Kitchen faucets with pull-down or pull-out feature are the ones that don’t use a separate sprayer but allow you to detach their own spray head in order to direct the water stream as needed. This way, you can reach every point in the sink with direct water stream, including its corners, and you can lead the stream even over the edge of the sink. It comes in especially handy when you need to fill a pail on the floor or a pot on the counter-top.
There is no clear agreement when to call the feature “pull-down” and when “pull-out”. The terms are often mixed, and sometimes both are used speaking of the same faucet. The common tendency is though to refer to the so called goose-neck faucets as “pull-down” since the direction of pulling the spray head will be downwards. “Pull-out” faucets are generally those where you pull the spray head horizontally or upwards.
There are a few things that determine the user friendliness of a pull-down or pull-out faucet.
1. Length and flexibility of the pull-out hose.
A high quality faucet will have a long enough and flexible hose. You may actually never need the full length of the hose. But in case you need it, you have the reserve.
A more flexible hose will be easier to handle. But you want to be sure that the hose won’t be bending to a degree that blocks the water flow. That would be a sign of a low quality faucet.
2. The way spray head is secured in the dock.
Precise docking is an important factor. You can’t be happy with a faucet whose spray head slides out of its place. Such a faucet looks cheap and is rather a disappointment than an enhancement. That is why every effort has been made to secure a firm and snug fit.
The most popular solution is using magnets. A magnetic dock not only holds the spray head precisely in its place but also makes it easier to detach. You can turn it gently until the magnets repel. This way there will be even less wear on the faucet body. Another thing that most people love about magnetic docking is the reassuring click when the spray head returns to the dock.
3. Presence of a pause button on the spray head.
If you frequently pull the spray head over the edge of the sink, a pause button comes in handy. You can always use the handle to pause the flow, but it is much more convenient to have the button right on the spray head.
Not all pull-down/pull-out faucets have such a button. If you mainly work inside the sink, that may not be a big deal. But if you want more freedom to move outside, it may be wise to check whether the faucet has such a button or not.
4. Ability to retract from a full distance.
For some faucet models, it is announced explicitly that they will retract even when pulled out to the maximum length. It means that the spray head will return to its place in the dock from any point where you drop it. This feature works particularly well in combination with magnetic docking. You just release the spray head, and it will find its way to the dock all on its own. If you work a lot in the kitchen, you may find this feature helpful.
The faucets that don’t have this feature will need assistance. You will have to move the spray head to a certain proximity of the dock – only then will it return to its place. This is, however, not an indication of poor quality. Just pay attention whether this feature is mentioned in the description of the faucet. If it is not there, then your faucet will most likely not retract from the full length.
5. Interaction with other functionality.
With all that said, the real value is found in the interaction of the pull-down/pull-out feature with other functionality that a faucet has to offer. As mentioned earlier, it could be a magnetic docking system that complements in a good way. Also the pause button on the spray head is a “must have” for many users.
But there are even more advanced features like touch or hands-free activation, water saving while the same pressure is kept, and a lot more. A modern kitchen faucet is seldom just a faucet. A pull-down/pull-out kitchen faucet in combination with the right set of other features has the potential to make your kitchen life easier and even add some fun.