How to Turn a Bowl into a Sink

A modern bathroom with a white porcelain bowl sink.
Have you ever considered transforming a beautiful bowl into a sink? 

Are you planning to remodel or renovate your bathroom? Whether you're looking to simply spruce it up or give it a complete face-lift, you will need to think about what kind of sink to install. There are many traditional sink styles from which to choose, from stainless steel to ceramic, but have you ever considered transforming a beautiful bowl into a sink? Bowls used as sinks, or vessel sinks, as they are known in the interior design trade, are a hot trend in home design and can add a stylish and contemporary twist to traditional bathroom basins.

If you decide to install a bowl as a sink, there are a few important factors to keep in mind before installation. First, you will need to choose where to install your bowl sink. Due to the stylistic nature and size of bowl sinks, they usually work best in smaller rooms, such as bathrooms or powder rooms. Then you will need to decide how you want to mount the sink, and choose a faucet that will function best in your space with the bowl that you choose. Most importantly, you will need to research different types of bowls and determine which will be the most attractive, durable and practical in your room. Think about who will be using the bowl sink and how often. For example, what works best for a powder room might not work for a child's bathroom.


Stumped about which kind of bowl sink to choose? Read the next page to find out which bowl sink is right for your bathroom.

Selecting the Right Bowl to Turn into a Sink

Before you can install your new bowl sink, you will need to choose what type of bowl you want. You will also need to consider the current countertop in your bathroom or powder room. Do you want to mount the bowl on top of or underneath the counter? Considering mounting options and bowl materials will help you select an appropriate bowl sink for your room.

Bowl sinks are available in a variety of materials, including glass, crystal, pottery, ceramic, enameled cast iron, stainless steel and other metals. You will need to decide what material will work best for your space and usage. And you don't have to purchase something new -- it's possible that you could recycle a bowl for this purpose. It would just take a few adjustments, such as drilling a hole for the drain.


Since crystal, glass and pottery bowls are all very delicate, it is probably best to install these types of bowls in rooms used infrequently, such as powder rooms or guest bathrooms [sources: Short and Long of It, Vandervort]. If a delicate bowl cracks or chips, it is nearly impossible to fix and you will need to replace the entire sink. But if you do select a glass bowl, make sure it's made from tempered glass, which is more durable and safe than regular glass [source: Bathroom and Kitchen Guide].

Alternatives to tempered glass are ceramic, enameled cast iron, stainless steel and metal bowls, which are the most durable of all the bowl sink choices. Keep in mind that the cost will differ between the bowls due to the quality of the materials used to manufacture them, but they are equally easy to clean [source: Short and Long of It].

Now that you've selected your bowl sink, read the next page to learn how to install it.


Preparing and Installing Your Bowl Sink

There are two ways to install your bowl sink: above the countertop or below the countertop. If you do not have a manufacturer's template for cutting a hole in the countertop for either of these installation methods, then you can use the bowl itself to mark where to cut.

For an on-top installation, center the bowl between the front and back edges and the sides of the countertop. Mark each side of the bowl and countertop with colored masking tape. Use the pre-drilled drain hole to trace a circle onto the countertop. Then drill a 3/8 inch (0.95 cm) hole inside the line you traced. Use a saber saw to cut out the hole [source: Vandervort]. After cutting out the hole in the countertop, turn the bowl upside down and run a line of sealant round the bottom. Turn the bowl over, center the drain hole over the hole in the countertop and align the tape marks on the bowl and the countertop, pressing down to adhere the sealant [source: Vandervort].


For a set-in installation, turn the bowl upside down and center it between the front and back edges and the sides of the countertop. Trace the rim of the bowl on the countertop. Remove the bowl and draw another line ¾ of an inch (1.90 cm) in from the first line. Drill a 3/8 inch (0.95 cm) hole inside the second line you drew. Use a saber saw to cut out the hole [source: Vandervort]. Set the bowl into the hole to make sure it fits. If it does, turn the bowl upside down and run a line of sealant under the rim of the bowl. Turn the bowl over, set it into the countertop hole and press down to seal [sources: Vandervort]. After the adhesive has dried, seal the bowl to the countertop by caulking the outside edge.

Whether you install your bowl sink on top of or inside the countertop, it will require the same connection to the drain and faucet. Before installing the bowl, it may be easier to drill holes in the countertop for the faucet and install it first. After you install the faucet and bowl, connect them to the drain and water line. Your bowl is ready for soaping up soiled hands!

For more information, visit the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Links

  • Bathroom and Kitchen Guide. "Glass Bathroom Sink Tips." (Accessed 4/17/09)
  • DIY. "How to Install a Kitchen Sink." (Accessed 4/17/09)
  • Donovan, Mark J. "Installing a Bathroom Countertop Sink." Home Additions Plus. (Accessed 4/17/09)
  • Plumbing Products. "Sink Installation." (Accessed 4/17/09)
  • Short and Long of It. "The Long of Bathroom Sinks." (Accessed 4/17/09)
  • Truini, Joseph. "How to Install a Water Filter." This Old House. (Accessed 4/17/09),,845083_781336,00.html
  • Vandervort, Don. "Bathroom Sinks & Lavs." Home Tips. (Accessed 04/17/2009)
  • Vandervort, Don. "How to Install an Above-Counter Sink." Home Tips. (Accessed 04/27/2009)
  • Vandervort, Don. "How to Install a Countertop Sink." Home Tips. (Accessed 04/27/2009)