Bathroom tap buying guide
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter177 guides
Whether used for a wash basin, shower or bath, taps are essential to your bathroom. Make savings with a thermostatic mixing valve or choose style with a vintage dual handle mixer or waterfall tap. From traditional spouts to aerators, there are plenty of options out there. Read on to find the right bathroom tap for you!
- Dual handle mixer tap
- Single lever mixer tap
Replacing a bathroom tap
Whether you're installing a new bathroom, renovating an old one or you've just found yourself with a leaky faucet, it may be necessary to repair or change the taps on your wash basin, shower or bathtub. Here are a few important points to take note of:
- Double handle mixers are not very efficient or practical to use; they are mainly chosen for their vintage-style look;
- Single lever mixers are popular for wash basins and showers as they are convenient, inexpensive and efficient;
- Thermostatic mixing valves are perfect for showers as they regulate and maintain temperatures with precision (recommended for elderly people and those with reduced mobility).
Beyond that, be sure to choose the right size of spout for your wash basin and pick a tap that suits your tastes! From side to top handles and modern or traditional designs, there's a wide selection of taps to choose from. When it comes to caring for your tap, most models are chrome-plated meaning they can be cleaned using basic household cleaning products. Aged brass taps alone will require a little more love and attention.
The difference between single lever and dual handle mixer taps
Dual handle mixer taps
Dual handle mixer taps feature two handles; one draws hot water and the other cold water. To achieve the right temperature, you have to mix the hot and cold water together. The rate of cold and hot water must be adjusted with each use. The handles will usually feature blue and red indices to indicate the cold and hot taps, respectively.
The hot and cold handles of dual handle mixers come in two different types:
- Traditional tap valves cut off the water via a rubber washer mounted on the end of a compression valve. This rubber seal is subject to wear and tear and can be easily replaced. In the event of a leak, simply isolate your water supply, remove the tap cover and unscrew the tap stem. Remove the rubber washer and be sure to replace it with one of the same size;
- Ceramic tap valves offer more comfortable use as you do not have to rotate the handle through several turns; a quarter-turn should suffice. Ceramic tap valves have a longer service life but should still be replaced in case of leaks.
Single lever mixer taps
Some single lever mixers feature an anti-scald valve fitted with a washer to limit the flow of hot water. This system is practical for young children and elderly people (although a thermostatic mixing valve will always be the better choice).
It is also possible to add a flow restrictor to your tap. These fittings are placed in the tap body and allow you to reduce your flow rate by around 50%. Some models are equipped with a push button that can simply be pressed to return to normal flow rate.
Waterfall mixer taps are being used for more and more whirlpool baths. For even more style, you can go for a waterfall mixer equipped with LED lights.
Thermostatic mixing valves
Thermostatic mixing valves offer real comfort as they allow you to make precise temperature adjustments to the water. Thermostatic mixing valves feature two handles:
- one handle is used for temperature adjustments;
- the other handle is used to regulate flow rate.
Nonetheless, thermostatic valves are not recommended if your hot water is provided by an instantaneous water heater. Thermostatic mixing valves are better suited to use with storage water heaters.
Different types of bathroom taps
- wash basins and sinks;
You may require one or two holes for installation, depending on the type of tap. Contemporary single lever or dual handle wash basin taps wash generally require just one hole, while those designed for baths and shower valves tend to require two.
Taps are fixed to wash basins by means of a threaded bar, nut, a C-shaped washer and a rubber washer. Next to the tap connectors is the spindle which incorporates a C-shaped washer. This washer is used to stabilise the tap and is fixed against the wash basin via a nut. Fitting a tap will usually require the use of a basin wrench.
Wash basin taps
Your taps must fit the design of your wash basin and should be set at a height that allows you to wash your hands with ease. The depth of the spout must be suited to the position of the plug hole in order to avoid splash back.
The height of the spout can vary depending on the design and style of your tap. High spouts offer more space for your hands while lower spouts provide more discretion and give you more space above the wash basin.
Wash basin taps can be equipped with infrared technology for hands-free use. As the temperature is set during installation, you simply need to move your hands underneath the spout to run the water. Infrared taps are equipped with a sensor which may be battery- or mains-operated.
Bath taps can be equipped with a diverter valve, which is used to direct water to either the bath tap or the shower head.
Bath taps are used to fill the bathtub to run a bath while the shower head is attached to a hose allowing you to take a shower.
The tap spout may produce a traditional round stream or a cascade stream; the latter option is popular for whirlpool baths.
Bath taps generally require two horizontal holes for installation which correspond to the tap connectors. As such, it is often more convenient to install wall-mounted taps.
If you are renovating and find that your pipes don't line up with your taps, you can use dog leg connectors to make your taps meet your pipes. Like most tap fittings, dog leg connectors are chrome-plated.
Shower valves can be fitted to the wall or a surface in your shower enclosure. They generally require two holes and can be flush with the wall or equipped with a plate for a better finish.
Dog leg connectors can be used to deal with any spacing issues between the shower unit and valve.
Bathroom taps: installation tips and accessories
Be sure to check that your shower valve or tap is in line with your pipes in order to avoid having to use connectors.
Your shower or bath tap connectors can be male or female and often come in a standard size. Choose a tap according to your pipework or make sure you have the right connectors.
Choosing a single lever or dual handle mixer
As for all products, bathroom taps range in quality, from low to high, based on the materials used to make them and their finish. These two factors will dictate the tap's lifespan, comfort of use and, often, the type of warranty
You must also look out for the BS standards, the ap brand and the length of the warranty (usually 2, 5 or 10 years). Additionally, high-end taps will generally offer the following:
- better quality seals and tap connectors meaning fewer leaks over time;
- replacement parts (for example, valves for traditional taps and tap heads);
- better material finishes (chrome-plating or any other type of surface coating to protect tap heads and spout);
- the tap joints are also of higher quality, meaning there will be less limescale build-up. This also offers a better degree of watertightness and makes taps easier to turn (especially when it comes to dual handle mixers);
- the guarantee of no toxic materials such as lead or any other heavy metals;
- a high-quality temperature sensor for thermostatic mixing valves and the option of a flow restrictor for other mixer taps.
Bathroom tap brand guide
Type of bathroom tap
Wash basin tap
Ideal Standard, Alexis Robert
Rousseau, Ideal Standard, Jacob Delafon, Roca, Anconetti
Grohe, Axor Hansgrohe, Jacob Delafon, Porcher, Roca, Anconetti
Using an aerator
Fitted to the end of the spout, aerators are sieve-like attachments that work to add air to your water and concentrate your water into a channel to avoid splash back.
Aerators also have a filtering effect and can therefore be used when your pipes are being worked on to avoid mixing rubble with your water.
If you notice a drop in pressure coming from your tap spout after work on the pipes, start by removing your aerator as it may be partially blocked.
Finding a tap to suit your bathroom decor
From classic and standard bathroom taps to vintage-style faucets or modern, streamlined designs there is a tap to suit every bathroom.
Tips for choosing and maintaining your bathroom taps
Go for a single lever mixer if you want to reduce your water consumption but aren't able to install an infrared tap. Or better still, choose a thermostatic mixing valve.
Caring for your tap fittings
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter 177 guides écrits
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.
Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.
Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.
Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check.
The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job!
What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!
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