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The Controversial Vessel Sink: Pros and Cons of a Ubiquitous Trend

The Controversial Vessel Sink: Pros and Cons of a Ubiquitous Trend


Whether you love them or hate them, vessel sinks have made a huge impact on the design world over the last few years. What was once a bold choice for high-end designers and wealthier folk with modern sensibilities became widely available for the everyday homeowner.

Those who were looking to remodel their bathrooms flocked to the trend, jumping at the chance of showing off a unique and eye-catching design, that somehow managed to be both contemporary and antique. The rustic feel of the vessel sink design evokes images of a time before indoor plumbing, when sinks were literally large basins set atop a dresser or vanity, but modern materials and updated forms take vessel sinks into the here and now.

Despite their surge in popularity in the late 2000’s, many design experts and aficionados were quick to label vessel sinks as nothing more than a short-lived fad. The trend was indeed divisive, with people splitting into one of two camps: love it, or hate it. But in spite of the controversy, vessel sinks have managed to hold strong, even growing and evolving over the last decade in order to cement a place as a popular and lasting design choice.

For anyone who is planning to add a vessel sink into their bathroom, it’s important to know that facts, good and bad, about owning this type of sink. For instance, there are two distinct types of vessel sink installations, and based on your personal needs one might be a better fit than the other:

Above-Counter Installation: The vessel sink basin rests completely on top of the counter or vanity. When people think of vessel sinks, this is what they usually have in mind.







Semi-Recessed Installation: Recessed installation allows for greater basin stability. A hole greater than the diameter of the drain hole, but smaller than the sink diameter, is cut into the countertop. This allows the sink basin to rest about half-way down.


And no matter what side of the vessel sink debate you stand on, there are several pros and cons that should to be taken into consideration.



The Pros

  • Style —probably the biggest plus of a vessel sink is its “wow factor.” Anyone can add panache to their bathroom for relatively little money.
  • Installation—Avoid costly and difficult sink cut-outs. You need only one hole cut out for the drain pipe.
  • Flexibility—Because vessel sinks are not stuck in place (as drop-in sinks are), they can be changed out fairly easily.
  • Increased Counter Space—You can gain a bit of extra counter room because the vessel sink basin takes up less area than recessed sinks.
The Cons
  • Gimmicky and Dated: Some designers consider vessel sinks to be impractical, verging on gimmicky. Has the fad come and gone already?
  • Durability. Because of the exposed edges of the basin, they are prone to chipping and breakage.
  • Stability. Vessel sinks are secured only at one point, rather than the entire perimeter. A recessed vessel sink, which sinks about half-way into the vanity but not as far as a drop-in sink, adds greater stability.
  • Cleaning. Difficult to clean around the area where the vessel sink basin meets the vanity or countertop.
  • Overflow. Vessel sinks do not come with overflow relief drains.
  • Higher. The higher rim can be an issue for shorter folks.

While we personally love a good vessel sink, they obviously aren’t for everyone, so arm yourself with the right tools and knowledge, and you can avoid making a design decision you’ll regret. But no matter if you love or hate them, vessel sinks are a design trend that are here to stay-for a while at least.