Bath Sinks – Choosing the Right Material

Amp up the Style of Your Powder Room

Replacing a bathroom basin is an effective way to freshen up the room without spending a lot of money. Most people tend to become smitten with the design of a sink first, and then they think about its functionality later. Unfortunately, as a consumer, that’s the opposite of what you should really be doing.

According to well informed modern bathroom designers, similar materials do perform comparably across many popular brands, so when you shop for bath basins, you should be more concerned about the permanence and functionality of the material than the manufacturer. Here is a list of what you need to know about the most common materials you’ll find on the market before finalizing your buying decision.

Enameled Cast Iron and Steel

Extremely durable, available in many colors and are easy to clean, the porcelain finish resists chipping but depending upon the size of the basin, its weight may require a reinforced countertop for support. You can however purchase a lighter and less expensive enamel on steel version. If you drop something heavy and pointy in the bowl, the enamel can be chipped or cracked which will eventually cause the metal underneath to rust but the chances of that happening in the bathroom is far and in between.

It should also be noted that enameled cast iron basins aren’t as durable as enameled steel at fighting stains and have a tendency of chipping when small five pound objects are dropped on it. One word of caution though, don’t be fooled by acrylic sinks that look similar to enamel because they scratch more easily and heat from a curling iron can be damaged by burning or discolouring the surface leaving a visible mark.

Viteous China or Standard Porcelain

One and the same, it is solid all the way through and finished with a highly polished surface. Vitreous China is a mixture of clay and other minerals baked at high temperatures then is triple glazed and triple fired for durability. This oldie but goodie is still popular for bathroom sinks because it resists staining and is not as heavy as cast iron though some newer materials are more resilient without the expensive. Surfaces can be chipped however when small, pointed objects are dropped on them.

Solid-Surface

This is one of the most common materials used for integral sinks. Made from acrylic resins and natural coloring agents, solid surface basins often look a lot like regular stone or marble. These sinks are frequently paired with counter tops made of the same composition giving the vanity area a unified appearance that is easy to clean.

Dropping a light, sharp object like a curling iron or small bath appliance could potentially damage the surface. But what’s great about this building supply is that the colors and patterns go clear through this sumptuous synthetic, giving you the opportunity to easily sand out scratches and minor blemishes if they occur. Heat can also damage the surface, so hot curling irons should not contact the surface for very long.

Stainless Steel

Is becoming very popular in modern bathrooms and can be purchased in a mirror or satin finish. Stainless steel is lightweight and is frequently found in self-rimming counter-mount sinks. Despite its profound beauty, unfortunately the material tends to show water stains and can be potentially noisy when things are dropped in the basin. It was formally recommended that you get 18-to-23-gauge steel with an undercoat to reduce any noise.

The way it works is that the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel (also the more expensive) so most people tend to buy the thicker brands, in the hopes that it will reduce any unnecessary sound. Through consumer reports however, it has been found that the gauge has little to do with performance and basins with sound-absorbing pads, placed on the bowl’s bottom and sides will muffle any usage noise.

Cultured Marble

Not marble at all, but marble dust and polymer resin, you get a sleek, stone-like surface that requires minimal care for a fraction of the cost of natural stone. Mainly found in inexpensive integral vanity sinks, it has a smooth non porous surface and the best part is that no sealing or polishing is ever required. These beautifully engineered hand basins can be made to match nearly any bathroom style and design that rivals the timeless elegance of natural stone without any of the maintenance hassles.

Tempered Glass

Very popular with vessel sinks; tempered glass has become a trendy material for above counter hand bowls. Not only is it beautiful and comes in a multitude of colors, but it is also pliable and can be shaped to your heart’s content. The good thing about these basins is that they are able to effectively resist tough cleaning and staining agents. Unfortunately, the con about these sinks is that even nail clippers dropped from less than two feet away will invariably shatter or chip your masterpiece.

Creating a Unified Style

When trying to make a purchasing decision, it should be reassuring to know that most of these materials cost about the same as standard porcelain and several of them were more effective at repelling spills, scratches, and other minor accidents. The main thing for you to do is match the style of basin to your space, needs, and budget that fits nicely into your remodeling plans. Also, remember that sinks and vanity tops can be paired with a shower or bathtub to create a matching look and feel across your whole bathroom.

The modern bathroom market has moved past the boring white, round wash bowl and has opened the door to an endless array of design options perfect for any homeowner no matter the size of their bathing space. Regardless of your requirements, you should first think about the size, style, and materials you need before making a decision. Either way, why should you have to put up with a stained or damaged sink any longer?

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