How to Choose a Bathroom Faucet

Your choice of a bathroom faucet can go a long way to define your bathroom's style. Changing your predictable chrome bathroom faucet to a vintage, industrial or contemporary style can dramatically change the look and feel of your bathroom.  

Before you decide on your new bathroom faucet style, the existing pre-drilled holes in your sink or vanity countertop will largely determine which type of faucet is ideal to buy.

A three hole, widespread, pre-drilled vanity top just isn't going to look great with a single handled faucet. Yes, you could cover the extra holes with a deck plate or sink hole covers (more on that below), but it's not likely to give you the look you were hoping for. But that doesn't limit your style options! Vintage, industrial, contemporary, and classic bathroom faucet styles come in every configuration from single, double and triple hole configurations. Let's sort our what each of those mean. 

Single Hole Bathroom Faucets

Easy to install and maintain, single hole bathroom faucets feature a compact design for a single, pre-drilled hole in your sink or vanity. The single handled faucet has a built in handle that controls the on/off and hot/cold water flow. This style offers a big advantage in keeping a visually uncluttered vanity top and minimizing cleaning. There is simply less faucet area for germs and mildew to build up.

If you've fallen in love with a single hole faucet but have three pre-drilled holes in your sink or vanity top, you can still install the single hole faucet and cover the extraneous faucet holes with matching or nearly matching deck plate also referred to as an escutcheon. This solution works best with a narrow spread sink, meaning the pre-drilled hot and cold faucet holes are 4 inches apart measured from the center of the cold handle hole to the center of the hot handle hole). Or you can use sink hole covers (yes! they exist), or use one hole as an under-mount soap dispenser as you see used in kitchens sinks. But aesthetically it may not be an ideal solution. Our advice: Buy the faucet set that matches the pre-drilled holes.


Single Hole Bathroom Faucet

Single Hole Bathroom Faucet

Deck Plate for Single Hole Bathroom Faucet

Deck Plate for Single Hole Bathroom Faucet

Double Hole Bathroom Faucets

Far less common is the double hole sink which accommodates a water spout and one handle that controls on/off and hot/cold water flow.  Most often seen in newer construction with a contemporary feel, the two hole configuration can be used with one faucet if the second hole is used as an under-mount soap dispenser. But if you have an unusual double hole configuration, enjoy the novelty!

Three Hole Bathroom Faucets

  • Centerset
  • Narrow Spread
  • Wide Spread
  • How to Measure

The most common is three pre-drilled holes that can accommodate centerset faucets, as well as widespread faucets that accommodate faucet handles that are 6 to 8 inches apart, and in some cases the mini-widespread faucets often found in bathrooms that accommodate faucet handles that are 4 inches apart.

Centerset Faucets

The centerset faucet refers to the water spout being centerset between the hot and cold handles. The centerset faucet is the most common, and it offers a fairly easy "do it yourself" installation. Centerset faucets are comprised of three connected elements: the spout and separate hot and cold handles that are either 4 inches apart (narrow spread) or 8 inches apart (wide spread). 

Narrow Spread Centerset Faucets

Narrow Spread faucets, also referred to as mini-spread faucets, are used with three pre-drilled holes in your sink or countertop. These faucets have 3 separate parts – the spout and separate hot and cold handles. They are called narrow spread due to the 4 inch distance between the center of the hot and cold handle holes. These narrow spread faucet are often used in smaller bathrooms to maximize counter space.

Widespread Faucets Centerset Faucets

Widespread faucets are used with three pre-drilled holes in your sink or countertop with hot and cold faucet holes that are spaced 8 inches wide (measured from the center to the center of each faucet hole). Widespread faucets have 3 separate parts – the spout and two handles. Each piece is individually mounted onto the sink or countertop. 

This type is ideal for larger sink areas where a smaller faucet would just get lost in a more spacious setting.

Wall Mounted Faucets

An increasingly popular style but the least "Do it Yourself" friendly, wall mounted faucets are ideal to use as a space-saving element and they can be used for both vessel sinks (countertop mounted sinks) and inset basin sinks. Unlike sink or vanity mounted faucets, wall mounted faucets require an interior wall mounted valve connection which often calls for the use of a professional plumbing installation. 

How to Measure Faucet Handle Distance

How to measure Bathroom Faucet

Measure from the center points of the left and right handles or pre-drilled faucet holes

Your pre-drilled, three hole sink or vanity top will likely be one of two sizes: Narrow Spread, which is 4 inches wide measured center of faucet handle to center of faucet handle, or wide spread which is typically 8 inches wide measured center of faucet handle to center faucet handle.

You measure the distance between the pre-drilled faucet holes in the sink or vanity countertop from the center of one faucet hole to the center of the other faucet hole. These center points correspond to the center connections of the faucets to be installed there. It is also important to measure the distance between the faucet holes to the wall and/or backsplash to account for the width of the faucet handles when turned on.

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