When choosing a new bathroom sink, one of the first considerations is what material it should be made from. Bathroom sinks come in a wide range of materials, each with its own characteristics, benefits, drawbacks, maintenance needs, and costs. Here is an overview of the most common materials used to construct bathroom sinks.
6 key insights about bathroom sink materials
- Porcelain is an extremely durable and stain-resistant material that makes an affordable, easy-to-clean bathroom sink. It’s lightweight yet strong, making it suitable for various mounting styles.
- Enamel coating over cast iron or steel allows for durable, sanitary surfaces combined with the strength of metal construction. This allows enamel sinks to be molded into seamless, one-piece designs.
- Stainless steel is naturally germ and odor resistant. It stands up well to heavy use and cleaning chemicals without staining. Stainless steel is suitable for contemporary or traditional bathroom designs.
- Natural stones like marble, granite, and travertine can provide an elegant, high-end look. However, the stone is porous and requires yearly sealing and care to prevent stains. Hiring a pro is advised.
- Manufactured solid surface materials allow for molded, seamless sink and countertop combinations. They are durable, stain-resistant, and available in many colors and realistic stone patterns.
- Glass vessel sinks make a dramatic style statement when lit from below. The nonporous glass strongly resists stains and germs. However, glass can shatter when subjected to blunt force unless tempered.
Porcelain, sometimes called vitreous china, is a ceramic that has been fired at high temperatures to create a nonporous, glossy, and extremely hard surface. This makes porcelain ideal for bathroom sinks, as it is smooth, stain resistant, and easy to clean.
Porcelain bathroom sinks are affordable, lightweight, and readily available from home improvement stores, plumbing supply retailers, and online sellers. Major brands offer sinks across a range of styles, including under-mount, vessel, wall-mount, pedestal, corner, and more. Porcelain is an ideal material for these various mounting options because it is lightweight yet durable.
While resistant to stains, scratches, and fading, porcelain can chip if subjected to a heavy impact from a sharp object. Avoid dropping heavy items into a porcelain sink. Use only non-abrasive cleaners, and be aware that any products safe for a porcelain toilet are also safe for a porcelain sink.
Ceramic sinks, including both porcelain and fired clay, provide a versatile, durable, and affordable option. Ceramics is an impervious material that resists staining, chipping, and wear. It’s easy to clean with just mild detergent. Ceramic sinks come in many styles and colors to fit any bathroom décor. While durable, ceramic can chip if subjected to heavy impact from sharp objects. Avoid abrasive cleaners that could scratch the glossy surface. Overall, ceramic is a practical, inexpensive, and readily available bathroom sink material.
Enamel Over Cast Iron or Steel
Many vintage sinks are made of cast iron or steel coated in a glass-like enamel. This combines the sanitary, stain-resistant porcelain surface with the strength and durability of metal construction.
Enamel bathroom sinks are affordable, readily available, and come in styles like self-rimming drop-ins, under-mount, wall-hung, pedestals, and corner models. The heavy material allows enamel sinks to be formed into seamless one-piece designs not possible with lighter materials.
While durable, enamel can chip if subjected to sharp impact. Any damage to the enamel exposes the metal below to rust and corrosion. Avoid abrasive cleaners that dull the glossy enamel shine.
Known for durability, stain resistance, and ease of maintenance, stainless steel is a popular material for kitchen sinks. But it can also be an excellent choice for bathroom sinks.
Stainless steel resists odor, mold, and mildew. It stands up well to scrubbing and harsh cleaning chemicals. Stainless steel bathroom sinks are affordable and lightweight, and complement a range of design styles from traditional to modern.
Caution should be used with stainless steel to avoid scratches. Do not allow steel wool pads, cookware, or appliances to touch the surface for extended periods, as they can leave rust spots. Clean regularly with gentle soap, rinse thoroughly, and dry completely to prevent water spots. Consider a stainless steel cleaner and polisher to keep the finish looking new.
Solid surface materials like cultured marble or Corian are popular for molding into seamless one-piece sink and countertop combinations. Available in a wide range of colors and realistic stone patterns, solid surface bathroom sinks feature integrated basins and smooth, sloped contours that make cleaning easy.
As manufactured composites of resins, minerals, and pigments, solid surface sinks resist stains, scratches, and moisture damage. Prices are mid-range, about the same as natural stone. Maintenance is simple – just clean with mild detergent and avoid abrasive scouring pads that can dull the finish.
For a high-end, luxury bathroom sink, it’s hard to beat the beauty of natural stone. Materials like granite, marble, travertine, onyx, and soapstone can be sculpted into elegant vessels, wall-mount, pedestals, and under-mount sinks. Each stone sink has an organic, one-of-a-kind look, with natural veining, pits, and color variations.
Stone sinks are quite strong, but being porous, they can stain and etch from prolonged exposure to acids. Annual sealing is required to protect the surface. Use only non-abrasive cleaners, and avoid letting soap, mineral deposits, and cleaning products sit on the surface. Stone sinks are moderately difficult for DIY installation, so professional fabrication and mounting are recommended.
For a contemporary bathroom sink with dazzling visual appeal, hand-blown glass vessels are a top choice. When lit from below, the colored, swirled, and molten-looking glass makes a bold design statement. Glass sinks are also available as seamless one-piece countertops with integrated basins.
As a nonporous material, glass strongly resists stains, odors, and germs. It is easy to clean with any normal bathroom cleaner. However, glass is breakable if subjected to blunt force or severe temperature extremes. These sinks are moderately difficult for DIY installation, so hire a pro if you lack experience. Prices range from affordable to high-end.
Copper and Bronze
The warm, golden shine of copper and bronze adds a touch of luxury and old-world charm to a bathroom sink. Available as hammered copper vessels or cast bronze drop-ins, these sinks develop a unique patina over time. Copper and bronze have natural antimicrobial properties to inhibit germs and odor. They are durable against cracks, chips, and dents despite being lightweight metals.
Frequent polishing is needed at first to maintain the shine of copper and bronze sinks, but over time they develop a darker patina and need less routine maintenance. Avoid abrasive scouring pads and harsh chemicals that can scratch the surface. Use a soft cloth and mild detergent for regular cleaning.
For a natural, organic look, a wood sink can infuse a bathroom with rustic charm. Durable, water-resistant woods like teak are common, as are artfully live-edged slabs with bark still attached. The smooth polished or naturally textured wood grains make each sink unique.
Since wood is porous, regular sealing is required to prevent water damage, warping, and stains. Use only gentle cleaners without harsh chemicals. Avoid letting water pool. The organic nature of wood means some minor splits and cracks may develop. Wood sinks run from affordable to high-end prices.
For an edgy, ultra-contemporary look, concrete bathroom sinks are growing in popularity. Concrete vessels and seamless one-piece concrete countertops with integrated basins have an urban, industrial vibe. Concrete can be molded into any shape and tinted with pigments or decorative aggregates like glass shards.
Concrete is highly durable and impact resistant. The porous material needs regular sealing to prevent stains. Use only pH-neutral cleaners – nothing acidic. Concrete bathroom sinks run mid-range to high in cost. They are difficult for DIYers to fabricate and install without expertise.
Resin bathroom sinks offer the look of natural stone at a lower cost. Made from a blend of polyurethane resins and minerals, the resin can realistically mimic the veining, swirls, and translucency of marble and onyx. Seamless resin countertops with integrated basins are also available.
As a nonporous material, resin strongly resists stains, scratches, and moisture damage. It is easy to clean with just soap and water. Resin sinks generally cost about the same as mid-grade natural stone but are more durable and lower maintenance.
For an eco-friendly bathroom sink material, bamboo is a great renewable resource choice. Bamboo sinks can have a polished modern look or a textural, live-edged rustic style. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial and resistant to water damage.
Bamboo sink maintenance is similar to wood, requiring gentle cleaners and periodic resealing to prevent stains. Prices range from budget to high-end. Bamboo is more resistant to splits and cracks than solid wood but still requires care to prevent damage.
Bathroom sinks are available in a diverse range of materials to fit any design style and budget. Consider both visual appeal and practical factors like durability, ease of cleaning, maintenance needs, and costs when choosing a new sink material. Many materials like porcelain, stainless steel, and solid surfaces offer great versatility for various sink mounting styles. More delicate or porous materials may require extra care or professional installation.
- Copper and bronze add a touch of luxury and vintage appeal. These metals develop a unique patina over time. They have antimicrobial properties and resist dents and cracks despite being lightweight. Frequent polishing is needed to maintain the shine.
- Concrete allows very modern, sculptural sink designs, but requires sealing to prevent stains. Concrete is durable and impact-resistant, but is a challenging DIY material – professional fabrication and installation are best.
- Resin provides the look of natural stone at a lower cost, with more durability and less maintenance. Seamless resin countertops with integrated basins are available.
- Bamboo is a renewable, eco-friendly material option. It has a naturally antimicrobial surface that resists water damage. Gentle care similar to wood is required.
The wide range of sink materials caters to diverse design tastes and budgets. Considering the practical traits of each material will help homeowners select the best fit for their needs and bathroom style.