What material is best for a bathroom sink?
Most pedestal and wall-hung sinks are made from vitreous china, and the same qualities that make this material a good choice for toilets also work well for sinks: a durable, abrasion-resistant surface that’s easy to clean. to clean that maintains its shine year after year. after a year. Choose vitreous china sinks, especially pedestal sinks, carefully, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the brand, because any ceramic manufacturing process produces a large number of seconds that can have flaws ranging from minor blemishes or depressions in the surface. to hairline cracks and collapsed or warped contact surfaces. This can mean self-rim drop-in sinks that don’t sit flat (particularly the larger ones) and two-piece pedestals that just don’t fit together properly.
Enameled cast iron has most of the good qualities of vitreous china and is much less prone to cracking. Cast iron is strong, stiff, and quiet when water runs into it, though it can splinter if mishandled during shipping or dropped by a hammer during installation. Cast iron sinks are very heavy, which may not make much of a difference to smaller vanity sinks, but can make it difficult to handle larger sinks in the back.
Enamelled steel is similar to enameled cast iron but considerably lighter and cheaper. It is much more likely to chip than enameled cast iron because its porcelain coating is thinner and the steel is more flexible. The water running into it also makes more noise and cools down more quickly because the thin steel walls tend to dissipate heat quite quickly. Previously a low-budget alternative to porcelain and cast iron, enameled steel appears to be rapidly losing ground to synthetic materials that are competitively priced and perform just as well, if not better. I’ve removed a few of these sinks in remodels, but haven’t put any new ones back in lately.
Cultured marble is one such synthetic material and has been around for a long time. Cultured marble, like cultured onyx and cultured granite, is technically a molten polymer, created by mixing crushed minerals such as marble, onyx, or limestone with a polyester resin. This mixture is then poured into a mold and cured at room temperature. Like fiberglass, the surface is usually gel coated in the actual color and pattern of the sink, so some cast polymer sinks are prone to scratching and damage. A problem often associated with molten polymer sinks is “cracking” or cracks and blisters in the gel layer. This usually occurs around the drain opening and is caused by thermal shock from alternating hot and cold water, abrasion from cleaning, and/or a gel coat that is too thin or too thick. Much of the market for low-end and DIY sinks has been dominated by these sinks, in part because they are relatively inexpensive and look good on the shelf. Some of the newer and more expensive polymer melts have a higher percentage of materials like quartz, which is very hard, and are not gel coated. These molten polymers are much more resistant to heat and impact and can be sanded, making it easier to repair damage.
Solid surface materials such as Corian and Surell are similar to cultured marble in that they can also be cast into one-piece sinks/countertops that are easily cleaned. They have the advantage of having colors and patterns that are an integral part of the material, so repairs can be made simply by sanding out dents and scratches, and non-porous synthetics are stain resistant (although not stain proof). . Single sinks are also available, although these are usually laminated to larger countertops of the same material. Expect to pay much more for solid surface sinks than cultured marble.
Ceramic earthenware bowls offer a colorful and organic alternative to mass-produced sinks. Because they are handmade, these sinks have irregularities that sometimes make fitting them correctly a real challenge, especially those made outside of the United States. Often these sinks do not have an overflow, a secondary outlet to the drain to prevent a clogged sink from flooding, which is sometimes required by local building codes. And because they are somewhat fragile, they require careful installation to get everything to fit together snugly enough that they don’t leak, but not so tight that they break the container.
But they do add a personalized touch to a bathroom, especially when paired with tiles of the same ceramic.
Stainless steel sinks have long been popular in the kitchen, and their somewhat industrial look sometimes lends itself well to bathrooms as well. They are certainly durable and easy to clean. There is a wide range of qualities in stainless steel sinks, with their corresponding price range. The best ones have a higher percentage of chromium and nickel, making them more resistant to stains and corrosion, and are usually made from 18-gauge stainless steel, which makes them stronger and gives them a higher shine. Less expensive sinks feel flimsier because they’re made of lighter 22-gauge steel (or less); they have a duller finish, tend to be noisy, and tend to warp.
Metal sinks are also available in brass, copper, aluminum, and bronze. Sometimes these sinks are mass-produced, but more often than not the more esoteric ones are handmade, and the same reservations apply here as apply to ceramic sinks. Like handmade ceramic sinks, metal sinks can be tricky to install and sometimes require some modification to accommodate plumbing and fixtures. Tempered glass sinks are also available in several distinctive styles, including a countertop-mounted sink.