The exterior of some faucets are bombarded with charged metal atoms that chemically bond to the surface of the base metal in a process called physical vapor deposition, or PVD. Different metals impart different finishes, including nickel and bronze. PVD finishes resisted our best attempts at scratching them. But corrosives like drain cleaner can stain them slightly.
Chrome, another popular finish, is pretty durable but can be scratched if you rub it with a heavy-duty scouring pad. Just use common sense when cleaning your faucet and it will stay scratch and stain free.
We tested single-handle pullout faucets, the fastest-growing style. They combine spray head and spout for added convenience and flexibility. But our findings are applicable to other faucets, too. Here's what we found in our faucets review.
Bronze finishes aren't the same
Bronze offers an alternative to the shiny metal look. We tested two bronze faucets. The one without the PVD finish was the least resistant finish in our abrasion tests. The one with the PVD finish was fine.
Side handles are harder to use
Overall, single-handle faucets are easier to use. But those with a side-mounted handle aren't as easy, especially if your hands aren't clean and you're trying not to dirty the handle. There's also less clearance between this type of handle and the backsplash. So you may bang your knuckles turning on the hot water.
Most sinks come with mounting holes drilled for faucets. If you're not changing sinks, you'll need to match what you have or get a base plate to cover extra holes. The base plate, which may be included, can also be used to cover holes in your countertop if that's where your faucet will be installed. It's not a good idea to try to drill additional holes in an existing sink or countertop.
Consider spout styles and function
Straight-spout models are compact and often inexpensive, but you might need to move the faucet to fit a big pot under it. Gooseneck models have higher clearances, but they can cause splashing if your sink is shallow. No matter what type you pick, make sure the faucet head swings enough to reach the entire sink, especially if you have a wide or double-bowl sink. Also keep the faucet proportional; a large sink looks funny with a small faucet, and vice versa.
Think about installation and repair
Replacing a faucet and a sink at the same time is easier because the faucet can be installed in the sink or counter before the sink is put in place. Fittings that can be tightened with a screwdriver also streamline installation. Long water-supply hoses let you make connections lower in the sink cabinet, where tools are easier to use. Though most faucets are guaranteed not to leak, if yours does, the manufacturer will give you only the replacement part. It's up to you to install it.
Better valves and tougher finishes are now common on all but the cheapest faucets. That's why we based our advice on finish, not brand, and why there are no Ratings.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.