Kitchen Faucet Vs. Bathroom Faucet. What’s The Difference?


Long gone are the days when faucets were restricted to two handles, each containing separate spouts. When you wanted cold water you would turn the cold spout open and get cold water, and if you wanted warm, then you would get both streams working at the same time and presto, warm water.

Now of days there are more options available than you can count on both hands and feet with accessories to match. We now live like kings and queens in comparison to the kings and queens of yesteryear.

Instead of just one spout for all applications, we have big taps to wash our food, little ones to wash our hands, ones that are designed to wash boots off as well as even water for when we need it outdoors.

So what is the difference between a kitchen faucet and a bathroom faucet? The sink requirements for each will be different based off of their use and size. Generally a kitchen faucet is larger and taller so it can reach a larger area, while comfortably allowing dishes/cups to fit underneath.

Faucets and sinks come in many different styles, sizes, and shapes, each requiring their own specific measurements. This post will go over the main styles you will commonly find (as well as some others) and the standard sizes of each and what they mean to you, so stick around for some awesome content that’s coming your way!

Why Is There A Difference Between The Faucets?

The key feature in differentiating between a bathroom faucet and a kitchen one is simply the size of the two. Kitchen faucets tend to be larger, with a higher arc, while the bathroom tends to be smaller.

The reason for these size differences is use. What do you use each of the taps for? What exactly is their purpose? In a kitchen you are likely to be washing anything from vegetables that you are preparing for dinner to pots, pans, plates and even babies!

The need to be able to fit larger items underneath a stream of water, along with being able to swivel the tap in any which direction is crucial for everyday kitchen life. Could you imagine doing all of your dishes in your bathroom sink? How utterly difficult and time consuming that would become?

A bathroom is commonly used as a place to clean your hands (or so I hope) as well as brush your teeth and occasionally fill up a cup of water. The sinks that accommodate each part of your lively hood is in place only as it makes sense.

Though bathrooms can be quite large, the average person has a bathroom that is about half of the size of their bedroom. The smaller sink/faucet helps accommodate spacing issues as they can easily be fit into all bathrooms.

The Different Sink Requirements

It’s important to discuss all of the different faucet layouts that are available as well as the sink styles and sizes. These factors will hopefully help illustrate for you a more in-depth look at what makes up the differences and should give you some more insight to the wonderful world of taps.

Layouts

Widespread

A widespread faucet refers to the width and spacing in between the holes that your tap fits into. A sink is machine cut to a standardized set of measurements that make it easier for installers and homeowners to be able to put their sink together.

Widespread can be used in a bathroom or a kitchen and can measure anywhere from 8″ – 16″. When obtaining the measurement, you are looking at the center of the furthest left hole, to the center of the furthest right hole.

Typically these faucets require 3 holes. The middle hole allows for water supplies to feed the spout, and the two holes to the right and to the left are places for handles to fit.

*Ironically enough, the picture posted above is of one I took at a fixture outlet and was found in the bathroom. Why I say ironically is because the faucet actually is too big for the sink, and was splashing all over the floor when I used it.

Centerset

A centerset has a spread of 4″. This is the most common style of faucet that you will find in a bathroom due to it’s smaller size.

A centerset typically also will require 3 holes and comes as a one piece unit, meaning the handles and spout do not have the ability to detach from each other where a widespread or minispread will be able to.

This is a great faucet if you already have 3 holes at 2″ apart from one another (or the 4″ spread) that you need to fill the space for.

Minispread

This style is almost identical to the centerset one, in that it is 4″ from center to center and typically found in your bathroom but also work in the kitchen. The key differentiation is that the spout and handles all come as separate pieces.

The beautiful thing about this type of faucet is that you aren’t necessarily confined to the holes that are already drilled in your counter top or vanity, and they can be placed at your whim.

*Just remember – holes are permanent, if your faucet breaks down and needs to be replaced, you will be limited to the minispread style, as that will be the only type that can accommodate your cut up counter top.

Single Handle

A single handle faucet will fit in any area of the house, as you only need the use of one hole to accommodate water supply lines to this faucet.

Single handle faucets can be positioned in a few different ways. If your faucet is a side handle (handles located on the side and not the top), you can swing the handle to the left, right or leave it in the center.

Now for a bathroom, positioning might only be an importance for aesthetics, where as in a kitchen, where larger sinks are typically found, having the handle centered may be the difference between a member of your family being able to reach it or not.

Another important thing to note is the swing of the stem (if your tap even does swing), some taps will have a limited range of motion of less than 180 degrees, so placing the tap the wrong way might limit it’s usefulness, just something to keep in mind.

Example: If your handle is positioned center, check to see if the swing of the stem will still go from one side of the sink to the other, or if it will reach half way into the sink and half way towards the wall.

The single handle can be designed as either spout or waterfall. The spout will be more commonly found in your kitchen, and the waterfall more commonly found in bathroom. The reason for this is the flow of water from each.

Waterfall designs, in my opinion, are purely aesthetic based and should only be used for washing your hands and brushing your teeth. Spout style has a more direct flow that will allow you to target dirt and grease from food, dishes and cutlery.

*Disclaimer – These are purely my opinions for where a tap should be placed for it’s purpose. If you like the way a specific tap looks, and it fits in that spot, go for it! Just keep in mind there are reasons they are designed a specific way, and that is to fill a specific purpose.

Vessel

The vessel style contains a longer, thinner stem and comes in either spout or waterfall. Vessels are great for a bathroom as they will be able to accommodate an above counter sink.

The long stem has the ability to reach over the top of this sink, and features a handle on the top, making it suitable for this situation as opposed to other taps. Another place a vessel tap comes in handy is on a miniature vanity.

Miniature vanities are great for places like a cottage, where the bathrooms are traditionally much smaller, or campers where space saving is everything.

Wall Mounted

The wall mounted style is a very unique look that can be functional in either your kitchen or bathroom. Water lines are fed higher up and inside your wall to accommodate the height of this tap.

Spacing from the sink here is the big factor as the spout will need to be long enough to reach the sink. The workings below your sink can be a big factor in it’s placement, as drains, water lines and connections may require a set amount of space for attachments.

So, if you have a garbage disposal, reverse osmosis system, or anything that may require some space under your sink, accommodations will need to be made. In other words, your sink in a lot of cases can’t just be pressed up as tightly to the wall as possible. Well at least not in the kitchen.

In your bathroom you may have more capability for a wall-mount as you can add in the option of a free standing basin. A free standing basin in a kitchen just won’t fly. This style of sink requires it’s own specific drain (usually chrome) and can be a tight connection at the wall.

Wall-mounts should also have a deep enough sink to ensure splashing doesn’t occur as they may drop from a slightly higher distance.

Parts

Deck Plates

These are commonly found in either application as well. A tap may have been changed at one point in time, reducing the need of having 3 holes to just 1.

The deck plate is designed to either cover the distance of 4″ to accommodate the centerset, as well as 8″ and above to accommodate the previous widespread holes that may have been used for your kitchen sink.

Arc

Along with styles of faucets, you will find some that have higher arcs, while others have no arcs, or just small arcs.

The arc of the faucet is not just an aesthetic element, but may be in place for the purpose (as previously mentioned) of allowing larger items such as pots and pans to fit comfortably under a stream of water. A large arc is traditionally found in your kitchen.

The smaller arcs can be found in a bar sink, where you only need to wash glasses and cups, as well as occasional hand washing, and in bathrooms.

A smaller arc is great for smaller sinks/bowls because it points directly down and doesn’t extend too far out.

Fountain

Fountain is a style of faucet that pours water out along a horizontal stem. These will usually feature half of the top of the stem exposed for visual effect, but also to allow you to maintain that portion (clean up dirt, scale etc)

Additional Sprayer

Some faucets will also feature an additional sprayer that can sit right next to your tap. These are great for taps that lack a pull out function and will be used in kitchens.

Sinks

Another key in differentiating between bathroom and kitchen faucets has to do with their sink counterparts.

The size and shape can be everything for determining what needs to be placed where.

Bowl

Typically all bowl styled sinks are found exclusively in the bathroom. These sinks don’t offer much space in the way of storage and preparation, but rather a way to save a bit of space and add a little bit of glam to your bathroom.

They come in ceramic, stainless steel (not as commonly though), porcelain along with some more boujee styles like natural stone, copper and wood.

The bowl in your bathroom can be either under mount (built in under your counter top) or above mount (which will require a vessel like faucet).

Drop-In

This style typically is found in stainless steel but can be made from porcelain, ceramic, granite, copper etc. as well.

A drop in sink is square and comes as either single or double. These are only found in kitchens and have the ability to hold pots, pans, dishes inside.

The square shape allows an object to placed down and stay in position, where the bowl style will put objects in a downwards slope.

These can be designed as under mount, above mount (or self rimming) where a rim extends all the way around the sink allowing it to rest on top of the counter top as well as deeper style.

The deeper the style of sink, the more things you will be able to fit inside. A laundry sink has a very deep inside so you can wash stains out of clothes, or wash a small dog, as well as mud off of your boots.

They are generally cheaper and plastic because of their use. They aren’t as pretty and are out of the way, so they can be this material and take a beating. A bathroom sink or kitchen sink can add to the appearance of a room.

In A Vanity

Thankfully a lot of vanities are readily available now of days. These feature built in sinks ready to go as well as already pre-drilled holes within those sinks. These are great for powder rooms and even washrooms. You can find these at any big box home building store and even some smaller ones. Or if you’d like to go cheap, there’s always Walmart.

Tyler Takacs

My name is Tyler, I live in Ontario Canada and enjoy learning about common plumbing issues in the household. I have spent just over three years in the trades as a plumbers apprentice, but am now onto a less physical job. I still enjoy studying and learning about my own house's plumbing as well as finding ways to help others with their issues.

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