The workhorse kitchen faucet is often taken for granted — until it breaks. Just think of how frequently you and other household members use it to wash your hands, get a drink, scrub vegetables, rinse dishes, wet sponges, and more. Ideally, you want one that stands up to everyday use.

Choosing a kitchen faucet may seem like a mundane task, but it’s actually important. You want the right kind to fit your needs and your kitchen’s decor, and you don’t want to simply opt for the cheapest model.

There is also a myriad of faucet styles to choose from:

  • On/off mechanism: There are single-handle (one lever controls both water flow and temperature), double-handle (separate knobs — one for cold, one for hot — offer more precise temperature adjustment but may be less convenient), and touch- or motion-activated (clean and convenient but requiring a power source) designs.
  • Spout style: Choose from revolving or stationary, regular (steady stream) or two-mode (regular and spray), low arc (3 to 8 inches above the top of the sink), or high arc (also known as gooseneck, which is more than 8 inches above the top of the sink) models.
  • Spray head: The sprayer can be separate from and next to the faucet, or at the end of the spout. The latter type is either pull-down (often on taller faucets) or pull-out (which sometimes includes much of the spout itself).
  • Finish: Whatever material comprises the faucet’s finish (chrome, stainless steel, bronze, copper, brass, nickel, etc.) affects its appearance, cleanability, resistance to spotting and rusting, and price.

So before you shop for a new kitchen faucet, think about where (the existing space, pre-existing hardware) and how you plan to use it. Consider each model’s specs:

  • Arc and spout height and reach: Do you have ample clearance for high-arc faucet or a cozier kitchen better suited to a low-arc model? Will you need to maneuver pots and pans under the faucet in order to wash them? Do you care how far the spout reaches across or extends over the sink?
  • Flow rate: Do you want adjustable water pressure? Do you need just a stream (for filling pots or washing vegetables) or also a spray (to add oomph to scrubbing sticky or burnt-on food off of dishes)?
  • Installation requirements: How many holes does your sink have for fitting a faucet? Some sinks have only one hole, and faucets requiring more than one hole can’t be used (unless you plan to drill more holes … which may be inconvenient, costly, or structurally impossible). If your sink does have extra holes that the faucet doesn’t need, you can use cover them with an escutcheon or deck plate) or use them to fit accessories like a side sprayer or soap dispenser.

No matter which kitchen faucet you pick, choose a model that helps save water. A faucet aerator efficiently reduces the flow rate while still maintaining water pressure, thus conserving water and saving you money. Also, fix (or replace if necessary) the faucet when you notice any leaking. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste 192 gallons (726.8 liters) per month … 2,304 gallons (8.7 m3) per year.” To calculate your household’s potential water waste from a leaky kitchen faucet, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Drip Calculator.

Finally, turn off the faucet when you’re not using it. For example, when handwashing dishes, turn off the tap while soaping up dishes or fill the sink with water to wet and soak them instead of continually running the tap.

Here are our top picks for the best kitchen faucets:

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