A generation ago the bathroom was by convention a white oval made to drop into a plastic laminate countertop, or it was a simple console table on slender chrome legs.
Although you can still buy those old standards, you also will find sinks that look like washbasins, under mounts that complement countertops of natural stone or concrete, sculptural pedestals, and even sinks that don’t look like sinks at all.
Not including cost, there are two key considerations in shopping for a new sink: what type of sink works best in your Southbay home and what material it’s made from.
A good place to start your decision-making is with the type of sink you like -- a slender pedestal sink in a small bathroom if countertop storage isn’t a concern, or perhaps a beefy console with heavy legs and a curvaceous deck in a bathroom with more space.
Also, consider the other bathroom fixtures you would like to put in your bathroom.
In terms of aesthetics, under mount sinks won’t dominate a room, but above-counter “vessel” sinks are often a visual focal point.
Beyond surface appearance you need to choose a sink for its durability.
Cast iron and solid-surface sinks may not be flashy, but they will perform tirelessly with very little care. Stone and custom concrete sinks have a look and texture totally unlike glass; they also promise greater durability.
Self-rimming, or drop-in, sinks were at one time the most popular type of sink. Their simple form and low price made them the norm in most bathrooms, particularly those with laminate countertops, where the sink hides the edge of the hole in the countertop.
Basic versions of this sink are still a stock item at most home centers and bath showrooms, but higher-end self-rimming sinks can complement even very formal bathrooms.
One disadvantage of this sink type is that the rim makes it a little more difficult to keep the countertop clean. There’s also the potential for water damage.
When properly caulked, the seam between countertop and sink won’t pose any maintenance problems, but should that seal fail water can seep into the seam and cause damage to the underlying substrate.
Pedestals and Consoles
Pedestals and console tables combine the sink basin with a countertop. These sinks have at least two advantages over other types. They take up less floor space than a conventional cabinet so they don’t crowd smaller bathrooms and powder rooms, and they’re somewhat easier to keep clean than a vanity with a drop-in sink because there’s no seam between the sink bowl and the top.
But their lack of bathroom storage is also their chief disadvantage. They generally don’t offer much room for parking toiletries, and when this becomes an inconvenience they have to be paired with a nearby cupboard, a medicine chest, or even a broad shelf on the wall.
Both types come in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles, and in several heights and bowl sizes. Although basic pedestals can be among the least expensive options for a bathroom sink, high-end console tables that combine a glass bowl and table can be pricey.
Like bathroom vanities, pedestal sinks and console tables are now available in heights that approach the kitchen counter standard of 36 in., making them more comfortable for taller people.
Undermount sinks have a seamless, contemporary look, and have at least one practical advantage over conventional self-rimming sinks: Counters can be swept clean without worrying about a protruding lip.
Undermount sinks are often a more expensive option than self-rimming sinks, however, and they are not compatible with all countertop materials. There’s no practical way, for example, of joining a plastic laminate top and an under mount sink because the raw edges of the particleboard or plywood countertop substrate would be left exposed.
If, on the other hand, the countertop is concrete or solid surfacing, sink and counter can be made as one, completely eliminating the seam.
Wall-mounted sinks are available in surprising variety, from massive antique fixtures with integral backsplashes to elegant wood sinks make for very contemporary settings.
These sinks have the same advantage as pedestals in that they don’t take up very much floor space, and they make cleaning even easier because there’s nothing on the floor to interfere with a mop or boom.
Wall-mounted sinks also share the major weaknesses of pedestals and console tables -- a lack of room for toiletries.
They also require substantial bracing.
If you decide you want one, even walls that are in very good shape will have to be disassembled during a remodel so additional framing can be installed.
Above-counter sinks are more commonly known as “vessel sinks”, and have a resemblance to washbasins that sat on bureaus in the days before modern bathrooms.
Vessel sinks are made in various materials, from vitreous china to bronze and glass, and thus range considerably in price.
The beauty of a vessel sink is that it’s so dramatic, making it a powerful design element in any bathroom.
Because its edges stand well above counter height, though, this type of sink may not seem so handy in actual use.
And whereas the materials used to make these sinks are often stronger than they look, thin, exposed edges will be more susceptible to damage than sinks that are reinforced by a countertop.
Yes, there are plenty of options to choose from, but weighing your bathroom sink options doesn’t have to give you a headache.
Take your time and really think about what type of bathroom sink you want...and just take it from there.
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