One of the things I advise my clients is to figure out how you intend to use a particular appliance or tool before looking at brands and models. This applies to kitchen faucets too. Come to a conclusion on what functions you desperately need and those that you can forego. This will help you narrow down your options quite a bit.
To understand what you need, you have to first understand the three specific components of a conventional faucet where all the variation happens namely, the handles, sprayers and spout.
These faucets come with a single handle or button or knob that controls the flow of water, either into the spout or sprayer unit. Depending on the kind of faucet, if it mixes hot and cold water internally, it may need a single or double hole beneath the deck plate. Some single handle faucets come with multiple base plates allowing you to cover up extra holes if you are moving from double to single handle units.
Such a faucet relies on two handles, one that runs cold water and the other for hot water. Any faucet that uses two handle setup will need at least three holes on the counter-top. However, some faucets come with the handles integrated into the spout or the deck plate and these variations use no more than two holes.
Functionality wise though, one or two handles really makes no difference. The only real change is that with a two handle unit you have to precisely control the mixing of hot and cold water. In a single handle unit though, it is more intuitive and easy to maintain a precise temperature.
Modern kitchen faucets all have a spray head nowadays. In fact, finding one without a detachable spray head is quite difficult in today’s day and age. This is because with a spray head you can do a lot more things and reach quite far too.
Some models tend to integrate the spout and sprayer in a compact style others tend to leave the two separate.
A pull-out sprayer has a curved or angular spout that allows the head to come right off and extend straight over the sink. Most commonly seen in single handle units, such pull-out sprayers are excellent to rinse pots and pans, clean veggies or dishes. In a few models the spray head will have spray controls and a pause button too.
More industrial by design, such faucets are preferred in commercial kitchens and restaurants. They have a high arc spout and a spray head that comes down as it detaches from the spout. Once more, these spray heads can have buttons to control the water flow or they may rely on one to two handles for the same.
Sprayers as an independent unit are not common nowadays but you can find them if you search hard enough. Such units are mounted away from the spout faucet and they need their own hole in the sink. Naturally, this makes it more complicated to mount side sprayers with all the extra plumbing lines required.
Remove the head of a faucet, the handles and its mounting base – what’s left is called the spout. It can either be short and angular or arching and long. Your options are aplenty in this department and while the exact design of the spout does nothing much in terms of functionality, it does play an important role in deciding just how much of space you have in and around the sink.
Naturally, taller spouts will let you accommodate taller utensils and pots in the sink. Shorter and sharper spouts don’t really allow for much of anything from squeezing underneath. If your sink has obstacles around it that prevents you from freely moving pots and pans around then you should opt for a shorter spout arc but if you have the space then it is always better to go for a longer 8 inch arc.
With a good understanding of functionality and operation, it is time we look at the mounting mechanism – another important consideration when buying a kitchen faucet.