Buying A Vessel Sink? Read This First!

Photo © TradeWinds Imports

Vessel sinks used to be exclusive designer picks back before the style caught fire in the late 2000's.  These attention-grabbing lavs are still hugely popular and can be a great option for any homeowner seeking to add some eye candy to their bathroom. 

By definition, a vessel sink is a basin that sits on top of a vanity countertop, as compared to the traditional "drop-in" under mount sink. Glass and ceramic are the most common materials used to make vessel sinks,  but there are plenty of exotic finishes such as natural stone, stainless steel, copper, marble and even wood.


If you've done any research, you've probably heard mixed reviews about vessel sinks. Here are the facts to help you decide if this style is right for you:

The Pros

  • Style —Probably the biggest plus of a vessel sink is its "wow factor." Vessel sinks in the bathroom is a fairly recent trend; it's not something you see in every bathroom. A well-chosen design dresses your bathroom like a good piece of jewelry.
  • Installation—Vessel sinks are much easier to install than traditional under-mounted sinks.  All you have to do is cut a small hole (about 1 5/8") in your countertop. You can do this yourself and hold on to the extra money you would have otherwise spent paying a contractor. 
  • Flexibility—Because they are easy to install, you can swap out your vessel sink when you want to update your bathroom with a new look. 
  • Increased Counter Space—Although it's not much, you do gain a bit more space beneath the ridge of the sink where an under mount sink would typically sit. This is great when you have a small vanity.
  • Aesthetics—Vessel sinks can make the room feel bigger and here's why: Typically, you'll choose a vanity that's a few inches shorter to accommodate the extra height of the vessel. This increases the space between the countertop and the ceiling, giving the illusion that your ceiling is taller. 
  • Plumbing—Because your vessel sink is "on display," you'll probably be extra careful about keeping it pristine, and that means cleaning up hair and other debris before it can clog your drain. 

    The Cons

    • Short-Lived Fad—Just as they are considered to be stylish and modern, there are some who say that vessel sinks will soon become a thing of the past.
    • Height Concerns—A vessel sink can be too high for children and shorter adults if you don't plan appropriately. Vessel styles work best when mounted on a vanity that is 31" tall. (Standard vanities range from 32" to 36"). On the other hand, mounting on a standard vanity can be a back-saver for taller individuals!   
    • Cleaning—Vessel sinks can sometimes be tricky to clean. For one, the area where the sink's base meets the countertop can be hard to reach. If you're choosing a glass vessel, keep in mind that that see fingerprints and toothpaste marks will be more visible from the exterior of the basin. 
    • Stability—Because the mounting area is just a small hole, your vessel lav may not be as stable as an under mount sink, which makes contact with the countertop along its entire rim. 
    • Durability—Vessel sinks are more prone to cracks, not necessarily because they're made of glass or bamboo, but because of their inherent design. The exposed edge is just naturally more vulnerable to damage. In any case, it's a very rare occurrence. 
    • No Overflow Drain—Most glass vessel sinks are not available with overflow drains, which means that water will drain a bit slower when the basin is full. However, there are porcelain vessel sinks that do come with overflow drains.

      Cheryl Michelle Khan is a designer and writer at Tradewinds Imports, an online specialty site dedicated to retailing fine bathroom furnishings. She has extensive knowledge about all the finer details that go into planning the perfect bath renovation project and is an expert in all things bathroom! Send her your bathrooms Q's on Twitter @SuperInteriors!