Make a Splash: Choosing a Bathroom Sink

By Lyle Weischwill | Aug. 08, 2016 4:05 pm PST

How to choose a bathroom sink

Looking to update your bathroom with a new sink? Hint: It’s about lifestyle and looks.

Vessel or pedestal? Wall-mounted or self-rimming? When you’re choosing a bathroom sink, it can seem like there’s a dizzying amount of choices for everything from style to color to materials. Here’s a primer on what you need to know. Think of it as your Sink 101.

Where to start

The answers to three questions will narrow your choices and help guide you to the perfect sink for your bathroom.

1. New construction, remodeling or replacing an old sink?

If you’re replacing your bathroom sink, the simplest thing is to get a sink similar in size and shape to your old one. If this is part of a larger bathroom remodel, you’ve got a bit more latitude but are still governed by the size of the bathroom. New construction? The sky’s the limit.

2. Who will be using it?

Is the sink in an elegant powder room off the kitchen or in the kids’ bathroom? If you have children, a durable sink that can take lots of wear and tear is a good idea. Save the delicate glass vessel for the powder room or master suite.

3. What’s above it?

Is there a medicine cabinet or shelf above the sink? The glass vessel wouldn’t be a wise choice. If something falls from the shelf into the sink, it can crack or chip.

Types of Sinks

Now that you’ve narrowed it down, it’s time to choose the type of sink you want. Here are some common types and what they’re best suited for.

  • Vanity

    Top-mount (aka self-rimming) sinks sit in the vanity, their rims or lips on the vanity top. Undermounts also sit in the vanity but are flush with the vanity top. The choice between the two is mostly aesthetic, but there are a few key differences. Undermounts take up more space inside the vanity itself because they need to be braced from below. So if you’re short on storage, a top-mount might be a better choice. Top-mounts require more careful cleaning, though, because that lip can trap dirt and debris.

  • Wall-mounted

    These are mounted to the wall and don’t need a pedestal or vanity below. They’re perfect for very small bathrooms where space is at a premium.

  • Pedestal

    Here, the sink is attached to the wall like a wall mount, but there’s a pedestal below. They work well in small bathrooms and lend an Art Deco feel. The downside? With both wall mounts and pedestals, there’s no storage below.

  • Vessel

    These sit on top of the vanity, and they run from simple ceramic bowls to detailed copper rectangles to delicate glass works of art. A downside of vessel sinks is that they are commonly made of fragile material.

Material matters

Now that you know what type of sink you want, decide on the material.

  • Ceramic

    Ceramic sinks are easy to clean and great for bathrooms that get a lot of use and for households with kids.

  • Glass

    Mostly used in vessel sinks, glass is beautiful, colorful and offers a myriad of design choices. Trouble is, it’s delicate. Also, a word to the wise: If you’re buying your vessel from a glass artist and not a sink manufacturer, make sure it’s tempered glass or it will crack much more easily.

  • Metal

    Copper, stainless steel and brass are commonly used in sinks. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines on which cleaners are safe to use — not all are appropriate for metal.

  • Stone

    Usually used in vessel sinks, stone is durable and beautiful, but watch out — many stone sinks need sealing before the first use to prevent them from becoming stained by water spots.

Finishing Touches

Faucets are works of art these days. From graceful arched spouts to wall-mounted chutes, a faucet is the finishing touch to your sink. Choose one that matches the opening in your sink — it’s either single-hole, three-hole or widespread (a spout and two handles). Some vessels don’t have holes for faucets. Those need a wall-mounted faucet with a longer spout to extend into the bowl.

When it comes to finishes, brushed bronze and nickel are trending. You can choose to match the finish to the other hardware in your bathroom or have the faucet stand on its own. Other options include low-flow faucets that conserve water and motion-activated faucets for hands-free washing.

Use our bathroom remodel guide to learn more about bath remodeling options and help build the best sink for your lifestyle.

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