Introduction to Bathroom Sinks

A bathroom sink, also known as a washbasin, is an essential fixture in any bathroom. It provides a space to wash your hands, brush your teeth, and perform other hygiene tasks. With so many options on the market, choosing the right bathroom sink can be overwhelming. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about Bathroom Sink 101 – from the different types of bathroom sinks, features to look for, installation and maintenance tips, to stylish design ideas. Read on to learn how to pick the perfect sink for your bathroom.

Types of Bathroom Sinks

Bathroom sinks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. The main types include:

Pedestal Sinks

A pedestal sink features a basin that sits on top of a single central pedestal that conceals the plumbing. Pedestal sinks have a clean, contemporary look and take up less space than vanity sinks. However, they offer little surface area or storage.

Vanity Top Sinks

Vanity top sinks are installed into a countertop that sits atop a cabinet or set of cabinets. This provides ample room for storing toiletries and other bathroom essentials. Vanity sinks come in an array of shapes and sizes to match different vanities.

Wall-Mount Sinks

As the name suggests, wall-mount sinks are hung directly on the wall. They have a minimalist, floating appearance but don’t provide any storage. Wall-mount sinks should be installed onto a moisture-resistant wall material.

Vessel Sinks

Vessel sinks have a bowl that sits above the vanity counter, rather than being recessed into it. Their unique bowl shapes make a stylish focal point in contemporary bathrooms. Vessel sinks require good precision when installing to ensure proper drainage.

Drop-In Sinks

Drop-in, also called self-rimming, sinks fit into a hole cut into the countertop. The rim around the sink edges rests on the vanity surface for support. Drop-in sinks are the most common type installed in residential bathrooms.

Undermount Sinks

Undermount sinks are installed underneath the countertop, creating a seamless look. While stylish, any water spills can damage the vulnerable countertop edge. Undermount sinks require extra brackets for added support.

Corner Sinks

As expected, a corner sink is designed to tuck into a corner. This style maximizes space in small bathrooms. Look for corner sinks with angular or rounded edges based on your bathroom layout.

Farmhouse/Apron Sinks

Farmhouse sinks, also called apron sinks, have a visible front apron and a classical farmhouse look. They come in modern materials like stainless steel or fireclay. Farmhouse sinks make a bold statement and require custom cabinetry.

Bathroom Sink Materials

From porcelain to marble, bathroom sinks come in an array of materials. Consider the pros and cons of each:

  • Porcelain enamel: Durable, easy to clean, and stain-resistant. Porcelain enamel over cast iron is very popular for bathroom sinks.
  • Solid surface: Made from resin or crushed stone bound with acrylic. Seamless, durable, and easy to clean but can stain without proper care.
  • Stainless steel: Sleek, modern look. More prone to scratches and dents than other materials. Stainless steel resists stains.
  • Glass: Stylish and eye-catching. Heavy and prone to cracking or chipping from impact. Stains less than other materials.
  • Stone: Elegant look but requires diligent sealing to prevent staining and damage. Marble and granite are common stone sink materials.
  • Fireclay: Classic white ceramic sink material. Durable and stain resistant but prone to chipping.
  • Copper: Naturally antibacterial and develops a unique patina over time. Expensive and requires frequent polishing.
  • Composite: Made by blending materials like quartz or crushed glass with resin. Durable, stylish, and low maintenance.

Key Bathroom Sink Features

Keep these features in mind when selecting a new bathroom sink:

  • Size: Choose a size proportionate to your bathroom and vanity space. Undermount and vessel sinks require extra precision with sizing.
  • Basin depth: Deeper basins prevent splashing but are harder to clean. Shallower basins are more prone to splashing.
  • Drain placement: Ensure the drain placement matches your existing plumbing.
  • Faucets: Faucet holes range from no holes for wall-mount sinks to 4 holes for widespread faucets.
  • Overflow: An overflow drain prevents flooding. It’s useful for vessel and pedestal sinks.
  • Backsplash: A backsplash protects the wall from water damage. Farmhouse and undermount sinks often benefit from backsplashes.
  • Finish: Select a glossy, matte, or textured finish based on your style preferences.
  • Style: Choose a classic, contemporary, or traditional style to match your bathroom decor.

Bathroom Sink Installation

Proper installation ensures your new bathroom sink functions properly for years to come.

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need:

  • Sink
  • Faucet
  • Drain assembly
  • P-trap kit
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Silicone sealant

Prepare the Sink Base

For undermount or drop-in sinks, make sure the countertop cutout is accurately sized before securing the sink.

With vessel sinks, check that the vessel bowl lip sits evenly on the vanity top.

For wall-mounted sinks, verify the wall reinforcements can support the sink weight.

Install the Faucet and Drain

Always follow the faucet manufacturer’s instructions for installation.

Apply plumber’s putty before seating the drain assembly to create a watertight seal. Connect the p-trap, drain tailpiece, and shut-off valves.

Mount the Sink

Undermount sinks should have brackets attached to the underside for support before setting the sink in place.

Vessel sinks typically sit on top of the counter, but may require sealant.

For wall-mount sinks, attach the sink to wall studs securely.

Make Connections and Seal

Connect the drain pipes, supply lines, and p-trap kit using proper wrenches.

Seal the sinks edge to the countertop with silicone caulk. Wait 24 hours for it to cure before using the sink.

Turn on the water supply and check for leaks!

Tips for a Smooth Installation

  • Review the manufacturer instructions and check that your plumbing allows room for the sink connections.
  • Gather all tools and supplies before starting.
  • Protect the countertop surface during installation to prevent damage.
  • Wear safety glasses when cutting countertops or tiles.
  • Use a basin wrench to reach the drain nuts in tight spaces.
  • Apply caulk smoothly with a caulk smoothing tool for a clean finish.
  • Make sure the sink lip is supported properly before attaching the countertop.

Caring for Your Bathroom Sink

Regular cleaning and maintenance keeps your bathroom sink looking like new. Follow these tips:

Daily Care

  • Wipe the basin dry after use to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Look for any signs of stains forming and address them quickly.
  • For solid surface or natural stone sinks, wipe spills immediately to avoid stains.

Weekly Cleaning

  • Clean the sink at least once a week using a soft sponge or rag with a gentle cleaner or baking soda.
  • Rinse soap dispensers and wipe down the faucet.
  • For stainless steel sinks, rub in the direction of the grain to avoid scratches.

Preventing Clogs

  • Use drain covers or screens to catch hair and debris.
  • Pour a drain cleaner/enzyme down sinks monthly to dissolve buildup.
  • For a clogged sink, try using a plunger or drain snake before calling a plumber.

Deep Cleaning

  • Disinfect sinks by filling it with a diluted bleach solution. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
  • Remove stains with baking soda or a pumice stone.
  • Soak fixtures in white vinegar and rinse to make them shine.
  • Reseal stone or solid surface sinks yearly to prevent staining.

Know When to Call a Pro

Contact a professional for:

  • Stubborn clogs that won’t budge.
  • Leaks or issues with the water supply lines.
  • Chipped or cracked sinks.
  • Improving inadequate drainage.
  • Sagging wall-mount sinks.

Bathroom Sink Design Ideas

From modern to farmhouse chic, explore these stylish ways to incorporate a bathroom sink:

Modern Minimalism

Showcase a wall-mount or floating vanity sink. Pair with matte black metal fixtures and sleek ceramic tile walls. Add a pop of color with towels or decor.

Spa Retreat

Choose an elegant undermount sink and coordinating solid surface or stone countertop to create a relaxing spa bathroom. Include candle fixtures, neutral colors, and natural textures.

Rustic Farmhouse

A white apron-front sink and reclaimed wood vanity give vintage farmhouse appeal. Mix with subway tile, black accents, and greenery for a fresh twist.

Transitional Look

Blend modern and traditional with a rectangular undermount sink atop a double vanity. Contrasting countertops and an eye-catching faucet elevate the look.

Bold Vessel Sink

Make a statement by selecting a unique bowl-shaped vessel sink in copper, stone, or glass. Pair with matte black fixtures for an ultra-contemporary vibe.

Tiny but Mighty

Maximize small spaces with a compact wall-mount or pedestal sink. Install shelving nearby for extra storage. Add a bold print wallpaper or vibrant paint color.

His & Hers Vanities

Create separate grooming spaces with two vanity sinks. Select a shared countertop material but opt for different sink styles for personalized spaces.

Kids’ Bathroom

Choose durable solid surface materials to withstand daily use. Add whimsical decor such as colorful fixtures, wall decals, or patterned shower curtains.

Accessible Comfort

Increase accessibility with a wall-mount sink and easy-to-reach lever handles. Install a folding seat in the shower and opt for comfort height toilets.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathroom Sinks

How do I choose the right bathroom sink size?

Pick a sink about half the width of your vanity. Allow at least 4 inches of counter space on the sides and about 2 inches from the sink edge to the faucet for comfort. Measure the existing sink or vanity space when sizing replacements.

Where should the faucet be placed on a bathroom sink?

The standard faucet placement is 4 inches from the backsplash to the aerator. But you can customize the placement based on the handles, spout style, and your height. Faucet holes can range from the center to sides of the sink.

How much does it cost to install a new bathroom sink?

The average bathroom sink installation cost is $450-$850 depending on the complexity. Simple drop-in top-mount sinks cost less while installing vessel or undermount sinks runs higher. Luxury materials, extensive alterations to the water lines or countertop, and hiring a pro increase costs.

What is the best way to clean a bathroom sink?

For day-to-day cleaning, wipe sinks down with a soft sponge and mild soap and water. For tougher stains, apply baking soda and scrub gently before rinsing. Disinfect sinks regularly with a diluted bleach solution. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads that could scratch sinks.

How can I make a small bathroom sink work in a tiny space?

Opt for a compact rectangular vessel, oval undermount, or petite pedestal sink in a small bathroom. Install a wall-mount faucet to save counter space. Add a tall mirror to give the illusion of more room. Organize essentials in easy-access drawers and floating shelves.


The sink is arguably the most important decision when remodeling a bathroom or constructing a new home. Carefully weigh the many styles, features, sizes, materials, and installation considerations covered in this comprehensive guide. Measure your existing space, factor in your design taste, and determine your budget. With this Bathroom Sink 101 overview, you now have the knowledge to select the perfect sink from the abundant options available to match both form and function.