Reader Submission: DIY Vessel Sink
Local designer and DIY enthusiast Ginger Rodriguez sent us this story about how she built her own vessel sink. It’s pretty amazing that you can turn practically anything into a sink with a little planning and the right tools. Below, Ginger also shares some tips for creating your own custom-built and designed sink.
I love vessel sinks and wanted to add one to my Old World style bathroom. The manufactured ones are gorgeous, but are only 14 to 16 inches on the inside. When I wash my face at my bathroom sink, I make a big, splashy mess. So I was really hesitant to go with one of those. But also, it’s more interesting and more fun to have one that is unique.
I wanted a sink that would look like a pitcher pump pouring into a big wooden bowl or bucket — or anything that seemed like what would have been under a pitcher pump. Now, I can do some crazy and unorthodox DIY stuff, but even I am not nuts enough to try to have my bathroom sink be wooden. Then the answer came to me — resin!
Resin is similar to plastic but much harder and heavier and also totally waterproof. Manufacturers are making bowls with cut marks and gouges that make them look just like a 150-year-old antique bowl. Also, it’s not at all hard to drill through resin and it is very hard to distinguish from real wood.
I took a standard, cheap, garden-variety vanity cabinet and I cut the bottom off of the whole thing to make it shorter. Then I cut some 1 inch thick x 12 wide regular pine lumber, added a curve with my jig saw, painted it with a crackle finish, and made it look like an antique wash stand.
I definitely accomplished my desire — a sink that looks like a pitcher pump with a wooden bowl under it.
Here are some tips for helping you create your own unique vessel sink.
Possible Vessel Sources
- Copper: basins, party buckets, bowls, pans, even some trays!
- Stoneware: a large mixing bowl or crock
- Garden pieces: ceramic planters, shallow pots or even the top part of a bird bath
- Galvanized steel: tubs, wash basins, planters
Things to Consider When Selecting a Vessel
- The ability to drill through it
- What it will sit on (a vanity cabinet or whatever)
- The thickness of the vessel
- The thickness of the vanity’s top
- A drain assembly that will fit the combined thickness of the vessel and the vanity top
- A “vessel sink faucet” or wall-mounted faucet that is tall enough for the sink
Drilling the Hole
Obviously, you’re going to have to make a hole in whatever is going to become your vessel sink. I recommend you go to the store before you commit to your bowl.
For the size of hole you’re going to need, you will probably have to use either a spade bit or a hole saw bit. A competent tool department clerk should be able to tell you what can and can not be cut by the bits available.
Check with the tile department if the vessel is ceramic, concrete or stoneware. Generally speaking, whatever you choose can probably be drilled through.
Installing the Drain
You or a plumber are going to have to fit your sink with a drain. Be sure that there is a drain assembly that will work with the thickness of what you’re considering. Check with an actual plumbing distributor company for this — the regular home improvement stores don’t have much that is out of the ordinary.
Also, if the drain assembly is not set down into the hole, then you will usually have a small bit of water standing at the very bottom of your sink. In this case, you’re going to have to countersink the drain hole and you might have to make a larger indention for that.
Once you have your vessel, a drain assembly that will work with it, and drill bits that will cut it, the rest is pretty obvious. If you have to countersink the drain hole, cut the large indention first then, inside that, the hole for the pipe itself.
The drain assembly is going to have a big nut for underneath the vanity, or whatever the sink will sit on. This will hold it all together. If your vessel does not have a flat bottom, you’ll need a ring that will only cost about $8.00. Also remember, a vessel sink sits on top of your vanity, rather than being recessed down into it. The counter surface of the vanity will need to be a bit lower than normal.
Good luck with yours!