Bathroom Vessel Sink Install Guide: Simple Tips for an Elegant Upgrade

Vessel sinks are a popular choice for bathrooms of all sizes. They offer an array of benefits in both form and function, including an elegant design touch and adding inches to a vanity. When buying a vessel sink, however, proper installation is key.

From preparing your vanity cut out to finding the perfect drain style, follow this guide for the perfect vessel sink installation.

Planning for a Vessel Sink

There are a few things to consider before installing a vessel sink. Sebring Design Build points out that vessel sinks tend to take up more space than other sink options, making them better suited for master baths and statement vanities. At the same time, vessel sinks are a smart way to balance out a large vanity that optimizes shelving and storage.

Vessel sinks can also be used to make a small bathroom more refined and inviting, according to Blake Lockwood of The Decor Snob. Depending on how its installed, a vessel sink can make a room feel larger and taller, which is an especially important benefit when renovating the smallest room in a house.

Choosing Vessel Sink Mount Styles

Before pursuing an installation, homeowners should first decide how they’d like to mount their sink. With three main options, it’s important to know which look the homeowner is trying to achieve before the installation process gets started.

According to sink retailer Artisan Crafted Home, an above counter mount sits atop the vanity surface, but a drop-in mount can be implemented below the vanity surface at different heights. A semi-recessed vessel sink is a hybrid of these, with the rim sitting several inches above the countertop.

Each of these sink styles has their own aesthetic and functional benefits, so what the homeowner chooses may be purely personal preference. However, the Supply.com Knowledge Center does suggest that above-mount sinks are easier to clean, simply because the entire sink basin and countertop are exposed.

Choosing Vessel Sink Faucets

Once the mount option has been decided, it’s time to consider what faucet the homeowner would like to go with the sink. This is a key consideration because vessel sinks require certain faucets made specifically for the size and shape of a vessel basin.

According to designer Bethany Sy at Reality Daydream, installing a faucet on a vessel sink follows the same guidelines as an ordinary faucet. However, one difference is that using an o-ring base instead of sealant can save you mess and frustration when trying to keep an elegant sink basin clean.

Height is another key consideration when it comes to choosing a faucet. The faucet must be tall enough so that the sink is comfortable to use. A faucet with a higher arc also delivers more splash, according to eFaucets, so the sink should be deep enough to accommodate.

water drop

Choosing the Right Drain

Next, it’s time to think about the drain.

Julia Ritzenthaler, president of Unique Online Furniture, says that there are two main types of drains: pop-up drains and grid drains. Grid drains are standard caps outfitted with small holes that filter water down through drain pipes. Pop-up drains are a more traditional sink style with a plug and lever system.

While pop-up drains tend to let  more debris through, they’re better for washing delicates. Alternatively, grid drains are better for catching large pieces of debris but might not be best for things like washing one’s hair in the sink. Considering who uses the sink and what they use it for can make it easier to decide which drain is best.

Secondly, there will have to be enough space for the drainpipe and the water supply valves in the vanity. The type of drain you choose could influence this, so it’s best to think about these two things in tandem. Steven Symes has a guide at HomeSteady.com setting out how to make drain holes in the back of a vanity, and says that proper measurement during this step ensures that the drain fits into the wall accurately.

Vessel Sink Install

Proper installation of a vessel sink requires that the sink opening is accurately cut and sized.

Residential building professional Andy Engel starts the process by measuring the size of the sink and penciling it onto the countertop. Then, he tapes the lines, puts holes at all four corners and proceeds to cut out the sink using a jigsaw. These steps work well for laminate countertops, but if you’re using a piece of vintage furniture, additional planning might be required.

For example, California Home+Design Editor Mary Jo Bowling shows how a weathered vintage table is being repurposed as a vanity with an above mount vessel basin installed. The faucet is off to one side of the sink to accommodate the small surface of the vanity, requiring a cutout in an abnormal location. Making this vintage piece work clearly required planning, so keep this in mind when customers ask about adding a sink to vintage, rare or nontraditional vanity pieces.

After the cutout is prepared on the chosen vanity, it’s time to install the sink. While some installations require woodworking knowledge, others are much simpler. If the vessel being installed is a self rimming sink, it has a lip which rises above the countertop. Home improvement expert and HomeTips.com founder Don Vandervort says that this lip makes it easier to install because the sink simply drops in.

sink basin

How to Maintain a Vessel Sink

Maintaining a vessel sink ensures it stays functional and beautiful for years to come. The actual  maintenance depends on the material the sink is made of, so homeowners should take note of this before they buy.

With a glass sink, for example, daily maintenance might be the best way to keep scum at bay. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or sponges on glass sinks, as it can scratch them and dull their appearance, advises creative consultant Jen L’Italien. She also says that it’s never a good idea to pour boiling water into a glass sink, because this can cause the basin to crack.

For vessel sinks made of stone, the experts at Countertop Specialty recommend using hot water and a specialty marble cleaner. Cotton or chamois cloths can be used to buff out smudges, but harsh sponges should always be avoided. It’s also important to note that spills should be cleaned from marble as soon as possible. Acidic stains, including certain soaps or even coffee, can leave lasting marks.

Images by: iriana88w/©123RF Stock Photo, Manuel Salguero, Matthew Henry