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Common Sink Materials: Pros and Cons

common sink materials pros and cons
by Badeloft | December 3, 2017

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Quartz

Quartz sinks are made from combining acrylic resin with natural quartz. For those who want the look and feel of natural stone but at a much more affordable price.

  • Quartz is incredibly durable as well as heat resistant
  • Resistant to scratches, stains and heavy impact
  • Smooth surface is easy to clean and maintain
  • The material is naturally soundproof
  • Nonporous, meaning food particles will not build up
  • Bacteria and odor-resistant
  • Will retain it’s color and uniformity
  • Modern look, pairs well with stone resin or wood

Cons:

  • Pricey. Starts at $800 up to $1200.
  • Due to the nature of the finish, wear and tears will be more apparent

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.

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.

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.

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

Porcelain/Ceramic

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.

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

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. 

 

One Comment

Beth Stevenson says:

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.

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