Leaky faucets are no fun, but when your faucet leaks and you have to buy new washers, you’ll be faced with a multitude of options. Amongst them, the most commonly used are the flat and beveled washers. If you look at each and only see a rubber ring, you might be wondering what the difference between them is and which to pick.
When it comes to flat vs. beveled faucet washers, the flat ones are the rings commonly found on sinks and other fixtures. These washers are universal and work with all faucets. Beveled washers have a cone shape and aren’t as common, but they work better on decade-old fixtures.
What is the Purpose of Faucet Washers?
Faucet washers are essential plumbing fittings designed to control the flow of water. They allow you to regulate the flow rate but also play another important role by preventing leaks when the tap is shut off.
Regardless of their shape and material, all faucet washers have one basic function: that of pressing down against the faucet’s seat or flow valve and creating a seal when you turn off the water. Faucet washers can be made of a variety of materials, including:
Flat Faucet Washer
Flat faucet washers are the most popular washer types. They fit all faucets, including the older ones. However, they might not be your best choice on older faucets.
What are Flat Faucet Washers?
Flat washers are small rubber (or other material) discs with level faces on both sides. The flat design makes them excellent seams, especially when the faucet is new. All modern faucets use flat washers – a reason why beveled washers are sometimes hard to come by.
Most flat washers are made of rubber, although Teflon and silicone are common too. Less common in plumbing is the metal washers, which don’t seal the faucet quite as well as other materials. Fiber washers, typically made of felt or other similar materials, are also rare to see nowadays.
Typical Flat Faucet Washer Sizes
Flat faucet washers range in size from ⅛ of an inch to 1 ⅛ inch, but the most common sizes include ½, ¼, and ⅜ washers.
When Should Flat Washers Be Used?
Flat faucet washers should be used on all new faucets and on installed faucets that are less than ten years old. This washer type does the best job in sealing the tap when it’s closed, preventing leaks. Flat washers are also easier to find in home improvement stores, so you won’t have trouble finding spare parts if any of your home fixtures starts leaking.
Beveled Faucet Washer
Beveled faucet washers are an older style of seals. They are rarely used today and mostly on fixtures that are over ten years old.
What is a Beveled Faucet Washer?
A beveled faucet washer is a rubber (or other material) disc with a flat side and another side that is cone-shaped. When you hold the washer with the beveled side up, it looks more or less like a miniature road traffic cone that was cut in half from the top.
Like flat washers, beveled washers are made of a variety of materials, including rubber, Teflon, and metal. However, beveled washers made of silicone and nylon aren’t as common.
Dimensions of Beveled Washers
Considering that flat and beveled washers serve the same purpose and that the only difference between them is the shape, you can find them in the same sizes as flat washers. However, because the beveled model is rarely used nowadays, most manufacturers prefer producing them in popular sizes only, typically in ½, ¼, and ⅜ sizes.
When to Use a Bevel Faucet Washer?
In modern plumbing, beveled washers are used almost exclusively for shimming and leveling purposes. However, they also come in handy in those situations when a flat washer can’t be used.
This is often the case when repairing old leaking faucets – faucets that are ten years old or more. The reason for using beveled washers is that the cone shape does a better job at sealing damaged or corroded surfaces; this is often the case when the faucet and the hose or pipe are connected for a long time.
In fact, the cone section of a beveled washer compensates for the material damage and prevents leaks that flat washers can’t fix.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to fix an old faucet with a beveled washer is that you’ll have to determine the right way to place it based on your circumstances. Depending on which plumbing component underwent the most damage, you may have to place the washer with the cone facing up or down.
To figure out how you have to use it, install the washer with the cone facing down and open the tap. If the faucet still leaks, take it apart once again and reinstall the washer with the cone facing up. If this still doesn’t fix the leak, you might have to replace the entire faucet.
The difference between flat vs. beveled washers should be clear now, but you might still have some questions. Let’s find out the answers.
Which Way Do Curved Washers Go?
As explained above, there is no right way to place beveled washers. It depends on what component of your sink or shower is the most damaged. Try it one way and flip it on the other side if the faucet still leaks.
When Should You Consider Replacing the Washer on Your Faucet?
Tap washers can last a long time or can break after a few months of use. The easiest way to tell when it’s time for a change is by inspecting the faucet. If you’re noticing leaks or drips, you must change the washer.
If the faucet is new, replace the old washer with one of the same type (aka, a flat washer). However, if the faucet is old, consider using a beveled washer instead.
Flat and beveled faucet washers serve the same purpose: to prevent your kitchen and bathroom fixtures from leaking or dripping. Both types are made of the same materials and come in the same range of sizes. That said, you’ll only need a beveled washer if your faucet is old. For all other situations, go for a flat washer.