extended from the wall to reach the tops of pots of all sizes.

As you might expect, adding a faucet above your stove isn't exactly cheap since you'll need to have a plumber connect your cold water line to reach above the stove. Because this involves working behind the drywall, you'll need to completely reinstall the drywall and backsplash in order to install these faucets.

In addition to the difficult installation, many experts argue that pot fillers aren't worth the installation cost because you will still need to carry the pot back to the sink to dump it out after using it in many cases. Plus, the idea of a potential leak occurring just above the stove isn't exactly appealing.

Bar or Prep-Sink Kitchen Faucets

These days, many people with large kitchens find it beneficial to install a small sink elsewhere in the kitchen for a bar or prep sink. While you can install any faucet on these secondary sinks, the sinks are generally smaller than standard kitchen sinks. As such, the faucets are usually smaller so they don't look overwhelming compared to the smaller sink size. Bar sinks are sometimes hooked up to one water source — either a hot or cold water dispenser — so they often have only one water connection rather than two.

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Jill Harness is a blogger with experience covering architecture, design and decor trends from around the globe. As she lives in what would politely be called a "fixer upper," she is particularly interested in writing about DIY projects and repairs. Most of her home design writing can be found at www.homesandhues.com. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.

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