Overview

Bath Faucet Illustration
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
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Before you can install a bathroom faucet, you need to know what type to buy. The majority of faucets for bath sinks have three parts: a center spout and two valves (on which the handles fit). Water passes through separate hot and cold supply lines controlled by the valves, then mixes in a tee and comes out the spout. Most standard sinks have three holes to accommodate these parts. However, the distance between the holes determines what type of faucet you can fit onto the sink. After you remove the old faucet, measure from center to center on the two outer holes. If that distance is 6 inches or more, you will be able to install a wide-spread faucet (like the one in this project), which requires manually connecting the two valves to the mixing tee. But if there are only 4 inches between the holes, you need to get a center-spread or a mini-wide-spread faucet, a single unit encompassing the valves, the spout, and the connection between. A center-spread faucet has an escutcheon plate linking the pieces on top of the sink, while a mini-wide-spread looks like three independent pieces when viewed from above. Faucets usually come from the manufacturer with everything except the lines to connect the water supplies to the valves (some handles are sold separately). For these you can use braided lines, which are very easy to install but should only be used where hidden; or rigid lines, which work better when the area under the sink is exposed. Putting the faucet on is just a matter of piecing everything together in the right order. But TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey says that novices can get tripped up in making connections, either by overtightening fittings (which can crack the sink or cause leaks) or by not holding lines steady as they turn the wrench. "If you're not careful, you can twist the line and impede water flow," he says. You should also be careful not to twist yourself as you work beneath the sink.
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    Tools List

    • adjustable wrench
      Adjustable wrench
    • basin wrench
      Basin wrench,
      to reach parts under the sink
    • allen wrench set
      Allen wrenches,
      tp tighten set screws
    • tube bender
      Tube bender,
      for putting curves in rigid supply lines
    • pvc pipe cutter
      Pipe cutter
    • tongue-and-groove pliers
      Tongue-and-groove pliers,
      to turn large nuts and to hold parts steady when tightening fittings

    Shopping List

    1. FAUCET

    Most come with spout, valves, braided line to connect the valves, handles, drain collar, and pop-up waste assembly, though some valves and handles are sold separately. Look for parts made from solid brass (under the finish) or stainless steel for the best quality.



    2. 3/8-inch supply lines

    to connect the sink's valves to the water supply, either rigid or braided. Rigid supply lines (aka risers) should be used in an exposed installation, but they might need to be bent to fit, which takes some finesse. Buy three (just in case) in a chrome finish for the best appearance and in lengths longer than you need. Make sure you get the ones with an "acorn head" which becomes part of the connection to the faucet valves. You will also need to buy compression fittings. [BR] Braided-steel lines are flexible and therefor easy to install but aren't as pretty. They come in various lengths, with fittings on the ends. Make sure to buy them only slightly longer than you need, with a 3/8-inch compression fitting on one end and a 1/2-inch fitting on the other.



    3. 3/8x1/2-inch compression unions

    (if needed) to connect rigid supply lines.Get two; each should include two complete compression fittings, one 3/8-inch and one 1/2-inch, which you can cannibalize for your connections. Otherwise, get two 3/8-inch fittings and two 1/2-inch fittings separately.



    4. Clear silicone sealant

    Instead of plumber's putty, to seal gaps around the valves, spout, and drain collar. Some manufacturers warn that using plumber's putty will void their finish warranties because the oil-based product can cause damage.



    5. Teflon tape

    6. Rubbing alcohol