How to Choose a Bathroom Sink

Bathroom sink choices are vast for today’s consumers, covering a wide spectrum of types, styles, and colors. Knowing all the available options can make the selection process enjoyable rather than confusing.

What is the Best Material for a Bathroom Sink?

Perhaps the biggest differentiator with bath sinks is the material that is used in making them. Ceramics like vitreous china, fireclay, and porcelain are familiar choices.

They are rivaled by glass, which has striking looks; metals like stainless steel, nickel, brass, copper, and cast iron; and natural stone.

  • Traditional Ceramics

Ceramic is a popular material for bathroom sinks and it is synonymous with bathrooms. A porcelain sink is a classic, and it’s often known as vitreous china.

As for fireclay, it’s very similar; however, it is baked at a much higher temperature, producing a high resistance to heat and making it a material that is great for a kitchen.

With a ceramic bathroom sink, it is important to avoid harsh chemical cleaners as they can etch the enameled surfaces, leading to problems such as stains.

A ceramic sink is typically more affordable compared to cast iron, also a popular choice for bathroom sinks.

Pedestal Rectangular Traditional Ceramic Bathroom Sink
Corner Wall Mount Traditional Ceramic Bathroom Sink
Undermount Rectangular Traditional Ceramic Bathroom Sink
  • Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron bathroom sinks are popular options for bathtubs and sinks alike. Extremely high heat bonds iron with porcelain enamel, creating a sink that is incredibly beautiful and strong. As they can last a lifetime, they tend to be a bit on the expensive side.

Both ceramic and cast iron can produce beautiful sinks, which have the natural ability to resist mildew, staining, and bacteria. Both materials are known for being easy to clean and maintain. They are not invincible, however, as sinks can chip or crack easily when a heavy object is dropped to their surfaces.

A lot of caveats of ceramic apply to enameled cast iron bathroom sinks, owing to their enameled finish. But, as soon as the enamel that is on cast iron sinks is compromised, problems are more serious as the iron will be exposed to moisture and air, leading to unsightly stains and rusting.

Oval Drop In Bathroom Sink
White Bisque Square Vessel Bathroom Sink
Rectangular Vitreous China Bathroom Sink
  • Acrylic

Acrylic bathroom sinks have a plastic, resin, and fiberglass construction. The material is attractive and cost-effective, plus it is available in various designs and colors. Being lightweight, an acrylic sink can be installed easily with almost any countertop material. As acrylic sinks are made of solid materials, moderate scratching can easily be polished and sanded out.

Resistant to rust and staining, it may seem like the best material for bathroom sinks. There is just one thing that you should watch out for and that is heat. Hot items like curling irons should never be left or placed on acrylic sinks as the material will most likely melt. Apart from that, acrylic sinks are pretty tough. They are great options for kids’ bathrooms.

Incandescence Oval Vessel Acrylic Bathroom Sink
Matte Stone Rectangular Vessel Acrylic Bathroom Sink
White Oval Vessel Acrylic Bathroom Sink
  • Stainless Steel

Although it is a staple in kitchens, stainless steel sinks are also used in bathrooms, especially these days. More and more homeowners have found that the material is durable, great for bathrooms that require a long-lasting sink.

Stainless steel has the uncanny ability to blend in with almost all design schemes, however, it does require cleaning and maintenance in order to retain the luster of the metal. It can scratch and readily show water spots, most especially with hard water. That is why there is a need to avoid using abrasive cleaners or materials for its maintenance.

Take note: the material is rated from 16 to 22 gauge. If you want your stainless-steel sink to be quick and high in quality, look for a lower number.

A 22 gauge is considered the bare minimum. Most homeowners are already satisfied with a 20-gauge stainless steel sink. The thinner the sink, the more noise it can make when water hits its surface. Fortunately, this can be taken care of easily using a set of sound-absorbing pads which can be placed on the underside of a sink.

Square Dual Mount Brushed Stainless Steel Bathroom Sink
Circular Undermount Stainless Steel Bathroom Sink
  • Copper and Brass

The most popular when it comes to metal sinks apart from stainless steel are brass and copper. They are heavy-duty materials and the sinks made of such are renowned for their durability and natural beauty.

Copper, in particular, can be left to develop a unique patina that can take on many shades of blue, green, and copper. A copper bathroom sink can also be polished and sealed regularly in order to retain a bright, shiny copper-colored look. Care and proper cleaning are the key for copper and brass sinks to last a long time.

Several studies have proven that bacteria can’t survive for more than a couple of hours on unpolished and unsealed copper surfaces (and also with brass to a certain point), giving unlacquered brass and natural copper sinks an anti-microbial property that their peers certainly can’t compete with.

Vessel Circular Metal Copper Bathroom Sink
Circular Vessel Tempered Glass Copper Bathroom Sink
Metal Oval Undermount Aged Copper Bathroom Sink
  • Glass

Although a less common material used in making bathroom sinks, glass makes the most attractive ones! Tempered glass is commonly found with vessel sinks. It is tough, and it can hold up fine in typical adult bathrooms.

The problem, however, is when objects are dropped in it as they can shatter or nick the sink if they are heavy enough or very pointed. You will need a schedule for the cleaning of the glass sink as well as using water, soap, and toothpaste in cleaning the spots!

Circular Vessel Tempered Glass Bathroom Sink
Blazing Blue Glass Square Vessel Bathroom Sink
  • Stone

Stone bathroom sinks are beautiful and durable. They are quiet, and very well worth every penny that’s spent on it. Natural stone is very heavy, which means the sink made of such should not be mounted on any vanity.

It will need extra support, so there is a need to keep the possible additional cost in mind. A stone bathroom sink requires resealing regularly in order to prevent straining. It should be cleaned using water and mild soap only or non-abrasive cleaners to protect the sealing of the stone with each cleaning session.

If you want stone’s natural beauty without going over budget, you can opt for composites. They combine quartz or granite with acrylic resin, which cuts both the cost and weight down.

Composites won’t have the complexity or the variations of natural stone though.They won’t age the same as well, but they are already impressive substitutes that are currently available online in various shapes, styles, and colors.

Black Stone Specialty Vessel Bathroom Sink

What Are the Different Types of Bathroom Sinks?

There are different kinds of bathroom sinks and their main distinction is where and how they should be mounted. Here are your top options:

  • Undermount Bathroom Sinks

If you want a bathroom sink that is both sleek and stylish, then consider getting an undermount style unit. This sink is mounted right under a countertop, which makes for a smooth and clean drop off from a counter to the sink. Its design is perfect for easy countertop cleaning.

The edge of the bath counter will be exposed around the cutout, so there is a need to ensure the material of the counter is waterproof before selecting an undermount sink. Take note that a stone countertop has to have its edges polished and sealed fully when an undermount bathroom sink is added.

Since there is no sink deck with undermount sinks, they require faucets mounted on the wall or countertop. For counters, make sure the faucets reach the point over the bath sinks.

If you like a wall faucet’s look, you need to address the following questions first. Can an access panel be placed nearby for repair and service? Are there studs that are in the way? Will the supply of water risk freezing when it is installed in a wall?

Black Vitreous China Rectangular Undermount Bathroom Sink
  • Above-Counter or Vessel Bathroom Sinks

Highly popular these days are vessel sinks. Essentially a bowl that has a hole that is mounted atop a counter, a vessel sink can be constructed using almost any material and it is the easiest and quickest sink to install.

There are two ways a vessel sink can be installed: recessed installation wherein a large hole is drilled for a sink to drown down to the counter, and standard above the counter installation wherein the sink’s base is mounted on the drain hole.

A recessed installation provides the sink more stability compared to an above-counter and can bring the rim of the sink down a couple of inches. This is certainly a good idea considering the height of some vessels when they are added above the counter. They can be messy and awkward to use as well.

Because of their design and height, it is easy to damage an above-counter sink compared to other types. A vessel sink’s rim is vulnerable to breaks and chips, making it one to avoid if the bathroom is used by children and in high traffic bathrooms.

It is common for this type of sink to lack overflow. If you like filling your sink to the brim, there are several styles which come with a flood-prevention feature. You can choose a sink that has no overflow but make sure you have a grid drain (the unstoppable kind) so the drain can’t be stopped accidentally, potentially leading to flooding from an overflow.

  • Wall-Mounted Bathroom Sinks

Wall-mounted sinks are mostly found in commercial areas, but in recent years, we have seen them being used in homes. Wall-mounting opens the space underneath the sink, which gives room for a cleaner look and larger feel in a bathroom setting.

In order for a sink to be mounted to the wall, there is a need for blocking to be installed in between studs. This won’t just add to the work time for your project, but you’ll also have to allocate more time for the drying before you sand and paint (which also has to dry).

The number one reason why wall mounted sinks are preferred by some homeowners is because the sink can be used easily by those in mobility devices like wheelchairs, and they provide more space within bathrooms.

Take note that console sinks are wall-mounts fashioned after console tables that are common in entryways. A console sink features legs, which is usually just two as the bulk of the sink’s weight will be supported by the wall. If you need a little bit more space and style in your bathroom, this is the sink that you should consider.

Corner Glossy White Wall Mount Bathroom Sink
  • Pedestal Bathroom Sinks

Inspired by vintage styling, a pedestal bathroom sink is a freestanding unit that includes a slender base, negating a countertop or vanity for support. Its small footprint and design make it the perfect addition for a small bathroom or powder room (a half bath). Don't be put off by its “traditional” or “vintage” monikers – there's a lot out there that can fit well within a modern style bathroom.

The primary drawback is there’s no landing space or the space that’s around the sink for toiletries. Undermount and drop in sinks offer lots of counter space but pedestal sinks only have a couple of inches with the most around the basin. There are units that are not even usable for putting things down.

Likewise, as there is no vanity underneath, space for storage inside the bathroom is reduced significantly. Make sure storage space is taken care of through bathroom cabinets and shelving before you consider a pedestal.

Because a pedestal sink is wall mounted (only a portion of the weight will rest on the base of the sink), blocking is required inside the wall in order to support the weight of the sink. Remember to factor this when you are planning – drywall has to be removed and then patched up, which adds to the time and expense.

Oval Ceramic Pedestal Bathroom Sink
Polymarble Rectangular Pedestal Bathroom Sink
  • Drop In or Self-Rimming Bathroom Sinks

The most readily available bathroom sinks are drop ins or self-rimming bathroom sinks. They are the easiest to install, especially on stone countertops wherein the cutout edges don’t require polishing with undermounts. With a drop in, the bowl is within the cutout of the counter while its outer rim rests on the counter where it is sealed.

Extra care has to be taken during the sealing of a drop in sink. This is because the space between the counter and the rim can become a place where excess water, old, and grime sits.

The rim of a drop in sink can vary from one model to another. Some are massive and chunky while others have ones that you can hardly notice. Check which one fits the style of your bathroom.

What Should Be the Size and Shape of a Bathroom Sink?

  • There are no standard sizes for bathroom sinks. There are petite basins that are big enough to wash your hands, while large sinks are for washing delicate clothing or hair.

  • Most round bathroom sinks are between 16” to 20” in diameter. Most rectangular sinks have a width of 19” to 24” and length of 16” to 23”. The average basin depth is 6.5 inches.

  • The best shape and size of a sink are generally based on personal preferences unless an old fixture is to be replaced and the countertop and vanity will be reused. In that case, a new sink will be fitted into the existing opening of the countertop and will be mounted the same way.

  • Consider a triangular bathroom sink if you don’t have the luxury of space as it is designed to be installed in a corner and make use of precious square footage.

  • If you are selecting a sink for your powder room wherein hand washing is the main activity, a shallow sink can be considered as it makes a design statement while still being functional.

  • If the sink will have lots of activity like teeth brushing and face washing, then a sink that is deep will make more sense.

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