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Your Quick and Easy Guide for How to Buy a Faucet

When it comes to a bathroom remodel, even the smallest details matter. But before you can get down to the fun of choosing towel colors and soap dishes, you’ll need to decide what kind of faucet you want for your sink(s). While there may not be a faucet out there you’ve always been dreaming of, you’ll be surprised by the ability a bathroom faucet has to personalize your space and add a little pizazz.


Of course, as with everything else ever in a remodel, there are way too many faucet options to choose from, along with a lot of lingo for each type. To best take advantage of all these choices, you’ll need to know the answers to questions like “What is a widespread faucet vs. what is a centerset faucet?” And, just as importantly, which will work best with the sink you’ve picked out? Here to help is this quick faucet buying guide, covering everything from different faucet types to how to measure a faucet spread.


The Basics

You’ll hear a few different terms over and over when you’re looking at faucets. Top among those are single-hole or three-hole, 4-inch vs. 8-inch faucets, and widespread vs. centerset faucets. If you’re going custom with countertops, the difference isn’t necessarily a big deal because you can have installed whatever kind of faucet catches your eye. On the other hand, if you’re looking to replace an existing faucet or otherwise have countertops with pre-drilled holes, you need to know what kinds of faucets will actually fit those ready-made holes.


With that in mind, let’s break down all this faucet terminology:



There’s nothing too complicated with this term. It simply refers to the number of pre-drilled holes in the countertop or sink (or wall if you’re going wall-mounted…more on that later). If you see one hole, you’ll need a single-hole faucet.


Photo by NavinTar on Shutterstock


You got it. If you see three holes, you’ll need a corresponding faucet. Though it’s possible to cover up extra holes with a plate, it’s a heck of a lot easier to just pick the right faucet from the get-go.


Photo by Felix Mizioznikov on Shutterstock

4-Inch & 8-Inch

These measurements refer to the distance between the outer holes of a three-hole spread, which is how to measure a faucet spread. With pre-drilled holes, that distance is generally either 4 inches, which gives you two options—a 4-inch centerset faucet or 4-inch mini widespread faucet — or 8 inches, which means you’re looking at a widespread faucet.


Centerset Faucets

These faucet types are all one unit, meaning the spout and handle(s) are all attached together. You’ve seen them a million times and will probably look at a million more if you have a 4-inch space to fill. Coming in either single-handle or double-handle variations, either way, they’re great choices for smaller bathrooms because of their efficient use of space.


Widespread Faucets

These types of faucets are not all one unit—instead, their handles are spread out on either side of a separate spout. Even if you’re not dictated by a widespread faucet spacing of 8 inches, you may want to consider this kind of faucet if you have a larger bathroom. Because they tend to be larger and take up more space, these faucets can hold their own in a bigger bathroom whereas smaller faucets could get lost. Plus, if you’re going custom with your cabinetry, you can make them as widespread as you like.


Mini Widespread Faucets

Similar in style to widespread faucets in that they’re three separate pieces, mini widespread (or minispread) faucets are designed for smaller spaces and to match up with a 4-Inch spread.


Photo by Matveev Aleksandr on Shutterstock

The Good-to-Knows

You now know all the basic terminology needed to go faucet shopping. To give yourself even more of a leg up on other faucet shoppers, here are the details on two more faucet styles you’re going to come across: vessel faucets and wall mount faucets.


Vessel Faucets

These guys are for raised-up vessels or basins rather than your traditional sunken sink. You’ll notice that the spout on these is taller to allow the water to flow into the upraised basin. If you’re in the market for one of these, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your vessel-style sink so you know how high of a faucet to get. Ideally, the spout should be about 3-5 inches higher than the edge of the vessel and hang 2-3 inches from the edge.


Wall Mount Faucets

A modern and stylish option that’ll work well with above-the-counter vessels, a wall-mounted faucet may not be for you if you don’t already have the plumbing (a wall-mounted valve and drain) in place behind the wall. If you’ve got your heart set on one, make sure your sink is deep enough that the flowing water won’t splash everywhere.


Photo by Kwanbenz on Shutterstock

The Extras

With all the need-to-knows of faucet mounts covered, the rest is largely going to be a matter of style and taste. Choose from among several different handle types (consider who will be using the bathroom and what will work best for them) and different finishes (try coordinating faucet finish with the other fixtures in your bathroom) for the perfect faucet for your room design.


Photo by Sergey Ryzhov on Shutterstock

Need more help? House Tipster has more ideas on what to look for when affordable faucet brand.


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