Selecting A New Faucet For Your Bathtub

Written by bprescottFebruary 6, 2012
A bathtub with fancy faucet and accessories

Flippin’ over Faucets

If you think that choosing the name for your firstborn child was difficult, just wait until you see the choices you're confronted with when choosing a faucet for your bathtub. There are three basic types of faucets for wall-mounted installation:

  • A single-handle tub faucet has one valve that controls the water flow and temperature. The flow of water goes to the tub spout or a shower head via a diverter.
  • A two-handle tub faucet has one hot and one cold water control, which both flow into a mixing chamber and then through the spout. If there is a shower, a diverter directs the flow of the mixed water.
  • A three-handle tub and shower faucet has one handle for hot water, another for cold water, and a third handle for the diverter that directs water to the tub spout or the shower head.

If you’re considering a deck-mounted faucet, there are basically two types of spouts:

  • A bath-mount installation mounts directly to the rim of the fixture. Acrylic or fiberglass composite baths can be drilled to accept this faucet. Some faucets are designed by the tub manufacturer to go with the tub.
  • A deck-mount installation features a longer spout that reaches over the bath rim, making its placement more flexible. Because a cast-iron bath is difficult to drill, a deck-mount faucet is the best choice.

Wall-mount faucets and adapter kits are also available to convert some deck-mount units to wall mount for baths and whirlpools.

You can also choose between single controls, dual controls, lever handles, push-up levers, and pull-down levers, just to name a few. The finishes include chrome, nickel, bronze, and brass that is brushed, satin, or polished. You can choose from colorful, practical, or luxurious finishes that resist corrosion and tarnishing, and many offer a lifetime warranty. The styles of faucets range from sleek contemporary to traditional brass. Many manufacturers make it easy to choose by putting together a collection or suite of faucets and their fixtures.

Whether you're installing a new tub faucet or replacing one, the same process is involved. The job is doable by a gifted do-it-yourselfer. The challenge is not in the plumbing work; the challenge is getting access to the valve behind the faucet without destroying the wall that covers it up.

The ideal time for replacing a tub faucet and valve is when you're rebuilding the walls surrounding the bathtub, because the plumbing is exposed at that time.

If you’re replacing a single-handle tub and shower valve with a large-diameter trim cover, the job is easier. When you remove this cover, also called an escutcheon, you'll expose the valve body, and you usually have enough room to work on the valve through this opening.

Even if you have access to the old valve behind the wall, consider the type of pipes that are supplying water to the valve before you decide to do this yourself. If the valve is installed with plastic or copper pipes, they're relatively easy to work with; if not, heed the warning. If the old valve is hooked up to galvanized pipes without pipe unions, you must cut the pipes to remove the valve. Working on old galvanized pipes requires special tools and skills. To install the new valve, you then must thread the ends of the old pipe and use a dielectric fitting when connecting galvanized pipes to copper to prevent galvanic action. Leave this project to the plumber.

If you decide to tackle this job, you can rent the necessary tools.


From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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