Their looks grab lots of attention, but today's faucets also perform better, last longer, and are easier to install than previous models.

No-Drip Mechanics
Faucets used to work with compression valves — up to a point anyway. Eventually, the rubber washers that control the flow of water would erode, resulting in a slow, steady drip. Not so with today's ceramic disc technology. Disc valves, which shear open and shut, remain virtually leak free.

Finishes That Last
For years, chrome plating was king because of its durability (think car bumpers). Other finishes required clear coatings that would eventually chip, leading to corrosion of the base metal. But thanks to a high-tech bonding process called physical vapor deposition, or PVD, any finish, from brushed nickel to rubbed bronze, can last forever. The technology was adopted from the tool industry, where it's used to give drill bits their impervious finish.

No-Sweat Installation
Old copper tubing was inflexible and needed soldering at the joints. Today's fixtures have flexible supply lines with push-and-click connectors, so homeowners can make their own hookups with only a wrench and a free Saturday morning.

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