Faucets don't exist in a vacuum. They're attached to something, and sometimes to a number of things. If you're renovating your bathroom or just upgrading your sink, you'll discover that converting what you've got into what you want can be a big project. If you haven't done any DIY plumbing before, you may want to keep your updates similar in configuration to the equipment you're replacing. If you're employing the help of a plumber, having an inspection done before you start investing in new fixtures is a good idea. A quick look behind your walls may reveal that you have more to worry about behind the scenes than you expected.
Switching out your faucet for one with a new look or finish will update your bathroom in a single, dramatic step. Because the faucet works in conjunction with the sink, though, pay attention to the sink's predrilled holes. Their number and spacing are an important consideration when choosing a faucet:
- Single hole - Most common in small sinks, one hole configurations will accommodate a single lever as well as some two-handled designs.
- Four-inch three hole - Also found in smaller sink designs, 4-inch three-hole sinks can accommodate centerset faucets that have separate handles but look like one integrated piece, some single lever designs (with concealing deckplates), and mini spread faucets that look like three separate pieces.
- Widespread (8-inch three hole) - Usually found on large sinks, this setup is designed for faucets with two handles and a separate spout in three distinct pieces. It will also work with many of the vessel sink options on the market.
- Wall-mounted - Experiencing a renaissance, wall mounted faucets can be found in either very old or very new homes. A wall mounted setup looks good and has some flexibility, but expect to replace the sink, too.
- Specialty faucets - Vessel faucets, no-touch faucets and illuminated faucets may be slightly different from standard height and width units. It's a good assumption that any cutting-edge faucet style, like a waterfall faucet, may have requirements that need special consideration. If you're adding a faucet style that no one you know has ever even heard of before, it's a good idea to find a pro who's installed one or two to get an idea of whether or not the update will be worth the effort and expense.
Many faucets are sold as kits that include handles, hardware, seals and any applicable washers. Before you buy, make sure you know what's included in the box. For instance, some faucets include drain levers, and some don't. What you get in a kit will impact the price, so what looks like a great deal may not end up so great if you have to buy a lot of extras. Warranties are another consideration. Some brands offer great warranties on standard faucet finishes but not on specialty finishes. Read the fine print before you get involved in a lengthy and possibly disappointing upgrade.
Most major faucet manufacturers have extensive websites to help you understand how to choose the right products, install and repair them.