A buying guide for bathtub faucets with information on finishes, types, valves and mounting options.
Tub faucets can be deck- or wall-mounted, and they come in a wide range of styles and finishes to suit the decor of nearly any bathroom. For a unified look, you can choose matching handles for your sink, tub, and shower.
The best fittings are made from brass, which costs more than the alternative, plastic, but lasts much longer. Brass faucets are typically finished in chrome, brass, or powder-coated enamel, but you can also get them plated with pewter, nickel, gold, and other specialty finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze. Choose any finish that suits your taste, but be aware some require vigilant upkeep.
Inside every faucet is a valve that controls the flow of water through the spout. Tub and shower valves are concealed behind the bathroom wall, making some repairs difficult and leaks potentially disastrous.
For maximum performance and durability, consider spending a bit more for a “washerless” faucet. To prevent dangerous burns from hot water, consider an anti-scald shower valve.
A tub/shower combination requires a diverter valve that switches from one function to the other. An in-wall diverter is controlled by a handle positioned between the two faucets, while a diverter spout has a control button located on the spout itself. A combination tub/shower installation will include a showerhead and shower arm as well as a diverter. Tub-only packages often come with a hand shower—a deck-mounted showerhead attached to the end of a flexible hose. Hand showers are particularly useful for bathing children and dogs, and rinsing dusty house plants and shower walls.