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Choosing A Bathroom Vessel Sink
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Choosing a Bathroom Vessel Sink
Bathroom design evolution has opened up a whole new world of sink choices.


By: Tricia

In the past you could almost be certain that upon entering any bathroom you would be greeted by a plain white porcelain or cast-iron sink. Those days are long gone. Today, you have choice, not only of materials but also of color, texture and shape. The bathroom sink has become just as much of a piece of art as the elegant works featured at the Louvre in Paris.

Vessel sinks can easily be considered the most elegant style of bathroom sink available today, but the honest truth is that vessel sinks are really just a new spin on an old world invention, the wash basin. Wash basins were a common item in the homes of 18th and 19th century society; they were essentially a common porcelain bowl placed atop a counter or table and filled with warm soapy water. The core idea has not changed, they are still bowl like objects that are mounted on a bathroom countertop but they now feature integrated drains to allow water to empty. This definitely beats having to pick up the basin and dump it out when it gets full!

It is proven that the vanity area is the focal point of the bathroom, so when constructing a new bathroom or renovating an old one the vanity, countertop, sink, mirror and related accessories require the most attention. If you are a discerning home owner who is looking to implement something trendy yet timeless in your new bathroom, then a vessel sink is surely for you. It is however important to mention the obvious disadvantage of vessel sinks, which is that they really are not ideal for family bathrooms where small children will need to use them. This is simply because of the extra height involved with a countertop deck mounted sink; a small child will likely not be able to reach up and into the bowl. However, if your bathroom is not shared with any small children and you want a truly unique, dare I say “art like”, centerpiece of a sink, then a vessel sink is still the right choice for you. Like any bathroom fixture there are a few decisions you need to make in order to narrow your choices.

The first thing to consider is the plumbing, but more specifically the faucet. Vessel sinks are mounted on top of the countertop deck, therefore a regular 4 or 5” high faucet simply will not do. Vessel sink faucets essentially come in two styles, wall mounted and deck mounted. The deck mounted faucets required for vessel sinks are quite tall, and usually feature some type of goose neck design which allows the faucet to reach above the edge of the vessel giving enough room for you to wash your hands. Deck mounted vessel faucets are the easiest to install because they simply require a hole in your countertop and can use the existing under counter plumbing. Wall mounted faucets however, require some preparation in advance. If you are building a new home or have completely demolished your old bathroom, a wall mounted faucet is definitely feasible. These faucets require hot and cold water lines to be run through your wall and above the level of the vessel sink basin, the faucet is then attached to the wall and reaches out towards the middle of the basin.

Now that you have sorted out the plumbing logistics, you can continue to the fun part; selecting your new vessel sink! Vessel sinks come in many shapes, sizes, colors and materials. The most popular materials are glass, stone, copper, ceramic and most recently, wood. Each of these materials has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Glass is by far the most popular vessel sink material. Glass vessel sinks are plentiful and can be found at many big box hardware stores as well as plenty of online vendors. Glass vessel sinks are available in thousands of different color combinations and many even feature printed images between the layers of glass. Glass vessel sinks are easy to clean and maintain which is a big advantage; however glass sinks are also fairly easy to break. Improper installation, over tightening of the drain, quick temperature changes or just a straight out impact could cause a glass vessel to crack or shatter. It is important to note that if you do select a glass vessel sink, make sure it is made of tempered glass because non tempered glass could definitely do some damage to you or your counter top if it ever shattered. The popularity of glass vessel sinks is directly related to their price. Handmade, blown custom glass sinks can surely cost between $1500 and $5000, but the more common variety that most retail stores and online vendors sell can be attained for a reasonable amount of between $200 and $500. This affordable price makes glass vessel sinks an option to just about everyone. I find that glass is not a warm or natural looking material, and the commonality of them is certainly not a benefit if you are trying to design a unique bathroom space.

Stone is likely tied with copper for the second most popular vessel sink material. There are many types of stone including granite, marble, travertine, onyx, soapstone and many others with granite, marble and travertine being the most popular. Stone vessel sinks are truly unique because each sink is hand carved from a single piece of natural stone, therefore there will never be two identical stone sinks. Natural materials such as stone emanate warmth and relaxation, almost giving a Zen like spa feeling to your bathroom. Stone sinks come in a variety of shapes with the most popular and most practical being the stone bowl. Many stone sinks are also available with a natural unfinished outer surface that resembles the natural chiseled surface of a stone cliff. Stone sinks provide a natural beauty to your bathroom, and will immediately catch the attention of anyone who enters. There are of course disadvantages to stone sinks, mainly that stone is a porous material which means it can absorb and hold water. Stone sinks have to be regularly cleaned to keep their finish looking beautiful. Granite and marble have to be sealed with a stone sealer solution at least once a year. Stone sinks, being natural, hand crafted works of art are definitely more expensive than their glass counterparts but certainly not unattainable. Stone sinks can typically be purchased for between $500 and $1000. Stone sinks are not something usually stocked by local hardware stores or design centers, although they may be able to order them. There are a handful of reputable online vendors who carry a good selection of natural stone sinks, including BathroomVesselSinks.com. BathroomVesselSinks.com carries a wide array of granite, marble and travertine sinks in a variety of shapes and sizes and they will surely have a beautiful basin that will fit in with your new bathroom décor.

Copper is yet another popular choice of sink material. Most copper sinks are “hand hammered” which means they are fabricated by and old world tradition which involves an artisan hammering a single sheet of copper into a desired shape. Copper sinks are usually created by small fabrication shops in Mexico and India where copper is most plentiful. The wonderfully unique feature of copper sinks is that they have a “living weathered finish”. Copper is a material that is constantly reacting to its environment. Factors such as moisture, temperature and water solids content all play a role in what a copper sink will eventually end up looking like. This phenomenon is typically known as the patina. Some will appreciate the natural evolving patina of copper where others want to keep their copper sink looking bright and glossy, like it was when they originally purchased it. You can slow or prevent the change of coppers evolving patina finish by using a copper wax solution or sealant. In addition, copper sinks require regular cleaning with a gentle soap and water solution and it is recommended that they are dried after every use. Leaving water standing in a copper sink may eventually lead to water spots or an uneven finish. The next factor to consider when looking at a copper sink is the general construction. The thickness of the copper sink is important, be sure to look for a 14-18 gauge construction (with the lower the gauge being the thicker material). A thin shelled construction will result in a tin like sound when the water from the faucet makes impact. In addition, copper vessel sinks are available in single walled or double walled configuration. The double walled construction lends to a beefier, more rigid sink, but they are also more expensive then their single walled counterparts. Copper vessel sinks can usually be purchased for between $400 and $800. BathroomVesselSinks.com offers a handful of exquisite copper vessel sinks in both single walled and double walled configuration.

Another common material used in vessel sink design is ceramic or porcelain. These materials are very much an extension of a plain white in-counter bathroom sink, providing little or no natural uniqueness. However, there are still many people who don’t have the desire to stray from the original design of a white ceramic sink. The clear advantage of a ceramic or porcelain vessel sink is that they are extremely easy to clean and are quite durable, but once again they are very plain if not boring looking. Porcelain and ceramic vessel sinks are very affordable and can be purchased for as little as $180 from local retailers and various sources online.

Wood is the last material to be discussed and is perhaps the most natural looking of all sink construction materials. Wood is a fairly recent trend in the bathroom fixture design industry; and it truly is striking. Tubs and vessel wash basins made of natural teak, mahogany, phoebe and birch are making their way into the ultra luxurious bathrooms of people looking for a spa like atmosphere inside of their home. Before you jump the gun and ask how wood can stay beautiful after regular exposure to water it is important to note that the wood that goes into making a wood sink is kiln dried before production to ensure little or no water content. In addition, wood sinks are specially treated with a natural varnish sealer much like what was used in the times of the European conquest on hulls of the great sailing ships. Wood vessel sinks, like stone, are naturally porous and require routine cleaning and maintenance. Wood sinks also require special pampering, not only are they recommended to be dried thoroughly after each use but also need to be polished with a hard-wax wood oil a few times a year to keep its natural brilliance. If you are willing to put forth the effort into caring for a wood sink, its natural warmth and relaxing beauty will surely be an equal tradeoff. Wood sinks are typically a higher end item, ranging in cost from $500 to $1000 for most basins but can cost up to five times more for custom designed pieces. A popular online vendor BathroomVesselSinks.com has a growing inventory of wood vessel sinks, at very affordable prices.

As you can see your choices are almost limitless, but it is important to weigh your options, consider all of the available vessel sink materials and determine how much maintenance work, if any, you are willing to put forth in keeping your vessel sink looking its finest. If price point is your driving factor, glass or ceramic vessel sinks are likely your best choice; however if you are willing to spend a little more on a stone, copper or wood bathroom vessel it will return the favor by providing years of warmth and serenity that can only be found in natural earth materials.


Tricia is the head of sales and marketing for BathroomVesselSinks.com – a leading online retailer of luxury vessel sinks made of natural stone, copper, glass, porcelain and more. The online retailer also offers numerous bathroom and kitchen fixtures and faucets. BathroomVesselSinks.com offers affordable and functional handcrafted works of art that are sure to please even the most discerning home owner. Tricia has written several articles oriented towards helping homeowners achieve their artistic vision within their home.

 

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