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How Far Should Bathroom Faucets Extend?

If you're remodeling your bathroom and looking to change out the sink, you've probably realized that there's a lot of options out there. Tall or short faucets, two handles or just one, deep or shallow basin...but maybe the first question you have is, just how far should the bathroom faucet extend? We've researched every question you might have about faucets to help you pick the best sink for you.

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Bathroom faucets should extend at least five and a half inches, though seven is more preferable. This gives you enough room to wash your hands without splashing water or bumping into the back of the sink.

Read on for more advice on picking a sink - whether you should use tall or short faucets, how far apart your faucet holes should be, where to install a soap dispenser, and more.

Clean contemporary bathroom sink and faucet, How Far Should Bathroom Faucets Extend?

What Is The Best Spout Reach (And What Does That Mean?)

Ideally, the faucet should have seven inches of spout reach. Spout reach is the distance from the base of the spout to the stream of water. This way, you can easily wash your hands under the stream of water without hitting the edge of the sink. Many faucets are placed to extend five and a half inches into the sink, but this isn't always a comfortable distance. This can mean that you're splashing water over the sink edge or banging your clean hands against the side of the sink every time you rinse.

Sometimes, splash can also be reduced by the position of the faucet. The goal is to keep the water stream from the faucet close to the drain. Don't line them up perfectly, as this tends to breed bacteria. Just aim, as close as you can, for the faucet hitting just beside the drain and the deepest part of the sink. Make sure it isn't hitting along the back wall of the sink, as this will create spatter every which way.

It's important to note that this isn't an exact science - some sinks are designed to make this easier than others. As long as you can avoid hitting the sink walls, in particular, that's the most important part. You may not be able to center the faucet up with the drain exactly, and that's okay. Just try to plan before installing and keep the faucet from hitting the sink in a shallow spot or near an edge.

Do Taller Faucets Splash More?

Modern faucet in bathroom sink

Taller faucets do splash a bit more. For this reason, if you'll be using a tall faucet, you should also install a deep sink. Shallow sink basins and tall faucets just don't work well together. You'll also want to be particular about lining the faucet up to hit in a deep spot in the sink, which will minimize splatter.

Why Are Some Bathroom Faucets So Short?

While it isn't always the case, short faucets may be a relic from a time gone by. At one point, people didn't wash their hands in the same running water method that we do today. Instead, they would run water into the sink and wash their hands in the standing water (like a washbasin).

It was also much more common to place items for cleaning in the sink, wash hair in the sink, and other less likely scenarios in modern times. For this reason, having short faucets were actually preferred. They didn't interfere as much with the sink basin and were easier to work around.

In more modern times, it may simply be an attempt to reduce the cost of materials (a shorter faucet will use less material, and therefore, cost less). 

How Long Does It Take To Install a New Sink?

Spacious vintage retro bathroom that needs an update with dark stained wood cabinets and a sink and vanity, How To Restain Bathroom Cabinets [5 Steps]

For an experienced plumber, it will only take a couple of hours to install a new sink. If you'll be doing the task itself, it obviously depends on how experienced you are. However, in most cases, installing a sink should take only a few hours (between two and six). For more information, see How Long Does It Take To Install A New Bathroom Sink? and How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Bathroom Sink?

For cheaper options, you might be able to improve the look of your sink. For example, sometimes painting can rehabilitate an old but functional sink. See How To Paint Bathroom Sink Faucets [6 Steps]. Or, if there's a crack, you should check out How To Repair A Cracked Or Chipped Bathroom Sink.

What Finish Should I Pick For Faucet?

There's almost no limit to the finish options available in sinks nowadays. Brass is a classic choice, great for a more traditional or antique bathroom.

Click here to see this brass faucet on Amazon.

Brushed nickel is durable, easy to clean, and easy to coordinate with other bathroom features.

Click here to see this brushed nickel faucet on Amazon.

Read more about other finishes such as chrome, bronze, copper, and gold at 18 Bathroom Faucet Styles (By Finishes, Handle Options, Installation)

How Far Apart Should Faucet Handles Be?

man washing hands with soap in bathroom sink

In general, tap holes are four inches apart for standard faucets. For a wide-set sink, six to eight inches is placed between holes. In many sinks, the holes are predrilled. This means you won't actually get to determine the spacing between the tap holes. 

If your sink does not come with predrilled holes (or not enough), a plumber can typically drill them for you. It's also possible to do it yourself with basic tools, though the tool you need will depend on the sink. For example, a fiberglass sink will need a carbide-tip hole saw to drill new tap holes.

How Far Should Soap Dispenser Be From Faucet?

Holes for extra additions tend to correspond to the same distance as the tap holes for the faucet. Four inches, roughly, is a common distance between the faucet hole and the soap dispenser hole. However, this isn't always a simple answer. A wider sink may need a bit more space between tap holes, so everything isn't crowded into one small area. Wide or long faucet handles may, similarly, mean that the soap dispenser needs to be set a bit further away,

You'll also need to evaluate the space under your sink - where is plumbing already located? This can interfere with the installation of a soap dispenser. Similarly, you'll have to consider anything else already installed - and whether or not it will limit the space available for a soap dispenser.

On the other hand, you don't want everything too spread out, either. If your plumbing and under-sink installations take up all the space available, there's no room left for storage. 

Three Holes Or One Hole?

If there is only one predrilled hole in your sink, it's meant to be used with a combined faucet/handle, such as this:

Click here to see this faucet on Amazon.

When there are three holes in the sink, one is for the hot water tap, the faucet, and the cold water tap. Typically, the hot water handle installs to the left of the faucet. The cold water handle goes to the right of the faucet.

Click here to see this faucet on Amazon.

Less commonly, you may find a bathroom sink with four holes (this option tends to be more likely for kitchen sinks). This extra hole is designed for a soap dispenser such as this one:

Click here to see this soap dispenser on Amazon.

How to Switch Three Holes To One

If your sink has three holes, but you'd rather use a faucet/handle combo that just requires one hole, it's an easy fix. Find a faucet that has a deck plate (sometimes called an escutcheon plate) like this one:

Click here to see this faucet on Amazon.

The plate underneath the faucet is for covering up the extra holes that you won't be using. If needed, you can even buy a plate by itself.

Click here to see this escutcheon plate on Amazon.

To Conclude

For ease of use and less splashing, the best faucet extends seven inches into the bathroom sink. Faucets should always have a spout reach of at least five and a half inches. Seven inches, however, gives ample room so that you aren't bumping against the back of the sink when you wash your hands. For best results, also try to install the faucet so that the water stream hits the deepest part of the sink. If it is too close to the sink's back wall,  it both limits the room you have to wash your hands comfortably and creates a lot of water splatter.