Bathroom Sink 101(page 1 of 2)

Learn about the rainbow of styles and finishes so you pick a sink that's right for you


Bathroom sinks come in a range of possibilities, from simple, functional bowls to complete ensembles with integrated cabinets and countertops. Sometimes called "lavatories," bathroom sinks are a designer's dream, with styles that are quietly practical or wildly artistic, with prices to match.

Sinks come pre-drilled to fit various faucet configurations or undrilled for custom faucet installations.

Sink Materials

Bathroom sinks primarily are made from vitreous china and enameled cast-iron. Sturdy, heavy and durable, sinks made from these time-tested materials are built to last. Other materials include enameled steel, tempered glass, stone, wood, acrylic and solid surface.

China and enameled surfaces come in an array of colors to match most décor. Glass sinks show off swirled and textured surfaces with vivid colors or opaque, smoky whites and blacks. Metal sinks in stainless steel, copper, and bronze feature a variety of finishes, from smooth-as-silk polishes to rustic, hand-hammered textures. Sinks made of acrylic are famously contemporary and neon-colored.

Prices run the budget gamut, starting at $100 and soaring to well over $5,000.

Sink Types

Pedestal sinks have a basin perched atop a long stem or pedestal that rests on the floor. The pedestal conceals the water supply and drain pipes. Because the bowl itself offers little space for items, such as soaps and shaving equipment, compact pedestal sinks are often integrated with cabinets and shelves in half-baths. Their generally graceful appearance makes them a designer's favorite.

Architectural salvage stores are usually well-stocked with older pedestal sinks that feature one-of-a-kind designs at a modest price.

Consoles are sink basins supported by legs. The space between the legs can be fitted with shelves and bars for hanging towels and wash cloths.

Wall-hung sinks are similar to pedestal sinks—without the pedestal. They're mounted directly to wall surfaces and have a contemporary look. Some have decorative shrouds that conceal plumbing pipes. The open space underneath a wall-hung sink is ideal for those in wheelchairs.

Countertop lavatories are low-slung units with shallow bowls. Some sit entirely on top of the counter surface—bowl and all—and some have bowls that extend slightly below the countertop surface. Close cousins include vessel and integrated sinks.

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