How to Install Kitchen Faucets: A Guidepost for the Masses

By Luna Regina | Updated
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Greetings from Healthy Kitchen 101!

Today we'll lead you through the process of installing a kitchen faucet. It's a straightforward task which requires little understanding of plumbing. With a DIY spirit, just about anyone can take on a project like this.

Hiring professionals is nice and all until you see the bill. It can cost quite a sum, depending on your area. To give you an idea: it's common for the installation fee to exceed the price of the faucet.

Knowing how to install a kitchen faucet will not only save you some bucks right away, but its technical details will also come in handy with maintenance in the future.

Why We Should Do It Ourselves

Plumbing services are undoubtedly helpful, especially in complicated situations, but the pay can be heavy. That said, there are uncomplicated ones that we can totally manage with a bit of persistence. As a case in point: kitchen faucet installation.

Reasons? For starters, it doesn’t involve behind-wall pipe systems, so it's not too technical; completion is less than an hour and never far from the sink; it requires only common tools all homes usually have, namely flashlights, screwdrivers, and wrenches. Basically, it's more doable than it might seem.

One tool you might need to buy is a basin wrench. It helps reach the nuts in tight corners.

Another reason is that it’s good exercise, for both your physical abilities (though not very much, admittedly) and handiwork capability. You will begin to learn how plumbing works, how to tell if there's a problem, and how much a service should cost.

There’s also the perk of saving money. According to HomeAdvisor.com, in the United States, the average installation rate for a kitchen faucet is between $150 and $330. Sometimes, that's even higher than the faucet itself.

How To Install A Kitchen Faucet: Removal Of The Old

If you’re installing a new kitchen faucet on a new countertop, feel free to skip this one and jump right to the next step: the installation.

But if you’re not, then you know this is a compulsory task. Removing your outdated unit also helps give a better understanding of how to install a new set. It may look daunting, but don’t you fret because it really isn’t.

Mounting Holes

For those who have already bought a 3-hole faucet while owning a 1-hole sink or having only 1 hole on the counter, you’ll have to call for professional assistance in cutting 2 or 3 new holes. Unless you have the tools and experience to do so yourself, it would be far too risky to take this in your own hands.

For those who are looking at a 1-hole faucet and 3 or 4-hole sink, it’s completely fine. There are things we can use to cover the extra holes up. Some companies even include cover/escutcheon plates in their packages to help conceal those gaps.

Understanding a Faucet

A faucet is, at its core, a simple fixture. Once you’ve grown familiar to its design, everything will be less confusing.

Anatomy of a Kitchen Faucet
Source: Homestratosphere.com

Our focus will be on the under-counter parts, not the faucet itself. Basically, there is a shank(s), where the hardware kit (washers and nuts) goes and stations the whole set and water inlet lines, which will be connected to the hot/cold water supply normally located under the counter.

Other details depend on the type of faucet you’re working on, but we will go more into those later.

Steps of Removal

Tools: adjustable wrench, basin wrench

Two persons recommended

The most challenging part of this process is dealing with rusty nuts. There are things that can be done— tools can be bought and solutions can be used. Go to a local hardware store and describe the problems. They will likely have something for you.

If the bolts/nuts cannot be removed with what you can find, our advice is to call services or get help.

Now, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water valves (turn on the faucet to verify)
  2. Clear the under-sink space and bring towels/buckets for water and residue.
  3. Loosen the nuts with an adjustable wrench (for the water lines), a basin wrench (for the shanks) and unscrew them completely (faster with hands)
  4. (Optional) remove the side sprayer by unscrewing it from the bottom of the faucet OR taking off the c-clip on it. Do whatever you prefer. But we suggest giving it a try and remove the c-clip just for future reference. Here’s a helpful video:

How to Replace a Kitchen Faucet: Installation of the New

Now that you're ready for the installation, let’s open the box.

Because there are a few different types of kitchen faucets, we will summarize the similar aspects of their installation here to provide the big picture of the process. Then, we’ll go into the details of specific steps of each type

Note: skim the installation sheet/manual of the product first to make sure all parts are in your possession.

Standard Kitchen Faucets

The standard type includes faucets with no special features such as long hoses (pull-out/down), side sprayers, or touchless technology.

Tools: adjustable wrench, basin wrench, thread tape, possibly putty or silicone caulk

Two persons recommended

When we put our faucet in place, there is a question of using the gasket or putty/caulk. The answer: either is good. If you don’t use the cover plate because there are no extra holes, putty/caulk is simply not needed. The provided gasket is enough.

If you need the cover plate or your faucet already has a base (e.g., 2-handle model) then the gasket is no longer required and the plumber putty/silicone caulk is highly recommended for additional sealing power.

Here’s a video showing how you can use putty under the base (at 0:58):

Pay extra attention when you're checking for leaks.

Step 1: Take the gasket and put it at the foot of the faucet. If you can’t find anything, it’s probably already placed in (you can still see it). If the plate* is used or yours has a base (3-hole faucets), then the gasket is not needed anymore.

*Some escutcheon plates also have their own shanks. Make sure you secure the plate first.

The gasket kitchen faucet

Step 2: Slide the under-parts through the hole (shank and tailpipes/lines). Ask your partner to hold the faucet in the correct position while you go under the sink.

Step 3: Place the mounting kit (the washer then the nut/mounting clip) onto the shank and secure* it with a (basin) wrench/screwdriver.

*If you’re doing this alone, don’t secure the kit just yet. Partially tighten the kit, then go above the sink to check if the faucet is in the correct position.

The kit kitchen faucet
The kit looks something like this.

Step 4: Use thread tape on threaded parts (for extra sealing), connect the supply lines to the correct hot/cold water supply inlets. Secure connections with a wrench but don’t overtighten.

Threaded Parts Kitchen Faucet

If the size of your old lines’ connections does not match with the new ones, adapters can be found in hardware stores.

Threaded part kitchen faucet
A ½” to ⅜” adapter.

Step 5: Make sure the faucet handle is turned to ‘off’. Slowly turn on the water supply (cold one first) and use your finger to check for leaks at the joints. Fix with more tape.

Step 6: Turn on the faucet and let it run for a couple of minutes to clear the pipes.

If your faucet has a tailpipe for a side sprayer, then we need to connect the sprayer or plug the pipe up altogether. Refer to the installation sheet for the plug’s use.

If it has a long hose (pull-out/down type), use a bucket under the sink because the water runs out of the tailpipe.

All the basic steps required to successfully install a kitchen faucet are presented. There are a few distinctive traits of each specific faucet type which we will go into next, but all in all, we're as good as done!

Touchless kitchen faucets

Tools: electrical drill, pencil

Here is the trickiest, and also the easiest part of the whole guide. Tricky because it involves more technical elements and each brand has its own system, therefore their own unique designs. You can see that we simply cannot cover them all in one section so we have to split them up and go through them one by one.

On the flip side, it’s easy because all these companies have instruction videos on their website. Here is a simple collection to save you the time on actually digging through their online archives.

Before you begin, take this little advice: keep the control box/ solenoid placement close. You don’t want the piece to be laid on the floor or too far away from your faucet set.

This part will cover the 4 best brands— Moen, Delta, Kohler, and Badjium— of touchless kitchen faucets.

Moen

Installation of Moen’s MotionSense is fairly straightforward. The control box and hoses are all labeled with numbers indicating their designated positions. The data cable can be easily inserted in the similarly shaped USB port, designed to prevent incorrect connections.

Overall, it’s not too complicated a process. Let’s watch the video (at 3:16):

BadiJum

BadiJum Double-Sensor is the easiest to install among the four brands. The connectors are all in distinct forms, saving us a whole lot of time figuring out which goes where. The batteries too, are positioned inside the control box, unlike the MotionSense (Moen) or Touch2O (Delta Faucet) which has a separate container.

The clip itself is very short and precise. Follow the steps and it’s done (at 1:35):

Delta

Delta Touch2O technology is delicate in design, and different in its setup compared to the other brands. The small solenoid assembly doesn’t need to be mounted as it’s connected in between the hose. Notably, the spacing of the power source (the batteries) requires extra attention from you.

Here’s the clip (at 5:09):

I would also suggest that you watch it in its entirety to grasp the idea of the Delta’s faucet installation as a whole. It usually has variations here and there.

We prefer to hang the battery box or tape it onto the cabinet’s interior back wall. Just make sure that no metal objects are closer than 2” to the box to prevent fouling.

Kohler

Kohler’ Sensate is more elaborate, now that we’ve gone through the others.

There are two parts of the whole set: the solenoid and the circuit box. The connections of the solenoid are similar to that of the Double-Sensor, with specified connectors. However, the circuit box looks pretty technical.

Watch the video carefully and note the small grease capsule as well as the position of the wires (at 3:50):

Pull-down/out Kitchen Faucets

Pull-down/out faucets have a distinctive detail - the hose. They also have a counterweight to better enhance the self-retraction mechanism of the sprayhead. So we need to take care of that as well.

First, slide the hose all the way through the spout (don’t connect with the tailpipe just yet) and dock the sprayhead. Next, we should use a piece of tape to secure and ensure that the head stays in its position during the installation even though some faucets already have magnetic docking. Alternatively, you can ask for some help.

Now, go back up and follow the standard instructions to step 6 and continue:

Step 7: Attach the counterweight* onto the hose and connect it with the tailpipe (usually with a provided snap connector).

*Depending on the counterweight design, we can either run the hose through it before the connection with the pipe or we can attach it onto the hose after the connection.

Step 8: Clear out the underside and test the spray head’s self-retraction. If you don’t like how the weight is working, you can adjust the counterweight a bit higher on the hose than the original placement for a better pull.

Step 9: Turn on the faucet, check for leaks and let it run for a couple of minutes.

Kitchen Faucet Side Sprayer

Side sprayers are usually offered with the types of kitchen faucets that do not have long hoses. These models have what we call “diverters” built in, ready for a sprayer. And the installation is very easy.

What you need to do is to follow the standard installation process to step 6. And before turning on the faucet to check, set the side sprayer in place. We’ll test the whole set afterward.

First, the sprayer gasket kit can be found with the washer on already. Remove the washer and place the gasket into the designated hole; then put the washer on from the underside.

Second, slide the sprayer through the hole. After that, go underneath and connect it with the pipe right under the spout’s position through a nut-type connection (remember to use thread tape), or a snap connector with modern faucets (refer to the installation manual).

Finally, test it by turning on the faucet and pressing on the sprayer. It should be working now.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.

Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.

Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.