Stainless steel sinks are a popular choice for bathrooms due to their sleek, modern look and excellent durability. When shopping for a new stainless steel bathroom sink, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure you select the right model for your space and needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of stainless steel bathroom sinks, the different types available, top brands, important features to look for, installation and maintenance tips, and answers to frequently asked questions. With the right information, you can confidently choose the perfect stainless steel bathroom sink to elevate your space.
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Bathroom Sinks
Stainless steel is revered as a top choice material for bathroom sinks, but it’s important to understand the key benefits and drawbacks before making a purchase.
- Durability – Stainless steel is highly resistant to scratches, dents, corrosion and rust. Sinks can last for decades with proper care.
- Easy to Clean – The non-porous surface prevents buildup and wipes clean easily.
- Stylish Appearance – Stainless steel has a modern, sleek look that instantly elevates bathrooms.
- Variety of Styles – Choose from undermount, top mount, vessel, wall-mount and more. Many finish and color options too.
- Stain resistance – Stainless steel resists stains better than other sink materials like porcelain.
- Heat Resistance – The material can withstand very hot water.
- Affordable Pricing – Stainless steel sinks are competitively priced, especially compared to stone.
- Easy Installation – Many stainless steel sink types install just like a traditional sink.
- Noise – Stainless steel tends to have more echo and clanging noises vs other sink materials.
- Scratches – Despite good scratch resistance, scratches can occur over time. Proper care is required.
- Water spots/mineral deposits – Stainless steel shows water spots and mineral deposits from hard water if not wiped dry after use.
- Fewer decorative options – Stainless lacks the variety of decorative colors, patterns and detailing that ceramic/porcelain sinks offer.
- Can dent – Thin-gauge stainless steel is prone to denting from impacts. Heavy-gauge is recommended.
- Condensation – Stainless steel tends to sweat in humid environments, causing sink condensation. Good ventilation is key.
Types of Stainless Steel Bathroom Sinks
Stainless steel bathroom sinks come in a variety of styles to coordinate with any decor. Here are some of the most popular types and their key features.
Undermount sinks sit below the countertop surface for a seamless, elegant look. The sink rim is designed to mount flush against the bottom of the counter opening.
- Streamlined appearance
- Easy to wipe water and debris into sink
- Doesn’t conflict with countertop material
- More difficult installation
- Countertop edge prone to damage without sink rim protection
Top Mount Sinks
Also called drop-in sinks, top mount sinks sit atop the counter with the sink rim resting on the counter. They are the most common type installed in bathrooms.
- Easy installation
- Countertop edge protected by sink lip
- Gap between sink and counter can collect gunk
- Lip can conflict with countertop material
Vessel sinks sit on top of the counter like bowls. They make a dramatic style statement in contemporary baths.
- Unique, artistic look
- Easier installation
- Hides less counter space
- Higher splashing potential
- Needs frequent cleaning
- Doesn’t work with wall-mount faucets
Wall-mount sinks attach directly to the wall for an ultra-minimalist look. No countertop is needed.
- Frees up counter space
- Easy to clean with no crevices
- Modern, sleek appearance
- Installation can be tricky
- Needs wall reinforcement
- No countertop surface
Corner stainless steel sinks maximize space in small bathrooms. They tuck neatly into a corner.
- Space-saving design
- Interesting triangular shape
- Limited sizes available
- May impact plumbing layout
Farmhouse/Apron Front Sinks
Farmhouse sinks have a classic front apron and exposed sides. They bring vintage character to modern baths.
- Distinctive old-fashioned style
- Large single bowls
- Can be undermount or top mount
- Not as sleek looking as other styles
- Requires cabinet customization
Top Stainless Steel Sink Brands
When selecting a stainless steel bathroom sink, opting for a model by a top brand ensures you get excellent quality and performance. Here are some of the best stainless steel sink brands on the market today:
- Kraus – Offers a vast selection of stainless steel kitchen and bathroom sinks at affordable price points. Known for durable, dent-resistant models.
- Ruvati – Constructs sinks from premium grade stainless steel. Manufactures a variety of styles from modern to apron front.
- Elkay – A leading stainless steel sink brand with both mass-produced and custom-made sinks. Known for quality and reliability.
- Moen – A respected faucet and sink brand that offers popular affordable stainless sinks backed by stellar customer service.
- Blanco –German brand manufacturing high-end, stunning stainless steel sinks. Known for premium materials and quality.
- Houzer – Specializes in stainless steel sinks for baths. Known for durability and lasting beauty with resilient finishes. Offers wide variety of styles.
- MR Direct – Sink brand offering a good selection of well-made stainless sinks at very budget-friendly price points. Great value.
- Lordear – Emerging Chinese brand quickly gaining fans for contemporary designs at affordable direct-to-consumer prices. Worth a look.
Important Features to Look For
All stainless steel bathroom sinks are not equal. When comparing models, keep an eye out for these important features:
- Heavy Gauge Construction – At least 18 gauge stainless is ideal for durability and preventing dents. 16 gauge is even better.
- Thick Sound Deadening Pads – Exterior sound dampening pads prevent noisy echoes and rattling.
- Tight Radius Corners – Curved interior corners make sinks easier to clean. Avoid sinks with hard-to-reach 90-degree corners.
- Stone Guard Undercoating – Protective coating such as StoneGuard helps prevent condensation and corrosion.
- Multiple Drain Holes – Look for at least two drain holes to improve drainage.
- Rear-Set Drain – A drain positioned slightly toward the back adds usable space under the sink.
- Grids, Strainers, Accessories – Seek models that include these useful add-ons to prevent clogs and customize the look.
- NSF Certification – Look for NSF certification to ensure sink materials and construction meet safety standards.
- Warranty – Seek out brands that stand behind sinks with warranties of at least 1 year, preferably longer.
Installing a stainless steel bathroom sink involves some key steps. Here are some tips for a smooth installation:
- Carefully read the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Follow all directions.
- Confirm the sink fits the existing hole or template before applying sealant.
- Use silicone caulk rated for bathrooms, not household adhesive, for waterproof sealing.
- Attach mounting clips, brackets or anchors securely using a drill. Don’t over tighten.
- Set the sink in place and apply gentle pressure as you tighten clips to ensure a snug fit and seal.
- Make all drain, water supply and p-trap connections. Test for leaks.
- For top mount installation, use silicone to seal any gaps between sink and counter.
- Use caulk to fill in and smooth any exterior gaps between sink and wall.
- Run water and check for leaks. Immediately wipe up any interior water spills.
- Read maintenance tips before use to keep the stainless steel finish looking like new.
Hiring a professional installer is highly recommended to ensure proper fit and waterproofing. But armed with these tips, competent DIYers can tackle stainless steel sink installation. Patience and taking time to do the prep steps correctly is key.
Maintenance and Care Tips
With appropriate care, a quality stainless steel bathroom sink should deliver years of durable service. Here are some expert tips for keeping sinks looking pristine:
- Daily – Every day, thoroughly rinse the sink and wipe dry with a soft cloth to prevent mineral deposits and water spots.
- Clean Weekly – Gently wipe down the sink weekly using a specialty stainless steel cleaner or mild soap and water. Rinse and dry completely.
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals – Never use abrasive cleaners or chlorine bleach, as they will damage the finish.
- Polish Away Scratches – Use a specialty polishing compound to easily buff out minor scratches and scuffs on the finish.
- Clean With Care – Always use a soft sponge, cloth or non-abrasive scrub pad when cleaning. No steel wool!
- Prevent Heat Damage – Don’t leave hot pans directly in the sink. Allow cookware to cool first to avoid finish discoloration.
- Protect From Impacts – Be careful not to drop heavy objects into the sink to prevent dents, chips and scratches.
- Seal Corners – Check caulk corners periodically and re-seal if needed to prevent moisture seeping under sink.
With proper care, your stainless steel sink should stay beautiful and basically maintenance-free. Be diligent about drying after use and regularly buffing out any minor imperfections.
Frequently Asked Questions
Looking into stainless steel bathroom sinks? Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
Are stainless steel bathroom sinks better than porcelain?
Stainless steel and porcelain sinks both have pros and cons. Stainless is more durable and resistant to scratches, stains, heat and impacts. But porcelain comes in many more color and pattern options for a customized look. Porcelain is quieter, but can chip more easily. Choose the material that best fits your bathroom aesthetics and lifestyle.
How do you clean hard water spots off a stainless steel sink?
To remove stubborn hard water spots, wipe the sink down using white vinegar. For more tenacious spots, use a paste of baking soda and water and gently scrub. You can also use limescale or rust removers designed for stainless steel. Prevent hard water spots by always thoroughly drying the sink after use.
What gauge stainless steel is best for bathroom sinks?
Look for a minimum 18 gauge stainless steel sink for adequate durability. Many high quality sinks are 16 gauge, which is heavier and less prone to dents. Undermount sinks in particular should have 16 gauge construction to support the sink without warping or sagging when installed properly.
How do you get rid of scratches in a stainless steel sink?
To remove or minimize the look of scratches in stainless, use a commercial stainless steel scratch removal product or polish. Apply with a soft cloth using gentle pressure. You can also try a baking soda and water paste. Be sure to rub in the direction of the sink’s grain finish lines. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.
Should you undermount a stainless steel sink?
Undermounting creates a beautiful continuous look, but does make sinks harder to access and clean. Choose an undermount sink if you like a contemporary, streamlined look and are diligent about sink maintenance. For easier access and maintenance, a drop-in top mount sink may be a better choice for busy family baths.
Can you use soft scrub on stainless steel sinks?
No, avoid using Soft Scrub or abrasive cleansers on stainless sinks. The gritty texture and harsh chemicals can damage the finish. For routine cleaning, use a mild dish soap and soft sponge or cloth. To remove more stubborn grime and limescale, use a specially formulated stainless steel cleaner.
How do you get dents out of a stainless steel sink?
While it can be difficult to remove dents entirely, you can minimize their appearance. Try pushing out the dent from inside using the handle of a wooden spoon. Rubbing the dent with olive oil or rubbing alcohol may help pull the dent back out gently as well. Prevent dents by opting for a heavier gauge sink and avoiding dropping heavy items.
Should stainless steel sinks be undercoated?
An undercoating on the underside and sides of the sink, such as StoneGuard, provides an extra layer of protection against condensation leading to corrosion. The coating also dampens noise. Undercoating is most useful for undermount sinks, but can benefit any stainless steel sink installation in humid climates.
How much do stainless steel bathroom sinks cost?
Stainless steel bathroom sinks range widely in cost from about $100 on the low end to $1000+ for designer sinks. In general, expect to spend $200-500 for a good quality stainless sink from a leading brand. Sink type also impacts price, with vessel and undermount sinks typically costing more than drop-in top mount sinks.
Can stainless steel sinks be painted?
While difficult, it is possible to paint stainless steel sinks. Proper surface prep and using a high quality spray paint formulated for metal are key. Spray paints like Rust-Oleum work well. Avoid enameled paints which can chip. Understand painted sinks will require more maintenance over time.
With sleek styling and rugged durability, stainless steel sinks are a go-to choice for contemporary bathrooms. When shopping, look for top brands, heavy gauge steel construction, thick padding and protective undercoatings. Consider the pros and cons of undermount vs drop-in sinks for your needs. Proper installation is key to getting a watertight seal. Maintain that shiny stainless finish by cleaning gently and avoiding harsh chemicals. With the right stainless steel sink selected and cared for properly, you can enjoy beautiful, reliable performance for years in your bathroom.