Kitchen faucets are like any other product you purchase; some are made better than others and, in most cases, more expensive kitchen faucets reflect the difference in craftsmanship.
You can buy a compact, economy car or you can choose a pricier luxury sedan; both vehicles will get you to the places you need to go and to visit the people you need to see, but you'll probably enjoy the ride a lot more in the luxury sedan. Not only will the less expensive car be made with fewer amenities, but the materials that go into it will also be of inferior quality and durability.
The same comparison applies to faucets. Let us explain:
What's on the Inside Counts
There is a world of difference in the components manufacturers use to make the faucets you see in stores and online.
A $100 faucet will feature lighter, plastic parts that water and use will wear away over time. Plastic might seem like a sound choice because pipes made from PVC have replaced copper in modern housing, but when it comes to faucets, the composition of plastic faucet parts is definitely not meant for the long haul. You'll need to either replace parts more often or replace the entire faucet much sooner than you were expecting.
Higher priced, quality faucets use metal parts - usually brass - that are individually machined and not just stamped on an assembly line. Valve cartridges are either brass or ceramic, so they can stand up to the daily use and abuse a kitchen faucet needs to take.
More, where manufacturers source components matters as well. Waterstone Faucets sources all their materials - including brass and steel - from American suppliers and then does all the work in their California-based factory; designing, engineering, manufacturing, finishing, assembling, testing and packing. Their attention to detail shows; faucets generally start at the $1,000 mark and last seemingly forever.
Faucet finishes have come a long way in the last few years with most of them offering durability and long-lasting good looks as long as you take care of them properly. Don't, for example, use abrasive cleaning powders on your faucets because those can stain, pit and scratch, no matter which finish you choose on even the most expensive faucet.
Have said that about finishes in general, it is worth noting that how and to what your finish is applied makes a big difference you can actually feel: Thin, low-grade plating is easy to spot because it's light-weight in your hand while a PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish is bonded directly to the metal underneath for more substantial heft.
A $100 faucet will come in two or three finishes; polished chrome, brushed nickel and maybe white or a facsimile of oil-rubbed bronze. You will get a couple of good years out of this finish, but don't be surprised when it starts to fade, pit and show water spots you can't rub away.
Faucets that cost $1,000 come in an array of finishes like rose gold, brushed bronze, a variety of coppers and unlacquered brass, a living finish that deepens with use and age. Because finishes are so specialized, the faucet plating - like the PVD process - won't begin until you place your order. Custom plating also means a longer-lasting beauty you can count on.
The $100 faucet was most likely not designed by a professional and then engineered and manufactured with the highest-quality components and finishes. Instead, what you see on most shelves is a lower-quality version of a high-end faucet; slight tweaks to details like the shape of the spout or how the handles are positioned, plastic components instead of metal, and thin finishes.
On the other hand, a $1,000 faucet was almost certainly created after a professional designer sketched it out and envisioned it as part of a luxury remodel. Some brands are tapping fashion designers for new ideas on how to integrate technology and design because they understand how form and function need to work seamlessly together, and it shows.
In its most basic form, you really just need a faucet to turn on and off so you can use water on demand. But, as technology advances, the old saying of, "work smarter, not harder," certainly comes to mind when you think about your kitchen faucet.
A $100 kitchen faucet might have a pull-out or pull-down sprayer, but it probably doesn't have a state-of-the-art docking system. Chances are, you'll need your pull-down sprayer and instead of snapping back into place when you're done using it, it will just dangle. You'll still have full operation of your faucet, but it certainly won't look as good.
Additionally, less expensive pull-out or pull-down faucets won't give you the option of changing spray patterns or have the reach to get to the furthest corners of your kitchen sink.
A $1,000 kitchen faucet will include all the features you'll find you can't live without because of how much easier they make everyday tasks - adjustable spray patterns, magnetic docking, automatically retractable hoses, and even touch or touch-less operation.
A kitchen faucet with a 360-swivel is a key component of a high-end faucet because of the flexibility it gives you both for meal prep and clean up; you won't have to move colanders full of fruit or vegetables to rinse them or wipe food toward the spray. Instead, your pulldown faucet will do the work for you.
There are a number of factors to consider when you're buying a new kitchen faucet because it should be both the jewel and the dependable workhorse of the busiest room in your home. A $100 faucet might look like the better deal at first glance, but a closer inspection will reveal that spending more - even if you're not willing to shell out $1,000 - makes for a smarter, long-term investment.