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Choosing The Right Bathroom Sink

Choosing the right bathroom sink involves a little more than just finding which one looks good. Sure, you want your sink to project your bathroom's style and some sinks, like vessel sinks, can actually be the focal point of the bathroom. But before you make any buying decisions there are a few things to consider.

Your scenario, relative to whether you're building new, remodeling or just replacing an old sink, will determine which direction to take when choosing a new bathroom sink.

For example, you'll need to be sure the sink you want is compatible with the faucet you currently have or will have, if you'll be buying both.

Other factors such as how the sink is installed (installation type), it's configuration (more on what this means later) and the material it's made of come into play.

Finally, it helps to know what kinds of features and innovations are available so that you don't limit your options.

Once you consider these aspects and blend them with your own wants and needs, you'll be better equipped to make the right choice.

What Do I Need To Know About Bathroom Sinks?

Choosing the right sink from among the myriad of bathroom sinks that are available requires that you know a little bit about the "technical details". Once you have that down, you can pair that knowledge with whatever aesthetic and style choices you want to make.

Three important details to understand about bathroom sinks involve installation, configuration and material. It's important to understand these points so that you'll choose the right sink that's compatible with your plumbing and faucet configuration as well as your lifestyle.

  • Installation - how the sink is installed in your countertop or vanity (sometimes described as the "type" of sink)
  • Configuration - its design relative to faucet compatibility, etc.
  • Material - what material it's made from

Type Of Installation

bathroom wall sinkBathroom Wall Sink

Wall mounted sinks are affixed to the wall and work well in small bathrooms, allowing for usable space below the sink. Even if there's only room for a wastebasket, the space that it offers gives the bathroom a larger visual feel. Some wall mounted bath sinks feature a decorative cover that's installed over the plumbing and drain pipe.

Pedestal bathroom sinks are somewhat related to the wall mounted variety in that the sink basin is attached to the wall but rests on a pedestal that supports it from underneath. This is another type of bathroom sink that works well in small spaces since there's no need for a vanity. On the other hand, both pedestal and wall mounted bath sinks don't provide any storage space that you get with bathroom vanities.

self rimming bathroom sinkSelf-Rimming Square Bathroom Sink

Self rimming, top mount and drop-in are different names for the same type of sink. These sinks are placed in a cutout in the vanity top, secured in place by the rim of the sink. A variation of this is the tile-in sink which is a self-rimming sink that's used with a tiled countertop. The tiles usually fit over the sink's rim making a flush surface between the sink and tile.

Undermount bathroom sinks are mounted underneath the counter or vanity top, making for an uninterrupted surface between the vanity top and the sink.

undermount bathroom sinkUndermount Bathroom Sink

The console bathroom sink is similar to a wall mounted sink except it's also supported by two "legs" mounted at the front of the sink. This 'two-leg' style is the traditional concept of a console bathroom sink however there are many different styles and variations on this theme.

vessel sinkVessel Bathroom Sink

The vessel sink is simply a free-standing bowl that sits on top of the vanity, though some can be mounted partially recessed into the countertop. It is essentially what its name implies -- a bowl. Though it may sound mundane, there are literally hundreds of varieties of vessel sinks, offering you unlimited design capacity.


A bathroom sink's configuration refers in part to its installation method which we just described above, but also to how it's designed relative to the faucet it will be mated with.

In other words, your sink's configuration needs to match or be compatible with the type of faucet you currently have (if you're just replacing a sink) or are planning to buy (if you're replacing both the sink and the faucet). A three-hole faucet, meaning one that's made up of a spout and individual handles, requires a sink with three holes.


What the sink is made out of is important from a style and decor point of view but also from a usability perspective too. We all have our preferences for a particular kind of sink material, be it a clear glass vessel or the unique look of a wooden bathroom sink. Regardless of whatever material you fancy, keep in mind that it plays a role in the sink's durability and ease of maintenance.

Here's a list of the most predominant materials used to make bathroom sinks.

Cast Iron
Cast iron is a heavy but durable material typically coated with enamel. It's smooth surface is easy to clean and it's available in numerous colors. Chipping of the enamel coating might occur if it's banged hard enough with a hard object. This kind of damage can expose the base cast iron and eventually lead to rust.

Vitreous China / Fireclay / Porcelain
Vitreous china and fireclay are similar in that they're clay-based ceramics. These materials also make durable sinks with easily cleaned surfaces. They can be chipped or cracked if they're knocked hard enough however.

glass bathroom sinkGlass Vessel Sink

Glass is one of the primary materials used for vessel sinks. There are endless ways in which glass vessel sinks can be colored and decorated, for an endless number of style possibilities. Tempered glass is the desired type glass for a bathroom sink as it is more resistant to cracking or shattering. Hard water deposits can leave spots on glass if it's not wiped clean after use.

There are several kinds of metals used to make bathroom sinks. Copper, brass and stainless steel are the more common varieties. Copper sinks should have welded seams (not soldered) since solder will turn black over time. The thickness of the metal is denoted by the "gauge" -- lower gauge numbers mean thicker material which is less likely to dent.

Stone bathroom sinks come in a wide assortment of styles and form with one of the most prevalent varieties being vessel sinks. Polished stone has a smooth finish and may show water spots particularly on darker colors. Stone sinks usually require sealing to protect the surface from staining. Also remember that different stones react differently to various substances and that a polished surface is less porous than a honed surface.

concrete bathroom sinkConcrete Bathroom Sink

Concrete sinks can be custom-fabricated or bought pre-made. They're usually heavier than other types of sinks depending on their size and shape so they'll need sufficient support. Concrete is porous and should be sealed to protect it from staining. Concrete sinks can be made in virtually any color.

Solid Surface
Solid surface sinks are made from the same material as solid surface countertops. In fact, many solid surface bathroom sinks come as an integral part of a solid surface vanity top, making for a one-piece assembly. Solid surface is easy to clean and it has a renewable surface, making it a good choice for a hard working bathroom and one that accommodates children.

Wood / Bamboo
One of the more exotic types of bathroom sink materials includes wood and bamboo. Wood sinks are usually oiled or treated with some form of sealer. A little more care is necessary to avoid marring the surface with aggressive cleaners and cleaning methods. Wood is relatively soft too so denting and nicking is possible.

Material choices alone give you a wide range of options when it comes to choosing the right type of sink. Keep in mind your lifestyle and the kind of use the bathroom will see when choosing your sink's material.

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What Features And Innovations I Should Know About?

While there are a lot of decorating options when it comes to bathroom sinks, they're not as laden with some of the functional bells and whistles as kitchen sinks. Despite that fact however there are some features and styles to be aware of. Consider them as you think about the type of sink that might work best in your bathroom.

  • Surface Finish Technologies For Easy Cleaning
    Some manufacturers put surface treatments on their sinks to allow for easy cleaning and good sanitation. Products include American Standard with Scotchgard Protector or the SanaGloss treatment that seals the china material on Toto sinks with an ionized barrier, preventing any particles from hanging onto the surface.
  • Custom Made Sinks For Those Who Crave Individuality
    If you're someone who just needs to have something different, not mass produced, you can get a custom made sink. Glass galleries and other artisans can craft a sink for you whether it's made from blown glass or some form of concrete or ceramics. You can find some in designer showrooms or just search the web for "custom art sinks".
  • Apron Bathroom Sink
    If you like the look of a farmhouse sink you can get the same for the bathroom too. Stone Forest, Herbeau and Fairmont Designs make farmhouse bathroom sinks that work well with a vintage or rustic bathroom style.
  • High Style, Minimalist And Artistic Design
    The Ciottolo and Fogo design lines from Duravit offer sleek, non-traditional minimalist styles. They also offer square and rectangular sinks. Kohler® also offers very shallow-depth sinks in their Wading Pool™ line that strikes a departure from conventional "bowl" sinks.
  • Technology Providing Both Functionality And Style
    Bath sinks like the Z-series sinks from Bates & Bates combine metal and polymers to give you a sink that looks like metal but has the ease of maintenance that comes with polymer material. The Z-series sinks come in bronze, copper, brass and pewter.
  • Reinforced Solid Surface
    The unique aspect of Swanstone's solid surface sinks and combination sink/vanity tops is that the material is reinforced with fiberglass, adding additional strength over conventional solid surface material.
  • Environmentally Friendly Sinks
    The Iron/Impressions™ bath sinks from Kohler® are made from 93% reclaimed and recycled cast iron. They're also a one-piece integrated sink and countertop configuration.

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What Do I Need To Consider Before Choosing?

Knowing the type and style of sink you want is a big part of the decision-making process. But before you make a final decision consider the following points. There may be something here that you didn't think of that might help you make the right choice (and avoid the wrong one).

  • Vessel Sinks Require A Little More Thought

    vessel sinkNote The Higher Faucet and Handle To Accommodate The Taller Vessel

    Vessel sinks usually sit on top of the counter/vanity meaning they'll be higher than other types of sinks - that requires either wall mounted faucets or taller deck-mounted faucets. Make sure the faucet handles are easy to reach - if they're low and behind the vessel sink, they won't be easy to access.
  • Lifestyle And Traffic Are Important
    The type of use your bathroom will see and who uses it the most (adults or children) are important factors in choosing a bathroom sink. Stylish powder rooms may be more appropriate for 'delicate' sink styles and materials whereas kids' bathrooms will be better served with more conventional and hardy sink styles.
  • Consider The "Landing Room" You Need

    pedestal sinkNote The Minimal Room On The Edge Of The Sink

    The amount of room on or adjacent to the sink varies with the style and configuration you choose. Sinks with little to no room to place toiletries can be frustrating. Vessel sinks are usually okay since they're mounted on top of a vanity that usually has sufficient countertop space. Some styles of pedestal sinks however don't afford much room. Think about the kind of space you'll want/need before making your choice.
  • Understand What You Get With Artisan Glass Sinks
    Glass vessel sinks should be made from tempered glass for strength and safety reasons. Be sure you know what you're getting, particularly with custom made or art glass sinks as they may not be tempered. Ask to be sure.
  • Consider What's Above The Sink
    Glass sinks or soft wood might be damaged by something falling from a medicine cabinet or shelving that's located above a sink. While any type of sink can be damaged if something big and/or hard enough falls on it, it's the delicate sinks that will be the most vulnerable in this scenario.
  • Understand The Care Requirements Beforehand
    Some bathroom cleaners or substances commonly found in the bathroom may not be compatible with all sink materials. Don't just assume you can use any sort of chemical cleaner on your sink choice. Metals, wood and stone may be more sensitive to these substances. Know beforehand what the care requirements will be for a particular type of bathroom sink so you don't end up buying a 'high-maintenance' sink.

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