A Homeowner’s Guide To Vessel Bathroom Sinks

Still quite popular, vessel bathroom sinks can add a touch of elegance and drama to any bath or powder room.

It seems like vessel sinks are absolutely everywhere — in restaurants, hotels and even your neighbor’s main-floor bathroom. And we can understand why. Bridging the gap between practicality and fashion, vessel sinks are on-the-counter saucers that shake up the notion of what a sink should look like and how it should function.

What Is a Vessel Sink?

A vessel sink is a bowl-shaped container that rests atop the bathroom vanity or counter, unlike the traditional sink style, which is recessed below the surface. Reminiscent of Victorian-era washbasins, the modern vessel sink has a drain that connects with the plumbing below. It’s usually fed water through wall-mounted or deck-mounted faucets.

Types of vessel sinks

A style standout, a vessel sink can be the centerpiece of a bathroom. Make sure it complements the room’s overarching design and fits your family’s lifestyle.

Installation options

  • Over-mounted. Rests on top of the vanity or bathroom counter.
  • Semi-recessed. This kind rests partly above the countertop and partly beneath it.

Size

Vessel sink sizes vary, and your choice will depend on how you intend to use the sink. Are you looking for a vessel sink just big enough to wash your hands and face? Or do you want one that can handle hand-washing clothes?

The average round sink is between 16 and 20 inches in diameter, while rectangular sinks can measure 18 to 24 inches in width. Depths run from five to eight inches.

Shape

Selecting a shape involves personal preference as well as the available space. The choices:

  • Round;
  • Oval;
  • Square;
  • Rectangular;
  • Triangular (to fit into corners).

What Are Vessel Bathroom Sinks Made Of?

A wide range of water-resilient materials are commonly used:

  • Porcelain or ceramic;
  • Composite (a combo of substances);
  • Metal (copper, nickel, bronze, stainless steel);
  • Natural stone or marble;
  • Concrete;
  • Glass;
  • Wood.

What Do Vessel Bathroom Sinks Cost?

Because vessel sinks can be mounted on various surfaces and the plumbing work is simple, they can be relatively inexpensive. Check your local retail hardware store or home improvement center. Expect to pay between $80 and $300 for a straightforward model, largely in line with the cost of traditional drop-in sinks.

If you’re looking for a unique or designer basin, we recommend shopping online. You’ll enjoy a larger selection and be more likely to find one at a competitive price. What will you pay for opulence? Frankly, the sky’s the limit.

Vessel Bathroom Sink Pros and Cons

Despite their popularity, vessel sinks aren’t for everyone. Before you commit, here are the things to think about.

Pros

  • Makes a bold design statement;
  • Suited for large and small bathrooms;
  • Available in a range of shapes, sizes and materials;
  • Easy to install and change.

Cons

  • Water splashes over sides;
  • Tendency to overflow;
  • Require special faucets and hardware;
  • Prone to chipping, cracking and leaking;
  • Not ideal for small children; you may need to provide a safe step for them so they can reach;
  • May not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

“On the whole, though, I’m a fan of vessel sinks,” says Tanya Klien, the CEO of Anta Plumbing. “They’re the best way to freshen up your bathroom without spending a fortune.”

How To Install Vessel Bathroom Sinks

“As a plumber, I probably shouldn’t say this,” Klien says. “But if you have some basic fix-it skills and tools, there are several plumbing jobs you can DIY. Vessel sink installation is a job that can be great for an experienced DIYer.”

Vessel sinks can, theoretically, be installed by one person. That’s because vessel sinks are easy to lift onto the counter, line up with the drain hole and attach without a lot of complicated fanfare.

Before buying a vessel sink, be certain to measure the vanity or counter to make sure it’s the right height and width. It’s also a good idea to secure the appropriate type of taps, mounting ring (especially crucial for transparent glass sinks) and other hardware you’ll need to complete the project before you start.

Note: An over-mounted sink can add six inches or more to the counter height depending on the sink you choose, so plan accordingly.

For a one-of-a-kind bathroom vanity, it can be fun to swap out a store-bought cabinet with a vintage dresser, second-hand desk or old table. Nearly any piece of furniture can be modified to accommodate a vessel sink.

If you decide to use wood as your countertop material, don’t forget to apply several coats of polyurethane to seal and protect the surface from water. For painted cabinets, we recommend mildew-resistant paint.

Up for installing a new vessel sink over a weekend or two? Here are the basic tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench;
  • Pliers;
  • Hack saw;
  • Caulk gun;
  • Silicone adhesive;
  • Bucket;
  • Towel.

Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.