If you’re of the mind to update your bathroom, you may be considering what’s worth the renovation budget. Tearing out your bathtub and replacing it can be an intimidating project, not to mention labor-intensive and expensive. But what if there was another way to update it? Bathtubs look and function largely the same, so it’s the hardware that really distinguishes yours from the rest. A well-chosen tub faucet can take your your bathtub area from average to extraordinary in a single, more affordable renovation.
The Basic Workhorse
The faucet you’re most familiar with is the traditional wall-mounted tub spout. Their intuitive design makes them easy to use and their lack of bells and whistles make them affordable. If you’ve ever rented an apartment or had a house without a lot of customized hardware, this is likely the tub faucet you had. They’re also the default choice for shower/tub combinations, and sometimes come paired with shower heads and diverters. A basic, wall-mounted tub faucet won’t bring much “wow” factor to your bathroom, but they do offer reliability and usability on a budget. Bonus: if you already have this type of setup, you can easily upgrade to a slightly more decorative spout.
Other Wall-Mounted Wonders
If you’re looking for a wall-mounted faucet that will really stand out, you’ll find plenty of other options. Some add a decorative element to your bathtub and others give you more functionality. While most basic tub spouts are controlled by a handle that also controls the shower, others can bring the controls closer to the tub itself. This way you can adjust the water without getting out of the tub. Some even have built-in hand showers (more on this later). Other designer models will make the water come out in unique ways (like waterfall spout designs) or even light up. While they have the same baseline functionality, more decorative wall-mounted faucets lend a luxurious touch that your space might otherwise be missing.
All Hands on Deck (Mounted Faucets)
If you want something more intimately connected to the tub itself, you want a deck-mounted faucet. These faucets are installed into the flat surface around the edge of the tub, commonly called the deck. Roman faucets, a term used interchangeably with deck-mounted faucets, are a specific subset that have an arching spout. What you can get depends heavily on how many holes are drilled into your tub rim and how far apart they are from each other, as there isn’t a single standard. You can’t really get this number and distance changed without replacing your entire bathtub, so it’s better to plan your new faucet around your existing tub than the other way around.
Feel Free with Freestanding Faucets
Freestanding tub faucets are mostly paired with freestanding bathtubs. Until a few years ago this meant antique, claw-foot style tub fillers. Now that there are a better variety of freestanding tubs on the market, you can find a lot more modern looks to match. Both styles rely on exposed plumbing that puts the hardware on display. They’re also the only way to have a tub that’s more than a few inches from a wall. That said, this type of tub faucet requires more extensive installation. Wall-mounted tub faucets hook up to your existing in-wall plumbing and deck-mounted fillers can get their water supply either from the wall or the floor, freestanding faucets have to have the plumbing brought to them. The resulting look of a free-floating bathtub with its own filler can be quite stunning, but keep in mind that it will mean rerouting your plumbing and re-tiling your floors.
Add-On Sprayers are a Tub’s Best Friend
While not a faucet itself, a sprayer add-on to your bathtub can be just as important as picking the faucet itself. Not all tub faucets have them, and the ones that do can vary wildly in appearance from a sleek minimalist wand to an antique cradle-style setup. If you’d like to be able to wash your hair in the tub, this is a feature to look for. And when you’re done, the sprayer can be used to rinse of the tub between baths. The drawback? Adding a sprayer increases the price of your tub faucet, and can make them a little clunkier to install. Especially for deck-mounted models, triple check that the faucet will fit the hole drillings before you buy.
Many bathtubs come pre-paired with basic tub fillers, making you feel you don’t have a choice in the matter. But you can get a look that’s uniquely yours. Whether that’s waterfall functionality, compatibility with your existing setup, or controls and add-ons that will let you do all your bathing while reclining in the tub, a customized new faucet can make all the difference.