Bathroom Sink Material Buying Guide (Porcelain, Ceramic, Stainless & More)

When it comes to buying bathroom sinks, it is best to understand that price is not indicative of quality. The key factor to consider when purchasing a drain is the material used in its construction. The material will be the defining characteristic when it comes to evaluating the reliability and quality of a bathroom sink.

bathroom sink
While porcelain is the most traditional material for bathroom sinks, there are many types on the market including metal, wood and more.

The performance will barely have any difference, no matter the brand of the sink. Because of that fact, it is best to base your buying decision primarily on the sink material. In this article, we will be discussing all the common materials used in manufacturing a bathroom sink.

We will be examining the advantages and disadvantages of each material so that we can decide which type will be best suited for specific home environments. Now then, let us begin.

Different Kinds of Materials Used in Bathroom Sink Construction

Ceramic Sinks

Miligore 19" x 15" Rectangular White Ceramic Vessel Sink - Modern Above Counter Bathroom Vanity Bowl
Rectangular Ceramic Vessel Sink (Image: Amazon)

Let’s start with the most common type of material used in a majority of bathroom sinks, ceramic. Ceramic is a type of pottery that is comprised of clay, powder, and water. This mixture will then be formed/sculpted, usually by hand, into a variety of shapes – in this case, a sink bowl. It will then be treated to extreme heat for it to harden.

How Durable Is Ceramic?

Ceramic is known for having an incredibly durable surface. It is also quite resistant to scratches and chipping. While it won’t withstand impacts from falling over, it is strong enough to withstand constant everyday use, hence, why it is commonly used as material for sinks. It is also incredibly easy to clean and is resistant to stains and bacteria build up as long as proper maintenance is kept.

How to Clean Ceramic Sinks?

The ceramic surface is exceptionally smooth and entirely waterproof. As it does not have small crevices or cracks, dirt and grime won’t be able to seep into it. This is why cleaning sinks made from ceramic is easy. One would only need to wipe off the wet ceramic surface with a clean, dry towel to prevent stains from appearing.

You can also use all-purpose cleaning products to ensure that the ceramic bathroom sink retains its natural sheen longer. For ceramic sinks with hand-painted design, it is advised not to use abrasive cleaning materials to avoid chipping away at the decorated surface. It is also recommended to keep the ceramic surface dry and wipe off traces of soap as this is the leading cause of staining in ceramic sinks.

Pros:

  • Non-porous and smooth surface that is resistant to discoloration over time.
  • Easy to clean surface without the need for abrasive brushes.
  • Affordable price tag.
  • It comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit all interior bathroom designs.

Cons:

  • Can get chipped and cracked. Although it would take a significant effort to do so.
  • The price will range widely depending on the style of the sink as well as the functions it delivers. While typically affordable, there are ceramic bathroom sinks that can be quite expensive.

Porcelain Sinks

KES Bathroom Vessel Sink 19-Inch White Rectangle Above Counter Countertop Porcelain Ceramic Bowl Vanity Sink cUPC Certified, BVS110
Above Counter Porcelain Vanity Sink (Image: Amazon)

Porcelain is similar to ceramic, as both are pottery-based products. However, porcelain is known to be significantly harder than its ceramic counterpart. While it is considerably sturdier than ceramic, porcelain still manages to maintain a smooth surface appearance. Porcelain is made by taking refined fireclay mixture and heating it under extreme heat (1,200 to 1,400 F) in a kiln or oven.

Porcelain is commonly found in older model homes. You can also find cast iron and metal sinks with a porcelain coating. Porcelain has an extremely low water absorption characteristics and is also quite easy to clean, similar to ceramic sinks which is also why porcelain is the most commonly used material for toilets. 

How Durable is Porcelain?

Short answer? Very durable. In fact, with proper maintenance, you can easily push a porcelain sink’s shelf life to a hundred years. Yes, there are porcelain bathroom sinks that are 100 years old and is still just as reliable as when it was installed.

How does porcelain material manage to provide such longevity though? Well, with a simple mixture of fireclay, metal, and glass materials. The added metal and glass provide porcelain with that extra boost in resistance. While porcelain sink’s longevity is never in question, please be aware that the surface can chip if something sharp or heavy falls on it.

How to Clean Porcelain Sinks?

Similar to ceramic sinks, you should avoid using any abrasive cleaning material on porcelain. Just use dishwashing soap or a mild all-purpose cleaning product. After cleaning the sink, remember to wipe the entire surface dry to prevent grime build-up from leftover traces of soap. You should also refrain from using high acid cleaning solutions as it can cause damage to the porcelain’s surface over time.

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable types of bathroom sinks in the market.
  • Porcelain sinks are also low-maintenance materials and will require less cleaning than other bathroom types in this list.

Cons:

  • Porcelain is not ideal for heavy use. Porcelain sinks are also not very durable compared to ceramic.
  • Usually comes in plain and simple designs.

Natural Stone Sinks

Daonanba Basin River Stone Oval Bathroom Sink Basin Stable Fashion Vessel Sink 15.7"
River Stone Oval Bathroom Sink (Image: Amazon)

Natural stone sinks are known to be quite expensive. As the name implies, this material is made from a block or slab of stone that is painstakingly carved into its sink bowl shape. Natural stone bathroom sinks all have unique appearances with various colors and quirks. No two natural stone sinks are the same aesthetically.

Different Types of Natural Stone Sinks:

  • Marble
  • Sandstone
  • Granite
  • Onyx
  • Green Jade
  • Travertine

A critical aspect of using natural stone as the primary material for a bathroom sink is to coat it with a special coating that will further reduce moisture absorbency. Stones are porous, which is why it is vital to apply a unique finish to the sink bi-annually. Coating it with heavy-duty sealer will also help retain its natural sheen.

Installation is quite complicated as you will need to apply silicone and oil-based sealers, so I recommend you hire a professional to do this part. Natural stone sinks are also susceptible to stains; fortunately, removing grime is a pretty straightforward affair. You need to scrub it with tile stain remover products.

How Durable is Natural Stone?

As this is made from natural stone, you can expect it to offer an extremely high level of resistance. It is naturally tough as nails. However, you will need to take the proper maintenance steps to ensure that it will remain in good shape.

How to Clean Natural Stone Sinks?

Having natural stone bathroom sinks require regular cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning can be done by using mild cleaning solutions or with a stone cleaner product. You should avoid using highly acidic cleaning materials and abrasive scrubs on natural stone sinks. Wiping it dry and making sure that no soap, salt, iron, and lime chemicals remain is also essential.

Pros:

  • Has that unique earthy appearance that fits perfectly with specific interior design choice.
  • Since natural stone bathroom sinks are handcrafted, it is incredibly adaptable to any bathroom space as it is pretty much a customized basin.
  • Highly resistant to heat.
  • Surprisingly easy to install as all you need is a large enough who to fit the sink drain.
  • Natural stone basins are among the easiest to clean with the least amount of maintenance needed.

Cons:

  • Edges that do not have any additional protection are at risk of chipping.
  • A subpar design will lead to stability issues in natural stone bathroom sinks.
  • Natural stone basins usually have less surface space, which increases water spilling over the floor.
Ruvati RVH6110 Brushed Stainless Steel Bathroom Undermount Sink, Stainless Steel
Brushed Stainless Steel Bathroom Undermount Sink (Image: Amazon)

The stainless-steel sink is up there with ceramic as the most common type installed in bathrooms today. Stainless steel sinks can also be considered as an eco-friendly choice because it mostly being comprised of 60% recycled material. It is cheaper but with high durability and stain resistance. It fits in most modern home aesthetics and is extremely easy to clean.

While stainless steel sinks are usually found in the kitchen due to its high resistance to corrosion and stains, it can also be used in bathrooms. Its high resistance to bacteria build-up makes it at practical choice overall. It is also able to withstand abrasive scrubs, so cleaning this type of sink won’t require specific methods.

How Durable is Stainless Steel?

This is one of the most durable materials you can find that is used on sinks. It can pretty much withstand the use of any type of cleaning solution. It is virtually impossible to chip, but scratching the surface can happen but only if you put the effort on trying to put a dent on it. Overall, stainless steel is a practical choice for a material in a bathroom sink which sees daily use.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Sinks?

Cleaning stainless steel sinks is relatively more straightforward compared to other types of materials. The surface can be cleaned by using soap and warm water. The vital aspect to remember is to wipe the stainless-steel surface dry of any moisture. Droplets of water can cause mineral deposit build-ups, which would negatively affect the overall appearance of the surface, leaving stains that would appear again and again.

If you wish to help maintain the integrity of the stainless-steel sink, avoid using cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals. Stainless steel sinks are indeed quite durable, but improper cleaning methods will cause some level of deterioration over time.

Pros:

  • The most affordable type of bathroom sinks.
  • Stainless-steel is far easier to maintain while also being extremely durable.
  • 18-gauge stainless-steel sinks are more resistant to water stains and scratches. 16-gauge are more durable and resistant to dents but are heavier.
  • Stainless steel bathroom sinks are perfect for homes with a contemporary design.

Cons:

  • Stainless steel bathroom sinks are not visually compatible with a traditional interior designed bathrooms as it will always have a silver finish.
  • You should stick to 18 and 16-gauge stainless steel and avoid 22-gauge as these are quite flimsy and has a high risk of denting.

Wood Sinks

Galapara Bathroom Vessel Sink, Basin Solid Teak Natural Wood 17.7"
Solid Teak Vessel Sink (Image: Amazon)

Different Types of Wood Used in Bathroom Sinks

Teak Sinks

Certain wooden materials can also be used for making bathroom sinks. One of the most commonly used woods for tubs is teak. Teak is a type of hardwood that is known for its high-water resistant qualities. Where bathroom sinks made from teak material truly shines is with its aesthetics. It certainly delivers that warm and natural atmosphere in regards to interior bathroom design.

How Durable is Teak Wood?

The use of teak wood does have several benefits as well. Since teak contains oil that significantly enhances its water resistance, it can also prevent the wood from becoming brittle or warped over time. Teak is also known for being highly resistant to mold, mildew, and fungi build up. That alone makes it an excellent choice for use in bathrooms.

How to Clean Teak Wood Sinks?

When cleaning teak wood sinks, it is ideal to use non-scouring cleaning solutions. Use a mild soap with a clean cloth or medium-soft bristles when cleaning the surface. Note that wooden bathroom sinks will start developing a darker shade over time. This is perfectly normal and is one of the wooden furniture’s sought-after qualities as it further gives a unique appearance.

Bamboo Sinks

Bamboo is known as one of the most durable types of wood. Bamboo sinks are all taken from bamboo farms. Each bamboo sink will have a distinct appearance that will set them apart from other bamboo sinks. Simply put, no bamboo is the same in terms of appearance. However, each comes with the level of durability and flexibility that the tree is known for.

How Durable is Bamboo?

Quite durable. Bamboo trees are known for their durability due to its flexible nature. If you’ve seen a bamboo tree, then you are aware of how it sways effortlessly with strong winds. The wood is incredibly flexible and can bend a good degree without breaking.

How to Clean Bamboo Sinks?

Similar to other wood-type sinks, cleaning bamboo sinks will benefit from the use of non-scouring cleaning products. Use mild soap detergents and dry the surface using a soft cloth or a medium-soft bristled brush. Bamboo is quite durable, but even it cannot withstand harsh chemicals, so avoid using acid-based cleaning solutions.

Pros:

  • Wood bathroom sinks are aesthetically unique and pleasing.
  • Wooden sinks are also compatible with a wide variety of designs from traditional to modern, and anything in between.
  • Eco-friendly as more and more wood bathroom sinks are manufactured using recycled material.

Cons:

  • Wooden bath sinks are usually high maintenance furniture. It needs to be adequately treated with the right coating before use.
  • It needs to be wiped clean and dried after use.

Resin Sinks

Signature Hardware 398741 Capella 32" Resin Vessel Bathroom Sink
Signature Hardware Resin Vessel Bathroom Sink (Image: Amazon)

Resin is material made with a poly-resin combination. It has stone-like qualities to it but with a smoother surface and appearance. Think of it as a sturdy type of plastic. What makes resin material unique is that it comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can easily see resin-based bathroom sinks with wild designs and appearance that are impossible to achieve with other materials in this list.

Alternatively referred to as “man-made stone”, the resin is notable for its evenly colored appearance and unique appearances.

How Durable is Resin?

Resin is extremely durable thanks to its composition of acrylic and fiberglass. Similar to ceramic and porcelain, the resin has a non-porous surface which makes it extremely resistant to moisture. This characteristic also means that resin is immune to discoloration and mildew/mold problems.

How to Clean Resin Sinks?

When cleaning resin sinks, make sure you use cleaning solutions that are made for painted surfaces. Avoid abrasive cleaning solutions and equipment, as well as chemicals like ammonia as these,  can damage and break down the surface of the resin.

If the resin surface gets scratched, you can treat it by using sandpaper and evenly smoothening the damaged area until the scratch disappears.

Pros:

  • Resin bathroom sinks are incredibly versatile in terms of shapes and sizes. It is available in standard bowl-shaped basins to wild and uniquely shaped designs as well.
  • Scratches can be quickly fixed by applying car-buffing products.
  • Resin basins are usually lightweight and can be easily installed by a single person.

Cons:

  • Petroleum-based compounds can damage the surface of the resin, so avoid pouring products that have that compound.
  • Since resin is lightweight, bolts and screws can sometimes get shaken loose after a while.
  • While it is relatively durable, it usually won’t last as long without maintenance compared to stainless steel basins.

Bronze Sinks

Bronze is another alloy material that is used in making bathroom and kitchen sinks. Bronze is mostly made from copper, but also incorporates other alloys which enhances its overall durability. This combination of metal is essential as copper alone won’t be able to provide the appropriate amount of durability for it to be a practical choice as a material for creating sinks.

This enhancement gives bronze higher levels of durability as well as antimicrobial qualities. It also has a distinct appearance that could accentuate a bathroom’s interior appearance. 

Different Types of Bronze Used in Bathroom Sinks

  1. Polished Bronze – As the name implies, this has a glossy and shinier appearance.
  2. Satin Bronze – This bronze type has a matte finish.

Both bronze types will experience a level of darkening over time. However, this is preferable as it can improve its appearance and add to the mood of the environment.

Pros:

  • Highly resistant to corrosion, durable, and is known for its impressive longevity.
  • Bronze is an alloy that has natural antimicrobial properties which reduce the risk of mold and mildew build-up.
  • Bronze basins are also known to develop a unique aesthetic appearance as the years go by as the surface starts taking on a darker hew.

Cons:

  • Bronze usually needs specialized treatment for maintenance, which can be troublesome for most homeowners.
  • Depending on the finish, bronze basins can be susceptible to scratches and dents.

Glass Sinks

Kraus GV-399-19mm Ladon Glass Vessel Bathroom Sink
Glass Vessel Bathroom Sink (Image: Amazon)

Specifically, tempered glass. While it might seem fragile at first glance, note that bathroom sinks made from glass are usually made from durable tempered glass. This type of glass is made with the use of specialized chemical methods and thermal bonds, which results in glass that has some level of shatter-proof properties than standard glass.

Click here to see our favorite blue tempered glass sinks.

The glass that is treated and strengthened using a special thermal method will be introduced to heat of around 600 C, and then quickly cooled. Alternatively, a special concoction of chemicals is used to treat glass, transforming it into what is called tempered glass.

How Durable is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is significantly more robust than your regular glass. This is why it is often used in sink and countertops. Hot water can damage standard glass, which is not the case when applied to tempered ones.

While quite durable, tempered glass can still easily break if it falls or is struck with considerable force. As it shatters, the glass can be quite hazardous and a cause of serious injuries. For those who have tempered glass sinks, it is highly recommended to take extra care and avoid putting heavy objects above, which can drop and break the glass.

How to Clean Tempered Glass Sinks

You can use window glass cleaning products to remove stains from this type of sink. It is essential not to leave small droplets of water on the surface as it can leave marks that will ruin the appearance of the basin. Make a habit of cleaning glass sinks as it is relatively more susceptible to stains than the other entries in this list.

Pros:

  • Can offer higher customization options.
  • Can genuinely accentuate the overall flow of the bathroom interior.
  • Glass basins are low-maintenance materials.
  • You can also find dozens of different styles and colors of glass bathroom sinks.

Cons:

  • While this is a stronger type of glass, it can still break when the right amount of force is applied. If you have a bathroom that is heavily used daily, a glass bathroom sink might not be the best type to install.

Conclusion

There you go. All the types of bathroom sink materials you will encounter in the markets as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each type. Hopefully, this has helped you in determining which material will suit your bathroom the best. If you have any additional comments regarding some of the materials listed in this article, please feel free to comment on your ideas and suggestions down below.