Common Sink Materials: Pros and Cons

Often overlooked, your bathroom sink is an essential center of your bathroom. A proper sink can accent your space very well and provide some much needed color and luxury to even the most drab setting. But with price as a large consideration and based on your own specific needs, let us see which material is correct for you. Here are the pros and cons of the most common sink materials:

Soapstone

Soapstone is a type of metamorphic rock that is composed of talc, chlorite and magnesium silicate. If you like the look and feel of Granite Sinks, then think of Soapstone as Granite with a little more aesthetic flair.

soap stone sink.

Pros:

  • Being a metamorphic rock, Soapstone is highly heat resistant
  • Resistant to chemicals, acids and other cleaning solutions
  • Very durable material
  • Easy to clean-just simply run a soap solution after use to get any stains out
  • Natural look, should pair well with a stone resin bathtubs

Cons:

  • Since Soapstone is a softer material, it is very vulnerable to scratches
  • Avoid large impact objects such as dropping heavy pots or pans as it may chip and ultimately damage your sink entirely.
  • Must be treated with mineral oil regularly or the material will oxidize quickly and discolor.
  • Very pricey-starting price around $1,000

Soapstone Maintenance 

Keep your sink dry using a cloth to wipe it down after use. Mineral deposits can form, damaging the material and altering it’s composition, so keep your sink dry. Every few months, apply mineral oil to erase scratches and keep the appearance of the sink. Sandpaper and mineral oil can be used to remove deeper scratches. Avoid using abrasives and harsh chemicals.

Fireclay

Fireclay is a special clay that is glazed and fired at 2100 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a long-wearing and heavy duty sink that resembles enamel.

fireclay sink example.

Pros:

  • Fireclay is non-porous, which means it will resist water build up
  • Resistant to alkali, other acids and heavy scratches
  • Resistant to discoloration or corrosion
  • Provides a very modern appeal, paired well with a cast iron or acrylic bathtub
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • While durable, the material will chip or crack if under any heavy impact
  • Will stain over time without proper care
  • Finish does tend to wear very quickly if not properly maintained
  • Mildly expensive-starting price around $450 up to $1,000

Fireclay Maintenance 

Clean the sink regularly with mild cleaners and ensure that the sink is dry with a soft cloth. If too much water builds up, it can create water spots which are unpleasant to look at. For cleaning, use baking soda, light cleaners, mild abrasives, and avoid harsh chemicals.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel sinks are made from drawing a line layer of stainless steel over a die to shape the sink. For larger sinks, welding will usually take place to form the sink. By far, this is the most popular sink material as it comes with the widest variety of options and choices to fit your budget.

stainless steel sink.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel is very durable-can resist any damages from high impact
  • Multiple options in finishes-brushed, satin or mirror are the most common three choices
  • Easy to maintain-due to the nature of the material it will not require any harsh chemicals or non-soap cleaning solutions and it will not collect bacteria
  • Stainless steel is also very versatile as the sink material can be used to fit almost any kind of style you are going for in your bathroom.
  • Inexpensive-prices start at $100 up to around $800
  • Modern look, paired well with a copper or cast iron bathtub

Cons:

  • Will collect water stains over time if not dried and fingerprints will also be more noticeable on this material
  • Scratches will also develop over time with extensive use
  • While it is versatile in matching your overall decor, steel will always look silver, which may dampen the color of your bathroom.

Stainless steel Maintenance  

Clean your sink daily with mild soap and warm water, then wipe it clean with a soft cloth. Moisture buildup can create mineral deposits that will develop rust stains so it’s important to keep your sink dry. Avoid harsh cleaners, chemicals and abrasives to avoid damaging the sink.

Composite Granite

Composite granite sinks are made by manufacturing a mix of granite stone dust and acrylic resins into the shape of a sink. For those who want the look of a granite sink but are a bit more budget conscious, composite granite is for you.

granite sinks.

Pros:

  • Resistant to alkali and exposure to household acids and cleaners
  • Resistant to chipping and scratching
  • Good heat resistance
  • Has a more classic feel similar to natural stone, paired well with stone resin or wood
  • Due to the durable nature of the material it is very popular in children’s bathrooms which do see a heavy amount of traffic
  • Quite affordable-prices start around $250 up to around $500

Cons:

  • Composite granite is a porous material and therefore be susceptible to various water stains without proper care
  • Will require regular maintenance, although the process is simple-wash the sink daily with a nylon brush and gentle soap or dish washing liquid. Do not use abrasive cleaning tools or solutions.
  • Requires more daily maintenance than other sink materials do
  • Variations on matte are your only color choices

Composite Granite Maintenance 

Wipe your sink down with a soft cloth after use to prevent mineral buildup. Additionally, use non-abrasive cleaners, and dish soap to clean your sink. To eliminate water spots or soap film, rinse and wipe your sink dry. Deep cleaning should be done monthly to ensure the health of the material.

Cast Iron

Cast iron sinks are created by heating metal to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit, then poured into a sink mold before being coated with a layer of porcelain enamel.

cast iron sink.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Material is durable
  • Holds water temperature well
  • Chip resistant
  • Comes in a wide variety of color and styles
  • Affordable-Prices start from $300 and go up to around $600
  • Classic appeal, pairs well with Cast iron, porcelain or copper bathtub

Cons:

  • Enamel can chip with rough treatment
  • Avoid abrasive brushes and solutions
  • Due to the weight of cast iron, it will require additional support or bracing to install in your bathroom.
  • Cast iron is also vulnerable to heavy stains
  • Color options will be quite pricey

Cast Iron Maintenance 

How to care for Cast Iron: Clean the sink with non-abrasive cleaners, and avoid using abrasive devices such as steel wool, wire brushes, and abrasive sponge pads. Rinse the sink thoroughly after each use and dry it completely to avoid rusting.

Stone Resin

Stone resin sinks are made by combining acrylic resin with natural stone, such as quartz or granite. The material is designed to provide the look and feel of natural stone but at an affordable price point.

quartz sink.

  • Stone resin is highly durable
  • High heat resistance
  • Easier to install compared to natural stone
  • Resistant to scratches, stains, and heavy impact
  • It’s smooth surface allows for easy maintenance and cleaning
  • Soundproof material
  • Non-porous to prevent food particles and bacteria from building
  • Modern look, pairs well with any style bathroom

Cons:

  • The protective coating requires care otherwise, the material underneath can be scratched or damaged
  • scratched or damaged

Stone Resin Maintenance

How to care for Stone Resin: Stone resin is resistant to stains, scratches and discoloration. To ensure it’s longevity, wipe the surface down with a dry cloth after use. Only use mild cleaners and avoid abrasives, acids, or harsh chemicals.

Natural Stone

Natural stone sinks share great commonalities with composite stones, so instead, I will spend this time talking about a very common natural stone sink, the ‘vessel sinks’-sinks more in common with wash basins of old that give your bathroom a nice natural feel. If you are looking to have a unique bathroom sink, a vessel sink might just be for you.

natural stone sink.

Pros:

  • Very stylish
  • These sinks are highly versatile-since natural stone is usually handcrafted, this material can be made to fit a variety of shapes and sizes based on your preference. So it can be either sleek, primitive, modern or practical-whichever matches your bathroom best.
  • Comfortable as these sinks are custom designed, you can have them fitted to adjust to your height with ease
  • Spacious, as the vessel sinks are generally much smaller than normal bathroom sinks, it will free up your countertop for other items.
  • Easy to install, it simply needs a hole big enough to accommodate your sink drain
  • Heatproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Pairs well with stone resin, wood or cultured marble

Cons:

  • With the edge exposed, vessel sinks are more prone to cracking or chipping
  • Splashing is also a concern as most vessel sinks have less surface area
  • While the material is easy to clean, your cleaning job doubles as you now have two visible areas to clean
  • Stability is also another issue as vessel sinks are only tethered down by the faucet-this may be problematic with young children who try to use the sink as a handhold. Though of course, this can be easily remedied by having your plumber or contractor install recesses or additional stability holds.
  • Expensive. Since vessel sinks are all custom made and your faucet also has to be specifically chosen, you are looking at $300 starting depending on the material you wish for.

Natural Stone Maintenance 

How to care for Natural Stone: After use, wipe the basin dry with a soft cloth. Mineral deposits with iron, salt, lime, or soap can build up, so it’s important to keep your sink clear and dry. Avoid using acidic cleaners, harsh chemicals, or abrasives to avoid damaging the stone.

Copper

Copper sinks are made by hammering multiple sheets of copper together then exposed to air and water to form a patina, which is responsible for that deep hue that many associate with copper’s natural beauty. If you are looking for a good accent to your bathroom and aren’t afraid of spending a little money, a copper sink might just be for you.

copper sink.

Pros:

  • Due to the nature of the patina, this sink will only develop stronger and stronger color through time, adding a strong classical feel to your bathroom
  • Since copper is easy to shape and manipulate, it can fit any mold or style you want for your bathroom
  • Rust-resistant and anti-bacterial
  • Strong aesthetic beauty, paired well with an iron or copper bathtub

Cons:

  • Avoid abrasive cleaners and solutions.
  • While pure copper is very durable, depending on your price point, you may be looking at something that is less than 100% copper, meaning it will warp or dent easily-resulting in more costly replacements
  • Easily stains
  • Finish can be ruined over time with acidic objects like orange juice or even toothpaste
  • Pricey. $500 starting, but more for custom designs or shapes. Price will increase depending on the quality of the copper

Copper Maintenance 

How to care for Copper: Clean your sink with mild soap, warm water, and a soft cloth. Avoid exposing your sink to acidic compounds and quickly clean up toothpaste, make-up, shaving cream, and elements that can affect your patina. Copper sinks should be cleaned daily to help preserve the look of the patina and the copper itself.

Porcelain

Porcelain or ceramic sinks are created by heating clay, glass and metal together to form a mold which is then topped with an enamel coating. By far, this option is for those who want a more classic approach to their bathroom sink as porcelain sinks have been in many homes for the past hundred years.

porcelain sink.

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain as they are stain resistant, so all purpose cleaners can be used on them
  • Keeps shine well
  • Wide variety of colors and designs to choose from
  • Gives your bathroom an antiquated look, paired well with a porcelain or cultured marble bathtub
  • Will retain heat well, making it ideal for washing your face
  • Price is variable. On the low end, a porcelain sink can cost you $100 while on the high end, you are looking at closer to $2,000 depending on your style and tastes.

Cons:

  • Can chip, scratch or crack, in which case may need replacing
  • Does not sustain high impact
  • Material overall is not particularly sturdy
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners and solutions

Porcelain Maintenance 

How to care for Porcelain: Use a gentle soap, an all-purpose cleaner and avoid abrasive cleaning solutions. Clean your porcelain sink often to avoid soap scum, grease, or dirt buildup. As always, wipe your sink dry to prevent staining.

Best Sinks Materials Overall

Here are how the sink materials break down for best “overall” for durability, aesthetics and budget.

Best Material for Durability

Stone Resin: Stone resin is one of the best materials for durability. Since stone resin is a man-made material, it can handle high-temperature shifts and will not alter. It can also withstand heavy impacts, and it’s non-porous nature makes it ideal for the bathroom. That being said, stone resin still requires maintenance to ensure the protective coating remains intact.

Best Material for Aesthetics

Copper: When it comes to aesthetics, copper is difficult to beat. The material provides a consistent shine that matches well with both classic and modern-style bathrooms. This makes it incredibly easy to choose accents and customize your bathroom as you see fit. Its surface is resistant to bacteria growth, making it ideal for the bathroom, and over time, it will develop a patina that will only amplify its existing appeal.

Best Material for Budget

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a perfect budget material as it is affordable and highly durable. The material is also easy to install, repair or replace, giving you a multitude of options when it comes to remodeling choices. The only real drawback of stainless steel is that it will require consistent upkeep, especially in the bathroom where moisture and humidity thrive. It is best to wipe your sink clean after use to avoid stains or discoloration.

Each sink material offers something different to each bathroom, whether it be rustic, modern or sleek, the choice ultimately is up to you. Consider carefully how much maintenance you want to put in and how much you are willing to spend. After that, picking the right sink will be easy. 

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Beth Stevenson
Beth Stevenson
4 years ago

Of the above mentioned materials, which one would have the ” whitest” white as a choice? I have heard that vitreous china’s white is not very white. Does fireclay have a good ” white” white?

thanks for your response.

Abington Masonry Contractors
Abington Masonry Contractors
1 year ago

Its crazy how many different shades of the same color the human eye can pick up… especially in whites alone

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