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Choosing a Kitchen Faucet: 15 Things You Need to Know

There's more to a faucet than running water. Know your spouts from your valves with our comprehensive cheat sheet.


1. Remember holes and handles: Replacing an existing faucet? Remember that your new faucet will require the same number of holes in the deck of the sink as your old one (including the spout and handles).


2. Aerator upkeep: Faucets are often fitted with an aerator, which is designed to mix air with water and produce a fuller flow. You can save up to 40 percent of the water used by faucets by replacing your old aerators with new, more efficient ones.


3. Know your faucet's flow: Want to know the flow rate? Check the side of your aerator to see it stamped on the metal.


4. Budget-friendly finish: The least expensive faucet finish is chrome.


5. Brass is best: The body of a faucet encompasses the spout and controls. Solid brass bodies last the longest and require the least care. Not sure if it's brass? Weigh it in your hand. It should feel heavier than most others.


6. Keep it clean: Looking for a finish that hides water spots and fingerprints? Choose pewter, nickel, or brass –- and avoid chrome.


7. Brushed nickel is robust: Brushed nickel is the most popular finish among buyers, mainly for its durability. But consider a titanium coating to further prevent tarnishing and scratching.


8. Know your valves: A valve is the part of the faucet that controls water flow. There are four types to look for: ball, cartridge, compression, and ceramic disk.


9. Ceramic disk valves: These are the latest in valve technology (and also the highest quality). This type is made up of two ceramic disks: One disk is stationary, while the other moves to block or open water flow. Locked together, they form an airtight seal. While the most expensive, this is the most reliable valve, and it's less prone to breakage than some other kinds.


10. Compression valve faucets: These are the least expensive, but more prone to leakage.


11. Ball valve faucets: These have a rotating metal or plastic ball that regulates the flow of water. A metal ball will last longer than a plastic ball.


12. Cartridge valve faucets: These operate using rubber O-rings inside a cylindrical cartridge to control the flow of water. Choose brass over plastic for best durability.


13. Handle this: Handles come in two-handle and single-handle designs. Two-handle designs allow more independent control over water temperature and are less expensive.


14. Look for a physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish: It can be more costly but will prevent tarnishing and corrosion for longer.


15. Pick replaceable internal parts: Otherwise, you'll need to replace the whole faucet if one part breaks.