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Faucet vs Spigot vs Tap: What’s The Difference?

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We have all heard these words at some point in our lives – but what’s the difference?

All can be found somewhere in your home. You’ve probably used all of these fixtures at least once in your life too. So, should you be using a faucet, tap, or spigot?

Aren’t They All The Same Thing? 

Simply put, no. Their main uses are the same, but there are differences, hence the different names. However, they are all used as a way of controlling water flow.

A faucet can often be found in bathrooms and kitchens, while a spigot fixture is mostly used for a garden hose. In many languages including British English, ‘tap’ is just a different word for either of the former fixtures. But it can also describe something that is limited to two flow options: on and off.

Spigots, Faucets, and Taps Compared

Still confused about what it all really means? Read on to find out the specifics of each one and what they’re best used for!

Spigot

What is a spigot used for?

A spigot with a “gate valve” can often be found on an exterior wall of your home and is attached to your garden hose.

Gate valves mean that you can turn the water supply on and off with a clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation.

The major difference between a spigot and a faucet is that you will mainly find a spigot outdoors. And, although it is possible, you shouldn’t expect hot and cold water from your spigot. Hot water is not normally necessary outdoors, so this isn’t seen often.

Faucet

What is a faucet used for?

A faucet is a one-handle or two-handle fixture that dispenses water to the sinks of your bathrooms and kitchens.

Types of faucet:

Ball Faucet

A ball faucet is easily recognizable. It is a single handle faucet that uses a ball shaped base to rotate the handle from left to right, over an almost 180° angle. With this, you can control temperature and water pressure simply by moving the handle around.

These do require more maintenance and a higher frequency of repairs, however, as they consist of many parts that are prone to wear.

Disc Faucet

A newer type of faucet, fairly similar to the ball faucet. This requires minimal maintenance and works by a single lever controlling water pressure. The temperature of the water is controlled by ceramic disks that are found inside the fixture, hence the name.

Arguably one of the most reliable faucets. However repairs, though infrequent, can be much more problematic and will likely require the help of professionals.

Cartridge Faucet

Cartridge faucets only require a smooth half-turn to switch the water on. With two handles, it requires no extra pressure to use.

It has seperate lever handles so that the temperature is in your control, meaning the water lines are separate too. The twisting axis is seamless and very simple to operate.

Compression Faucet

Just like the cartridge faucet, a compression faucet also has two handles. It is also the oldest and cheapest faucet that you can get your hands on.

When closing or turning off the water flow, this type of faucet requires more pressure than other types. This is because the washer needs to be pressed down in order for water flow to be fully blocked.

This is not as seamless of an operation and can also require more repairs than other faucet types listed.

Tap

What is a tap used for?

‘Tap’ is often used to describe a faucet or spigot, in Britain. However, it can also mean a completely separate fixture in its own right.

A handle that can only turn on or off. This is simply done by freeing or restricting water flow and can be found in many places.

Commonly found in bars and restaurants, they can be used as drink dispensers to serve beer and other alcoholic beverages. You can also purchase cartons of alcohol with taps attached for parties.

How To Choose Between a Faucet, Spigot, or Tap

Function Requirements

Of course, it depends on what you’re looking for when it comes down to which one you should choose. So, what do you need it to do?

When it comes to function, what really matters is the handle of your fixture. Whether you’re just after something to dispense some “tap water” or need something that you can attach a garden hose to. You need to make this distinction.

A spigot and a faucet are used for different functions in plumbing. And although a tap is a valve that controls the flow of liquid, it is often just used as a synonym for the others.

Indoor or Outdoor?

A spigot is commonly used for outdoor use. This is because it is usually a single handle fixture, used for dispensing cold water.

A frost-proof spigot (or frost free hose bib) means that there is no need to drain the water pipe or shut off the water flow. During winter months, the rubber washer inside, that would block the flow would freeze and crack. Consequently, this would cause dripping and water seeping through the holes.

This is prevented by a long pipe, doing the same thing as before, but now sitting in your warm home. Therefore, choosing a spigot makes sense for outdoor use or as a yard hydrant. It can also be easily attached to a hose.

Spout Height

Ask yourself how much space you need underneath your faucet or spigot. Maybe you need to wash large items such as bigger pots and pans.

Spout height is measured from the middle of the spout of your faucet or spigot, down to the base of your sink. This is how much space there will be, directly where the water will flow from.

You can find faucets and spigots of different heights so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, spigots will provide more space, as they have a much shorter spout than most faucets.

Controls

Temperature is an important factor to consider when thinking about buying a spigot or faucet.

Faucets are the best option for changing the temperature of the water. You can either turn the handle from left to right to change from hot to cold. If it’s warm water you’re after, you can do that with easily with any type of faucet, whether it has one or two handles.

You can control pressure more easily with a faucet too. A spigot will change slightly in water pressure, but will not have a significant range between on and off. The higher you pull the lever of the faucet, the higher the water pressure.

Mounting Setup

The level of difficulty of installing a faucet and spigot are similar. The best option is to contact a professional plumber, especially when you have a more advanced fixture. This can include being a frost-free hose bib or a double-handle faucet, which are much more complex to mount and connect.

If you want to do a bit of DIY instead of calling a plumber, you can. There are plenty of tutorials that you can access to help you with this. But there is no straightforward answer to which fixture is easier to install.

Budget

Obviously, budget matters when deciding between a faucet and a spigot.

Although prices vary, spigots are much cheaper than faucets. This is because as they are most often found in yards and are mostly out of view, the aesthetics matter much less. Faucets for the bathroom or kitchen are designed to match the other fixtures and look good.

Faucets, depending on the type, are much more complex. Their design must be seamless and easy to use, whilst also controlling the temperature and pressure of the water they dispense.

The most difficult job that an outdoor spigot has to do is connect to the garden hose. There is no particularly special design and despite the comprehensive range, any design will get the job done.

Final Thoughts

There are a few distinctions that can be made when wondering whether you should buy a faucet or a spigot.

Firstly, a spigot is not really designed for indoor use. Faucets are designed with aesthetics in mind as well as function, therefore, will look good inside your home. The way that a spigot looks is much less important.

If you want hot water in your garden, spigots are not designed for this purpose either. Water pressure and temperature are significant benefits of using a faucet.

If you’re interested in seeing some of our favorite faucets, have a look at these great-quality kitchen faucets.

FAQs

Is It A Water Spicket Or Spigot?

A water ‘spigot’ is often mispronounced. Though ‘spicket’ is used a lot more than you would think, this is not generally accepted as the correct spelling or pronunciation of the word.

Why Is It Called A Spigot?

The name ‘spigot’ comes from the Middle English ‘wooden stopper’. It literally just translates to something that plugs a hole to prevent water flowing. When rotated clockwise, in closed position, a spigot will restrict all water flow.

Why Is A Faucet Called A Tap?

This is a commonly asked question and the answer simply relates to regional variations. ‘Faucet’ is the American English word that typically refers to what British people might mean when they say ‘tap’. Taps can mean other things too but mostly describe a faucet when used by people from the UK.

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