Bathtub faucets come in all shapes and sizes. It can be hard to know which one is right for your bathroom without knowing a little bit about each type. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the different types of bathtub faucets on the market today.
Whether you have an old, leaky bathtub faucet that needs replacing, or a full bathroom remodel is underway, we'll discuss the pros and cons of each style so that you can make an informed decision before purchasing your next set of tub fixtures.
The first thing to know about bathtub faucets is there there are four main types. They are mounted differently, and can also dispense water differently. Those two things are the main factors you will use to choose a new bathtub faucet. A secondary important factor is your desired style and aesthetic.
The four types of bathtub faucets
Bathtub faucets are categorized in four ways, based primarily on where they are mounted. There are also sub-categories within each group. The types include:
Let's look at each in a little more detail.
This is the most affordable and common variety. It fits well in a small space and works well with bathtub and shower combinations. The faucet is mounted to the wall, which makes it easy to install plumbing.
There are four options within the category of wall-mounted faucets:
- Standalone faucets usually go in a tub without a shower, but can come with a diverter valve for a shower. They can have either one or two handles or knobs for temperature control, and a spout.
- Spout-only faucets are used when homeowners just want to replace the spout, leaving the temperature controls and diverter valve alone.
- A spout-only faucet with a diverter is used when you need to replace or upgrade the spout to include a diverter. The diverter can be a pull-out knob but more modern designs have concealed diverters that pull down from the spout.
- The final sub-category is the complete bathtub and shower package that includes the wall-mount faucet, the diverter, temperature controls, and showerhead. These are useful if you want to replace your entire bathtub and all its fixtures in one complete package.
Deck-mounted faucets are placed on the ledge, or some call it the deck, of your tub. They consist of a spout and two temperature controls for hot and cold water. These faucets are great for under-mount or drop-in tubs and are also typically used in Jacuzzi tubs or other tubs that don't have showers.
Roman bathtub faucets are traditionally more ornate than other types. They are deck-mounted faucets but have an arched spout in a classic, traditional style that speaks to luxury.
New versions are more minimalist and simple without the elaborate arch, but are still called Roman faucets because they are still considered ornate compared to other faucets in the deck-mounted category.
These faucets are the most expensive as they are the epitome of luxury. They are meant to go with freestanding tubs, like the classic claw-foot tub. A freestanding faucet must be mounted to the floor for the faucet to be connected to plumbing, because freestanding tubs aren't secured to a wall.
Freestanding faucets expose plumbing elements from the floor all the way up to the spout, creating its artistic style. They come in a variety of styles and can incorporate contemporary, Roman, and traditional decorative elements.
How much does a bathtub faucet cost?
The cost of a new bathtub faucet depends on the version, the style, and the cost of labor for installation. The type of material used for the faucet plays a large role in the cost. A basic wall-mount faucet can cost $10 but getting a high-end one made of solid brass can cost $2,000.
The average cost of a wall-mounted faucet is around $400 for a quality nickel brushed finish, and deck-mounted faucets can vary from $30 to $1,000. However, most cost between $150 and $300.
A Roman bathtub faucet typically costs between $400 and $500 while a freestanding faucet begins its pricing at $250 and can go beyond $1,800. None of these prices include installation so you also have to factor in labor costs if you are not planning to do the work yourself.
How do I pick the right bathtub faucet?
The style of your bathroom, the type of tub you have, your space, and your budget all dictate the bathtub faucet you need. Can you only install a bath/shower unit in a single alcove, or do you have space for a freestanding tub? Do you want your bathroom to have a more traditional look, or a contemporary vibe?
A small space usually needs a wall-mount faucet, while you will usually need a freestanding faucet if that is the type of tub you have.
When should I replace a bathtub faucet?
Most people only think about replacing their bathtub faucet when it starts to leak or the finish begins to wear off. However, there are a few other signs that it may be time for a new faucet.
If you are just shopping for a simple replacement bathtub faucet, be sure to choose one that will fit the hole configuration of your existing plumbing.
If you notice that your water pressure is diminishing, or if your faucet is starting to leak or make strange noises, it may be time for a replacement. Another sign is if the diverter for the shower is no longer working effectively. You should also consider replacing your faucet if it is more than 10 years old, as older fixtures may not meet current standards for water conservation.
Can I replace a bathtub faucet myself?
This depends on how skilled you are at basic plumbing and if you have the right tools. You may be able to replace the spout, but should consider calling a professional if you have to replace the entire tub and shower system.
Can a sink faucet be used as a bathtub faucet?
A sink faucet cannot be used for a bathtub faucet because of water flow rate.
A bathtub faucet has a higher water flow rate than a sink faucet, which means a sink faucet would be ineffective for a tub.
When you turn on a faucet, water flows out at a certain rate, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). The flow rate for a typical sink faucet is two gallons per minute, while the flow rate for a typical bathtub faucet is six gallons per minute.
So if you tried to use a sink faucet as a bathtub faucet, the water would come out too slowly to fill the tub in a reasonable amount of time. For these reasons, it's best to stick with using a sink faucet for sinks and a bathtub faucet for bathtubs.
What should the water flow rate be for bathtub faucets?
Bathtub faucets should have a flow rate that ranges between 6 and 9 GPM. Some weak tub faucets only have 2 GPM flow rates, which is more appropriate for a sink.
Should a bathtub faucet be solid metal or can it just have a metal finish?
Solid metal faucets are typically more durable and long-lasting, but they can also be more expensive. Metal-finished faucets are less expensive, but they may not last as long.
Another consideration is the overall style of your bathroom. If you have a more traditional space, a solid metal faucet would be a good choice. However, if your bathroom has a more modern look, you might prefer a faucet with a metal finish. Either way, be sure to choose a finish that will complement the other fixtures in your bathroom.