Fancy sinks are a hallmark of big, luxurious designer bathrooms – you know, the kinds you see in magazines and on TV. But while decorative vessel sinks are a signature mark of these really decadent designs, they aren’t particularly practical for most people, particularly if you’re looking to do a relatively small bathroom update. Vessel sinks look great, sure, but they require you to replace your vanity top and faucet at the very least, and often your bathroom vanity, too. Drop in sinks might be a bit less glamorous, but they’re a fantastic way to quickly and affordably update your bathroom space.
There are three main kinds of bathroom sinks: vessel sinks, undermount sinks, and drop in sinks (also known as self rimming sinks). Vessel sinks sit on top of your vanity and undermount sinks are mounted to the underside of the vanity top, but drop in sinks fall somewhere in between. Like undermount sinks, the basin of a drop in sink will sit mostly below the level of the counter top. But instead of mounting inside the vanity, you simply “drop” it in, allowing a rim on the edge of the sink to rest on the counter around the hole cut for the sink, effectively anchoring the sink in place with its own weight.
This seemingly small difference has a few important implications, not the least that replacing your existing sink with a drop in sink is far and away the least complicated and time consuming option. Once the old sink is removed, installation of a drop in sink is practically child’s play – just clean the area, lower the sink into place, and reattach the hardware and plumbing. You won’t need to remove or replace your counter tops, or worry about important, weight-bearing clasps, clamps, or anchors. It’s a project that’s amazingly DIY friendly, even for people without much home improvement experience.
One of the biggest drawbacks of upgrading to a decorative vessel sink is all the extra work you have to do to accommodate one. But drop in sinks are specifically designed to work with the counter top and hardware you already have. As long as your new sink is roughly the same size and shape as the old one, the basin of the sink will fit through the hole in the counter, and the lip will cover up any inconsistencies in size or shape. This is a huge difference from undermount or vessel sinks sinks, which have to be matched exactly with the hole in the vanity top. Drop in sinks give you a little more room to fudge, which means you can get a sink that’s fairly different looking from the one you have without having to make any other changes.
Drop in sinks usually match the approximate size and shape of the hole they’re filling, but this isn’t always the case. Particularly with the rising popularity of designer sinks, it’s becoming more and more common to find self rimming sinks with large, decorative “rims” in attractive or unusual shapes or designs. These mimic large, sculptural vessel sinks, with a basin that’s slightly smaller and shallower than normal and a thick, flared, oversized, or otherwise shaped rim. These have a more designer look and feel, and also give you even more room to work around the size and shape of your old sink.
Even if you opt for a fairly simple drop in sink – one with a smooth oval shape and few or no embellishments – this can really be a project worth doing, particularly if your current sink is starting to show its age. Vessel sinks and undermount sinks might get extra points for style, but there’s no faster way to make your space look dated than to have worn or obviously dated fixtures. If you have a vintage colored enamel sink, or one that’s scratched, chipped, or even rusty, quickly swapping out your old sink for a new one is fast and affordable, but will make a very big difference.
Admittedly there isn’t a huge price difference between different types of bathroom sinks – at least in terms of the sink itself. But being able to use the same vanity top, faucet, and hardware – not to mention being able to do it yourself – can make a big difference in the total cost of the project. Plus, this is a job that can be done in an afternoon, or at most a weekend, meaning your bathroom won’t be out of commission long while you get your work done. And since the sink is probably the most oft-used fixture in the bathroom, this subtle change can have a big impact on the appearance of the space as a whole.
What are you looking for in a new bathroom sink? Are you trying to find an affordable replacement for a beat up sink, or are you looking for something a little showier? Let me know in the comments!