How fit a kitchen tap

Give your kitchen sink an instant update by fitting a brand new tap

Buxton hot-water tap

Taps aren’t just functional, they can make a real style statement in your kitchen. From sleek matt black to classic chrome-effect, traditional pillar taps to modern spring-neck models, there is a whole host of designs and finishes to choose from. Whether your current tap is working inefficiently or you just want to update the design, replacing a tap in your kitchen is a fairly straightforward job that can easily be done by a DIYer.

Which taps to choose?

Taps come in so many shapes and sizes, and which you choose is down to personal taste, how many tap holes you have in your sink and what your water pressure is like. Here are some tips to help you decide:

  • U or F shaped taps are available in top or side levers, or spring-neck and pull-out options. If you don’t have a dishwasher, these options are perfect as they make it so much simpler to shift any grime.
  • Monobloc taps have two levers to control temperature and one spout to distribute the flow of water.
  • Single lever taps have a sleek minimal design, making them ideal for contemporary kitchens. You adjust the temperature with a single lever.
  • Deck mixer/bridge taps have two separate hot and cold controls on either side which can be used separately or in combination with each other. They come in both modern and traditional styles.
  • Pillar taps come as two separate taps, one for hot and one for cold which draw separately and have their own individual water pressures. They come in both traditional and modern styles.
  • Boiling water taps are great for busy households, as you don’t need to wait for the kettle to boil and it will free up worktop space.
  • Filter taps improve the taste of drinking water by removing impurities in the water, while leaving all the beneficial and essential minerals.

Taps also come in a whole host of finishes, including chrome, stainless steel, copper, graphite, brass and bronze effects. It’s a good idea to co-ordinate the tap to the metal elements in your kitchen, such as the cabinet handles or appliances.

How to remove an old tap and install a new tap

You will need:

  • Open ended spanners
  • Basin wrench
  • Back nut box spanner
  • Box spanner set
  • Groove pliers
  • Cleaning cloth or rag
  • Washing-up bowl
  • Towel
  • Your new tap(s) with manufacturer’s instructions
  • PTFE tape

How to remove an old tap

Step 1

Turn off the water supply to the tap(s). The pipes or flexible hoses supplying your tap(s), should have isolating valves fitted at their outputs. These are operated by either a thumb lever or a slotted screw head that requires a screwdriver. Apply a quarter turn to shut the water off – the water is off when the lever or slot are at right angles to the pipe. Run the tap as you isolate it to make sure flow of water has stopped.

If you don’t have isolating valves, you’ll need to shut off your water supply by closing the main stopcock. There may also be a valve at the hot water supply tank. Run the tap(s), both hot and cold to make sure all water flow has stopped.

Step 2

Remove anything stored under the sink and put down an old towel with a bowl to hand to catch any water drips.  Read through your replacement tap installation instructions first and ensure you’ve got all the tools you need ready.

Step 3

Disconnect the tap(s) – for standard water pipe connections, loosen the nut where the tap joins to the pipe with an open-ended spanner. Hold the tap to prevent it from twisting at the same time. Unscrew the nut completely to free the water connection – some water may come out at this point.

For flexible hose connections, loosen the nuts where they join the mains water pipe connections or isolator valves. As you loosen, hold the connection or valve with a wrench or adjustable pliers. Protect the jaws with the cleaning cloth or rag to avoid scratches. Completely unscrew to free the water connections.

Step 4

To remove the tap(s), loosen the nut that clamps it to the mounting surface, holding the tap firmly to stop it rotating.

For individual traditional pillar and bridge combination styles that carry a large retention nut (normally positioned with restricted access), you will need a basin wrench or back nut box spanner at the correct size to loosen it. Taking the nut off completely will allow the tap to be removed. Make sure there aren’t any remaining associated washers or seals left hanging up.

For single block combined and mixer taps you will need an open ended or a suitably sized box spanner to loosen the retaining nut on its securing stud as described above. Completely removing the nut from the stud will allow the tap to be removed complete with its flexible hoses – the ends can be sharp, so take care when removing to avoid scratches.

Once the tap is removed, remove any residue from the open mains pipe connections, seals or gaskets. Once you’ve made sure your new tap is supplied with new hoses, the old tap and its hose connections can be disposed of.

How to fit a replacement tap

Step 1

Before fitting a new tap, take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

For individual pillar and bridge combination designs, apply four or five turns of sealing PTFE tape to the mains connection lower threads. Wrap it in a clockwise direction, looking from underneath the tap. Once it’s wrapped, tear it from the reel to make it bind. Now you’re ready to fit the new tap.

For mixer taps, hoses are usually pre-fitted. If not, screw the hoses into the tap base carefully, tightening by hand only. Feed the mains connection ends through the location hole – taking care to avoid the sharp edges on stainless steel sinks, and make sure any seals, gaskets, washers and studs are pre-fitted and located according the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 2

Ask someone to help you hold the tap in the right position on the sink and check that the top-side seal is correctly fitted and aligned. From beneath the sink, apply any under-side gaskets, washers or retaining plates in the right order and align according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply the retaining nut by hand until it is finger tight.

Make another final check of the tap alignment and tighten it further. Make sure your helper who is holding the tap keeps the tap in position by gripping it firmly. This will stop any rotation as you tighten. Ensure any seals, washers and mounting plates remain in position. Don’t over-tighten the tap.

Step 3

Fasten the mains connection – this will be the reverse of what you did during the removal. Make sure you always start threads by hand to avoid risk of cross-threading. Once the thread has started, you can tighten with the right tool – don’t overtighten, and ask a helper to support the tap to ensure it doesn’t twist.

For pillar and bridge mixer type taps, the thread length is standard with the existing connection alignment assured.  You don’t need PTFE tape for mixer taps as the hose connections already carry integral seals. Hand-tighten the connector nuts to the mains pipe connections or isolator valves if fitted. Finally, tighten with the right sized open-ended spanner, whist gripping the connector or valve body below carefully, with adjustable pliers to avoid over-straining the pipe. Use a cloth or rag over the jaws of the pliers to avoid scratching the tap and do not over-tighten.

Step 4

Once the tap is fitted in position, slowly open the isolators or mains stopcock and hot water tank valve. Check the mains connections under the sink for any leaks. If everything looks OK after a few minutes, slowly open the taps. Expect the flow to be intermittent to begin with, particularly if you turned off the water at the mains stopcock.

Make sure you check the water connections for any signs of a leak over the next couple of days, just in case.


Common mistakes

Don’t forget to turn off the water so that you don’t flood your house or end up injuring yourself.

Always choose the right tap for your set-up. Guessing what sizes and parts you need can end up wasting a lot of your time. Take a photo of your tap set-up, take accurate measurements and ask the in-store experts when you buy your tap for the most suitable type for your system. You could even take the old tap in with you.

Make sure you have all the necessary plumbing supplies before you start replacing an old tap. Using inappropriate tools can end up damaging your hardware and breaking pipes. 

Don’t over-tighten fittings. Over-tightening fittings, pipes, nuts and bolts and supply tubes when changing a tap can cause cracks on joints. Tightening it to prevent leaks is a must, but also to provide room for contractions or expansions. So, avoid excessive force when tightening a tap so that your fittings don’t break shortly after replacement. 

Don’t re-use old parts. When doing a tap replacement, don’t re-use the previous tap’s spare parts, or even reuse the same old tap, but with new spare parts. While you can reuse your older parts, newer ones are always highly recommended. Re-using parts, such as the tap washers or water tap valves made of metal, is likely to cause problems in the future.