How to Buy a New Kitchen Faucet

Close-up of a kitchen sink
Glow Decor / Getty Images

Buying the right kitchen faucet depends largely on the existing plumbing. Choosing a new kitchen faucet can be easier than you think once you consider three important details before you begin shopping.

Start With the Sink's Faucet Holes

There are many different kitchen faucet and sink designs available, but they're not always compatible. Start by taking a look at your kitchen sink to determine how many pre-drilled faucet mounting holes are available. This applies if you're installing a new faucet in an existing sink or buying a completely new faucet and sink.

If your existing faucet has a mounting plate on it, check under the sink to see how many holes the mounting plate covers. Keep in mind the following about mounting holes:

  • Kitchen faucets can have from one to four mounting holes.
  • Three holes are used for the spout and two handles.
  • A fourth hole is typically used for an accessory, such as a soap dispenser or side sprays.
  • Each new faucet indicates on the packaging how many mounting holes it needs for installation.
  • If you're installing a single-handle faucet into a sink with three holes, the deck plate will usually cover up the unused openings.

The location of the sink mounting holes is another thing to keep in mind. Often, the faucet is located close to the center of the sink, but this is not always the case. If the faucet will be mounted on one side of the sink, the spout needs to be long enough to reach the opposite basin for it to be of use. A tall spout with a pull-down spray nozzle is another option for a sink with corner mounting holes.

Where's the Mount?

There are top-mount and bottom-mount faucets. Top-mount faucets attach from underneath the counter. The screws are screwed in through the bottom of the faucet. Bottom-mount faucets attach from the top of the counter. The screws are installed through the top of the faucet piece.

Check the Water Lines

Make sure the new kitchen faucet you want is compatible with the water supply lines. Look under your sink towards the bottom of the cabinet and note the size of the existing water line and the shutoff valves. Here are a few guidelines to use when checking your water lines and valve:

  • If you're unsure what size your water lines are, measure them with a measuring tape.
  • Though you may have to hunt for it, the size should be etched onto the valve.
  • Note that an older home may not have a shutoff valve.
  • Many newer faucets come with 3/8-inch flex lines attached. If the existing water shutoff valves are 1/2-inch in size, you'll need to change out the shut-off valves to 3/8-inch valves before installing the new faucet.
  • It's typically a good idea to replace the shut-off valves when installing a new faucet, anyhow, since an old valve may fail if you need to shut off the water for leaks or other repairs.

Spout Selection

If the sink mounting holes for your faucet are located closer to one side of the sink, make sure your spout is long enough to swing and reach the opposite side of the basin, especially if you have a double sink. One solution is to buy a tall spout with a pull-down spray nozzle. This design is ideal for a sink design with corner mounting holes.

Consider the Finish

Even something as seemingly small as the finish of a plumbing fixture can make or break the aesthetics of your kitchen. There are a few rules of thumb. The kitchen faucet should match the finish of other sink accessories, such as the tiny dishwasher air gap, built-in soap dispenser, and sink-hole covers for unused holes. A faucet that has a shiny chrome finish will look out of place if the rest of the fixtures have a matte brushed nickel finish, for example.