The Ultimate Bathroom Faucet Buying Guide

Modern white bathroom sink and faucet in home showcase interior

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If you've read our ultimate toilet buying guide, you know that choosing new bathroom fixtures is not as simple as it first seems. After all, what's simpler than a toilet? Well, lots of things. And same with faucets. This simple item that we all take for granted is actually more complicated than you think.

So, when it comes to faucets, what are the different kinds and how do you choose the right one for your bathroom? Let's have a look at some technical and decor characteristics.

Installation Types

If you're replacing an old faucet with a new one, it's best if you use the same installation type. The holes will fit and you won't have to worry about whether or not your faucet will work.

If you're building a new home or doing a big renovation, then you'll have the ability to choose whatever kind of installation you like.

  • Center-set faucet: A center-set faucet has a spout and two handles in a single, solid unit. The two side holes are drilled 4 inches apart.
  • Widespread or spread-fit faucet: This kind of faucet installation has the spout and two handles as three separate components, which leaves you some freedom as to how wide you want it installed. It's a great solution for corner sinks or sinks that require a side spout, usually seen in tiny bathrooms.
  • Single-hole faucet: This faucet is a single unit, with one handle controlling both hot and cold water. Also used for motion sensor faucets.
  • Wall-mounted faucet: As the name says, this type of installation is in the wall, not in the sink or counter. Your concern here should be splashing: the higher the faucet it from the sink, the more splash you'll get.

You can determine your type of installation by simply checking your faucet. One solid unit? Center-set. Three different parts? Widespread. One handle? Single hole. Wall-mounted is also easy to identify.


Faucets are pretty simple, so there aren't many features to consider.

The first one is the spout arc height. The arc height tells you how tall the spout of your faucet it. If there is nothing above the faucet, then you don't have to worry about it. If, however, there is a cabinet or shelf, you will need to measure and make sure that the spout fits under it.

The second feature is the number of handles. Since the number of handles is determined by the installation type, you may not have a choice in the matter if you're replacing an old faucet. Two handles are great for getting just the right temperature, but one handle looks sleeker and more modern.


Faucets typically come in three distinctive styles: traditional, modern, and transitional (which is an in-between style that features elements from both traditional and modern).

Faucet style is where you get to have fun: you can match your modern bathroom with a sleek, contemporary faucet, or make an interesting statement with a retro, vintage style. The possibilities are endless, and this is where you get to express your creativity and personal tastes.

Modern faucets tend to be more angular, with sharp corners and waterfall designs. More traditional styles feature curved spouts and more ornate handles.

If you have free rein as to what kind of faucet installation you want, then you can definitely go for any style that strikes your fancy. If you're limited by an installation type, don't worry: there are still plenty to choose from, no matter what kind of faucet you need.


The finish also has an important influence on the overall look of your bathroom. You should ideally match all of your finishes in the same room. Although not a necessity, it gives your bathroom a sense of harmony.

  • Chrome finish: The most common finish for faucets of all kinds. The reflective surface looks wonderful when clean, but is easily marred by water stains. It needs to be cleaned regularly.
  • Brushed-chrome finish: The same silver color as chrome, except with a brushed, matte finish. If you don't like too much shine, this is a good option.
  • Brass: Currently a trendy finish, brass is a warm, deep golden color that looks retro or even antique. Works best for bathrooms that try to achieve a retro, traditional look.
  • Nickel: Close in shade to chrome, nickel is a little warmer with golden undertones. Comes in ​a reflective or brushed finish.
  • Bronze: Darker than brass, bronze evokes luxury and tradition. Perfect for that luxurious spa-like bathroom in your dream house.
  • Black: Modern and striking, black finishes are increasing in popularity. It hides dirt well (especially if the finish is matte) and contrasts with light countertops and sinks.

Chrome and black finish are more consistent with modern styles, while others are more traditional. Your choice of finish will depend on the style of faucet you're choosing; not all styles are available in all finishes. 

Which Faucet Is Right for You?

Faucet style and color give the finishing touch to a bathroom. Although it seems less important than, say, bathtub style or vanity size, it's still a valuable, if subtle, bathroom decor element.

If you're changing an old faucet, consider that a change of style could update your bathroom decor in a budget-friendly way. Make it more modern or more traditional with simply changing the faucet style.

Enhance a retro bathroom with beautiful industrial-style faucets, or maintain that ultra-modern, ultra-sleek look with the latest contemporary faucet designs.