May 20, 2023

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet in Just 5 Steps

By Caroline Eubanks and Shivani Vora

All products featured on Architectural Digest are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Knowing how to install a kitchen faucet can transform your space and keep you from having to call a plumber—saving you at least $100. This easy home improvement DIY allows you to play with design on a whim by swapping out an existing faucet for a different finish, or upgrading a dated faucet à la 1990s for a smart touch model, or at the very least one with a pull-down hose.

"The sink and faucet area is one of the most used features in any kitchen and is often regarded as the room's centerpiece," says Caroline Danielson, director of showrooms, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. "Upgrading your kitchen faucet is an easy, visually appealing and highly functional way to give your room a fast design refresh or complement a whole kitchen remodeling project."

If you’re new to handling DIY installations, it can seem a bit overwhelming, but being prepared can go a long way. Luckily, knowing how to install a kitchen faucet is a fairly straightforward project you can complete in five steps.

The first thing to do is to find out if you are allowed to install a new faucet based on your home and warranty, which sometimes requires installation by a licensed professional. "One thing to consider, make sure you understand your local building codes," says Eric Goranson, a longtime interior designer and host of the podcast Around The House. "In some places a building permit might be required to even replace that faucet." Some states also require certain specifications. "Recent legislation requires that new faucets installed by customers in Vermont, Maryland, and California must be free of lead," Danielson adds.

That depends, says Goranson: "Installing a faucet can be somewhat of a simple project or it could be much more difficult depending on your abilities and the condition and age of the existing faucet."

Brett Wegner, Kohler's kitchen faucets marketing manager agrees. "There can be ergonomic challenges with accessing the under-counter portion of the faucet, like shank and hose connections, but the installation process is rather simple," he says. "It is often harder to uninstall the current faucet given older, and frankly less intuitive, installation hardware, [but faucet install] has been improved dramatically over the decades."

The first step is to decide what type of faucet you want.

Think about how you use your kitchen, says Molly Machmer-Wessels, a co-owner and designer at Woodland Design Company, a business that builds custom spaces in homes. Do you cook often, for example? If so, extras such as a smart-touch faucet or a sprayer for cleaning the sink after prep will likely be useful.

Next, choose the design aesthetic that best suits the space and your style. Look at the shape, silhouettes, and scale. Let the existing room and home guide the feel, but keep in mind that a faucet can be a design moment. Choosing something unique and sculptural can make an impact.

There are a range of finishes on the market, including black, stainless steel, brass, chrome, and gold. It's important to think in the long term and not necessarily go with trends. There are also new features that might appeal, including pot fillers, full down hoses, and smart touch technology.

But not every faucet fits every home. "Some homeowners may not have adequate room for a high-arc semi-professional faucet or even a standard 18-inch pull-down due to overhead cabinet limitations," Wegner says. "Pot fillers require an extra cold water line to be run through cabinetry or behind a wall to provide access to water at the desired installation location."

Some types of touchless faucets need a separate AC power outlet, requiring the help of an electrician. You’ll also need to determine whether it's a single or double handle faucet as they require different holes in the counter.

And be mindful of where you do your shopping. Buying from established faucet manufacturers ensures quality, often provides a warranty, and allows you to talk to a knowledgeable expert who can speak to the specific models, Goranson notes. "For a high-quality faucet, look for a fixture made of brass, either solid brass or cast brass," Danielson says. "It's the best material to ensure durability and reliability."

The installation process starts early, with the laying out of any tools you may need and by checking the sink. "Make sure you turn off the water completely before you start the project," Goranson says. "Sometimes the angle stop valves under that sink won't shut off correctly or they can break when you try to use them."

To facilitate the process, ask a partner to help you out. "It is recommended to have an extra set of hands to help stabilize the faucet from above while the installer is working below the counter and sink," Wegner says.

A wrench is a must for faucet installs.

By Chloe Malle

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katherine McLaughlin

"Nearly all faucets can be installed with an adjustable wrench, some plumber's putty, and Teflon tape. The manufacturer often offers special tightening tools that might be required for installation," says Danielson. "Consider using a pillow to cushion your back. Other items that may come in handy include a pan to collect water, towels, flashlight and safety goggles to protect your eyes."

Look through the items that come with your faucet as well: "Read the instructions in their entirety before beginning the installation. It may highlight missing components, tools or necessary complementary items not included in the faucet package," Wegner says.

Prevent waterworks.

Use the supply shutoff valves underneath the sink, or at the point of home entry. You might need a pair of pliers or a rag to help you grip better. From there, disconnect the water supply lines with an adjustable wrench, checking it doesn't drip. Leave them to sit for an hour or so with a paper towel underneath. It's not uncommon to discover that they have a slow drip you never knew about because they were always connected to the supplies. If they are leaking, you’ll need to buy new ones.

"Make sure to mark hot and cold supplies underneath your sink to ensure water supply hoses are properly installed and don't need to be re-installed," Wegner advises.

Out with the old.

By Chloe Malle

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katherine McLaughlin

If you’re replacing a faucet and not starting from scratch, you’ll need to take out the original one. Use a wrench to disconnect the supply lines, then disconnect them from the faucet itself. Remove the mounting nuts that connect the faucet to the sink and take out the faucet. Once the hoses are disconnected, carefully take it out and scrub the area around it with a multipurpose cleaning solution.

In with the new.

Using the mounting holes to guide you, thread the new faucet into place. This is a good time to employ your helper to make sure it's in the right position before you tighten it. You can then reattach the water supply lines [marked hot and cold], but avoid kinks in the lines. If you need to shorten, just curl, but do not kink. Attach the lines by hand, and then tighten down with the wrench.

Once water is flowing, check for leaks.

Once the faucet is in place and the water lines reattached, turn them back on to check for leaks. Tighten the connections if you need to and let the water run long enough to make sure there's no air or debris blocking it. "Always flush the faucet's supply lines to ensure there is no blockage and proper flow," Wegners.

Voilà! Congratulations, you just learned how to install a kitchen faucet.