Bathroom Sink Buying Guide
With so many shapes, styles, and materials to choose from, you can find the perfect sink for your custom bathroom vanity.
The main distinction among bath sinks is how and where they’re mounted. Here are the top options:
This is the most common installation, with the sink sitting in or on a countertop, typically as part of a vanity unit with cabinetry. Countertop sinks generally offer good storage and elbow room, as there’s usually a sizable surface around the basin and cabinetry. This category includes the following:
The countertop and sink are one piece and made of the same material. They’re sized to fit standard vanity widths. These sinks are easy to clean.
Top-Mount or Self-Rimming Sinks:
They have rolled edges that allow the sink to be dropped down into a countertop opening. Top-mount sinks are the easiest to install.
They’re mounted below the countertop, exposing the edge of the countertop surface around the sink. With no rim to contend with, undermounts are the easiest to clean.
Vessel Sink or Above-Counter-Sinks:
These basins sit atop the counter and offer the most striking style.
A pedestal sink consists of a basin atop a tall, slender base. It’s often considered a vintage look, but there are modern versions, too. They work well in powder rooms and small baths where counter space or storage isn’t a priority.
Often found in commercial and institutional settings, wall-mount sinks work in home baths, too. They hang from the wall at a comfortable height and are open below, exposing the drainpipe and water supply lines. With the plumbing visible underneath, it calls for an attractive pipe finish, such as polished chrome. Wall-mount sinks are affordable, work well in small baths, and create a clean, open look.
A popular variation of the wall-mount sink is the console sink, which resembles a traditional console table found in an entry or hallway. A console sink is basically a wall-mount sink with legs — usually two but sometimes four. They typically have generous counter space and open shelving below.
There is no standard size for a bath sink. Some petite basins are just big enough for washing hands, while the largest sinks are big enough for washing hair or delicate clothing. Most round sinks are 16 to 20 inches in diameter, while most rectangular sinks are 19 to 24 inches wide and 16 to 23 inches front to back. Typical basin depth is 5 to 8 inches.
Sink size and shape are generally matters of personal preference unless you’re replacing an old fixture and wish to reuse the vanity and countertop. In that case, the new sink has to fit the existing opening in the countertop and mount the same way. If space is at a premium, consider using a triangular sink that’s designed to fit in a corner.
Perhaps the biggest differentiators among bath sinks are the materials used to make them. Traditional ceramics such as porcelain, vitreous china, and fireclay are familiar choices, but they’re rivaled by the striking looks of glass, natural stone, solid surface, and metals such as cast iron, stainless steel, copper, nickel, and brass.
Vitreous china and its ceramic cousins provide a surface that’s smooth, glossy, stain-resistant, durable, and easy to clean.
Metal sinks range from the glossy enameled finish of cast iron to the clean look of stainless steel and the earthiness of copper and nickel. Brushed and hammered finishes play up the texture of the metals. Some of these finishes, like copper, can be difficult to keep clean. So keep that in mind when selecting a sink.
Glass sinks sound fragile, but they’re surprisingly strong. A basin made of tempered glass is able to withstand normal use. However, avoid dropping heavy objects into it and contact with sharp metal or glass, which can cause scratches and chips. Glass can be a challenge to keep clean — especially if you have hard water.
These sinks capture the look of natural stone in a composite material, making them easier to install and maintain. A popular choice is a one-piece solid-surface countertop with an integrated sink.
Sinks made of marble, granite, travertine, and onyx offer luxurious looks full of natural color and veining, plus they allow undermount basin installation. However, because all stone is porous to some degree, it’s prone to staining and requires routine sealing.