The two main functional components of a vanity unit are the vanity bench and the wash basin. The designs of basins and sinks are limited by their need to hold water, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from pushing the boundaries away from the traditional forms. The greatest variation in basins is how they're positioned in relation to the rest of the unit. Other variations include the use of different shapes, materials, colours and textures. Not all sink types will suit the style of vanity bench you’ve selected. Getting the right basin or sink for your vanity is very important - if you’re not certain, ask your retailer or bathroom designer to recommend one.
Rimmed or drop-in sinks
The most common bathroom basins are drop-in or rimmed sinks. These basins are dropped into a hole cut into the top of the vanity. The oversized lip of the sink forms a rim around the top of the hole, and the basin is clamped into place from underneath. Plumbing for drop-in sinks is hidden within the vanity unit. In general, the main variations you will find with this sink type are the size and shape. The basins themselves are nearly always white and made of either china or porcelain-coated cast iron.
Undermount sinks are similar in style but have no lip around the edge, and sit below the counter top. These basin types are not suitable for all applications; they work best with a very solid bench surface material, such as stone. They are larger than the hole cut into the counter, creating an overhang into the sink bowl, and they are clamped to the benchtop from underneath. Supply and plumbing waste lines are concealed inside the vanity. They are made from the same materials as a drop in sink when bought separately, but there are some vanity units which will include the sink as part of the countertop. These types are typically made of a moulded composite resin.
Recently, bowl shaped basins that sit on top of the countertop have come into fashion. These sinks are either mounted directly on top of the bench or are semi recessed into it, giving the appearance of a bowl. These sinks require non-standard plumbing which makes them more expensive, and fittings for them will either be mounted to the bench or to the wall. Plumbing is often left exposed in these types of installations, and can often be made part of the aesthetics of your bathroom. Given the design of the basin, these allow for a lot more flexibility in terms of the materials used, the colour range and the shape. For this reason (and the fact that they're still relatively uncommon), bowl sinks are fairly striking to look at. It is common to find transparent materials such as glass used for these sinks, though stone and porcelain can look equally as impressive.
Pedestal sinks and wall-mounted sinks
While not truly part of a vanity, standalone pedestal sinks and wall mounted sinks can be combined with shelving and mirrors to produce a functional alternative to a vanity unit. This arrangement can be great for the budget and space conscious, as they don’t cost a lot to install and take up next to no floor space. In the case of a pedestal sink, plumbing is concealed within the column that the sink sits on. Wall mounted units typically have their piping hidden in the wall.