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Remodeling 101: In Praise of Wall-Mounted Faucets

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Remodeling 101: In Praise of Wall-Mounted Faucets

January 25, 2018

Meet the unsung hero of the fixtures world: the wall-mounted faucet. Of all the decisions you need to make during a remodel, the location of the sink faucet may be an afterthought. But where the tap attaches matters—and can even save cleaning time, particularly in the kitchen, where wall-mounted taps are less common than in the bath. To get some professional input on the pros and cons of wall-mounted faucets, we talked with designer Malachi Connolly, who recently completed Julie’s renovation in Brooklyn Heights. (She opted for a wall-mounted kitchen faucet there and loves how it leaves a blank, clean space behind the sink.) Here’s what to know.

Spotted in Kitchen of the Week: A Before & After Culinary Space in Park Slope: a wall-mounted brass faucet, well-positioned above the sink.
Above: Spotted in Kitchen of the Week: A Before & After Culinary Space in Park Slope: a wall-mounted brass faucet, well-positioned above the sink.

What is a wall-mounted faucet?

Unlike a deck-mounted tap (which is installed on the countertop behind the sink), a wall-mounted tap attaches onto the wall behind the sink, and extends over the sink. Wall-mounted faucets are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and finishes (and are well-suited to the DIY Faucets Made from Plumbing Parts trend too).

Why would I prefer a wall-mounted faucet over a deck-mounted one?

“Many people choose a wall-mounted fixture because of its clean appearance; it’s a style that’s both modern and utilitarian-looking,” says Connolly, adding, “You often see them in restaurant kitchens.”

To Connolly, a wall-mounted faucet becomes part of the backsplash as a design element. “When you put something on a wall, it’s more like a relief or a sculpture,” he says. “And the tiles around it—the color, the shape, the grout lines—are part of the composition.”

Wall-mounted faucets fit the deconstructed look in the bath, as seen here, in The Country Rental: A Floating Farmhouse in Upstate New York.
Above: Wall-mounted faucets fit the deconstructed look in the bath, as seen here, in The Country Rental: A Floating Farmhouse in Upstate New York.

What are the advantages of a wall-mounted faucet?

The main plus: This type of tap makes it easier to keep the area in back of your sink clean. Dirt and calcium deposits tend to accumulate there, so the area is much easier to keep spick-and-span without hardware in the way.

And, as Connolly points out, if you’re a fan of the double-jointed (or articulated) faucet, which scissors back and forth to easily fill big pots with water, installing the fixture on the wall provides more range of motion.

What are the disadvantages?

A wall-mounted faucet is harder to install and costs around 30 percent more than the deck-mounted type. And since fewer styles are available, it’s not as easily replaced.

Another disadvantage: If you like to have a separate spray nozzle, you may need to install one on the deck. “Some wall-mount styles do have a sprayer,” says Connolly, “but having the hose dangling at the backsplash isn’t ideal.”

An added plus of wall-mounted faucets: open, easy-to-clean space between sink and backsplash, as seen in House Call: Endless Summer in a London Victorian.
Above: An added plus of wall-mounted faucets: open, easy-to-clean space between sink and backsplash, as seen in House Call: Endless Summer in a London Victorian.

Is a special type of faucet needed?

Just make sure the fixture you buy is suited for wall-mounting. It’ll come with all the hardware needed to install it.

How high up should you position it?

“That depends on the shape of the tap,” says Connolly. “Figure on about eight to ten inches of clearance, measuring from the deck to the faucet head.”

How far out should it reach?

Connolly recommends that the faucet should extend out at least seven inches from the back of the sink, so you can wash your hands without banging them against the sink. So, if your countertop is 24 inches deep, that would put the spout about 11 inches from the wall.

Old-fashioned copper taps in A Historical House Reimagined for a Modern Family in Stroud, England.
Above: Old-fashioned copper taps in A Historical House Reimagined for a Modern Family in Stroud, England.

Do you need to install a wall-mounted faucet on a special surface?

Since the fixture is supported by the plumbing pipes, rather than the wall, regular backer board for tiling (that is, a stable waterproof board) should suffice, says Connolly. And it doesn’t matter what type of backsplash you have. While it’s usually tile, you can also install the tap on a wall with waterproof paint or even on stone slab.

What else should you consider when installing a wall-mounted faucet?

With all these measurements, it’s best to have a professional install a wall-mounted tap. It starts with the plumber installing the pipes, which must be in positioned so the tap will be centered over the spot where the sink will be. “Once you install the plumbing, you can’t move it,” says Connolly. “Well, maybe by half an inch, but not enough to make a difference if it’s really out of whack.” For the next step, the cabinetmaker measures where the plumbing rough is installed so they know exactly where the sink cabinet needs to go.

And if your backsplash is tile, there’s another detail that should be attended to: For the best appearance, you’ll want the grout lines perfectly aligned with your wall-mounted tap so everything’s centered.

A traditional wall-mounted style in the bath; see A “Modern Victorian” Loft in London by Mark Lewis for more. Photograph by Rory Gardiner.
Above: A traditional wall-mounted style in the bath; see A “Modern Victorian” Loft in London by Mark Lewis for more. Photograph by Rory Gardiner.

Are there situations where installing a wall-mounted tap isn’t possible?

It’s almost always possible to install a wall-mounted tap (unless you have a window directly behind the sink), but some conditions require extra work. Let’s say you want to install the faucet on an exterior-facing wall—which, in a cold-weather area, could lead to frozen pipes. “In those cases you’ll need to fur out the wall,” says Connolly; that is, build the wall out a few extra inches. “That gives you enough room to encase the pipes with two to three inches of high-density spray foam insulation.”

A stone slab backsplash also creates difficulties: You’ll need to have holes drilled for the faucet, and they must be precisely centered. “But if you’re able to afford a stone backsplash, you can afford a good contractor to coordinate all that work,” Connolly says.

Can I replace a deck-mounted fixture with a wall-mounted one?

Not without making other changes. If your existing tap is mounted on the sink, the sink will have one or more holes to accommodate that. So if you’re swapping out your tap, you’ll also have to replace your old sink with a new one that doesn’t have holes. If your faucet is installed on the counter itself, you’ll have to replace your countertop.

Looking for more tips on kitchen faucets? Start with our Remodeling 101: Kitchen Sinks and Faucets guide, where you’ll find help with faucet and sink selection, installation and maintenance. For more expert opinions on faucets, see our posts:

N.B.: Featured image from the Bear Creek Bovidae Bath in Austin, Texas, an entrant in our 2017 Considered Design Awards.

Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose your bathroom sink and faucet in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Bathroom Sinks & Faucets.

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