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How to choose the best material for your bathroom taps

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Bathroom taps can be transformative, despite their diminutive size. However, there are many things to consider before you buy, including style, shape, size, budget and material.

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What are bathroom taps made of?

Many people never give a second thought to what bathroom taps are made of, until they need to buy some! Most kitchen and bathroom taps are made from brass (an alloy of copper and zinc). They are subsequently plated in either chrome or gold – with chrome plating the most popular option. Contemporary taps may also incorporate a brushed steel, nickel or even a black finish.

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The bathroom taps you choose need to be durable, and also complement your bathroom décor and style. Chrome-plated taps are very versatile, and work well with most modern designs. They are also resistant to scratches and corrosion, which makes them a good choice for a family bathroom. Plus they’re easy to clean and maintain, although they do show fingerprints and water spots quite easily.

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Nickel is a finish that is growing in popularity. Like chrome, it’s also extremely durable, but tends to keep its finish longer than chrome. Nickel offers a distinctive, lustrous gun metal look that adds an upscale touch to any bathroom. It works especially well with traditional and period designs. But it does sometimes carry a price premium.

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If you’re not afraid to bring on the bling, why not make a statement with a vintage gold finish? This tends not to be as durable as nickel or chrome, but it delivers a great eye-catching accent. Vintage gold is the perfect choice for period bathrooms. Rose gold works equally well within both classic and contemporary designs.

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If rose gold feels too bold, but you want something different, it’s worth considering a brushed brass finish. Not only will this add a stylish, striking touch to any bathroom, it’s corrosion-resistant and should look good for years.

Most people choose to match their basin and bath taps, for a coherent look. But a mix and match approach is a great way to create a more eclectic, original look.

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How do ceramic bathroom taps work

Ceramic taps are a recent development, created to counter the dreaded dripping tap. A rubber ring, that fits over the end of a metal tube, seals traditional taps. The trouble is, rubber degrades. And once it splits, tears or wears away, this means the seal is broken. The result? Drip, drip, drip…

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As the name suggests, ceramic taps use two ceramic discs instead of traditional rubber washers. The lower disc is fixed, while the tap handles moves the upper disc above. Each disc features matching slots. Water only flows when all the slots are aligned.

The main advantage of ceramic discs is their durability – they withstand water erosion far better than rubber washers. Another plus point is the ease of operation. Because the mechanism is low-friction, it’s very easy to turn a ceramic tap on and off. This makes it an ideal choice for a bathroom used by children, the elderly or anyone with restricted movement. A word of warning: if you’re used to traditional washer taps, you might get splashed until you remember to adjust your turn!

How to clean your bathroom taps

Once you’ve chosen your taps, you’ll want to care for them properly. There are thousands of specialist cleaning products out there, but you should avoid harsh chemicals, because they can be abrasive. A ‘clean as you go’ policy is best, as it neutralises stains and marks promptly. Old fashioned soap and water, baking soda, lemon and vinegar are excellent natural cleansers. Make sure to rinse, buff and dry with a microfibre cloth for optimum results.

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Tap size and water pressure

Aside from colour and material, there are couple of other key things to consider before you buy your bathroom taps. The first is bath tap fitting size. Most baths usually use require taps with 20mm pipework and connections. For hand basins, the magic number is usually 15mm. If you have a stone, steel or cast iron bath, you’ll need taps that match the pre-drilled holes. With acrylic baths, you can drill the holes you need to accommodate your chosen style of tap.

Last, but by no means least, your tap needs to work properly, as well as look good. Before you buy, make sure you research your home’s water pressure, and select a tap that suits. If you have a gravity-fed system, your pressure is likely to be low. A combination boiler system should mean medium to high pressure. Happy shopping!

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