ADA Sinks: Materials for Accessible Sinks

Home modifications by occupational therapist (OT) based on principles of universal design and accessibility.

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

Ceramic Sink

When designing a bathroom for wheelchair accessibility the bathroom sink is of utmost importance. Probably one of the first things to think about is the material the sink/vanity will be constructed of, here are the pros and cons of several common materials.

Almost all materials can fit almost any style. When choosing a sink for an accessible bathroom I always want to make sure it's beautiful (that is what universal design is all about) but also low maintenance (keep life easy.) Here is some information to assist in choosing a sink material.

Ceramic Sinks

Ceramic Sinks – Plain or decorative vitreous china, or custom-made pottery sinks.

Pros – Low moisture absorption, easy to clean, keeps color well, many styles, shapes, colors and designs to choose from, plain is very affordable, pottery gives a custom look.
Cons – Can chip or crack. Pottery, freestanding, and decorative sinks can be pricey.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel – Quality and cost depend on gauge and nickel content. Smaller gauge numbers are thicker, but cost more. High nickel content gives the sink a smoother, shinier look.

Pros – Durable, easy to maintain, better quality (18 gauge) resists water spots, dents and scratches, thinner is readily available and very affordable.
Cons – Thinner stainless (22 gauge) is easily dented and shows scratches more easily.

Enameled Steel Sink

Enameled Steel – Resembles cast iron, but thinner.

Pros – Lightweight, thin.
Cons – Enamel finish can chip easily or crack.

Enameled Cast Iron Sink

Enameled Cast Iron

Pros – Thickness gives solid look, affordable, easy to clean, chip-resistant and available in a wide range of colors.
Cons – Heavy – Countertop may need extra support, do-it-yourselfers may need extra hands to install. Colors and special shapes can be pricey.

Onyx Sink

Cast Polymer – Cultured Marble, Granite or Onyx

Pros – Looks like stone, but comes in various shapes for themed decor, affordable. Integrated sink and countertop eliminates the need to use caulking (which can get moldy).
Cons – Top gel coat may crack and burn, doesn’t hold shine well, especially on darker colors.

Corian Sinks

Solid Surface – Acrylic or Polyester Resins (such as Corian®)

Pros – Stain resistant, lots of colors, durable. Pieces can be fused to integrate sink into countertop or make custom shapes and designs.
Cons – Must be installed by licensed professional or warrantee is voided. Integrated designs can be expensive.

Marble Sink Copper Sink and Counter Top

Other Materials – Stone (Marble, Granite, Soapstone), Metal (Copper, Brass), Glass

Pros – Create a custom look.
Cons – Expensive to very expensive, metals high maintenance to keep new-looking, glass can crack or chip, stone can scratch.

Marble Sink and Counter Top


Jessica said...

Can you please let me know where the sink in the top picture & the vanity underneath it can be purchased? thank you so much!

Karen K Koch said...

The sink in the top picture is from the 'Zen Zest' collection by a ceramic design company out of Europe. I don't think they are selling in the USA, their web address is:

Good luck, please let me know if you have any luck finding a distributor in the US.