The art of sink selection
By Parniian Frozan
An essential fixture that’s often overlooked, the bathroom sink can make a statement when it’s best suited to the space. From size, to shape, to mounting type, these key features can make for a functional yet eye catching ceramic piece. Read on to learn how to choose the best bathroom sink for your client and what characteristics to keep in mind when specifying a new one.
Whether you are replacing an existing sink or installing a new one, start the search for the perfect sink with a measuring tape. If replacing a sink, measure the length, width, and depth of the existing basin to know the appropriate dimensions. If starting from scratch, measure the available space for the vanity, floating sink, or console, while also assessing traffic flow and access to a water supply, to understand size and location limitations. When looking at different sink sizes, it’s also important to consider the bathroom dimensions − a luxuriously large basin in a small bathroom could create a disproportionate and unbalanced design.
Once you have an idea of size, it’s time to look at the different mounting types offered for bathroom sinks. With so many options available, this is a breakdown of the more popular sink types and their benefits.
- Undermount: These sinks sit under the countertop for a seamless, fresh aesthetic. One of the more popular and common sinks, this mounting style is ideal for busy families as it’s easy to clean. When looking at undermount sinks, it’s essential to assess the countertop material as undermount sinks require a solid surface countertop (like stone) so it can be sealed against moisture.
- Above-counter or vessel sink: These sinks sit atop the counter to create drama and a focal point in the bathroom. Suitable with most countertop materials, these sinks are versatile and easy to install for a more cost-efficient option. Most above-counter sinks can also be used as a wall-mounted sink for variety and flexibility. However, because these sinks add substantial height, they require homeowners to be mindful of the vanity and console height for comfortable use.
- Wall mount: Just as the name suggests, these sinks are mounted directly on to the wall without the need of a vanity or console to support it. By eliminating heavy furniture, these floating sinks help to save space and make the room appear larger with more floor real estate, while also allowing for wheelchair-friendly configurations. However, this open concept provides less storage and counter space, and also requires plumbing to be arranged behind the wall or concealed by a wall hung shroud for a cleaner look.
- Pedestal: A more traditional sink-type, pedestal sinks are another option for smaller bathrooms that are limited in space. Their column-like design conceals pipework for an uncluttered aesthetic and optimizes floor space for efficiency. However, the limited counter space is more susceptible to water spillage. The drain for a pedestal sink would be the same as most other sinks. The p-trap is hidden by the pedestal leg and enters the wall directly below the pedestal top.
Design style and shape
As home decor styles have evolved, so have the forms and shapes of a bathroom sink. Just like a bathroom faucet or vanity, a sink can help exude a particular design style using certain shapes and features to help create a cohesive look. For example, a round or oval sink with organic curves offers a more contemporary design, while square and geometric sinks appear more modern. For a classic and traditional bathroom, look for faceted edges and rims to add ornate details throughout the space.
A bathroom faucet and sink not only have to look good together, but they have to function in tandem. When shopping for a bathroom sink, keep in mind the current or future faucet so the sink’s pre-drilled holes can match the faucet configuration. There are three sink options based on faucet types: single-hole for single-handle faucets, 8 in. with three-holes for widespread faucets, and 4 in. with three-holes for centre set faucets. Oftentimes, a single-handle faucet can also be installed on a three-hole sink using an escutcheon or cover plate to conceal the unused holes. Vessel sinks and undermount sinks likely don’t require pre-drilled holes if the faucet is mounted on the countertop, but they still have their own faucet needs. Vessel sinks for instance are often paired with a high spout faucet, and shallower undermount sinks may need a low-spout faucet to avoid over splash.
Today’s bathroom sinks are now offered in a variety of materials that can make a grand statement in the bathroom, but depending on lifestyle and plans for the space, certain materials may be better suited for the bathroom than others. Porcelain is a popular option for bathroom sinks as it is durable and often glazed with a protective coating for quality appearance and easy maintenance. Metal, cast iron, stone, and glass can all be moulded into a basin of varying sizes and shapes, but are more vulnerable and need a higher level of care. Copper sinks for example require a special cleaner and wax, while glass is delicate and easy to crack. If looking at unique material options for the sink, check the installation and maintenance requirements to ensure it’s the best fit.
Parniian Frozan is a senior brand manager with Lixil Water Technologies Canada