The FAQs of Life, Kitchen Edition

Once again, we turn to our readers to see what really matters when you are choosing a kitchen faucet. Check out some of their questions and the answers from our experts.

Q. Do I need to install a decorative plate on my kitchen faucet?

Escutcheon

A. A decorative plate, a.k.a escutcheon, is used to conceal an area around a faucet or other fixture. In the kitchen, you need one when you are installing a single handle faucet on a sink or countertop with three pre-drilled holes. The escutcheon not only masks the unwanted holes, it also adds a nice decorative touch.

Tip: Check to see if an escutcheon is included with your faucet. If you need to purchase one, stick with the manufacturer of the faucet to make sure the finishes match perfectly, even if their version costs more than a universal model.

(For my fellow word nerds: the original meaning of the term escutcheon is “a shieldlike surface on which a coat of arms is depicted”.)

Q. What is a ceramic disc cartridge, and is it worth some additional expense?

Ceramic Disc Cartridge

A. First things first: the cartridge, or valve, controls the on/off and temperature mix in your kitchen or bathroom faucet. In the old days, faucets usually included a rubber washer that could easily degrade and leak. Newer washerless cartridges last longer and perform better than the older models.

The Cadillac of washerless cartridge technology is the ceramic disc, which opens and closes your faucet flow via the rotation of one very hard, durable disc against another. These discs do not degrade even after years of friction. It's worth investing in a faucet that utilizes this technology for the worry-free, long service life it will provide.

Q. How durable is an oil rubbed bronze finish?

Oil Rubbed Bronze Faucet

A. Oil rubbed bronze faucets have picked up a bit of a bad rap, probably based on dark finishes that were used years ago. If you buy your faucets from reputable manufacturers they should last for a long time without discoloring or degrading. And most carry very good warranties so that if you do have a problem, the manufacturer will make good.

However, if you see the term “living finish”, that indicates that the finish of a fixture is meant to change and develop a patina, or greenish tint, over time.

If you want to be really sure your oil rubbed bronze finish is set for life, look for a PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish. This is a process in which the finish becomes an integral part of the faucet. It will never tarnish, corrode, or change in appearance—ever.

Q. How high should I install a wall-mounted pot filler faucet?

Pot filler faucets

A. A rule of thumb to start with is to make the installation hole about 15" above your countertop. That said, you should vary your installation point according to your own needs. Take into account factors such as the highest pot you are going to want to fill and the height of the shortest user. Remember that the pot filler spout will probably be a bit higher than the installation hole; take it out of the box and play with it before you start plumbing.

Now that you know where to start, are you ready to shop? See our selection of kitchen faucets.

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