The Different Types of Basin Taps Explained

New bathroom basin taps are a great way of enhancing the overall look of your bathroom, en-suite or cloakroom bathroom without the need to spend money on a complete refurbishment. Choosing, however, is not quite as straightforward as it sounds, so we've put together a guide to explain the different types of basin taps and what you should be on the look out for.

Choosing a new basin tap for your bathroom sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be anything but. There are a multitude of things that you need to take into consideration, including: the water pressure you have; what style of tap you want; what finish you want; whereabouts on or around your basin you’re planning on mounting your tap.

In this extensive guide, we’ll talk through the different types of basin taps that are available, and what you need to look out for when choosing between them.

Mono Basin Mixer Taps

Crosswater KH Zero 1 mono basin mixer

Mono basin taps - or monobloc taps - are the most common type of basin tap in modern bathrooms. As the name suggests, they require a single tap hole and have a single spout from where both hot and cold water is dispensed. Most come with just a single lever which control the flow and temperature, however, there are some twin lever taps with one lever for the hot and one for the cold water, giving you better control over the temperature.

Mono basin mixers are available in a huge range of styles, both modern and traditional, curved design and square, waterfall spout or aerated spout. There are a huge amount of finishes as well, with chrome being the most popular, but you can also get matt black, stainless steel, gold, nickel and even brushed brass mono basin taps.

Among our favourite and best selling mono basin mixers are the Vellamo Reve Waterfall tap, the Vellamo City basin tap, and the Vellamo Quadro mono basin mixer.

What to Look Out For

Whilst they are the most common type of basin tap, mono basin mixers aren’t suitable for every bathroom. If you’re simply buying a basin tap to replace one you already have, you must take into account where the tap is going. If you’re putting it on a basin that already has two pre-drilled tap holes because you’ve had a pair of basin pillar taps, it’s going to look rather odd if you drill another hole in the middle for your new tap and leave the other two holes. If you’re buying a mono basin mixer because you’re buying a new basin as well, again, you’ll need to check how many tap holes the basin has before choosing your tap.

Mono basin mixers also require you to have good hot and cold water pressure. It doesn’t necessarily have to be high pressure - although you’ll need to check the water pressure requirements of each individual tap to make sure your bathroom meets them - they just need to be similar. If, for example, you have a pair of basin pillar taps at the moment, and you get good pressure from the cold tap but a mere dribble from the hot tap, if you were to combine the two in one tap (as you do with a mono basin tap) you will probably end up with a tap that struggles to give you hot water.

The final thing you need to take into account is the size of the basin your new tap is going on. If you only have a small basin (roughly less than 600mm wide) then a ‘normal’ mono basin mixer could be too large for your basin and you might find that water splashes everywhere. In this case, you would be better off looking at our range of small basin taps, which we shall look at in more detail further on.

Basin Pillar Taps

Crosswater Belgravia Traditional long nose basin pillar taps

Everyone’s familiar with basin pillar taps, even if you might not have known what they were called. With basin pillar taps, you have two taps - one for hot water and one for cold - and they are more common in traditional-style bathrooms or in bathrooms in older houses. The UK is one of the only users of basin pillar taps and it’s often something that confuses foreign visitors who aren’t used to having to choose to wash their hands with either scalding hot water or freezing cold water. As hard as it might be to believe, there is a practical reason why the basin pillar tap exists.

As we mentioned previously, to have a properly functioning mono basin mixer in your bathroom you need to have good hot and cold water pressure, otherwise when you’ll end up with a tap that dispenses cold water, but struggles to give you any hot water. With basin pillar taps, you don’t have to worry about that. Yes, as with any tap you must make sure that you have sufficient water pressure in your bathroom for the tap that you’re looking to buy, but it doesn’t matter if your hot and cold pressure are different with a basin pillar tap as they’re coming out of different taps.

Like mono basin mixers, basin pillar taps are available in many styles, shapes and finishes, and prices start from under £20.

What to Look Out For

As with mono basin mixers, the key question to ask yourself is “where are you placing the taps?” If you have a basin that only has one tap hole, are basin pillar taps really going to work? We’ve said it already, but we’ll say it again: water pressure. If you don’t have the required water pressure for the tap you’re looking to buy, don’t buy it! You’ll only end up disappointed when you get just a trickle of water from your new tap and you then have to buy new ones again.

3 Hole Basin Taps

Flova Cascade 3 hole waterfall basin mixer

3 hole basin taps function much in the same way as mono basin mixers - with both hot and cold water coming out of a single spout - yet, as the name suggests, they require 3 holes. One hole is for the spout, whilst the other two holes are for the hot and cold levers. This gives you excellent control over both water flow and temperature, although it does mean that you might need both hands to adjust the controls to find that perfect temperature. Is the slight nuisance of not always being able to use the tap with one hand worth it for the extra style? Only you can make that decision.

Modern and traditional style 3 hole basin taps are readily available, and whilst there isn’t as much choice as with mono basin mixers and basin pillar taps, there are still dozens here at Tap Warehouse for you to choose from. Another thing to consider: 3 hole basin taps are, in general, more expensive than mono basin taps and basin pillar taps, but as with everything, extra style is going to come at a price. That being said, you can still find a selection of 3 hole basin taps for less than £100.

What to Look Out For

You guessed it: water pressure! And also the basin or work surface that the tap’s going on to make sure you can put have the correct number of tap holes. Other than that, it’s all about the style that you want and your budget.

Tall Basin Mixers

Crosswater KH Zero 2 tall basin mixer and countertop basin

With the rise in popularity of countertop basins we’ve also seen a rise in popularity of tall basin mixers. Tall basin taps all come in a monobloc form - that is, they only have one tap hole and one spout - so work in exactly the same way as a mono basin mixer. Many of our most popular mono basin mixer ranges also have a matching tall basin tap, so you won’t be short of stylish, well priced taps to choose from.

As we’ve mentioned, tall basin mixers are almost exclusively used with a countertop basin. This means that they are mounted to your worktop or vanity unit instead of the basin. This not only looks more stylish, it keeps your basin looking less cluttered. Because countertop basins are more commonly used in modern bathrooms, it does mean that a disproportionate number of tall basin mixers are of a modern design. Traditional styles are still available, but they are much rarer and therefore more expensive. We would expect to see more manufacturers designing traditional style tall basin taps if the demand is there for them.

What to Look Out For

You’re probably tired of hearing this by now but, if possible, having the right water pressure is more important for a tall basin mixer than any other kind of basin tap. As the water has further to travel in a tall basin tap, the pressure required will be slightly higher than with a normal mono basin mixer although there are still tall basin taps that are suitable for low pressure.

This may sound like an odd thing to say, but you need to make sure that your tall basin mixer is tall enough. Not all taps and countertop basins will be the same size, so you’ll want to make sure that there is adequate space from the top of your countertop basin to where the spout exits on the tap.

Finally, make sure that you have enough space on your counter to mount your tap behind your basin. We’ve heard of some horror stories of people that have a vanity unit that is 500mm from the wall, and then they’ve bought a countertop basin that is 480mm from front to back, and they haven’t had enough space to mount their tap behind the basin. Always check the dimensions of the tap you’re buying, as well as the area that you’re fitting it in.

Small Basin Taps

Crosswater Essence mini mono basin mixer

Small basin taps (or cloakroom basin mixers) are perfect for smaller bathrooms and cloakrooms. We recommend that you use a small basin tap if your basin is less than 600mm wide to stop your tap looking too large and out of place on a small basin. Our most popular mono basin mixer ranges all feature a matching small basin mixer, so just because you’re sacrificing some size, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice any style.

What to Look Out For

Just as having a large tap on a small basin is going to look out of place, so is having a small tap on a large basin, so choosing the right size of tap for your basin is key. Don’t be driven entirely by price and choose a cheaper small basin tap if you have a large basin. We don’t just suggest a small tap for a small basin to please our inner interior designer; there is a practical reason behind it as well. If you have a large basin and a small tap, it’s going to take longer for your tap to fill your basin which, over time, is going to become annoying.

Wall Mounted Basin Taps

Wall mounted basin tap and countertop basin

Along with tall basin mixers, wall mounted taps are the most modern basin taps, and again, they are ideal to use with a countertop basin. By mounting the taps on the wall, it keeps the entire area around your basin clear and provides a much more minimalist look. It wasn’t so long ago that wall mounted taps would only have been found in the most luxurious hotels, spas and restaurants. Nowadays, however, you can pick up a wide range of wall mounted basin taps for less than £100 and get that luxurious look in your bathroom.

Like with all other basin taps, there are different types of wall mounted basin taps. There are of course modern and traditional designs, ones with just a single temperature and flow control, and ones that have a separate hot and cold water handle. There are also those that come with a backplate and those that don’t. If you want the most modern and minimalist look, it’s better to forgo the taps with a backplate. It also means less cleaning!

What to Look Out For

The great thing about wall mounted taps is that you can put them almost anywhere you like; you’re not tied down by where the holes on your basin are. There are still things to take into consideration though. Just because you can place it anywhere on your wall, it doesn’t mean that you should. Place it too high and the water’s going to splash everywhere when it hits the basin. Place it too low, however, and you’ll knock your hands on it or the basin everytime you try and wash them.

Non-Concussive Basin Taps

Non-concussive basin tap in a public bathroom

Like basin pillar taps, everyone is familiar with non-concussive basin taps, you just might not be familiar with what they’re actually called. Non-concussive taps are most commonly found in public bathrooms, and we are told that they are a great way of saving water, hence why they are making their way into residential homes as well. The belief that they save water isn’t always entirely true though.

When you turn on a non-concussive basin tap, it will automatically turn off in anything from around 5 to 15 seconds. If you’re someone that leaves the tap on when you’re brushing your teeth, then yes, this will save you water. However, if you’re already conscious about using water and you turn the tap off as soon as you’re finished with it, a non-concussive basin tap could actually end up making you use more water because it might turn off a few seconds after you would have normally turned it off.

Where non-concussive basin taps do prove their worth is in homes with young children because not only are they easy to use, but a young child cannot accidentally leave a non-concussive basin tap running. There is a limited range of non-concussive basin taps, although wall and deck mounted options are available, as are mono and pillar taps.

Infrared Basin Taps

Vado i-Tech infrared mono basin mixer - battery or mains operated

Like non-concussive basin taps, infrared taps are more commonly found in public restrooms. Again, the idea of an infrared basin tap is to save you money off your water bill by automatically turning off after a set period of time. And again, like a non-concussive basin tap, whether one will save you money will depend on your current water habits.

Infrared basin taps are easier to use than non-concussive taps because you simply wave your hand in front of the tap to activate the water flow. This again makes them ideal for homes with young children that are just learning to be independent but don’t quite have the strength to work a normal basin tap (or the gumption to turn it off properly once they’ve finished using it). Infrared taps are also ideal for use by the elderly and people with disabilities for the same reasons.

Another benefit of infrared taps is that because you don’t actually have to touch the tap they are more hygienic. This is why many hospitals, airports and other places where infections could spread quickly all use them. Like non-concussive basin taps, the choices you have available are limited. Here at Tap Warehouse we have a range of modern, mono infrared basin taps as well as a couple of wall mounted infrared taps as well.

What to Look Out For

There are two types of infrared basin taps: those that are battery powered and those that are mains powered (although some can be either). Don’t forget to check before you buy. If you choose a mains powered tap, you’ll also need an electrician to help with the installation. Battery powered infrared taps will still need to be installed by a plumber, but the battery part can be installed by you and replaced by you when required.

 

As we’ve seen, the world of basin taps isn’t as straightforward as you might have thought 5 or so minutes ago, and whilst we may have made the decision about what tap to buy slightly trickier, we hope that you’ll now be able to make a more informed decision. If you think we’ve missed something or you have any questions, let us know and we’ll do our best to help.