How To Switch Out A Bathroom Faucet

Check out this ladykiller in the half bathroom:

It’s not especially offensive looking, but it leaks. And with a single knob I’m always worried that Clara will accidentally turn it to scalding hot when she’s washing her hands.

So we hit up our Habitat ReStore hoping for a cheap find. Sherry lunged for joy (you need to see that in person by the way) when she spotted this $12 find in the pile… only to learn that it was inexplicably missing one handle (we dug around for 20 minutes looking for it to no avail). Just wasn’t meant to be.

So we settled for this $34 find at Home Depot, which was pretty much the most affordable option they had. We figured that it was worth the peace of mind that we no longer had a leak and that Clara could use it more easily.

Making the switch promised to be quick and easy. Turn off the water. Unscrew some hoses. Bada bing. Bada boom. Hello new faucet. Except step one revealed a slight snag in the this-should-be-easy plan. The hot water valve wouldn’t turn off. It turned just fine, but the turning had no effect on the water flow. It just spun like a pinwheel.

That’s how switching out the faucet turned into replacing the hot water shut off valve (something I’d never done before)… which meant turning off the water to the whole house at the street. So we whipped out our water meter key to help twist the always stubborn valve out there (these are around $7 and we use ours more than you’d think).

I don’t have photos of the next part unfortunately, because I spent most of it with half of my body stuffed into the vanity trying to wrench various valves and hoses apart, wrap plumber’s tape, and wrench things back together. And somewhere between yelling at Sherry to have a plumber on standby and quietly cursing, I forgot to ask her to hand me the camera (which probably would have gotten wet and resulted in too-dark-to-see photos anyway). #bloggerfail. But for an idea of what the installation process looked like, you can check out this well-lit and profanity-free video from Home Depot.

I tell ya, I was convinced throughout this entire project that I was going to break some pipe and a cartoonish explosion of water would erupt from the ground, lifting our home from its foundation like we had just struck oil. But surprise – none of that happened, and I was able to get the new hot water valve in without any problem.

With the new valve attached, I got the old faucet out of the way, scraped away some of the gunk on the sink with a putty knife, attached the new hoses under the sink, and put the new fixture in its place.

When it came time to turn the water back on, I was certain at least one or two of the five new connections I had just made were going to leak (just call me the most pessimistic plumber in the world). So I laid some colored construction paper under everything so if something dripped, I’d be able to spot it quickly.

To my shock, there were no drips. And I watched for a good ten minutes – convinced they were just waiting for me to look away. Then Sherry finally dragged me away from my sink staring-contest and encouraged me to accept the victory like a big boy. Our new faucet (and its hot water valve) were officially installed!

It’s not a big exciting design decision, but we’re certainly glad to have it taken care of for functional reasons. And I guess we did make a deliberate decision about the finish. We looked at a few oil-rubbed bronze options (to match things like the doorknob and the light fixture), but all of those were at least $80+ (which felt too expensive for a Phase 1 fix). So we’re glad that brushed nickel worked just fine (and was a lot cheaper) thanks to the mirror, which acts as a “transition” between the two metals, since it mixes both tones in one spot.

Hilariously enough, the new faucet didn’t fail to impress our toughest critic. Clara walked in there after her nap and just stood there for a second staring. When Sherry said “Is everything OK?” she said “Wowwww! It looks beautiful in here! Did we get a new washing thing?”

She often notices things that change in the house, but I think this is the first time she led with such a strong compliment. We’ll take it.

Oh and here are the before and after photos you guys requested on our last bathroom post:

As for a budget breakdown, in our still-settling-in chaos we don’t have every receipt on hand, but our best guess is that we’ve sunk about $110 into this room in total (for the mirror, paint, light fixture, vanity knobs, and faucet). So for rooms that you use every day but are pretty pricey to fully renovate (like a kitchen or bathroom), it’s nice that an in-the-meantime upgrade can make a difference while you’re saving up for Phase Two down the line.

On to the next room!


  1. says

    We’ve always had a main shutoff inside the house – in the basement. Both houses have had them right around the water meter. Do you guys not have that?

    This brings me right back to all the plumbing we did in our old house… “Alright, everyone go potty and get a drink of water now; Dad’s turning off the water!!”

    • says

      Haha, we totally yell that before we turn ours off too! As for the shutoff valve in the house/basement (we don’t seem to have one and never noticed one in our last few houses either) but that sounds so convenient!


  2. says

    I like the new faucet, however, can we talk about tile grout for a minute? Your floors look to be in a similar state to ours and we have tile throughout our kitchen, half-bathroom and laundry room. Do you have plans to clean and re-seal? It seems like such a big, tedious job! Which, I always tend to want to outsource.

    • says

      Oy, the grout! I cleaned it before we moved in, but it’s discolored/stained in some spots, and I recently tried a second method that tanked (boo!) so it’s onto the next thing! Will report back when I crack the case.


    • Ashley L says

      Grout colorant! Which I think is just an expensive form of watered down paint with a little sealer mixed in. For that small room, you’d be done in 10 minutes. I think a slate gray would be pretty!

    • Gracie says

      Paint that grout! I read a blogpost about it and it turned out amazing. I think the product was called Grout Renew?

    • says

      Rubbermaid Commercial Quality Grout Cleaner. We picked ours up at our local Menards a while back and it worked wonders. In our last master bath we had white tile and what was supposed to be white grout… But it was disgustingly yellowed and gross. You pour this stuff on and watch the dirt come out of the grout. Barely any scrubbing required. We eventually used it on all of the grout in our house and were not disappointed. I’d send you our extra bottle that we still have but he have tile in our back hallway that I know will need it one of these years :)

  3. Katie says

    We just made the same switch last weekend. Same old faucet, same new faucet. Luckily, no valve here. For the price, I’m happy with the new faucet but still looking forward to our phase 2 Reno.

  4. WSquared says

    Clara’s comments are always a joy to read about. I guffawed at the “Kermit the Frog” one, but one of my favorites is her reaction to one of the Christmas presents the two of you made for her: “oh, wow, man!”

  5. Jennifer says

    Looks so great in there for just 110$ so far! Love it! As someone about to buy a new place and do a fair bit of renovating (on a major budget!), I love your concept of phase one and two, it makes so much sense and makes things liveable in the meantime! Thanks for all the awesome ideas.

  6. G says

    Everything is looking great as you all begin your updates. I hope you decide to keep the floor in the foyer and 1/2 bath and this may be in your plans already, but having the grout professionally cleaned is pretty inexpensive and makes a world of difference.

  7. says

    We have this exact same faucet – and I hate to say this – but ours is peeling bad. Its cheap. Maybe we got a lemon but its gross looking. The silver paint/coating whatever its called is coming off the handles. It started to look bad after about a year so hopefully yours will make it to phase II!

    • says

      Oh no, thanks for the tip Robin! Someone else said they have them and love them and it made me so happy. Womp-womp. We’ll have to see if ours holds up and report back!


    • Nicole says

      Yup, we have this exact one in 2 of our bathrooms, and the one that is used most often is peeling pretty bad. But, if your planning on replacing it down the line, hopefully it will make it a few years for you.

    • Kris says

      We have the same one in our rental and while the coating/paint is fine, the blue and red dots have fallen off (presumably into my drain). Works perfectly fine, though, and easy to clean.

    • Sara says

      I was afraid when I saw that Glacier Bay faucet box in your post. We had the same one on each of the double sinks in our master bath. They lasted less than a year before the finish started flaking and peeling off. They looked horrible.

      I actually wrote a review on the Home Depot website about them and they sent me a giftcard to buy new faucets once I sent them photos of how bad ours looked! Just a warning, if you are planning to keep that faucet for awhile. It might be worth it to keep an eye out for another good deal on a different faucet.

  8. ang says

    -hot water shot off valve?!
    -water meter key?!

    YOU TWOOOO!!! :D

    ‘scuse me while i go spray paint some stuff because that’s still my DIY speed. lolol ;D

    bathroom looks fantastic.

  9. Martha says

    You know, “washing thing” makes sense. Where did “faucet” even come from? And other silly words, like refrigerator – it used to be the ice box, which was much more descriptive if you ask me.

  10. Em says

    If you guys still have the steamer you used to remove wallpaper, you might want to try it on your bathroom grout. I used a steamer to clean mine and it worked like a charm! The grout looked like new. Plus, no chemicals (and since it’s hot steam, totally disinfected). I had a nozzle on mine that made a “steam stream” to target the grout. Just thought I’d mention it!

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