The Secret To Sprucing Up A Sink
Having remodeled literally hundreds of bathrooms, we can tell you with great certainty that subtle changes can go a long way in improving the appearance and comfort of this very necessary and widely used room in the home.
One of the more widely used and, hence, most noticeable elements in a bathroom is the sink or “lavatory.” This is in contrast to the toilet, which is usually hidden around a corner or foreshadowed by a vanity and the bathtub and shower walls, which are almost always concealed by a shower curtain or a shower door. The lavatory is usually front and center and the object of much attention. Consequently, its appearance can speak volumes about the overall look and feel of your bathroom and, ironically, how other space in your home is perceived. First impressions are lasting impressions – if the sink and/or faucet are grungy, chipped and/or stained what might one find in less obvious locations in the home?
Bathroom lavatories come in all shapes, sizes, colors and configurations. Some lavatories are a single piece together with the countertop (integral bowl), others rest on the countertop (self-rimming), and still others are mounted from below the countertop (under mount). A pedestal lavatory, as its name implies, is freestanding and requires no vanity or countertop.
Lavatories are constructed of a host of materials – vitreous china, enameled steel, enameled cast iron, acrylic, fiberglass, solid surface product, cultured product and, more recently, composite materials. None of these materials is completely exempt from some type of damage – stains, scratches, chips, burns, cracks, etc.
Some materials are easier to maintain and repair should their finish become marred. For example, an enameled cast iron sink has a substantially better finish and is far tougher than its enameled steel counterpart. Some solid surface materials can be repaired and revived using repair kits available through the material manufacturer or installing dealer.
Vitreous china is one of the most durable lavatory finishes. It holds up well against staining, it rarely scratches, chips or cracks. Enameled steel and cultured product (marble, onyx, etc.) are materials most susceptible to damage from chips, cracks, and burns. Though repairable, their appearance and finish rarely resemble the quality of the original finish.
Depending upon the style of the lavatory, some repairs can be made by an ambitious do-it-yourselfer, while others are best left to a pro. For example, an integral lavatory that is stained or cracked can be changed without removing the countertop. This is achieved by sawing the bowl out of the top and replacing it with a new self rimming lavatory. The process is simple. Use a piece of cardboard to create a template of the existing lavatory. Take the template with you when shopping for a replacement lavatory. Choose a model that is slightly larger and that, when installed, will rest on the countertop. Make sure that adequate space is left for faucets or that mounting holes are part of the new bowl.
Next, use the template provided with the new bowl to scribe a cut line on the countertop. Use a drill and reciprocating saw to cut out the existing bowl. Be sure to remove the faucet, water supply lines, drain and trap before removing the sink. Unless the faucet is new or in remarkably good condition, replace it with a new quality model that will further enhance the appearance of the lavatory and the bathroom in general. A new drain and trap and water supply lines should also be installed. Seat the new bowl in a generous bead of silicone caulk that travel around the entire circumference of the opening.
This bowl replacement technique can also be used to replace an under mount bowl – the majority of which are enameled steel. We strongly advise against using an enameled steel bowl as a replacement model since it is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to quality. Chips in enameled steel bowls can repaired and the bowls can be painted, however, your best bet is to replace the bowl and upgrade to a different material.
This isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to an enameled cast iron bowl. The finish on a cast iron bowl is better and can be more successfully patched and refinished. Unfortunately, a poorly repaired and refinished bowl can look worse than the original damaged unity. If you are going to attempt to patch and refinish a bowl use a high quality self-leveling two part epoxy product. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. The most important step in the refinishing process – be it do-it-yourself or professional – is to ensure that the existing bowl is absolutely clean.
Although the new finish can be applied with a brush, spraying the finish will render the most professional results. This, however, requires special equipment and an experienced hand. If you want your lavatory to look like new and last a long time, your best tool may be your telephone to call in a pro.
A new or refinished lavatory along with a sparkling faucet can do wonders to dress up your bathroom and improve the value of your home. Add a new shower rod and curtain, new bath accessories (towel bars, etc.), a coat of paint and some new towels and you will hardly recognize the room. That’s a good thing.