Bathroom Taps – Buyers Guide
One of the most cost effective ways of giving your bathroom suite a complete overhaul is to replace the bathroom taps. If you've fairly decent DIY skills then this is probably a task which you can take on by yourself, but even if you'd prefer to get the professional in, replacing the taps on a sink or bath is only going to cost you around £50 to £100, plus the cost of the taps of course. There is a huge choice of taps on the market, not just from traditional bathroom retailers but also online too. So where should you start on your search?
Check the pressure
Most taps will work perfectly well, whatever the pressure you have coming out of the cold water taps. The only exception to this is when you are looking for a bath mixer tap which you can attach a hose to for a shower. If your pressure isn't high enough, there might only be a dribble of water coming out of the shower head. Your local water company may be able to give advice on the pressure of water at your postcode, and if not, your local plumber should be able to both measure the pressure and advice about whether there are steps you could take to improve the flow from your bathroom taps.
Most taps in the UK are said to be a standard size, but it's worth remembering that the size refers to the way in which the tap fits onto the pipes rather than the size of the taps themselves (basin taps being 1/2″ and bath taps having 3/4″ threads). Unless you have very old bathroom fixtures and fittings, or have fittings which may have been imported from outside the UK, it should be a simple matter of swapping one set of taps for another. What you do have to consider though is the overall size of the taps you are looking at in comparison to your bath or sink. A tiny, space saving sink is going to look very odd with chunky, oversized taps, and conversely, dainty little modern taps are not going to work with a Victorian roll top bath. Also you may be constrained by the design of your existing sink if you are simply replacing old taps; you will have to choose tap's which fit neatly in the spaces and won't be able to swap two standard taps for one mixer tap, for example.
Whether you are buying a new sink, or choosing taps to go with an existing suite, think about the style you are trying to achieve. There are lots of different websites and glossy magazines which will give you inspiration, and it's also worth browsing in your local bathroom store and DIY store. Think about the colour and style of your suite, what other colours of metal objects you have in the room, and whether your style is going to date quickly and look old fashioned in a few years. If you are buying a new bathroom suite, the retailer will usually give suggestions about what types of taps are best suited to their products, but when you are trying to replace taps on an existing suite this is a little more complicated.
A very basic set of bathroom taps for a sink will cost you less than £20, and these sorts of taps are functional and easy to install, if not at the cutting edge of bathroom fashion. A basic mixer tap which allows you to adjust the flow of cold and hot water starts at around £30. At the other end of the scale, a designer mixer tap can easily set you back £300. Set your budget and stick to it, and if you've set your heart on a fancy set of expensive taps keep checking for end of range models or sale events which will help keep costs down. In terms of fitting, there won't be much difference in what a plumber charges to fit a set of £20 taps or £200 taps. The going rate is around £100 for the job, but you may be able to negotiate a better price if you are having a lot of other plumbing work done at the same time. Don't be embarrassed to speak to your plumber about costs – it's always better to be clear from the outset about what you will be expected to pay.