traditional bridge kitchen faucet with white marble counters
Photo: Laura Moss

The Most Used Feature

Of all the working parts in a kitchen, the faucet might be the one we most often press into service. According to faucet manufacturer KWC, the average family turns on the tap more than 40 times a day, whether to fill a pasta pot, rinse off salad greens, or simply get a glass of water. That's a lot of on-off cycles for a product that should last for years.

Today, these workaholic fixtures come in a wider variety of designs and price points than ever. High-end models can cost up to $2,500, but prices are actually trending in the opposite direction. In fact, you can score a kitchen faucet for as little as $15, though we don't recommend it; expect to spend about $200 or more.

By and large, even budget-priced cartridge-valve faucets are a big improvement over their compression-valve cousins of yore. Better manufacturing and engineering helps them stay drip-free and last longer while keeping their looks, and quick-connect fittings have made them a cinch to install. Still, not all faucets are created equal. Beneath their shiny surfaces lurk differences in materials and technology that affect cost and longevity. Plus, the sheer number of choices on the market can be overwhelming.

Shown: Perrin & Rowe bridge faucet with sidespray in chrome, about $1,470; ROHL Home
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