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What is a vessel sink?
A vessel sink is a basin that sits on top of a bathroom vanity, as opposed to your traditional inset sink. They add style and sophistication to any bathroom. In the past, vessel sinks were considered an exclusive, high-end designer product that only few could afford. With their surge in popularity, vessel sinks have become more widely available at any price point so that anyone can enjoy the look of a vessel sink.
However, a vessel sink comes with its own set of challenges and requires a lot of thoughtful planning. What are the pros and cons to vessel sinks? How high should a vanity be with a vessel sink? How high should faucets be above a vessel sink? Read more to find the answers to all of these questions!
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Pros and Cons of Vessel Sinks
Style: Vessel sinks are a status symbol of luxury and sophistication. They instantly add elegance and charm to your bathroom and definitely give it that “wow” factor.
Installation: Since vessel sinks sit on top of the vanity, installation is easier because you can avoid costly and difficult sink cut-outs. You need to only cut one hole for the drain.
Flexibility: Because vessel sinks sit on top of the vanity, they are not stuck in place like inset sinks are and can be changed out relatively easily. This is even more true considering that installation is fairly easy, as well. Vessel sinks are thus a great idea to consider in a bathroom remodel.
Space: Although not much, you gain a little bit more counter space with a vessel sink. On the other hand, one could argue that having a sink that is “on display” takes up more space.
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Durability: Because the basin is exposed, your sink is more prone to chipping, cracking, and breakage, especially at the edges.
Cleaning: Vessel sinks are more difficult to clean, especially at the bottom of the basin where the sink meets the countertop. Moreover, stains and other marks will be more visible simply because the basin is showing and exposed. Since cleaning the back and base of the vessel sink can be tricky, make sure to leave enough room between the sink and the wall during installation.
Stability: A vessel sink won’t be as stable as an inset sink because it is only secured and mounted by a small hole. You can add greater basin stability by opting for a recessed vessel sink (more on that later).
Splashing: A common problem that people complain about with vessel sinks is splashing. We will touch more on this problem later.
Overflow: Most vessel sinks do not come with overflow drains, which means that water will drain a bit more slowly and is more likely to overflow, especially considering that vessel sinks are typically more shallow and prone to splashing.
Designed by Bria Hammel Interiors
As you can see, vessel sinks come with their pros and cons. If you want the look and style of a vessel sink but are worried about the impracticalities, consider placing a vessel sink in decorative, lower-traffic bathrooms, like powder rooms or guest bathrooms.
What kinds of vessel sinks are there?
Vessel sinks come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and materials, such as ceramic, glass, stone, copper, marble, wood, and steel. Ceramic and glass vessel sinks are the most popular and common types. Of course, each material comes with its pros and cons. Some materials will be harder to maintain than others and will be more prone to breakage or staining, like clear glass, wood, and stone.
Vessel sinks come in various colors, shapes, and sizes. The most common and popular is the white vessel sink. A round vessel sink has a more organic, playful look, while a square or rectangular vessel sink has a more forceful, commanding presence and impact.
Vessel sinks work in a variety of spaces and aesthetics, but are most commonly found in more modern spaces. Vessel sinks are often the focal point of a bathroom vanity, so you want to have a countertop that won’t distract from it or clash with it.
Designed by Regan Baker Design
Perfect for Small Bathrooms
This is precisely the reason why vessel sinks work great in simple bathrooms or with smaller vanities, although that may seem counterintuitive. Because they have such a huge impact, they instantly take a simple, plain bathroom or vanity from boring and bland to beautiful and breathtaking. They create a high impact in small bathrooms for those who have limited space.
Above and Below Counter
Additionally, you can choose between an above or below counter installation for your vessel sink. An above-counter installation means that the vessel sink will rest completely on top of the vanity and the hole that is drilled into the countertop is only big enough for the drain. This is the most common type of installation. A below-counter, or recessed, installation means that the sink basin will partially rest into the countertop. A larger drain hole is cut to make room for the basin. This type of installation allows for greater stability.
Designed by Regan Baker Design
How high should my bathroom vanity be?
With a traditional sink, all you have to think about is the vanity height. With a vessel sink, you have to factor in the height of your sink to the height of your vanity. Since vessel sinks sit on top of the countertop, the vanity height needs to be lower than normal. If you do not account for your vessel sink when choosing a bathroom vanity, the basin will be too high and will be uncomfortable to use (especially for kids!).
There is actually no hard and fast rule for how high your bathroom vanity should be, because your ideal vanity height actually depends on the height or average height of all the users. While there are typical height ranges that you can refer to, it is ultimately up to you to figure out what height is optimal for you to use.
Calculate the ideal height of your vanity, and then factor in the height of your vessel sink to accommodate for the extra inches. In other words, add the height of your sink and adjust the vanity to fit the desired height. Standard bathroom vanities range from 32″-36″, so look for a vanity that is a few inches shorter than that to accommodate your vessel sink.
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Of course, with a vessel sink, you have to make further accommodations for your bathroom mirror, light fixtures, and any other decor. Going with a vessel sink requires more planning and measuring than going with a traditional sink.
How high should I place my faucet?
One of the most important things to consider when opting for a vessel sink is the height and placement of your faucet. The height and placement of your faucet is something you have to give a lot more thought into when going with a vessel sink because you need to accommodate for the higher rim and shallower basin. If the height of your faucet is incorrect, using your sink will be inconvenient because there will not be enough space between the faucet and the basin and there will be more splashing.
The faucet should be high enough so that there is at least six inches between the spout and the sink. There are two types of faucets that we particularly recommend for vessel sinks:
Vessel Sink Faucets
Vessel sink faucets are faucets specifically made for vessel sinks, meaning that they are tall enough to accommodate the high rim of a vessel sink. They thus take all of the fuss and worry out of having to find a coordinating faucet for your vessel sink. This is especially true if you go with a vessel sink and faucet set.
With vessel sink faucets, you do not have to worry about the height so much as you have to worry about the placement. Since vessel sink faucets can be placed anywhere around the perimeter of the vessel sink, you need to think carefully about where to position the faucet relative to the sink and in the space of your vanity. You should place your faucet so that the spout is directly over the drain or center of your basin. If it is not in the center of the basin, you are more likely to get splash back. The height AND placement of your faucet are thus critical to preventing splashing.
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Wall-mounted faucets are also a great option. They are faucets that are mounted to the wall instead of the counter, hanging over the sink. The same rules apply with height and placement. Make sure your wall-mounted faucet has at least six inches of space between the spout and the bottom of the basin. As with vessel sink faucets, make sure that the spout is directly over the drain or center of your basin. This is why most wall-mounted faucets come with long spouts.
Of course, having a professional install your sink and faucet is the best way to ensure that the placement is just right. In sum, vessel sinks are easy to install, but require planning.
Designed by Aimee Anderson Design
How can I prevent splashing in vessel sinks?
Aside from height and placement of your faucet (six inches of distance and right above the drain/center), the other thing you can do to prevent splashing in your vessel sink is to adjust the water pressure of your faucet. If your water pressure is too high, this can cause your faucet to pour out a heavy, harsh stream of water which can cause splashing. Another option is to get aerated faucets. Aerated faucets insert air bubbles into the stream to reduce the water pressure so that you get a light, airy, bubbly stream of flow as opposed to a hard stream of water. Aerated water faucets are thus great for vessel sinks.
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How do I take care of and maintain my vessel sink?
Vessel sinks need to be cared for properly, especially since the basin is exposed and therefore more visible as well as more prone to breakage. With proper care, your vessel sink will stay beautiful and withstand the test of time.
The first rule is to clean your vessel sink regularly in order to prevent permanent stains, spots, and rust. Make it a habit to wipe down your sink regularly. Being proactive and wiping away water spots at the end of each day can help prevent staining and only takes a few seconds. For cleaning on a regular basis, just water will suffice.
The second rule is to be gentle and to use the right cleaning products for regular and intensive cleaning. Use gentle, not abrasive, cloths, stay away from harsh cleaning products, and make sure to wipe away any traces of water and cleaning products. Since vessel sinks come in many different materials, it’s important to use products that are made for that material. For example, stone is more porous than glass, which means that it will stain more easily and that you need to be more careful about what cleaning products you use.
Lastly, sealing your vessel sink is a good idea and adds another layer of protection.
Designed by Molie Malone
Did we answer all your vessel sink questions? Comment below if we missed anything!