Vessel sinks have become an increasingly popular option for bathrooms in recent years. With their unique and eye-catching shapes, vessel sinks can be a beautiful focal point in any bathroom. In this complete guide, we will cover everything you need to know about vessel sinks, including the different types of vessel sinks, the pros and cons of vessel sinks, how to choose the right vessel sink, installation and maintenance tips, and how to care for your vessel sink. Read on for the ultimate vessel sink guide!
What is a Vessel Sink?
A vessel sink, also known as a vessel basin, is a freestanding sink that sits on top of the vanity or counter, rather than being installed below or under the counter. Vessel sinks have a bowl that sits above the countertop, so the water seems to be held within the vessel.
Vessel sinks come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. Their defining characteristic is that they sit on top of the countertop or vanity surface, rather than dropping into or being mounted under it. The sink rim rests completely above the countertop, creating a striking focal point.
Unlike traditional drop-in or undermount sinks, vessel sinks have an exposed bowl and a visible drain assembly. The drain pipe and pop-up drain mechanisms are part of the visual design. Vessel basin rims are finished and beveled to accentuate the sink’s shape.
Pros and Cons of Vessel Sinks
- Unique style: Vessel sinks make a stylish design statement. Their exposed bowl shapes stand out and create a striking focal point.
- Easy to clean: With their open bowl design, vessel sinks allow for easy cleaning. There are no hard to reach areas underneath the rim.
- Work with any countertop material: Vessel sinks can be installed on nearly any type of countertop material, from natural stone to laminate.
- Creative flexibility: Vessel sinks come in a diverse range of shapes, materials, sizes and finishes, allowing for lots of creativity.
- Space saver: Vessel sinks have a small footprint, allowing them to fit in even the tiniest powder rooms.
- Higher risk of splashing: With their higher exposed bowl, vessel sinks may splash more than undermount sinks.
- Limited counter space: Vessel sinks take up counter space around the perimeter of the bowl. They generally allow for less usable countertop area.
- Exposed pipes: The exposed drain assembly and P-trap under vessel sinks may not appeal aesthetically to some.
- Higher maintenance: Vessel basins require more diligent cleaning to keep their exposed exterior surfaces free of water spots and build up.
- Challenging installation: Vessel sink installation often requires custom mounting and counter cutting. The drain assembly also sits higher off the floor than a traditionally mounted sink.
Types of Vessel Sinks
Vessel sinks come in a diverse array of shapes, sizes, materials, colors and finishes. Here are some of the most popular styles:
Glass Vessel Sinks
Glass vessel sinks are glass bowls mounted on top of the vanity. They come in clear, colored, bubble glass, and frosted styles. Glass sinks make a delicate and gleaming statement. However, they can scratch or crack more easily than other materials.
Copper Vessel Sinks
Copper is a warm, luxurious material that makes for an eye-catching vessel basin. Copper sinks develop a lovely patina over time. But the material is prone to scratching and denting.
Stone Vessel Sinks
Sinks hand carved from natural stone like marble, travertine or alabaster make an impressive style statement. But stone is easily etched by acids and scratchable. Porous natural stone requires diligent sealing.
Ceramic/Porcelain Vessel Sinks
Porcelain vessel sinks have a classic appeal and come in an array of styles – from modern to traditional. Durable vitreous china gets better with age. The vintage distressed look adds character. Porcelain sinks resist scratching and staining.
Metal Vessel Sinks
For an industrial modern look, metal vessel basins crafted from hammered copper, stainless steel or enameled steel make a bold statement. But metal sinks dent and scratch more easily.
Vessel Sink Materials Comparison Chart
| Material | Pros | Cons |
| Glass | Eye-catching shimmer
Variety of colors | Prone to chipping, cracking
Shows water spots|
|Copper|Stunning natural patina
Luxurious look|Dents and scratches easily|
|Stone|Elegant, natural material
Withstands heat|Etches with acids
Porosity requires sealing|
|Ceramic/Porcelain|Durable and scratch-resistant
Easy to clean|Can chip if hit|
|Metal|Industrial modern look
Range of metals|Dents/scratches easily|
How to Choose the Right Vessel Sink
Choosing the perfect vessel sink requires considering your decor style, sink materials, size and shape. Keep these tips in mind when selecting a vessel basin:
- Complement your decor – Match the sink to your bathroom’s overall decor and color scheme. A modern glossy vessel pairs well with contemporary styling, while a hammered copper sink fits farmhouse or rustic baths.
- Consider the vessel height – If the sink rim sits too high, it can cause splashing issues. Measure the vanity height and factor in the vessel’s rim height. Lower rim heights around 4-6 inches are ideal.
- Allow for proper sink clearance – Vessel sinks require clearance on all sides to avoid hitting the bowl. Leave at least 2-3 inches.
- Confirm sink template and hole size – To properly cut the counter opening, get the vessel sink template for sizing and hole cut-out.
- Mind the bathroom’s proportions – A too-large sink basin can overwhelm a tiny powder room. Scaled-down petite vessels suit small spaces best.
- Complementary faucetry – Select a tall vessel filler faucet that can reach over the sink rim and still allow clearance underneath for hand washing.
- Practice care with glass vessels – Though beautiful, glass sinks easily chip and scratch. Consider a glass sink more for visual appeal than heavy use.
How to Install a Vessel Sink
Installing a vessel sink takes more finesse than a traditional undermount basin. Here are some key vessel sink installation tips:
Gather the Right Supplies
- Vessel sink basin
- Vessel faucet taller than sink rim
- Drain kit with 1 1/2″ to 2” drain pipe and flange
- Silicone adhesive sealant
- Jigsaw with bowl-cutting blade
- Safety glasses and gloves
Steps for Installation
- Mark the Drain Hole on Countertop
- Place vessel sink template on countertop to mark drain and faucet holes.
- Double-check distance of holes from sink edge and backsplash.
- Drill pilot drain hole, then cut larger drain opening with jigsaw.
- Mount and Seal Drain Assembly
- Turn sink upside down and attach drain flange.
- Apply plumber’s putty around underside of drain flange.
- Place vessel sink on counter, inserting drain pipe down through hole.
- From underside, slide rubber gasket and mounting ring over drain pipe to secure in place.
- Attach Water Supply Lines
- Thread water supply lines up from below through faucet holes.
- Secure faucet according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Connect supply lines to faucet.
- Seal Sink Edges
- Clean the vessel basin rim and vanity countertop.
- Apply a thick bead of silicone sealant evenly around sink top rim.
- Immediately place vessel sink centered over cutout hole and press down firmly.
- Wipe away any excess sealant with a rag.
- Allow the sealant to fully cure for at least 24 hours before use.
And that’s it! Proper installation is key to a vessel sink that functions beautifully. Always take care to evenly seal all sink edges to prevent leaks underneath.
Caring for Your Vessel Sink
Vessel sinks make a gorgeous statement in the bathroom. But their exposed positioning also means they require a little extra care. Follow these vessel sink care tips:
- Rinse after every use – Give the bowl a quick rinse to prevent mineral deposits and soap scum buildup.
- Clean with non-abrasive scouring pads – Use soft scrubbing pads to gently wipe the exterior sink walls and base. Avoid harsh cleansers.
- Polish with parchment paper – Shine up glass or metal vessels by rubbing the exterior with parchment paper.
- Seal natural stone annually – Reseal porous stone vessel basins once a year to prevent etching and stains.
- Use padding when cleaning around sink – Place a soft towel underneath when vigorously scouring the countertop around the exposed basin walls.
- Handle glass vessels with care – Avoid bumping or knocking glass bowls to prevent chips and cracks.
With proper day-to-day cleaning and care, your lovely vessel sink can stay looking beautiful for years of enhancing your bathroom decor.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vessel Sinks
Still have some lingering questions about incorporating a vessel sink into your bathroom? Here are answers to some frequently asked vessel sink questions:
How difficult is it to install a vessel sink?
While vessel sink installation is more involved than a drop-in sink, it can be manageable for an experienced DIYer. The key elements are precise hole cutting, proper faucet height, and meticulously sealing around the sink edges. Getting the mounting height exact prevents leaks. If unsure, hiring a pro for installation is advised.
Do you need a special faucet for a vessel sink?
Yes, vessel sinks require a tall vessel filler faucet. The faucet spout needs to clear the sink rim by several inches to provide enough clearance for hand washing. Faucets for vessel basins have longer spouts and elongated necks than standard faucets.
How far should a vessel sink stick out from the counter?
Ideally, a vessel basin should overhang the counter by 1-3 inches on each side. This provides a good balance between support and exposure. Go beyond 3 inches, and the sink risks feeling unstable and prone to breaking if bumped. Allow even more overhang for stone sinks, which are very heavy.
Should I get a glass or metal vessel sink?
For pure stylistic drama, glass and metal vessels really shine and reflect the light beautifully. However, both scratch and stain easily. For a sink that stays looking pristine despite regular use, porcelain, ceramic or stone are more durable options.
Are there general vessel sink dimensions to follow?
Vessel bowl diameters tend to range from 14 to 20 inches wide on average. Rim height is commonly between 4 and 8 inches. However, mini vessel sinks for small vanities can be as small as 10 inches wide and 3 inches high. Always measure your vanity height when selecting a vessel basin.
Can I put my regular faucet with a vessel sink?
Likely not. Standard faucets are too short to adequately reach over the tall rim of a vessel sink. Filler faucets specifically made for vessel basins have an elongated neck and higher spout to provide the needed additional faucet height.
With their sculptural profiles and striking visual impact, it’s easy to see why vessel sinks have become a top bathroom trend. Their bowl sits on full display, becoming a work of art for the room. But their exposed positioning also leads to some functionality differences from standard undermount sinks.
Carefully consider the vessel height and width in relation to your countertop and decor style. Vessel sinks come in a diverse range of materials like glass, metal, natural stone, and ceramics. Measure carefully and allow clearance on all sides of the basin. Pay close attention during installation to properly seal edges and prevent leaks.
While a bit more hands on, installing your own vessel sink is very doable for an experienced DIYer. With these tips in mind, you can successfully select the perfect vessel basin and integrate it seamlessly into your bathroom design.
So for anyone wanting to elevate their bathroom style, a vessel sink is sure to make a stunning statement. Just be sure to give this artistic basin a bit more care and cleaning attention. Treat it gently and your lovely vessel sink will grace your bathroom with beautiful form and function for years.