Choosing the right bathroom fixtures is an important decision when remodeling or building a new bathroom. The fixtures you select will have a major impact on the overall look, functionality, and comfort of the space. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to figure out what will work best for your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when choosing fixtures for your dream bathroom.
Types of Bathroom Fixtures
The main fixtures in a bathroom include:
Bathroom sinks come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, sizes, and installation types. Key factors to consider are the look you want, how many people will use the bathroom, and what the sink will be used for.
Pedestal sinks – These freestanding sinks offer a clean, contemporary look. They don’t provide much surface area or storage.
Vessel sinks – Bowl-style sinks that sit on top of the vanity. They come in many shapes and materials for visual interest. Limit surface area.
Undermount sinks – Installed below the countertop for a seamless look. Provide more counter space since they don’t take up surface area.
Drop-in sinks – The most common type. The rim rests on the countertop so they are easy to install. Provide counter space around the bowl.
Wall-mount sinks – Installed directly onto the wall. Great for small spaces since they don’t require a vanity.
The faucet controls the flow of water into the sink. Choices include widespread, centerset, and single-handle options. Finishes and features like sprayers add further options.
Widespread faucets – Separate handles and spout offer flexible placement. Common in larger sinks.
Centerset faucets – Spout and handles are one unit. Easier to install but less flexible placement.
Single-handle faucets – One lever controls temperature and flow for easy use. Takes up less space.
Freestanding tubs make a statement while alcove tubs save space. Consider the experience you want and if you need a combination tub/shower.
Freestanding tubs – Elegant focal point. Require more floor space. Come in clawfoot and contemporary styles.
Alcove tubs – Installed against walls on three sides to save space. Can combine with showers.
Drop-in tubs – Similar look and installation as drop-in sinks. Rim rests on countertop surround.
Whirlpool tubs – Offer massaging jets for an invigorating soak. Require special electrical and plumbing.
Showers can be fully enclosed or open walk-in styles. Pick showerheads and benches/seats based on your preferences.
Standalone showers – Completely separate from the tub for private bathing. Offer more flexibility.
Tub-shower combinations – Bathtub and shower in one unit. Great use of small spaces. Require waterproof shower curtain.
Walk-in showers – No doors or curtains. An open entry and tiled walls give an airy feel. Require careful waterproofing.
Shower benches – Built-in seating creates a spa-like experience and offers convenience.
Rainfall showerheads – Provide a drenching overhead spray for a luxurious feel.
Toilets come in one or two-piece options. Choices include bowl shape, flush performance, and special features like bidets.
One-piece toilets – Sleek and easy to clean with the tank and bowl combined. More expensive but simpler installation.
Two-piece toilets – Separate tank and bowl. Typically more affordable. Allows more flexible replacements later.
Comfort height toilets – Higher seats 17-19 inches above the floor. Make sitting and standing easier for most adults.
Elongated bowls – Oval-shaped bowls offer more comfortable seating than round bowls. Require slightly more space.
Dual flush toilets – Have a light flush for liquid waste and full flush for solids. Conserve more water.
Bidet toilets – Include water jets for cleansing after using the toilet. Provide enhanced hygiene and comfort.
Bathroom Fixture Materials
Bathroom fixtures come in a range of materials, each with their own properties. Consider durability, maintenance, cost, and the look you want.
- A very common material for sinks, tubs, and toilets.
- Made from clay and other minerals, fired at high temperatures.
- Smooth, glossy, glass-like finish resists stains and scratches.
- Prone to chipping if hit directly on the edge. Handles impacts less well than other materials.
- Wide range of prices based on quality. Often the most affordable option.
Enameled Cast Iron
- Popular for bathtubs and sometimes sinks.
- Extremely durable and retains heat well for baths.
- Porcelain enamel coating applied over cast iron. Available in many colors.
- Higher cost but color options can help match other fixtures.
Solid Surface Materials
- Acrylic, quartz composites used for sinks and occasionally tubs/showers.
- Seamless look with minor repairability of scratches. Warm to the touch.
- Non-porous but can stain if not properly cared for. Must be refinished occasionally.
- Mid-range pricing, cost varies by brand (Corian, Avonite, etc).
- Marble, granite, and other stones used primarily for vessel sinks.
- Provides unique visual interest with natural veining in the stone.
- Requires careful sealing to prevent stains and etching. Easily scratched or chipped if hit.
- Higher cost, especially for rarer granite and marble types. Significant markup for vessels.
- Used for sinks and sometimes bathtubs. Provides an industrial, modern look.
- Extremely durable material that is easy to clean and sanitize. Shows fewer water spots.
- Can be noisy when objects hit the hard surface. Prone to fingerprints.
- Mid-to-upper range in cost for sinks. More affordable than some other materials.
- Glass bowls used as decorative vessel sinks. Available in range of colors.
- Creates a beautiful, eye-catching focal point. Illuminated vessels can provide drama.
- Prone to showing hard water spots and fingerprints. Risk of shattering if hit or overtightened.
- Wide range of prices. More delicate vessels tend to cost more due to production difficulties.
Key Factors in Choosing Fixtures
With so many options to select from, it’s important to keep the below factors in mind while browsing different bathroom fixtures:
- Overall look and style you want for your bathroom. Traditional, modern, contemporary?
- Finishes like polished chrome, brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, black, white, etc.
- Styles – simple vs ornate details, straight vs curved lines.
- Visual interest – vessel sinks, stone surfaces, or sleek pedestals?
- Size – How much space does the fixture require? Will it fit?
- Purpose – Main bathroom sink vs powder room? Soaking tub or quick shower?
- Performance – Water flow, flush power, low maintenance?
- Accessibility and comfort – Height, room to maneuver, textured surfaces?
- Cost of the fixture itself – set a target number for each item.
- Added expenses – plumbing modifications, electrical, custom surrounds.
- Labor for installation and any repairs down the road. Cost to redo finishes.
- Total up costs to ensure everything fits within the project budget.
- Frequency of use – will fixtures see heavy use? Prioritize durable materials.
- Easy to clean? Non-porous surfaces prevent buildup and stains.
- Damage resistance – chips, scratches, and dents. Small kids or pets?
- Long-term wear – fixtures see a lot of use over their lifetime. Select well-made pieces.
- Water usage – select low-flow faucets and dual flush toilets.
- Materials – locally sourced? Recycled content? Avoid plastic fixtures.
- Brand sustainability practices – energy used in production, ethical sourcing.
- Items made to last – quality construction prevents replacement waste.
Choosing Fixtures by Bathroom Location
The needs for fixtures vary depending on where the bathroom is located in your home.
As the private bath used daily, the master bathroom requires convenient yet elegant fixtures.
- Double vanity provides separate space for couples. Storage drawers keep clutter tidy.
- Soaking tub for relaxing, unwinding. Combine with overhead rainfall showerhead for luxury.
- Dual flush toilet, comfort height. Bidet options offer enhanced hygiene and comfort.
- Heated floors, towel racks, and toilet seats make the space feel welcoming year-round.
The most used guest and family bath needs durable, family-friendly fixture selections.
- Undermount sink provides plenty of counter space. Durable solid surface material handles daily use.
- Combine tub and shower. Showerhead at standard height, slip-resistant surfaces, and clear glass doors for safety.
- Elongated dual flush toilet placed higher for accessibility. Built-in nightlight or motion-activated light.
- Storage solutions maximize space – drawers under sink, recessed medicine cabinet.
The powder room can serve as a display space for your design style.
- Sculptural vessel sink serves as a focal point. Unconventional materials like stone or glass add artistic flair.
- Touchless faucet controls prevent germ spread from guests.
- Bold wallpaper, ornate mirror frame, and pendant lighting amp up the style.
- Space-saving pedestal sink frees up room. Wall-mount faucet and toilet save space.
Fixtures in kids’ bathrooms see heavy use and need to stand up to active children.
- Solid surface vanity tops resist stains. Undermount sinks provide counter space.
- Porcelain pedestal sink adds playful style. Wall-mount faucet prevents toy damage.
- Slip-resistant porcelain tub with textured bottom. Showerhead installed at kid height.
- Durable one-piece toilet without exposed tank components. Vibrant colors make bath time fun.
Careful planning allows style and function in cramped quarters.
- Wall-mount sink, toilet, and faucets maximize floor space.
- Corner-installed shower makes use of unused space. Fold-down seat saves room when not needed.
- Light colors reflect light and make the room feel more open. Mirrored cabinets add depth.
- Glass enclosure around shower makes a small space feel more open than shower curtains.
- Look for narrow-profile toilets and sinks to gain every inch.
Expert Tips for Choosing Bathroom Fixtures
Follow these expert tips when selecting fixtures to ensure your new bathroom feels cohesive and meets your needs:
- Choose fixtures and finishes in the same style – modern, traditional, transitional. Mixing extremely opposing styles risks an inconsistent look.
- Repeat finishes throughout the space for continuity – like brushed nickel faucets, handles, and lighting hardware.
- Don’t overlook small details – drawer pulls, towel bars, and drains should coordinate.
- Include at least one statement piece as a focal point – like an ornate mirror or unique sink.
- Make sure fixtures you love work together functionally – a vessel sink may not pair well with a wall-mount faucet.
- Size selections appropriately for your space – an oversized soaking tub could make a small bath unusable.
- Think about long-term use – busy families may prefer durable finishes that hide wear over delicate vanities.
- Factor in installation and maintenance – some materials like marble require more care over time.
- Don’t underestimate lighting – illuminated mirrors and pendant lights enhance the room’s style.
- Invest in quality; cheaper fixtures may need frequent repairs or replacements.
- See displays in person when possible – photos don’t always capture finishes accurately.
Common Questions about Choosing Bathroom Fixtures
What are the most popular faucet finishes right now?
Currently, brushed nickel, matte black, polished chrome, and gold are some of the most popular finishes for bathroom faucets and hardware. Brushed nickel works well for both traditional and contemporary spaces. Matte black offers a modern, sophisticated look. Polished chrome is classic and contemporary. Gold finishes provide warmth and elegance.
How do I coordinate finishes between fixtures?
It’s generally best to limit your bathroom to one or two complementary finishes for a cohesive look. Mixing too many finishes can make the room feel busy or disjointed. Faucets and shower fixtures often come in matching sets. You can also find cabinet hardware, lighting, and accessories in coordinating finishes. Repeat your finishes across multiple elements.
What sink offers the most counter space?
Undermount sinks provide the most usable counter area since the bowl is installed below the counter. This allows you to utilize the surface surrounding the sink, unlike top-mount sinks. For even more space, choose a small oval or round bowl shape rather than a large rectangular undermount sink.
Should I get one sink or two in the master bath?
It depends on your personal preference. Two sinks are great for couples, allowing you both to get ready at once. The downside is two sinks take up more space. If you choose one sink, opt for a wide single vanity at least 60 inches long. This allows comfortable shared use. One sink costs less and simplifies design, while two sinks offer more convenience.
How do I add luxury touches on a budget?
Small splurges like an elegantly framed mirror, pendant lighting over a freestanding tub, or a stone vessel sink can elevate the room’s style without breaking the bank. Use these selectively instead of high-end fixtures for the whole room. Accent tiles in a walk-in shower add interest without tiling the whole thing. Upgrade linens and bath mats for a luxurious feel during use.
What bathroom trends are on their way out?
Several once-popular trends like ornate framed mirrors, gold brass finishes, and clawfoot tubs feel dated. Very ornate detailing and carving looks less current. Oversized soaking tubs are impractical in many homes. Boldly colored toilets and sinks also feel less fresh today. Cleaner lines and simpler forms create a relaxed, modern look.
The fixtures you choose for your bathroom will set the tone for the whole space. Take time to carefully consider what will both look beautiful and function well long-term. Focus first on the priorities that matter most, like comfort, ease of use by family members, maintenance, and visual style. This will help guide you as you explore the many options. Feel free to mix traditional fixtures with modern ones to strike the right balance. Invest in high-quality materials made to last. With careful planning and selection of bathroom fixtures tailored to your needs, you’ll be able to create a bathroom you love.