Whether used on a bathroom basin, bath or shower - taps are an essential addition to your bathroom.
Commonly, taps are made from solid brass that has been plated in either chrome or gold. Although taps can come in nickel, brass and black finishes, chrome remains one of the most popular and durable of finishes. The majority of modern taps come with ceramic disc technology instead of the traditional rubber washers to prevent dripping.
Taps that use ceramic disc technology only need a quarter turn (90 degrees)to turn the water on and off - they do not wear out like the old style rubber washers. A ceramic disc cartridge is made of two ceramic discs each with two holes for mixer taps or a single hole for a tap with two handles. One disc is fitted in place while the other disc moves with the tap handle. The water can flow through the tap when the two discs are aligned but stops flowing when they aren't. The ceramic disc won't wear out but they might be more prone to limescale build up if you live in a hard water area.
The water pressure system in your home will determine the performance of your taps. A high pressure water system means you can choose almost any bath and basin taps you want but if you have a low pressure water system you will have to take a little more time to find taps that will ensure that you have a strong flow of both hot and cold water.
You can read more about understanding your water pressure system here.
WHAT IS AN AERATOR?
Aerators are a sieve-like attachment that is fixed to the end of a spout. They work by adding air to your water and concentrating the water into a channel to avoid splash back.
They are simple to fit and remove and can act like a type of filter. The aerator should be de-scaled on a regular basis if you live in a hard water area or if you notice a drop in pressure as they aerator may be blocked.
The first thing to check when looking for basin taps is how many tap holes you have in your basin.
If you have one tap hole you have the choice between monobloc or single lever taps.
Monobloc taps (or mono basin mixers) come in a variety of finishes and come with a wide choice of handle styles.
They either have one spout with two handles that independently control the hot and cold water or a single spout with one lever which controls the flow and temperature of the water.
Mono mixers come in a huge range of styles, from traditional to modern, square and curved designs, waterfall or aerated spout.
You will need a higher water pressure to have monobloc taps or at least they will need to be similar otherwise you will struggle to control the water temperature out of a single spout. You also won't be able to install a monobloc if you are replacing taps on an old basin where you originally had pillar taps as you will be left with two unsightly holes on either side.
Single lever handles control both the water temperature and water flow using only one hand.
They are great for those with reduced mobility in their hands and are child friendly. They are also good for those who are hygiene conscious as they can be operated with an elbow, for example.
It is also possible to add a flow restrictor to your tap - fittings that are placed inside the tap body to reduce the flow rate by 50%. Some models come with a push button that can be pressed to return the flow rate to normal.
Some single lever mixer taps have an anti-scald valve fitted with a washer to limit the flow of hot water.
If you have two tap holes then you will need pillar taps.
Pillar taps are more traditional and instantly recognisable - most older houses will have them. They have separate cold and hot taps which is unique to the UK.
You have the choice of lever, cross shaped handles and knobs.
Unlike with monobloc taps which require decent hot and cold water pressure, with pillar taps it doesn't matter if the water pressure is different as the water is coming out of different taps.
Three hole basin taps work much the same way as monobloc taps with the hot and cold water coming out of a single spout however the hot and cold are controlled by separate handles. You get a mix of both worlds - the single spout of a mono but the control of pillar taps. You can choose from three hole taps that are meant for basins/baths and those that are wall fixed.
Short spouts work well with compact basins where space is tight. It is best to opt for one that doesn't extend further than the plug hole. A low spout goes well in a cloakroom where you'll only be washing your hands.
When choosing a larger basin, a longer spout is preferable so that you don't have to struggle to get your hands under the tap to wash them and can use them to shave, for example. The higher spout is more suited for a busy bathroom where the basin will be used for multiple tasks.
Waterfall taps and bath fillers have an open spout which creates a stunning waterfall effect. and can make a great statement piece.
As with basin taps, you will be limited by how many tap holes you have in your bath. You can have anywhere from one to four tap holes.
One tap hole is common with more contemporary baths, designed to be used with a monobloc or single-lever tap. They are easy to operate and give your bathroom a modern and sleek look.
If you have two tap holes you have the option of pillar or mixer taps.
Mixer taps come in a wide variety of styles and come with and without a shower head attachment. They offer you flexibility if you don't have the space for a separate shower as you can choose to use the taps to send water through an attached shower hose via a shower diverter.
The water pressure of bath shower mixers is generally a lot lower than those of a dedicated shower. Be aware that if you already have low water pressure then you won't get much power using a shower via a mixer. One work around you can try is to buy a smaller shower head as the smaller holes can help boost the pressure.
Wall mounted taps are more complicated to plumb in but have the added bonus of the pipework being hidden behind the wall - these work well with baths that sit against the wall where you don't have enough space on the bath rim or when you have opted for a freestanding bath.
They can also be used with counter top basins.
If you have a fourth hole, this will be for a shower attachment.
Freestanding taps are essential if you have a freestanding bath as these baths aren't designed to accommodate taps. This is also the case when using a counter- top basin, they will need some form of high rise or freestanding tap.
They are fitted to the floor by a standpipe and can come with a shower attachment for added convenience meaning you can place them almost anywhere. You can place your freestanding tap in the middle of the bath or at either end.