Bathroom Sinks Buyer’s Guide

Most of us are used to referring to the basin in the bathroom as the sink, but the correct term is actually lavatory, derived from the Latin word lavare meaning to wash. This is further shorted to lay within the industry, or lavy if you’re a contractor. No matter how you say it, one thing is clear -the days of simple round sinks in white or ivory are long gone. Being perhaps the most-used room in any home, it is important to make sure that you and your guests will feel comfortable and welcomed by the décor.

If you’re reading this guide, then you’re probably either building a new house, need to replace your bathroom sink due to wear and tear, or remodeling. Lavatories are a vital parts of any bathroom; you use them for washing your hands, lingerie, socks, even babies or pets on a daily basis. Everyone’s situation will be different of course, each bathroom holding its own needs, the key here is to keep them in mind while shopping. What is your current decor like, both style and colors? Do you have a multi-person household where the bathroom is a high traffic area, and need the sink to be especially durable? How is your storage situation – is more required? We hope to help you solve these questions and make a well-informed decision!

Let’s start by going over a few of the more popular styles of sinks available on the market today.

While akin to pedestal sinks, the consoles provide extra counter space and are usually supported by highly decorative legs.

This is another situation where the plumbing will most likely be exposed.

Countertop: Known as self rimming sinks, there are two types, sink mount and deck mount. They are designed to rest in a rough-cut hole in the counter material with the edges of the sink providing the trim. If you are intending to use a countertop sink with a faucet you already own, be sure to compare the number of holes the sink you like has with the hardware in question.

Pedestal: These are freestanding units supported by a pedestal, which may or may not be included with the purchase of your sink. It is important to remember that your plumbing will be exposed underneath; this can be remedied by purchasing a shroud. Pedestal sinks are a wonderful option in guest powder rooms or half-baths where space is limited, and the sink is expected to be used primarily for washing hands rather than your daily morning routine – which would require more counter space.

Undercounter: Also known as under mount sinks. Fantastic for minimalistic design schemes, the finished edge of the counter material extends over the sink, and the sink is mounted below the inner edges of the counter opening. Mounting kits are usually required to install these. These sinks make cleaning bathroom counters a breeze, as water can be wiped seamlessly into the sink, with no raised sink edges to catch grime.

Vessel: You may also see these called above counter sinks; vessels sit free of the countertop. There are some important things to keep in mind when deliberating this one: you need to make sure the faucet you chose to use with it will be tall enough and have enough of a spout reach to go beyond just the edge of the basin (it should empty into the center). Also, some of these sinks do not come with an overflow drain, and a grid drain will have to be installed. This is yet another sink where the plumbing can most likely be exposed.

Wall-mounted: As the name implies, these mount directly to the wall. If you have a cramped bathroom, they can be mounted to a side wall or corner. Some models are offered with an optional rack underneath for additional storage.

While most sinks are available in many types of materials, some (such as under mount sinks) can only be made from certain elements or will require extra support depending on what is used to craft them.

Cast Iron: This traditional choice is heavy and durable! Typically, these are coated with enamel or porcelain so any sharp impact may damage or chip finish. If that happens, the iron under the coating will start to corrode, and before too long you’ll need another sink!

Composite: As can be construed from the name, the composite sink is a hybrid of several compounds. Most commonly they are made from enamel-grade metal, porcelain, resins, and other structural materials. Once they are bonded and the shape is formed, they are a long-lasting choice with a huge color palette – scratches can be buffed right out by using a sand cloth.

Copper: Primarily, these are hand hammered or pressed from a single sheet of copper, giving them a rustic feel. This is a durable material and will resist impact damage, but do require special care when cleaning.

Fireclay: These sinks are made from heat-resistant clay. They are prone to damage from heavy impact.

Stainless Steel: Perhaps the most economical choice due to its durability, price, and ease of cleaning. Like copper, they are impact resistant, but also like copper, they can be very noisy due to being produced from a thin sheet of metal. Something to keep in mind if you have light sleepers near the bathroom!

Stone: The oldest of materials used to make sinks; granite, travertine, onyx, and marble are some of the more popular choices. Carved stone is very heavy and can also chip or scratch with a hard impact.

Vitreous China: Most wall-mount and pedestal sinks are made from this material. Ceramics are fired at a very high temperature to form a non-porous surface, and then it is coated with an additional ceramic glaze. The same process is used with toilets and bidets. These can be damaged by heavy impact, but they are resistant to abrasion, very durable, and easy to clean.

Wood: Most often created from teak due to its natural water-resistance and antiseptic tendencies. Other hardwoods may be used, sanded and coated with a waterproofing coat to prevent wear and tear. These are a very solid choice if you don’t mind cleaning and wiping them down each time you use them to prevent and periodic waxing.

Now that you’ve decided what type of sink you’d like and what material it should be made from, you can focus on the more fun aspects of color, shape, and size. As was stated above, a simple, round white sink isn’t all you’re going to be finding these days.

Shapes vary wildly; there are the basics of course square, round, oval, but you are certainly free to dive off the deep end and consider hexagons, octagons, scalloped, kidney-shaped, even diamond! Just be sure to keep your room in mind when choosing, and remember that there are some fantastic sinks especially designed to fit in corners if space is limited.

 

Colors are pretty much unlimited in today’s industry, to the point that if you do not find what you are looking for, some manufacturers will customize one to suit your decor. Anything from neutrals to vibrant, dazzling fruit hues are out there!

 

Sinks can range anywhere from just a few inches wide to several feet across, so once you have your space measured, you should be able to find something just right. The typical installation height for a sink is about 34 inches. One quick tip for you to think about: deeper sinks tend to keep water from splashing back up and dirtying the countertop.

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