Seventy years ago, wall-mounted kitchen faucets were the norm in farmhouses and Victorian houses across America. Homeowners and renovators slowly moved toward today's deck-mounted designs. But now, wall-mounted faucets are experiencing a revival, not just in historical kitchen renovations, but also in modern bathrooms.
Remodeler Karl Dropping installs wall-mounted faucets in about 25% of his customers' homes, but it's usually at the prompting of his designers. He says many customers are unaware of the look they can create using wall-mounted faucets. Dropping, vice president of Norsk Remodeling in Redmond, Wash., says the popularity of vessel sinks is also driving the need for wall-mounted faucets. "It's difficult to find deck faucets for vessel sinks," he says. On one recent project, he recalls, moving the faucet onto the wall made space for the large kitchen sink the homeowner wanted.
Dropping has also installed several pot fillers, a fitting he thought was appealing merely for aesthetic reasons -- until he got one himself and saw how useful it was.
Tim Joyce, production manager at Cruickshank, says the Atlanta-based company has done only about nine wall-mounted faucets in the past 10 years. Most were for contemporary designs, including one unusual house with wall-mounted faucets in the kitchen and two bathrooms. Plumber Neil Bartlett of East Meadow, N.Y., says the faucets cost more and can't be used in every instance; sometimes, framing constrictions or HVAC ducts block installation.
He and Dropping agree that the precision they require makes wall-mounted faucets more costly to install than their deck-mounted counterparts. With a wall-mount, Dropping says, the project manager needs to meet with the plumber to determine the layout. He advises them to have all the parts and pieces in hand to see how they fit together before beginning installation.
Joyce says the rough-in plumbing is similar to that of a shower fitting. With faucets, however, you need to know the type and thickness of the surface material at the rough-in stage.
Julius Ballanco, president of JB Engineering and Code Consulting in Munster, Ind., says since wall-mounted faucets take more abuse, contractors should choose a sturdy one. "I will pay extra money for a solid-brass connection," he says.
Bartlett cautions remodelers to make sure they can find parts for whatever type of faucet they choose.
Height and depth
Bartlett also advises contractors to "measure, measure, measure" when installing these faucets. "Have your sink available to take measurements from to make sure you have the right height," the plumber says.
He says that although there's no standard for wall-mounted faucet heights, contractors must leave an air gap between the top of the sink and the bottom of the faucet. "Don't let the faucet go inside the sink -- that's a code violation. You need 1 inch of airspace between the top of the sink's flood level and the bottom of the faucet," he says. On the other hand, if the faucet is too high, he cautions, water will splash out of the sink.
Tim Mullally, president of KWC Faucets, in Norcross, Ga., says the company's Vesuno faucet extends 6, 9, or 12 inches from the wall. "The height of the faucet will depend on whether you're using it with a vessel bowl, a bar sink, or an under-mount sink," he says. Since the faucet is mounted on the wall, it also requires a longer reach to operate. Mullally says that if the primary user of the bathroom is a child or is short, make sure they can reach the handles.