Thursday, January 30, 2014

How To Choose A Kitchen Faucet (Design Blogger Edition)

I am sure you have come across similar topics way too many times, and I am sure a lot that I have to say has been said before. Consider this the kitchen faucet guide, a design blogger edition. Was my old kitchen faucet broken? No. Was the style no longer working with the kitchen? No. Believe it or not, key reasons for the replacement can be as trivia as the angle of the arc and the pullout spray. 

For the replaced faucet, I chose the Moen's Arbor One-Handle Kitchen Faucet in classic stainless steel (product code 7594CSL). 

Here are the aspects I would consider when choosing a kitchen faucet, or my F.H.H.S.S.P. formula. 

There are brass, antiqued brass, bronze, aged bronze, polished nickel, satin nickel, chrome, stainless steel and other painted finishes (like glossy white or black) to choose from. The rule of thumb has been to choose a consistent finish throughout the kitchen (or bathroom) for a more cohesive look.

Picture below: my new Moen's Arbor kitchen faucet

It just so happens that I have the euro bar pulls in the same stainless steel finish as the new faucet, a lucky coincidence. But really, I think it's about time people break the "same finish" rule. For example, if you really want your faucet to stand out, you could pick a trendy brass finish faucet as a statement piece; while the rest of your kitchen appliances and handles can be in a different finish. It is however important to keep the finish consistent in the same *zone* - if you have a drinking water faucet and a soap dispenser like I do, then you probably would want to keep them all in the same finish. The same goes to the styles.

If you are replacing an existing faucet, the fastest and cheapest way is to choose a new one that requires the same number of holes. You can go from a one-hole to a three/four-hole one (4th hole for a separate sprayer), but it's a lot more difficult to go the other way around. Unless, you change the countertop, or use a cover plate to cover up the extra holes. I personally would prefer not to use a cover plate because it only cheapened the look of the faucet for me.

Typical kitchen faucets have either one handle that rotates to choose a water temperature/volume or two handles for mixing hot and cold water. Lever taps are often easiest to manipulate, and I like the flexibility of using one hand or elbow action so I opt for the one-handle option.

The style of the handle also matters. Although single-handle faucet tends to look more contemporary and two-handle is often more traditional, the style of the handle and spray head often sets the tone. My kitchen can go either way so I chose a more transitional one.

Some people would add a separate sprayer for hard-to-reach corners of the sink, but most of the faucets these days come with a pullout spray to save countertop space.

The pullout spray relies on simple physics to retract and dock, like Moen's Reflex Pulldown System. The location of the weight kit (see the red circle in the picture below) determines how fast the spray hose retracts - the closer it is to the counter, the faster the hose retracts - simple physics.

I even took a quick video to show you how the Reflex works - this is really handy when both of your hands are occupied which is often the case when you are in the kitchen. 

Size of the sink that is. Now this I learnt the hard way. It is one of the key reasons to prompt me to replace our faucet.

I have a large double sink (30" x 17") and the old faucet could barely reach a 1/3 of it. I always had to lean forward to wash anything, like that's really great for someone with constant back aches. The picture below shows you my old faucet. The spray head faces straight down which sends the water stream down the same direction.

And look at the angular arc of the new one - the 30-degree angle makes all the difference. It sends the water stream closer to me, and that means 1. instead of I reaching out for water the water comes to me; 2. it projects the water closer to the four far corners so cleaning the sink itself gets easier.

Another aspect you should consider is what you wash in the sink. If you wash a large number of bulky pots and pans, you would want to choose a faucet with a tall arc neck to give you the clearance you need.

If money was no object, I am sure you could choose whatever faucet that offers us the best F.H.H.S.S. Fortunately, there are a lot of kitchen faucets in the $300-500 range that offer all the above. Faucet is one of the most used element in a kitchen, so don't cheap out on it.

*This is a sponsored post.

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