In the market for a new bathroom sink? Read our bathroom sink buyer guide to make the best, most informed decision for your home, your budget, and your style.
Bathroom sinks are typically smaller than kitchen sinks (which must accommodate larger items like pots and pans) and have less function. Washing hands and faces, brushing teeth, and filling small cups are the main functions of a bathroom sink. They must also be hygienic, easy to clean, and easy to reach.
Once these basic parameters are met, bathroom sink design is up to the manufacturer’s interpretation. As a result, many different sink styles and materials are available on the market. As you read on, we’ve recapped the most popular options you are likely to encounter while shopping.
Pedestal sinks are bathroom sinks that rest on a singular leg, called a pedestal. The drainage and plumbing pipes that connect the faucet to water are hidden in the pedestal of the sink. Traditionally made of white porcelain, pedestal sinks have been used in homes since the early 1900s without ever going out of style. Due to their neutral coloring and classic design, pedestal sinks can easily fit into the design scheme of a historic home or brand new build; they are truly universal.
Pedestal sinks are a smart choice for small bathrooms that have limited space and cannot support a full-sized vanity. This is also a drawback of pedestal sinks. Many homeowners dislike the lack of counter space and storage that are inherent with their style. That is why we recommend pedestal sinks for powder rooms where ample storage is not necessary.
Wall-mount bathroom sinks are similar to pedestal sinks, apart from their lack of pedestal. Instead, these sinks are mounted to the wall and the plumbing is either built into the wall behind the sink or exposed underneath. Wall-mount sinks are also typically made of porcelain or other ceramics in the home, and of stainless steel in commercial settings.
Wall-mount sinks make it extremely easy to clean the floor beneath the sink and the sink itself, as most surfaces of the sink are easily accessed. They do, however, require heavy bracing of the wall the sink is mounted to. We recommend having a professional install your wall-mount sink to avoid the sink ripping from the wall.
As you can see in this bathroom, the floor below the wall-mount sink is easy to reach and clean.
Besides pedestal and wall-mount sinks, the majority of sinks are installed in vanities and countertops.
Undermount bathroom sinks are sinks that are simply installed beneath the vanity or countertop and mount from below. They hang flush with the countertop for a seamless look that is easy to clean. If not installed properly, it can be very easy for mold to form around the ring of an undermount sink. Additionally, these sinks must be braced from below, as their weight is not supported by the countertop. While they take a little more work to install, undermount sinks are beautiful, leave ample counterspace for toiletries and accessories to rest on, and will be in style for decades.
Drop-in sinks are possibly the easiest bathroom sinks to install. Simply cut a hole in the countertop, drop the sink in, hook up the plumbing, and you’re good to go. Drop-in sinks rest their weight on the countertop and do not need additional support below the sink.
Drop-in sinks can form gunk and mildew where the countertop meets the sink, making them slightly harder to clean. They also take up more room on the countertop than undermount sinks, leaving slightly less counter space for toiletries. This is an important factor to consider in a small bathroom.
Vessel sinks sit completely on top of the countertop. Designed primarily for aesthetics, there are many benefits of vessel sinks. With the entire sink above the counter, vessel sinks are easy to clean. They are also a smart choice when there is very little room below the countertop for a sink basin to rest. Available in a wide variety of styles and finishes, designers love vessel sinks as they are a great way to incorporate beauty into the bathroom.
Vessel sinks require tall, compatible faucets (typically called tall or vessel faucets) to prevent splashing, an extra expense to consider. Due to their height, vessel sinks are not the best option for children’s bathrooms and bathrooms shared by the entire family. Another downside of vessel sinks is that they appear to be very trendy. As they did not become popular until about 5 years ago, there is no way to know if they will look out of date in the next twenty years. Only time will tell.
Because the base of the vessel sink is smaller than the outer edge, vessel sinks can be used on small vanities and shelves, like the sink shown here.
Countertop sinks are very similar to vessel sinks, only shorter and sleeker. This style is a great option for those that want a vessel sink, but also have small children that cannot reach over a vessel sink.
Like vessel sinks, the entirety of countertop sinks are above the counter.
Vanity top bathroom sinks cover the entire top surface of a vanity base. Both the countertop and the sink are formed from one piece of porcelain, leaving no creases to clean. Vanity tops give you the flexibility to mix and match your choice of vanity base and sink top for a sink that reflects your interior design tastes.
The majority of vanity top sinks are made of white porcelain, a great neutral that pairs easily with any vanity. One downside of vanity top sinks is the fact that they are one unit; if a crack or chip appears in any part of the top, the entire unit must be replaced. Both the countertop and the sink of this vanity are one solid piece.
Choose Your Finish
While white porcelain is the most popular finish used for bathroom sinks, it is certainly not the only option. Recently, designers have branched out to use materials such as metal and glass, both of which have their own benefits.
Widely used in commercial applications including airplanes, prisons, and restaurants, stainless steel is affordable, lightweight, and durable. Stainless steel is naturally hygienic and does not harbor bacteria, making it a smart choice for the bathroom, especially shared and public bathrooms.
If not properly insulated, however, stainless steel can be noisy when the water is running. It also forms thin scratches over time, but a way to combat this is to choose a hammered stainless sink. The hammered surface will hide any scratches and scrapes, and will add a unique shine to any bathroom design; check out this hammered stainless steel bathroom sink to see if the style is right for you.
Used in cooking for years, copper is naturally anti-microbial, making it perfect for use in the bathroom. Copper’s beautiful warm tint pairs beautifully with granite countertops and stone tile, common bathroom materials. Copper is not used very often in the bathroom, making it a unique choice that is certain to be the talk of your friends.
As it is exposed to air, copper will naturally patina over time and turn green or dark brown. This characteristic may seem like an interesting design feature for some, but if you want your sink to look the same in twenty years as it does right out of the box, copper is not the finish for you.
This copper bathroom sink has patinaed unevenly over time, creating a finish that is unique to this sink and this sink alone.
Glass is relatively new to the bathroom sink game but is quickly gaining steam. The vibrant colors found in stained glass windows can now be seen in the bathroom. Purple, red, blue, and pink are just some of the shades of glass bathroom sinks.
Most common in vessel sinks where the color of the glass is fully showcased, glass can also be used in undermount sinks. While glass sinks are reinforced to prevent cracks and chips, they are not as durable as metal and porcelain, something to be considered if you have children or family members that may be rough on the sink. Glass sinks also show scratches much more than porcelain and hammered metal.
Nevertheless, glass sinks, like the one shown here, are a great way to add color to your bathroom.
Don’t Ignore Faucet Holes
Many drop-in and vanity top sinks have pre-cut faucet holes. It is important to choose a sink based on your faucet or a faucet based on your sink, depending on your priorities. Widespread faucets will require three faucet holes that are spaced evenly across the back lip of the sink, while centerset faucets need three faucet holes that are more tightly arranged. As their name suggests, single hole faucets pair with sinks that only have one faucet hole. Tall faucets that pair with vessel sinks are installed on the countertop and do not affect the sink at all. Be sure there is enough space on the countertop to accommodate a faucet before choosing a vessel sink.
It is important to fill each hole of the sink by choosing an appropriate faucet. If not, an open hole is place for mold and mildew to grow, rendering your sink unsanitary.
Sink Shape is Up to You
After choosing an installation type, finish, and the number of faucet holes needed, the only decision left to make when selecting a sink is the shape. Round or rectangular shaped sinks can each dictate the design of entire bathroom, not just the sink. Specialty sinks, such as those that are shaped like martinis, are a fun way to showcase your sense of humor in the bathroom. Or you can stick with the most popular option, the classic oval.
Bathroom sinks have the potential to be both functional and beautiful. The perfect place to display your design aesthetic, bathroom sinks come in a myriad of finishes and shapes. The installation type of the sink and the faucet it is paired with are the final decisions that can change the entire look of the bathroom. Choose the sink that is best for your lifestyle, and your sink can last for life.