The 4 Basic Types of Faucets

When choosing the faucets (or water taps) for your bathroom or kitchen renovation, are you overwhelmed by the many types of faucets that are available in the market?

Not only are faucets classified by their construction type (Ball Faucets, Cartridge Faucets, etc.), they are  also classified by their function (Bathroom Faucets, Kitchen Faucets, Bathtub Faucets etc.), design (e.g. Centerset faucets, Single-Hole faucets, etc.), controls (Handles, Knobs, Push Button Faucet, Sensor Faucet etc.), and  colour coating (Brass, Chrome, Gold etc).

In this series of articles, we will discuss the various classifications of faucets. For this article, we will cover the most fundamental types of faucet classification: by their construction type.


Nowadays, faucets come in many different shapes, sizes and finishing. However, all faucets are basically constructed as either one of the following four types:

  1. Compression Type Faucets
  2. Ball Type Faucets
  3. Cartridge Type Faucets
  4. Ceramic Disc Type Faucets

Compression Type Faucets

Compression Type Faucets Parts
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Compression Type Faucet is also known as the Stem Type Faucet.  Among the various faucet technologies in use today, Compression Type Faucet is the oldest.

Typically, Compression Type Faucet comes with two separate handles or knobs, one for hot water supply and the other for cold water supply. Underneath the handle or knob, you will find a stem assembly (hence the name Stem Type Faucet), with a washer or seal at the lower end of the stem assembly. The working principle of the Compression Type Faucet is such that when the handle is turned (rotated) in one direction, the stem assembly causes the washer or seal to press against the valve seat at the base of the assembly, thereby closing the flow of water. When the handle is turned (rotated) in the other direction, the washer or seal is released, thereby allowing water to flow again.

Ball Type Faucets

One problem with Compression Type Faucets is the washer or seal tends to wear off relatively easily with time, causing water leakage. As such, faucets that do not use washer is invented. One such faucet is the Ball Type Faucet.

Ball Type Faucets Components Parts

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Ball Type Faucets Components Parts

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As seen in the images above, a Ball Type Faucet uses a single handle that swivels up and down, and left and right, to control the movement of a metal ball within the faucet. The metal ball has openings in it which are aligned with and have same size as the hot and cold water supply inlets.

To control the amount of water flowing through from the inlets, the single handle is lifted up or down, such that more or less area of the opening is aligned with the water inlet opening . When both openings are fully aligned, maximum water is supplied, and on the other hand, when no part of the openings are overlapping each other, no water flows through.

Using the same principle, the faucet handle is turned left or right to determine whether more hot water or more cold water is supplied. For example, the handle is turned left more such that more area of the openings in the hot water inlet is exposed to let more hot water in, while the area in the cold water inlet being exposed becomes less and less cold water is supplied, and vice versa.

Cartridge Type Faucets

Cartridge Type Faucets

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Another washer-less faucet type is the Cartridge Type Faucets. Cartridge Type Faucets is available in two versions:

  1. Single handle faucets
  2. Two handle faucets

Instead of using stem assembly or metal ball to control flow of the water, Cartridge Type Faucet uses a water control valve mechanism called a cartridge.

The cartridge valve comes in plastic or metal body. It consists of a rocker switch that is capable of opening or blocking off the openings to both hot and cold water inlets entirely, as well as opening or closing the openings to varying degrees to control the amount of water flowing through.

Faucet handle for single handle faucet raises and lowers to control the volume of water flowing. Temperature is controlled by mixing hot and cold water with a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

Handles for two handle faucets just control water flow by raising and lowering the faucet handle. Hot and cold water are supplied separately from individual faucet.

Ceramic Disc Type Faucets

Ceramic Disc Type Faucets

Image Source

Ceramic Disc Type Faucet is the latest faucet technology developed. It uses two pieces of ceramic discs to regulate the amount of water flow.

The bottom disc is stationary and has openings for water inlets. The upper disc is movable and slides against the bottom disc in a shearing action. The upper disc has openings which, as it turns, the amount of area that aligns with the openings in the bottom disc will determine the amount of water flowing in.

Similar to Cartridge Type Faucets, Ceramic Disc Type Faucets come with Single handle and Two handle types. Faucet handle for single handle type raises and lowers to control the volume of water flowing. Temperature is controlled by mixing hot and cold water with a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

Handles for two handle faucets just control water flow by raising and lowering the faucet handle. Hot and cold water are supplied separately from individual faucet.

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