With so many options available, learning how to buy a bathroom sink efficiently is critical to your sanity. Bathroom sinks come in so many shapes and sizes these days that picking the right one really depends on your space and style. If you enjoy redecorating, odds are you will enjoy the process because the options are endless and you can play with colors and materials until you turn blue in the face.
If, on the other hand, you don’t care too much about the style aspect, you may want to just go with a simple sink that won’t stand out. Either way, it’s important to know what your options are.
Wading through the different types of sinks, faucets, and vanities can be a little overwhelming at first. But rest assured, we will get you through it. This guide will teach you what the different types of sink are to begin with, and help you make your decision based on your space and style preferences.
Types of Bathroom Sink
Believe it or not, all bathroom sinks are not the same. I know, who knew. I sure didn’t until we started building our house a few years ago and all of these decisions had to be made. I figured we could just say “sink goes here” and they would take it from there. Nope, doesn’t work that way.
The first thing you probably want to figure out is what type of sink your bathroom needs. And by type, I really mean how the sink is attached (or where it is attached).
Self Rimming Sinks
Self rimming or drop-in sinks are a commonly seen because they are the easiest to install. They get their name (or names) from the fact that they sit on top of the counter. The sink rim is visible and usually rounded- this helps with keeping the entire sink clean, which can be difficult with other sink types.
Since these sinks simply sit inside a hole cut out of the counter, they can be used with any countertop material. Self rimming sinks are highly versatile and come in all types of materials and styles. These sinks are easy to swap out with one another, so if you are thinking about switching out your current drop-in sink for another, the process is pretty straight forward.
Undermount sinks are also commonly seen in bathrooms and kitchens. This type of sink is basically the opposite of the drop-in sink. Where that one sits on top of the counter, this one is attached below the counter. There are pros and cons to undermounts like anything else.
The pros are that they look great and give you a seamless counter top. Also makes it easier to clean your counters. The cons are that they are harder to install and generally more expensive. Undermount sinks work best with solid counters like granite and marble. Since these sinks are installed below the counter surface, you need to have custom holes cut out for the sink and faucet.
These sinks are usually best left to the professionals for installation. We have undermount sinks in our master bathroom and love them. Just keep an eye on the caulk between the counter and sink, sometimes it can get discolored or need reapplication.
Vessel sinks are the ones that look like a giant bowl is catching the water. They usually sit on top of your counter, although some are partially hidden by the counter top. These sinks have become very stylish and modern, which is kind of ironic considering a lot of them resemble earlier sinks.
Installation on vessel sinks is usually pretty easy. You really only need to cut a hole large enough for the drain through the counter top for most models. These sinks come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Vessel sinks tend to be a little more expensive, but depending on the material not necessarily.
Wall Hung Sinks
This type of sink is pretty self explanatory. A wall hung sink is a sink that is attached directly to the wall. These sinks work well with small bathrooms that might not have enough room for a vanity or countertop. The plumbing is usually exposed with wall hung sinks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially if you’re into the industrial look.
Wall hung sinks also come in all shapes and styles. Prices vary greatly depending on brand and material.
A sink that sits on top of a small support is known as a pedestal sink. Pedestal sinks are made of 2 pieces: the sink and the pedestal- I swear I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I’m just saying that it’s not all one piece. Anyway, this type of sink was popular decades ago and then disappeared until recently.
Pedestal sinks come in handy in small bathrooms. We have one in our guest bathroom. It looks nice and doesn’t take up much space, but it offers no storage at all. Keep in mind that the plumbing comes out of the wall (which actually supports the sink as well) and not the floor.
These sinks come in many styles and sizes, although most are smaller in stature. Prices vary, and sometimes the sink and pedestal are priced separately.
Sink consoles are just wall mounted sinks that have legs for support. They differ from pedestal sinks because the support structure is different. Pedestals are usually a single column where consoles are usually 2 or 4 legs. The plumbing is also exposed on consoles and there is little to no storage. Sometimes there will be an included towel bar of shelf for towels.
Vanity tops are counter tops with the sink built in. These come in handy because you are getting the counter and sink all together without having to purchase each separately. A vanity top can be placed on your existing vanity to replace what you currently have. Or, you can purchase a new base (vanity) separately.
If purchasing a vanity top for your existing base, make sure you know the exact measurements in order to get the right fit. Vanity tops come in various materials and sizes, including single and double sinks.
One of the first things my wife and I did at our old house was replace the vanity top in the master bathroom. It gave the sink a much cleaner look and was easy to keep up.
Types of Bathroom Sink Materials
Now you know all the common types of sink and what the differences are. Perfect. Do you know what type of sink your bathroom needs now? If not, no worry, take your time. But when you do figure out the type of sink you need, you then need to consider what type of material your sink is going to be made of.
Sinks are made out of several different materials. Different materials are not only important for style, but also for durability and maintenance.
We normally picture a porcelain sink when we think of traditional sinks. Porcelain is technically a type of hard clay that has been superheated. The result is a material that doesn’t absorb liquids, is very durable, and easy to clean. This is why this material is so commonly used for sinks and toilets.
Porcelain is usually seen in white, but can really come in any color. Porcelain sinks are best cleaned with a multi-use cleaner and warm water.
Ceramic is another type of clay (or combination of) that has been heated. Ceramic sinks tend to look very similar to the ceramic pottery we are all familiar with. These sinks are durable and easy to clean. Dirt and stains can’t penetrate the ceramic surface, so they are easily washed with soap and water. Ceramic sinks are often found in the vessel form.
There are a ton of natural stone materials to choose from for sinks and counter tops alike. These have become the material of choice for a lot of higher-end sinks. These stones include: granite, marble, soapstone, and onyx. Each have their pros and cons as well as individual style.
Stainless steel has become a very popular material for kitchen appliances these days. But you can also get a stainless steel sink if you like. These sinks look very sleek and match most counter top materials (especially the natural stones).
Stainless steel sinks are very durable and are stain resistant. They can be scratched, so just be careful with sharp objects around the sink.
Yes, you can get a wooden sink, and they look pretty cool. They are typically made out of teak. Teak (as in teak furniture) is naturally water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your wooden sink soaking up too much water. After all, that would kind of defeat the purpose.
Wooden sinks are easy to clean, however it is recommended that you apply teak oil every few months.
Sinks can be made out of tempered glass as well. The “tempered” part means it has been treated to increase strength and durability. You often see vessel sinks made out of glass that look great. Just remember, that even though the glass has been tempered, it is still glass. If you drop something heavy on these they will break.
Solid surface sinks are made out of a combination of resins and chemicals to produce a material that kind of resembles granite. Solid surface products are much cheaper than the natural stone products they are meant to resemble. They are also pretty durable and easy to clean. This material is good for sinks where children will be active users.
I mentioned stainless steel above, but you can also find copper, brass, and cast iron sinks. These sinks tend to be very durable, stylish, and more expensive. If you get a metal sink, check to see how it is supposed to be cleaned. Some metals have special instructions. Make sure you read to ensure you don’t discolor your sink!
When choosing a sink, it’s definitely important to consider the type and material. But there are a few other considerations you will need to take into account to ensure you get the perfect sink:
Who will be using it?- Is this new sink for your master bathroom or the guest bathroom you rarely use? Will there be children (who find a way to ruin everything) or adults primarily using this new sink? These are questions you should ask yourself because if you will be using this sink daily, you may want to go with a nicer, less durable sink. But, if kids will be using regularly, you may want to go with a more durable sink or a product you don’t mind getting scratched.
Maintenance- are you up for the task of regularly keeping up with your sinks maintenance or would you prefer a low maintenance product? Some of the nicer wood and metal sinks may need a little special attention now and then. Something to keep in mind when making a decision.
Space- the amount of room in your bathroom will definitely play in a role in your decision making. You have to find a sink that fits in your bathroom. If space is limited, you may want to consider a wall hung or pedestal sink.
Storage- is your bathroom lacking in storage? If so, you may want a sink that fits with a vanity so that you can get the storage benefits. Pedestal sinks offer no storage.
Price- cost is always a consideration for all of us when making a purchase. Knowing your price range will help you decide on materials and style. Luckily, there are usually many styles and types of sink available regardless of your price range. Just remember that self rimming sinks are usually the most affordable.
The options for bathroom sinks these days are endless. Regardless of your style, there are numerous sinks to choose from and it can be challenging (to say the least) to narrow them down and make your decision.
However, if you made it through this article, I’m confident you now know how to buy a bathroom sink confidently. You know what types of sink are out there and all the differences between them. You also know what materials sinks are made of. You understand that you need to consider facts like price, bathroom space, and primary users when deciding on a new sink.
Now all you have to do is get out there and find your perfect sink.
I hope this guide is helpful for you in your sink buying journey. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.