Illustration: Gregory Nemec


Too often, plumbing projects scare homeowners. All those flames and molten solder—it's enough to make you put the plumber on speed dial.

But you can hang up the phone. The faucet part of plumbing, at least, is a different story. These days, the most oft-replaced plumbing fixture hooks up with a pair of simple compression fittings—threaded nuts that fit onto the hot-and cold-water supply valves and tighten without a need for soldering, pipe dope, or even Teflon tape. "It's a really homeowner-friendly system," says Richard Trethewey, This Old House plumbing and heating expert.

On some faucets, flexible braided water-supply hoses take the place of rigid tubing, making the installation even easier. Many, however, still come with rigid copper or chrome supply lines. These have a traditional threaded fitting on the end and are designed to be attached to lengths of braided line with compression fittings, which you will have to buy separately. Then there are the European products that come with no connectors at all. In that case, you have the choice of adding a compression fitting to the rigid tubing and attaching it directly to the valves, or using a compression coupler that allows you to attach a braided line.

Most pull-down faucets have a single control for hot and cold attached right to the spout, so they only need one hole cut through the rim or counter at the back of the sink. But if you're replacing a fixture with two separate handles for hot and cold, you'll discover that you're left with three holes behind your sink—or four if you also have a separate spray hose. In that case, you'll need to mask the holes with escutcheon plates—an oblong one for under the faucet and a small round one for the old spray head. Or, if you have too many leftover holes but don't like the look of an escutcheon, this would be a good time to consider replacing the sink itself.
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    Tools List

    • bucket
    • basin wrench
      Basin wrench
    • adjustable wrench
      2 adjustable wrenches
    • flathead screwdriver
      Flat-head screwdriver

    Shopping List

    1. FAUCET

    Usually comes with everything necessary for installation, except braided supply lines.


    Needed to connect faucets that have rigid tubing.


    if necessary, to cover holes in the sink rim or the countertop when replacing a three-hole faucet.