The jewel of your kitchen is your faucet. It commands center stage and reigns over some of life's most important tasks, so it makes sense to spend some time considering all the amazing aspects of your kitchen faucet.
Faucets were first noted as part of human history back in 1700 B.C. when the ancient Minoan palace at Knossos on the island of Crete was outfitted with terra cotta pipes and faucets made of marble, gold and silver, as listed in an infographic on the Roto Rooter website. Certainly these early faucets don't resemble what we currently install in our homes, but they did bring water from cisterns or rainwater collection points to help Minoans with the same household tasks we perform today.
Rudimentary faucets only marginally improved over the next two thousand years since most homes after the fall of the Roman Empire - even the wealthiest - didn't have indoor plumbing until late into the 19th Century. Once the 20th Century dawned, though, faucet technology advanced quickly with the introduction in 1913 of quaturn cartridge which forever changed faucet operation. Instead of several turns to draw water, users would only need a one-quarter turn.
What followed was nothing short of a flurry of advancements:
- Alfred Moen's invention of the single-handle faucet in 1937
- Alex Manoogian founds the Delta Faucet Company in 1954 after improving Landis Perry's ball valve that mixes hot and cold water
- Invention of the ceramic disc in 1980
- Delta's introduction of the first residential electronic faucet in 2001 and touch faucet in 2008
What's on the Inside Counts
To be sure you're getting the absolute best kitchen faucet for your money, you need to investigate what materials are inside of it. As a general rule, the more metal - lead-free, of course - the better your faucet will perform for longer.
You'll know immediately whether or not a faucet has metal parts because it will be heavier. Faucets manufactured with metal should also include a note like, "all-brass body" or something similar. Fixtures made with brass and chrome-plated fittings might sound good, but the chrome is covering a lesser material that will will get worn away by the water flowing through the faucet.
Another critical component in your faucet is the disc, or washer. Less expensive faucets utililze rubber washers that, like plastic or weaker metals, will wear out quickly - and wear out the valve - compared to faucets that employ ceramic discs.
Touch and touchless technology
Using the back of your hand or wrist to operate your faucet hit the residential market in 2008 under Delta's Touch20 technology marker, and totally touchless faucets followed shortly thereafter. Top manufacturers like Delta, Moen, Kohler, Grohe and others continue to integrate touch and touchless technology into their product collections so you're working smarter, not harder in your kitchen.
The list of finishes available continues to grow, and, depending on the manufacturer you choose, could come in at twenty or more. More, there are innovations like spot-resistant finishes and finishes applied using an advanced process - PVD (physical vapor deposition) - that will make your faucet last longer and require less maintenance overall.
To help you make better sense of all the options available to you, we offer a handful of guides:
- Choosing the right faucet finish
- Introduction to spot-resistant finishes
- Is a PVD finish worth the extra cost?
Advanced Spray Technology
Both Delta and Moen have introduced technology so you can increase the force of the faucet spray without making a bigger mess because of too much splash. Both the Shieldspray from Delta and the PowerClean from Moen give you a concentrated jet of water that washes away mess without flooding your countertops with water.
Pull-Down, Pull-Out, or Side Spray
Kitchen faucets that incorporate some type of sprayer help make rinsing food like fruit and vegetables and cleaning up after meals much easier. Whether or not you choose a pull-down, a pull-out of side spray will depend on a number of factors, including available space and whether or not you appreciate the seamless integration of a pull-down or pull-out or like the more traditional side spray.
Kitchen faucets can typically be mounted in three different ways:
- On your sink
- On your deck
- On your wall above the sink
There are pros and cons of each and some considerations to keep in mind, including whether or not your sink is located on an exterior wall, which could affect whether or not a wall-mount faucet will work for your project.
Your kitchen faucet will be the jewel of your kitchen so be sure you do your research to find exactly the right piece that will work for you for years to come.