We have seen how the tap came into existence, but how have styles changed over the years?

Surprisingly, traditional taps are still the most commonly used, and by traditional I mean taps that require turning clockwise and anticlockwise to control the flow of water. The mechanics have stayed the same, but slight changes in technology are present with ceramic discs replacing the old rubber washers, which don’t wear away, and therefore need no replacing.

Before we look at the different styles of taps, it’s helpful to take a few things into consideration before choosing:

  1. It’s important to match the tap size to the size of the basin, in both kitchen and bathroom.
  2. Mixer taps combine hot and cold water within the body of the tap and water flow is regulated by a handle on either side. It’s vital to check your water pressure before purchasing mixer taps, as they require a volume of high pressure to function properly.
  3. Dual flow taps are an alternative choice to the mixer tap, if you have unequal pressure between your hot and cold supply. As with mixer taps, a single stream of water is dispersed, but the hot and cold flows are kept separate within the body.

Design isn’t the only difference between bathroom and kitchen taps. The water source is different in the majority of households too. By law the kitchen tap must be connected to the incoming cold water supply, giving you clean drinking water. However the bathroom sink tap is usually fed via a cistern (either in the loft or the airing cupboard). The differences are not confined to the water input, as the output varies too. Bathroom taps tend to gush water, while kitchen taps produce a more controlled flow.

Of course, within the boundaries of each category, come plenty of choices:

Kitchen tapsPull out rinser

  • Single Lever: one handle with a swivel spout for accurate direction
  • Twin Lever: separate levers for hot and cold, swivel spout
  • Pull Out Rinser: suitable for double sink with long accurate reach
  • High Neck: suitable for kitchen sinks, aerator spout for smooth flow
  • Bridge Mixer: suitable for high and low pressure sinks

Bathroom Taps

  • Deck Mounted: attached to the bath or basin by drill holes in the rim
  • Wall Mounted: a popular contemporary style, although more difficult to repair
  • Mixer (or Monobloc): uses only one tap hole
  • Pillar: individual taps, supplying hot and cold through their own tap hole
  • Floor mounted (for bath tubs): slowly becoming more popular, the pipes are attached to the floor and exposed right up to the taps.

Along with the many designs, come a variety of materials and finishes, with chrome being the most popular. As with every invention, development never stops and the latest trend in taps come with sensor control, cutting down the need for contact with the tap altogether. After all it would seem that most taps contain more germs than toilet seats – Yikes!!!

(Photos by Emma Jane Hogbin Westby and The Saint)