From brass to chrome, swan neck to spray, there’s a huge range of taps out there. Before you splash out, read this expert advice!
The tap plays a key role in every kitchen. With each household member using it for different purposes throughout the course of an average day, you want one that not only looks great, but is high-quality, long-lasting and can suitably meet all of your different needs. With designs available in all shapes, colours and sizes, read on to check out some of the different options ‘on tap’, plus other points to consider when making your decision.
Get the water pressure right
To get the most out of your new tap, one of the first things you should do is check your home’s water pressure to ensure your tap is compatible. Otherwise, you could end up with a beautiful-looking tap that frustrates you every time you use it as the flow of water is too weak.
If you have a high-pressure system – 1 bar and above – you’ll have a wider choice of taps available to you. If your home has a low-pressure system, you will need a tap specifically designed to operate at this level. If you’re unsure what type of system you have, your retailer or plumber should be able to help you identify it.
Mix things up
A mixer tap supplies hot and cold water from two different feeds through the same spout. The advantage of this is that you can manually control the temperature of the water as it flows through. This lets you easily find your optimum temperature, making it hotter or colder as desired.
Mixer taps are available in lots of different styles, including twin-handle and single-lever mixers. The single lever is the increasingly popular option for a contemporary-style kitchen. Water flow and temperature can both be controlled with one lever, which is great for busy kitchens and keen chefs, as it requires only one hand to operate it. The single mixer typically conserves more water, too, as the temperature regulates more quickly – great news for your energy bills.
With sharp angles creating a streamlined look, many contemporary models perfectly complement the popular minimalist kitchen style. However, for a softer look, there are plenty of curved models and rounded edges, or you might even consider a wall-mounted mixer tap.
Size up your spout
There are lots of options when planning new kitchen taps, but something it’s important to think about is the size and height of the spout in relation to your sink bowl. Both can affect how easy your tap is to access and use, so you want one that will best suit your household’s needs.
Spouts that reach to the centre of the bowl are most convenient for access, and swivel taps, which move from side to side, can offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to alternate the tap between two separate sink bowls.
Similarly, a high tap spout will prove much easier for washing-up large bowls or pans, whereas you might find these difficult to fit beneath a low tap – although a pull-out tap, as described below, would easily solve this. If you are considering a high tap, then just remember it will have a greater visual impact on your kitchen’s overall look than a lower tap, so do give the aesthetics careful consideration.
Whichever spout you go for, it should be in proportion; generally, high taps are great for large sinks, whereas smaller taps are better for small sinks.
Plump for a pull-out design
Pull-out or pull-down spray taps with retractable spray heads are a popular choice for their flexibility and convenience. They can prove particularly handy for rinsing a sink after use, allowing easy access around the bowl for cleaning pots and pans. They are also frequently used for rinsing fruit and veg, or for filling a large kettle or bowl that won’t fit in the sink.
As the names suggest, the pull-out tap gives you the option to pull the head outwards and towards you from a straight tap, whereas a pull-down tap is pulled downwards.
There are various styles, so you should easily find one to complement your kitchen’s décor. Many are even discreet to the point that, unless they’re extended, you can’t tell them apart from an ordinary tap.
Your choice of tap is typically influenced by the style of kitchen you’re going for, so if yours is to be a more traditional kitchen, you’ll probably want taps in keeping with this theme.
Traditional kitchen taps can make for a beautiful feature and there are many options available. Pillar taps, for example, comprise two separate taps with cross-head handles, which are perfect for an authentic period look (although a lever handle option is also available). They are great for traditional or country kitchens and pair perfectly with a butler sink.
Traditional taps come in a range of finishes, such as antique brass, chrome or nickel, and many include period embellishments or details that can beautifully enhance your theme. Another real benefit of a traditional kitchen tap is they have timeless appeal, so choose a good-quality model and they are likely to last you for many years to come.
Know your metal
The style of your kitchen will influence the style of tap you choose, but it will also dictate the finish you want. The most popular and widely available choices are chrome taps, with a shiny finish, or else brushed stainless steel which has a duller, non-reflective surface. Each creates quite a different look, but both represent timeless kitchen choices and will complement most kitchen styles or themes.
One thing to note when deciding is that brushed stainless steel taps require a little less upkeep than their shiny counterparts to keep them looking clean and new.
For a softer look but still with a ‘silver’ tap effect, you might consider satin or brushed nickel. While more expensive, these taps have a subtler look and are great for kitchens that combine both modern and traditional elements.
Alternatively, warm metal taps are available in materials such as brass, copper and bronze. Again, you can choose these warm metals in a polished or brushed effect, depending on personal preference.
Consider coloured and statement taps
Coloured taps are a perfect reflection of the current 1970s revival trend and will inject fun and vibrancy into a kitchen – just think bold orange or mustard yellow!
These flashes of colour are simple yet highly effective if you wish to break up or enliven a uniform colour scheme. They’ll probably please young kids, too, and, who knows, could even help nurture an enjoyment of cooking.
For a subtler yet still eye-catching look, black taps are increasingly making an appearance in kitchens. A matt black finish is particularly striking and great for adding a sense of drama to either a contemporary or industrial kitchen theme.
Ditch your kettle
Boiling-water taps are very popular in modern kitchen designs and busy households. They make hot water instantly available and do away with the need to wait for the kettle to boil. Not only is this kind of tap convenient for making tea and coffee, it also speeds up the process of boiling vegetables, rice or pasta.
Boiling-water taps are a particularly popular choice for new parents as, with no kettle to watch, it makes sterilising baby bottles or dummies quicker (especially welcome if you’ve been woken in the middle of the night).
For both children and adults, it’s reassuring to know that all models offer protection through a child-safety handle. While these taps are a more expensive option initially, it doesn’t take much energy to keep the water hot, as the tank is well insulated, and you’ll typically use far less water than you would in a kettle, as people generally overfill these.
Focus on a filter tap
The everyday tap water in our homes is chemically treated to keep it safe, bacteria-free and drinkable. But this can result in our household water tasting none too pleasant. While many homeowners don’t mind, for others filtered water is a must-have.
If this is you, a filter tap makes an excellent choice. These significantly improve the taste and colour of tap water by filtering out impurities such as chlorine and limescale. Filter taps are available in a range of styles, and come in a choice of hot, cold or even steaming water options.
Of course, they are more expensive than standard taps, and you’ll need to factor in the additional cost of regular filter replacement, but if you’d otherwise opt for bottled water, it could be the perfect solution.
Don’t forget the tap handles
Choosing your preferred kitchen tap should be about more than how the tap itself looks – the handles will be an important factor in your decision, too.
There are lots of styles to choose from, including lever, twist and cross-shaped. When deciding on handles, think about how you use your kitchen, as some styles may suit your lifestyle over others. For example, lever handles are a great choice for enthusiastic cooks, many of whom find it convenient to push the lever with the back of their hand to turn the tap on, rather than having to rinse their hands first in the middle of cooking.
When choosing handles, you should also consider ease of use – and not just for now but for the future, too. For example, we’ve helped a number of clients with age-related complaints, such as arthritis, by fitting a lever tap, which is easier and more comfortable to use than a twist tap. Similarly, if you have a young family or are planning one in the future, lever taps are also much easier for small children to access and use.