Little details can make a very big difference. When you think about upgrading your bathroom (or installing a new one), you may immediately think of major upgrades such as new appliances, new bathroom furniture or a complete overhaul of the decoration, but actually something as affordable and simple as replacing taps can make a real improvement to the look and feel of a bathroom.
Here at Poshh we have a wide range of bath taps, basin taps, bath fillers, bidet taps, kitchen taps and wastes and accessories. Because they’re sold at Poshh, you can rest assured that they’re from the best brands such as Hudson Reed, Premier Bathrooms and Ultra Finishing.
So that you can choose taps which perform to a high standard as well as looking good, here is a quick guide to picking the right taps for your situation.
Check your water system
There are basically two kinds of water system, mains fed and gravity fed. These days, mains fed systems are the most common and are suitable for both separate and mixer taps. There are, however, still a fair number of gravity fed systems in existence, particularly in older properties and these are generally best suited to separate taps as mixer taps require a much greater level of water pressure to work effectively.
Check the size of the hole(s) in your basin
Taps come in different sizes as well as different shapes, styles and colours. Double-check the size of the hole(s) in your basin to make sure you get taps which fit.
Check the materials
If you’re comparing taps and you find two sets which look similar (or even identical) but are priced very differently, chances are you’ll find the explanation in the materials used to manufacture them. Like pretty much everything else in life, taps follow the basic rule of “you get what you pay for”. Cheap taps are cheap for a reason. More expensive taps will be more comfortable to use, last longer and be more reliable.
Check the valve used
In very simple terms, the valves used on taps are what ensures that the water is either on (to the desired pressure) or off and with good-quality valves, off will mean off, rather than dripping. Brass compression valves are generally used on separate taps. These valves make use of rubber seals and even the best-quality rubber can degrade over time, which is why even high-quality separate taps with brass compression valves can drip occasionally. The key word here is occasionally and the best taps will be designed so that switching out the washer is an easy job which takes a few minutes rather than an awkward hassle.
Ceramic disc valves are used in both separate and mixer taps and are valued for their durability. Basically ceramic disc valves should last for as long as the tap does and dripping will never be an issue (assuming your remember to turn off the tap completely).
Check the finish
Similar comments apply to the finish, which is particularly important in houses where children are present. The reason for this is that children can be especially messy bathroom users and get toothpaste and such like all over the place, including all over the taps. This obviously means that they are going to need to be cleaned regularly and taps with poor finishing will usually become very damaged very quickly.
At this point in time chrome (or chrome-effect) finishes are the most common choice for both bathroom taps and kitchen taps and this is perfectly understandable given that they look good in just about every setting from the most modern to period-style rooms. If, however, you really want to go for the period look, then you may want to consider a gold-effect finish. This gives the period look of brass but requires much less in the way of maintenance.
Decide on the right style for your bathroom or kitchen
First of all, what kind of handle do you want?
If you’re using mixer taps, you have a choice between monobloc and single-lever handles. Monobloc taps have one handle and users control the temperature by moving it to the left to make the water warmer and to the right to make it colder (up and down movement controls the pressure). Single-lever taps have two handles on one spout so the hot and cold water inputs are controlled entirely independently of each other, which one you prefer is a matter of taste.
Separate taps and single-lever taps come in a wide range of handle styles, from more traditional ones such as knob and cross-shaped handles or more modern ones such as lever handles.
NB: Lever taps are very easy to use and hence are a great choice in homes with children or older people or, indeed, people who have problems with their hands. Although lever taps tend to fit in best in a modern setting, if you have a period bathroom, you could split the difference and go for lever taps with a gold-effect finish. You may also want to look into the “cool classic” trend, which blends period aesthetics with modern materials and contemporary details.
Remember the importance of the spout
You turn your tap on to get water out and water comes out of the spout. From a visual perspective, you ideally want the length of the spout to be in proportion to the size of the basin. From a practical perspective, you want the length of the spout to accommodate whatever you want to do in the sink. For example if you’re looking for basin taps for a cloakroom, then you’re probably going to have a small sink, which is really only used for hand-washing and maybe teeth cleaning. On the other hand, if you’re looking for basin taps for a main, family bathroom, then you’re probably looking at a bigger sink which may be used for many more purposes, such as shaving or cleaning off beauty products such as face masks. If you’re struggling to find a tap with the right spout for all purposes, then you may be best to look at a tap with a spout which swivels, so you can literally move it out of the way sometimes.
NB: Speaking of spouts, waterfall taps can give a bathroom a really high-end look. Basically when the tap is turned on, the water flows along a rivulet and cascades into the basin or bath. The purpose is purely aesthetic, but it can be truly glorious.
A note on kitchen taps
Generally speaking the same principles apply to choosing kitchen taps as to choosing basin taps, bath taps and bidet taps and up until relatively recently much the same style of taps were used as kitchen taps as were used in the bathroom. Over recent years, however, it has become more widely recognized that kitchen sinks are used very differently from bathroom ones and hence the most appropriate choice of spout can be very different. These days taps with higher, curved spouts are often preferred to allow for greater clearance in the sink. Swivel spouts are particularly valued and some spouts can be extended for when you do want the water to go deeper into the sink without splashing, for example when cleaning vegetables.
While we’ve spoken mostly about taps, some baths give you the option of using bath fillers. Essentially these are monobloc taps which use the bath overflow as a spout. They tend to be used because they are small and discreet and thus help to give a bathroom an uncluttered look. Sometimes, however, they are turned into a feature. Bath fillers can also be coupled to showers for those who simply need a basic, overflow-filled shower, for example as a quick way to rinse out the bath after use.
Wastes and accessories
Just as having the right accessories can upgrade the look of any outfit, so having the right waste and the right bathroom accessories can upgrade the look of your bathroom. When it comes to choosing a waste, in terms of practicality all you need to remember is that if your basin has an integral overflow (generally bathroom basins and baths) you will need a slotted waste and if it doesn’t you will need an unslotted waste. Kitchen sinks may have overflows but they are usually not integral to the basin. Otherwise all wastes will fit all basins, so you can simply choose the style you want. The old-fashioned plug-and-chain waste is still a popular choice for period bathrooms (and indeed kitchens), but in modern rooms it has largely been replaced by other options, particularly the push-button waste, which as its name suggests, is pushed once to close and once to open. It never gets lost and lacks a chain to break and hence is a very popular choice. Other options include the flip top waste, the pop up waste and the free flow waste, the last of which is a particularly good choice for shallow basins and/or basins without overflows.