Choosing a kitchen tap is a more complex task than it sounds - especially when you can spend anywhere from $49 to $2000! The kitchen tap is simply a conduit to take water from under your sink to above your sink, but it is an important fixture as it is on display and is the most used appliance in the house. Often it is the centrepiece of the kitchen and should symbolise the style you have targeted for the entire space. But do not forget functionality. In this article I show you the key considerations for choosing your new kitchen tap, and how to ensure you get quality without overpaying.
Whether it's meant to be the centre-piece for the kitchen, installed outdoors next to the BBQ, be able to stretch out to clean a large double sink, or just simply work as a straightforward tap - this article will help you make the right choice.
There are many different types of taps that you can choose from. First let's go through my recommended steps for narrowing down your choices, then we can make sure you are informed about what to look for in a tap so that you do not pay for something you do not need:
- Step 1 - What type of mixer do I need?
- Step 2 - What design do I prefer?
- Step 3 - What finish do I prefer?
- Step 4 - What should I consider?
Step 1 - What type of mixer do I need?
The decision tree below will help you narrow your preferences down to a category. When you start to consider all the different types of kitchen mixers, you will see why it helps to have a decision tree. In the example shown below the homeowner has decided they want a modern single-lever format, the benefit of a flexible hose to wash out their large sink (flexi-hose), and that the hose be retractable (pull-out), and that they can switch between a stream and a spray (dual flow).
Kitchen taps can be minimalist or a designer show-piece, but importantly they have to do what you want. Once you have selected your preferred type you need to consider what finish and design you prefer.
Step 2 - What design do I prefer?
Once you have narrowed your choice into your preferred type of tap that you like the design is very important. There are a wide range of considerations when picking a design - but many people already know what design style they prefer.
Do you want a piece of art to stand out, or a minimalist piece that blends in with the rest of the kitchen decor? Or maybe a steel spring mixer that matches your industrial apartment style?
Designer - Stunning new modern designs will impress your visitors. They do say that it is the fixtures and fittings that define your home and the sink tap can define your kitchen
Industrial - a commercial or industrial look is often coveted in modern kitchens. Spring necks and commercial grade brushed steel can provide this look
Low profile - when you have overhead cupboards or do not want to your tap to protrude above window sill pick a design that is low in height
Period/Traditional - Some period home decors do not endear contemporary designs. Country style and traditional homes need traditional or timeless tapware
Minimalist - Sometimes a simple goose-neck tap or straightforward shape is all you need to get the water from under the sink to above the sink. The kitchen tap does not always need to attract attention - beautiful simplicity and functionality are then the key.
Step 3 - What finish do I prefer?
Kitchen tapware comes in a variety of finishes. You need to consider what will match your kitchen decor and meet your usage requirements.
Stainless Steel - essential for outdoors installation to withstand the weather and the most sanitary of metals
Chrome or polished steel - Traditional and timeless. A mirror finish complements most modern decors.
Brushed - Popular with matching kitchen appliances (usually brushed stainless steel or brushed nickel).
Coloured - Matte black tapware is very popular right now, but white and bronzed metals are also making an impression in new kitchens
Step 4 - What else should I consider?
There are a number of quality considerations when considering tapware. At Renovator Store we have one of the largest ranges of kitchen taps in Australia, and we often get asked what are the key price determining factors for kitchen tapware:
Compliance - Make sure your tap has Watermark compliance (a Watermark logo and licence number must be etched on the body of the faucet) and a Wels flow rating on the product or packaging - otherwise a plumber is not allowed to install it. Australia is one of the most expensive countries to get new tapware tested and approved to local Watermark compliance, and to be tested and licensed for a Wels flow rate. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the World that require DR Brass rather than standard brass. This arguably has no benefit and means the costs of producing tapware for us is substantially more unless the production runs are very large. Some manufacturers and sellers do take short cuts - so be wary!
Critical parts - In single lever mixers the key mechanical part of the tap is the internal mixer cartridge. In dual handle taps, it is the valve mechanisms. Ceramic cartridges are best and you should check the supplier can provide replacement cartridges as they can get damaged by small foreign objects in the water supply. You should check other spare parts like o-rings and hoses are readily available.
Durability - Poor quality kitchen taps are light-weight. The faucet body is thin and does not provide a solid feel. The connections are prone to breaking off or leaking, and the replaceable parts might be difficult to source separately. Some parts such as nozzles and handles might even be plastic. Some taps are cheap and reliable due to high production volumes, but many are cheap and un-reliable - so be wary.
In summary, the key differences between a cheap and an expensive tap are the quality of the materials, the type of finish, quality and source of the key components, the packaging and after-sales support, the recency of design, the cost of local compliance, the volume of production, and the warranty terms.
When the price is very expensive you are likely to be paying a large premium for:
- brand prestige,
- aggressive marketing,
- the inefficiencies of low production,
- the large costs and margins of a traditional retailer, and/or
- the price of a novelty (like an LED light tap).
In many cases the price is very expensive for no other reason than it is very expensive. I would advise shopping smarter and paying a fair premium for quality, but not for the above.