How to Choose a Bathroom Faucet

Types of Bathroom Faucets

Although you'll see them in lots of different shapes and finishes, there are four basic types of bathroom faucets. Yes, faucet design and technology is morphing and changing with advancements that are making no-touch, illuminated and waterfall faucet styles popular. Still, when you look under the sink or grab a screwdriver to fix a drip, you're most likely to find one of these four configurations.

  • Ball faucets - Using a swiveling handle, ball faucets actually have a ball joint that's mounted on a central post. The handle turns to control water flow as well as temperature. This is a pretty straightforward design that's easy to identify. It was one of the first faucet styles to lose the washer in favor of newer technology. It's seen in both kitchens and bathrooms. The biggest complaint about ball style faucets is that there are so many little parts inside that they're prone to developing leaks.
  • Compression faucets - These old-school faucets have two handles, each with a valve to regulate water flow and an onboard washer in each to create a pressure seal. This is the style that many of us grew up with. If you remember your dad laboring over a box of utility washers trying to find one that would stop an annoying drip, he was probably working on a compression faucet. Even though having to update a deteriorated washer occasionally is a pain, this style can take abuse, and washer maintenance is easier than it looks.
  • Washerless faucets - Also known as cartridge faucets, this style eliminates the need for washers by using a stem cartridge to control water delivery. Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles. Single handle models lever up and down to regulate volume and move from side to side to control temperature. Two handle models can look identical to compression faucets. Marketed as the answer to leaky washer style faucet problems, cartridge faucets are less prone to drips but still have seals that can wear out.
  • Disc faucets - A relatively current design, the disc faucet uses a central cylinder and two ceramic discs (one that moves and one that doesn't) to control water flow and temperature. If you hate leaks, this faucet style is reliable and long-lasting. Usually the most expensive of the four faucet types, disc faucets typically come with excellent warranties and even lifetime warranties on the cylinders aren't uncommon.

There's more to consider when buying a faucet than just what's going on inside. Let's take a peek at the look and layout of some popular bathroom faucet designs.