Choosing the right bathroom sink is an important decision that can dramatically impact the look, feel, and functionality of your bathroom. With so many styles, materials, sizes, and configurations to consider, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the options. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to weigh when selecting a new bathroom sink.
Bathroom Sink Materials
The material of your bathroom sink is one of the most important considerations, as it affects the sink’s durability, maintenance needs, and aesthetic. Here are some of the most popular materials for bathroom sinks:
Porcelain is a classic sink material prized for its polished, elegant look and durability. Made from clay and high-fired at extremely high temperatures, porcelain is less prone to chipping, scratching, and staining than other materials. Porcelain comes in both glossy and matte finishes to match any style. The downside is porcelain can be noisy, showing water spots easily.
Ceramic sinks have a similar makeup to porcelain but contain a higher number of minerals and air pockets, making them less dense. This gives ceramic a slightly coarser texture than smooth porcelain. Ceramic resists scratches well but is prone to chipping if hit forcefully. The material is affordable and available in a range of colors.
Made of acrylic or polyester resins and mineral fillers, solid surface sinks are highly durable and repel stains, mildew, and bacteria growth. Seamless installation gives them a sleek, contemporary look. Rich matte finishes hide unsightly fingerprints and water spots. Minor scratches can be sanded away. Solid surface lacks the elegance of porcelain but provides practicality.
Stainless steel has become trendy in modern, industrial-inspired baths. The material is extremely durable against scratches, stains, and dents. Stainless steel maintains its luminous sheen for years with proper cleaning. However, the noisy echo of water in stainless steel sinks can be annoying. Condensation also shows on the cool metal surface.
Glass vessel sinks make a dramatic style statement. Costly hand-blown glass sinks with brilliant colors and textures transform into artful centerpieces. However, cheaper mass-produced glass lacks distinctiveness. Glass is also easily broken and shows unsightly hard water spots and soap scum. Fragile glass requires gentle cleaning by hand.
Sinks hand-carved from granite, marble, or travertine add natural drama. Each stone sink has an organic, one-of-a-kind look. While hard and durable, stone is porous and requires sealing to prevent stains. As a soft stone, marble etches over time. Regular polishing maintains stone’s luxurious shine. Stone is heavy, challenging DIY installation.
Bathroom Sink Styles
Beyond material, the style of your bathroom sink also makes a significant design impact. Consider the key distinguishing features of popular bathroom sink styles:
Vessel sinks sit on top of the vanity counter, supported by the countertop material rather than a traditional sink basin. The exposed sink bottom becomes a decorative focal point. Vessel sinks come in glass, metal, stone, and other materials that match modern and transitional spaces. However, splashes are frequent, vessel sinks provide minimal counter space, and they require high-profile faucets.
As the name implies, drop-in sinks drop directly into a countertop cutout so the rim rests flush with the counter. Most materials like porcelain, ceramic, and stainless steel come in drop-in styles. Silicone sealant around the rim prevents leaks. Drop-ins allow more usable counter space than vessels. However, design options are limited, and drop-ins can be difficult to install properly.
Similar to drop-ins, undermount sinks mount below the countertop surface so the rim is concealed. This creates a smooth transition from sink to counter for an integrated, built-in look. Any sink material can work as an undermount. Effective caulking is especially critical to prevent leaks with undermounts. The installation is also challenging.
Ideal for small powder rooms, pedestal sinks feature a basin attached to a single central pedestal base hiding the plumbing. Made of porcelain, ceramic, or glass, pedestal sinks save space with their compact footprint. But the exposed bottom lacks storage, and the style can look dated. Securing pedestal sinks so they don’t wobble or tip over is also tricky.
Console sinks combine a wall-mounted vessel basin with a furniture-look console that conceals plumbing. The console provides much-needed storage space lacking in traditional pedestal sinks. Console sinks have a lightweight visual impact that works well in modern and transitional spaces where floor space is limited. But console sinks have a distinctive look not matching all aesthetics.
As the name suggests, wall-mounted sinks attach directly to the wall rather than sitting in a vanity. Minimal legroom and counter space make them preferred for small, modern baths. Durable materials like glass, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron suit the contemporary style. But wall-mounted sinks must be precisely installed and caulked to prevent leaks. Lack of storage space is also an issue.
Bathroom Sink Configurations
Bathroom sinks come in a variety of configurations, including:
One sink basin installed in a vanity is the most common option, offering functionality for most baths. Oversized single sinks are a smart choice for master baths, allowing two people to comfortably use the sink together.
Double sinks feature two same-sized sink basins installed side by side on the vanity top. Couples love the convenience of double sinks for getting ready together. But double sinks can look too busy in small baths and are usually not needed in powder rooms.
Double Equal Sinks
Double equal sinks have two same-sized basins like traditional doubles but with a divide between them. The gap provides added counter space for toiletries that would otherwise clutter the sink area. But the divide makes cleaning between sinks tricky.
Double Offset Sinks
Double offset sinks still have two full-sized basins but with one sink pushed further back on the vanity top. This configuration maximizes counter space and allows easier cleaning between sinks. However, the asymmetry may not appeal aesthetically to some.
Double Tiered Sinks
Double tiered sinks feature one standard sink basin with a second smaller sink above it on the backsplash. This unique take on double sinks maximizes sink space while conserving overall vanity footprint. But access to the second higher sink can be awkward.
Bathroom Sink Sizes
Bathroom sink basins come in a range of standard sizes:
- Small sinks = 14 inches wide or less
- Standard sinks = 15 to 22 inches wide
- Oversized sinks = Greater than 22 inches wide
Vessel sinks also commonly range from 12 to 16 inches in diameter. Consider the existing vanity size or space for a new vanity when choosing sink size. Measure how much clearance you need around the sink for toiletries and hand washing. Oversized rectangular sinks are a smart choice for double vanities, allowing two people to use the sink together comfortably.
Key Bathroom Sink Features
Beyond the primary sink considerations above, look for these helpful extra features when selecting a new bathroom sink:
The overflow hole near the top of a sink prevents flooding if you accidentally leave the faucet running. Overflow holes come standard on most drop-in and undermount sinks. But vessel, pedestal, and wall-mount sinks often lack an overflow.
An angled high-rise backsplash molded as part of the sink basin contains splashes. This is a useful feature for busy family baths. Porcelain, ceramic, and solid surface sinks often include backsplash options.
Soap Dispenser Hole
Having a dedicated hole to add a soap dispenser is handy for keeping the sink area decluttered. This feature is typically found on porcelain and ceramic sink models.
A removable bottom grid over the sink drain can catch debris and prevent sink stoppages. Grids also protect the sink surface from scratches. Stainless steel, porcelain, and ceramic sinks often include a grid.
Many sinks come with a drain assembly including a polished strainer, gasket, and mounting hardware for attaching the sink drain pipes. This ensures all components fit correctly.
Most sink basins come pre-drilled with standard holes to accommodate faucets and accessories. Vessel sinks may have no holes, requiring wall-mount faucets. Undermount sinks work with countertop holes.
Bathroom Sink Brands
When evaluating bathroom sinks, certain brands are known for exceptional quality across materials:
- Kohler – top brand for a wide range of sink styles and materials with excellent warranties.
- American Standard – known for affordable but durable porcelain sinks.
- Toto – makes high-end ergonomic sinks ideal for accessibility.
- Duravit – modern designs and high-quality European porcelain fixtures.
- Grohe – upscale German brand specializing in metal and solid surface sinks.
- Ruvati – provides good quality stainless steel and granite sinks at affordable prices.
- Kraus – focuses on vessel and undermount sinks for contemporary styles.
While style and functionality should take priority over brand, proven manufacturers help ensure a durable and easy-to-install sink. Be wary of discount or generic sink brands that lack ratings or reviews.
Factors for Choosing a New Bathroom Sink
Selecting the perfect sink requires weighing your needs across multiple factors:
- Existing Decor – Match sink style and material to your current bath decor.
- Budget – Materials like solid surface and stone cost more than porcelain or ceramic.
- Durability – Assess activity level to choose a stain and scratch-resistant material like porcelain or stainless steel.
- Easy Maintenance – Busy families may want to avoid high-maintenance materials like marble or glass.
- Sink Usage – Consider configuration and size based on number of users and tasks like brushing teeth or grooming at the vanity.
- Faucet Pairing – Ensure the sink accommodates your preferred faucet, including holes for widespread configurations.
- Easy Installation – Check if you need professional sink installation based on complexity.
- Water Efficiency – Look for low-flow, WaterSense-rated models if water conservation is important.
- Storage Needs – Determine if you require space under the sink for organizing toiletries.
- ADA Compliance – For accessibility, follow standards for sink height, depth, and clearance.
By carefully weighing these factors against different sink options, you can confidently select the model that best fits your bathroom.
Installing a New Bathroom Sink
Once purchased, proper installation is key to getting your new bathroom sink functioning flawlessly and safely. Here are some tips for effective sink installation:
- Review manufacturer instructions for the exact process to install your specific sink model. Follow detailed steps for cutout dimensions, faucet holes, mounting hardware, plumbing, and caulking.
- Allow ample time, as some sinks like undermount models can take 4 hours or more with drying time – certainly not a quick DIY.
- Ensure you have the necessary tools before starting, including silicone adhesive, epoxy putty, basin wrench, Teflon tape, emery paper, utility knife, tape measure, and clamps.
- Protect the sink surface during installation by keeping it cushioned in original packaging until ready to set in place.
- Create a watertight seal with quality silicone caulk rated for bathroom use around any sink rim or backsplash. Smooth caulk with a damp cloth before drying.
- Make plumbing connections secure and leakproof using screw-tight pipe fittings. Avoid overtightening. Cover threads with Teflon tape.
- If replacing an existing sink, thoroughly clean the countertop and remove any old silicone, sealant, or grime so the new sink sits flush and securely.
- For vessel or wall-mount sinks, ensure supporting structures are reinforced and can bear the weight. Use concurrent mounting brackets spaced evenly.
- Check for level across the sink top and make any adjustments to sink base legs or support framing. The sink should not rock or wobble.
- Run water into the full sink and check below for any drips or leaks. Immediately tighten any areas that seep water to prevent damage.
FAQ About Bathroom Sinks
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about bathroom sinks:
What is the most popular bathroom sink size?
The most common bathroom sink size is 22” wide x 16” front-to-back. This medium size fits most standard vanities and leaves comfortable clearance for using the sink.
How do you clean hard water stains in bathroom sinks?
To remove hard water stains in bathroom sinks, scrub with a paste of baking soda and vinegar. For tough stains, wipe with an eco-friendly limestone cleaner. Marble and glass sinks are more prone to etching from hard water minerals.
Should you caulk around a bathroom sink?
Yes, properly caulking around the sink with 100% silicone bathroom caulk is crucial to prevent leaks from water splashing. Caulk should seal along the backsplash, countertop rim, side seams, and any vertical joints. Avoid caulking the bottom drain area so water can drain freely.
Do undermount bathroom sinks last as long as top mount sinks?
With proper installation, undermount sinks are generally just as durable as top mount sinks. Undermount sinks have the advantage of easy cleaning since the rim under the counter prevents gunk buildup. The added counter space of undermount sinks also appeals to most homeowners.
Should bathroom sinks have overflow holes?
Overflow holes are recommended for bathroom sinks to prevent flooding if the faucet is accidentally left running. However, vessel, pedestal, and wall-mount sinks often lack overflow holes due to their unique designs. If no overflow exists, take care to avoid overfilling.
How do you repair a slow-draining bathroom sink?
For a slow-draining bathroom sink, first remove and clean the sink strainer and pipe P-trap thoroughly. Try an enzyme drain cleaner monthly to break down gunk and soap buildup. If slow drainage persists, the sink likely needs professional drain snaking to clear stubborn clogs or blockages deep in pipes.
Should bathroom sinks match toilets?
Matching bathroom sinks to toilets is no longer considered a necessity. Feel free to mix and match materials and styles to reflect your own aesthetic. Just ensure colors and finishes blend cohesively. Many homeowners choose wall-mount sinks with floor-mount toilets for a clean, streamlined look.
Choosing the Perfect Sink for Your Bath
With myriad shapes, sizes, materials, and configurations to evaluate, selecting just the right bathroom sink may seem bewildering. But keeping your specific needs around design, functionality, and practicality in mind helps narrow options. Once installed properly, your new sink becomes a lovely focal point you will enjoy using daily. Take time to make an informed bathroom sink choice you’ll appreciate for years to come.
I hope this detailed guide gives you a comprehensive overview of the key considerations and options for selecting a new bathroom sink. Bathroom sinks are available in a wide variety of styles, materials, sizes and configurations to suit any decor, space and budget. Carefully evaluate your needs and bathroom setup before choosing a sink. When thoughtfully installed, an upgraded sink can make a dramatic difference in your bath’s form and function. With the right information, you can confidently pick out the perfect sink to refresh your space. Happy sink shopping!