How to install a wash basin tap

How to install a wash basin tap

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

128 guides

Installing a wash basin tap consists in removing the old tap, screwing in the new one and reconnecting your water supply. If you have an old system, you may also have to saw down your copper pipes and fit some brass couplers. Read on to find out how to install your single lever wash basin tap in four easy steps.

Important features

  • Removing the old tap
  • Preparing and installing the new tap
  • Fitting the plug
  • Connecting and testing
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Changing a bathroom tap: quick and easy

Wash basin taps are usually fitted to the sink itself, but can also be mounted on a separate surface or countertop, depending on how you've fitted your bathroom.
These taps are connected to the water supply via flexible supply hoses in newer installations or even copper pipes in older buildings.
With the exception of wall-mounted taps, the installation process is basically the same for all taps no matter whether you go for a single or dual-tap mixer, a standard or high-end model, or a vintage or modern design.

Required skills

The process will vary in terms of complexity depending on the situation (i.e. a new-build, repairs on a recent installation or renovation of an older system). In the best case scenario, all you'll need to do is remove the existing tap and supply pipes and replace everything with the new gear. For a renovation project, you may end up needing to cut the copper pipes and fitting compression couplers.
When it comes to drainage, single lever taps usually feature a pretty straightforward mechanism: a handle is used to operate a connecting rod which opens and closes the plug. However, this will depend on the model you choose; for instance, some come with a separate plug lever while others are equipped with a simple rubber plug on a chain.
Essentially, the skills you'll need to fit a wash basin tap involve being able to follow an instruction manual and using a spanner or socket set. You may also be required to use a pair of pliers or a metal saw, and choose a few plumbing fittings.

Time required

30 mins - 1 hour

Number of people required


Installation steps

1. Removing the old tap
2. Preparing and installing the new tap
3. Fitting the plug
4. Connecting and testing the tap

Tools and equipment

  • a wash basin tap, flexible hoses, seals and installation kit
  • the right type of plug for your wash basin (plug and chain, pop-up, push button, etc.)
  • a caulking gun and silicone sealant
  • two compression tap fittings, if required
  • pipe joint compound or Teflon tape
  • open ended spanner set or socket set
  • flat-head screwdriver
  • basin and cloth
  • torch or headlamp
  • metal saw
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Metal saw

Installing a wash basin tap in 4 steps

1. Removing the old tap

Before you start, shut off the water supply to your home and turn on several taps to drain all remaining water.

  • Mark the hot water supply pipe with tape or any other visual aid.
  • Remove the drainage system (rod lever, plug and waste).
  • Now remove the water supply lines either by unscrewing the flexible hoses or cutting through the copper if the pipe is soldered (make sure you leave enough length to connect your compression fittings to your new tap).
  • Unscrew the tap (from beneath the sink) and remove the tap body. Depending on the layout of your installation, it might be difficult to get your socket wrench or pliers around the nut holding the tightening seal (the half-moon bracket which secures the tap body). Using a ratchet screwdriver can help you get round this problem.

2. Preparing and installing the new tap

Before putting the new tap in place, you will need to assemble the various parts.

  • The flexible connectors need to be screwed into the tap body (check that the rubber washers are included).
  • Screw the tap spindle into the tap body. This will hold the tap to the sink via a tightening seal (the half-moon-shaped bracket as mentioned above). If using pliers, be very cautious at this stage so as not to damage the thread.
  • Depending on the type of tap and mechanism, check the product manual to see whether the drain rod should be fitted now or after the tap is fully installed.
  • Now you can place the body washer over the hole in the sink. Being careful not to kink the flexible hoses, put the tap into position and check that it is perfectly aligned with the seal.
  • Pull down on the hoses from beneath the sink to keep the tap on the upper seal and insert the lower seal and the locking nut by hand.
  • Before tightening the bolt with a pipe wrench or socket set, check the alignment of the tap. Make sure you don't overtighten the bolt, especially if installing a tap on a ceramic sink (you don't want to fracure or break the material).

3. Fitting the plug

With the tap now in place, the next step is to fit the drainage system.

  • Start by applying a generous ring of sealant under the plug collar. Now insert the plug into the wash basin plughole.
  • Holding onto the plug, position the rubber seal beneath the plughole and screw everything into place. The sealant will be compressed by the screwing action (remove any excess with a damp cloth).
  • Make sure you tighten your plug so that the rod is positioned towards the wall.
  • Following the instructions in the product manual, install the lever and connecting rod (they should screw together). Generally, the plughole opens when the rod is down and closes when the lever is in the up position. Take note of this position when assembling the mechanism.

  • Check that the plug lever is working; it shouldn't jam or require force. Now insert the valve and operate the lever to ensure that it closes the plug fully. If not, most are adjustable so that you can fiddle around until the valve closes properly when you operate the lever.
  • Once everything's working smoothly, cut off the surplus length of connecting rod with your metal saw. All that remains now is to install the waste and outflow pipe, making sure that the joints are all the the right position. Tighten by hand.

4. Connecting to the water supply and testing

Next, you need to connect the tap to the water supply pipes. Generally speaking, the hot water supply should be on the left when you face the tap. After checking the seals on the ends of the pipes, screw on the relevant fittings. If everything is compatible, tighten up your fittings with a spanner or adjustable wrench.

If renovating an old system, you'll need to put in new tap connectors to ensure a good seal on the connecting pipes:

  • Sand down the end of the copper pipe that will be fitted with the connector. This should be a smooth and bare surface (older installations are sometimes painted).
  • Screw the fitting on firmly in one go. The inner 'olive' is compressed into place by the screwing action ensuring a watertight seal and can therefore only be used once. You can, however, purchase these separately should you make a mistake during installation.

If you've already got decent water supply lines but they're incompatible with your new tap, you can use reductor fittings to alter the pipe diameter (work out the size and type needed: M-F, M-M; 15/21mm, 12/17mm etc.).

Every threaded connector should be combined with a pipe joint compound or Teflon tape in order to create a watertight seal. Once everything is connected and tightened up, you can turn the water back on. Test the system tp ensure that there are no leaks and the temperature control works effectively. If everything is in working order, your job is done!

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Teflon tape

More information

Follow these links for advice on bathroom accessories and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 128 guides

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!

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