Bar Sinks Buying Guide

Is Your Home Ready For A Bar Sink?

When adding or rehabbing the bar in your home, a big decision is whether change the sink or, if you don’t already have a bar sink you have to decide if you should add one. If you have the space for a bar sink and have plumbing connections in place then it really is not much of a decision. Adding a sink in your bar is relatively inexpensive when all you have to worry about is the actual sink. If you have to have the plumbing connections brought in, it is an entirely different story. Bar sinks are essential to setting up a wet bar!

If you do have water lines and a drain in place at your bar, adding the sink is just a matter of having it mounted in or under the counter. I will get into the different styles of bar sinks in another post, but plan on blocking off some time in order to choose the right bar sink for your situation. So you have picked out the sink and have the water and drain nearby. Now you need to have the sink mounted. Depending on the material the counter is made of, mounting your bar sink may or may not be something you can do yourself.

If you already had a sink and you are changing sink types or sizes, you may be able to modify the sink hole, hook up the drain and water lines yourself, and save some money that would have gone to the plumber. Remember this rule of thumb; when in doubt, let a professional do it. If you have a nice home and a nice home bar, the last thing you need is your new bar sink having your counter top butchered by your attempt to mount the sink. If it is a drop in type bar sink the flange of the sink will cover the edges of the counter so you may be able to pull it off. But if it is an undermount bar sink or a vessel bar sink then the counter edges around the sink will be exposed and must be finished properly in order for the sink to look right.

In the case of a bar where there is no current plumbing, you must consider the expense involved in getting the water and drain to your bar. People are constantly surprised at how expensive this can be. The drain is usually a bigger problem than the water lines. Water lines can often be run from the nearest kitchen or bathroom. The drain, however, is more complicated. Drains are gravity devices, and the drains in your home were put in place before the first piece of lumber was used. In order to add a proper drain to a new location, your plumber will have to tap into an existing drain. This may not be as easy as it sounds. Depending on the layout of your house and the location of your bar within that layout, putting in your new bar drain can cost into the thousands of dollars if you are unlucky.

Types of Bar Sinks

OK, you either have a bar in your home or are adding one. You have the water lines and drain int he right place. Now you are planning the function and style of the bar. In a small area like a bar, there are few items that allow you to show off your style theme and even fewer that do that in addition to actually being functional.

Undermount Bar Sink

When people hang around your bar for the first time, they are going to take everything in from what you are serving to the type of counter top and sink you have. There are many ways you can go with the sink, but one of the more stylish is the use of an undermount bar sink. Undermount bar sinks serve a couple of purposes. Of course they act as a sink should, a place to drain and clean glasses. But an undermount bar sink also makes a statement about the style and class of your bar and your home in general.

If you have a bar with a solid surface counter top like granite or marble, an undermount bar sink is the perfect choice. These types of counter tops are more classy and upscale, and undermount sinks in general are put into those categories. A side benefit of an undermount bar sink is that it actually adds counter space, and in a small area like a bar every little bit helps. Since the sink mounts below the counter top there is no exposed flange from the sink over the counter top. This means the same size sink bowl actually takes up less counter space. The other functional benefit is since there is no flange, there is no seam along the counter top. The only seam is where the rounded edge of the counter meets the sink, and this area is below counter top level. The result is when you clean the counter area of your bar you are able to wipe debris right into the sink without having to negotiate the lip of a sink. This also means there is nowhere for that debris to get stuck in that you have to clean later. That is a drawback of top mount sinks but a big benefit when it comes to the cleanliness of undermount bar sinks.

Copper Bar Sinks

Out of all the different types of bar sinks you have to choose from, copper bar sinks are perhaps the most beautiful as well as the kind of bar sink that will start the most conversations. Copper bar sinks are not something you see everyday, and since most of them are hand made they are very unique.

Once you have settled on a copper sink for your bar, you have to decide on just which copper bar sink you will actually install. Will it be a copper vessel sink, a copper undermount sink, or perhaps a simple copper drop in sink. They all have their strong points. A copper vessel sink would be like having a centerpiece acting as your bar sink. This type of design allows the sink to sit atop, or only partially recessed in the counter top. The result is you can see both the outside and inside of the bowl area. With copper, you could have a hammered finish on the outside, along with some artistic design, while having the bowl be traditional in its smoothness. Most of your guests will have never seen any sink like this before, much less a bar sink. If you want wow factor, go with a copper vessel bar sink.

A copper undermount sink is just what it sounds like. It is a copper sink mounting beneath a solid surface, usually granite. This gives a smooth, classy look to the bar sink area and still allows the copper to stand out in a smaller way. A copper drop in bar sink is the most basic of the copper bar sink styles. It is also usually the least expensive, which is not to say cheap. Copper sinks in general are not inexpensive.

Remember when buying a copper bar sink that you should stick with a sink made in the USA or Mexico. This will limit the chances of getting a sink that is not 100% copper. Problems with copper sinks that are not pure copper are thinks like uneven color, and discolored welded areas. Copper changes tones at it ages, and most people think copper sinks get more beautiful as they age. But if you have a less than 100% copper bar sink that change in tone may not be something that is so pretty. The other issue with cheaper copper sinks is the use of copper that is too thin. The result can be a sink that dents easily or has a “tinny” sound when water is run into it. Stick to a copper sink made in the USA or Mexico and you won’t have to worry about these things.

These days you can do all of your research online, and when the time comes you can even purchase your new bar sink online. Stick to the online retailers who offer good warranties and free shipping, and you will probably save both time and money in the process.

Stainless Steel Bar Sink

Probably the most popular choice in bar sinks is the stainless steel bar sink. This is probably because stainless steel is also the most popular choice for sinks in general. This is not because a stainless steel sink is better or worse than other types, but is more likely because stainless steel sinks are so prevalent in home improvement stores. There are generally many more stainless steel sinks in a typical home store than there are other types of sinks.

Having said all that, there are good reasons why stainless steel bar sinks are so popular. If you have a solid surface counter top on your bar, a stainless steel sink is a sleek and classy addition. Stainless steel bar sinks are easy to clean, and as their name implies are, for the most part, stainless. They are also one of the healthier metals available in sink production, although the distinction of the healthiest metal sinks goes to copper. Stainless steel is a surface on which bacteria cannot survive as long as on other common sink surfaces. Don’t let that prevent you from cleaning your bar sink though because bacteria can still survive on a stainless steel bar sink for a few days.

Once you have narrowed your bar sink choice down to stainless steel, you have to decide on the type of mount you want. For bar sinks, this usually comes down to either an undermount stainless bar sink or a drop in type sink. An undermount sink mounts to the underside of the counter and the edges of the counter are rounded and smoothed down to where they connect to the sink. The result is a sleek, clean look with no real seam between the sink and counter top, which means one less place for food and debris to be trapped when wiping off the counter. The other feature of this design is the lack of a flange on the sink laying over the counter provides for extra counter space. This is important when dealing with an overall small area like a bar top.

The other type of stainless steel bar sink is the top mount, or drop in bar sink. This type of sink does just what it’s name implies. It simply drops into a hole that was cut for it, then it is fastened down to the counter top with epoxy, screws under the counter, or both. This style is generally less expensive than an undermount type bar sink, and the advantages of one type are the disadvantages of the other.

In general you cannot go wrong with a stainless steel bar sink. It will fit in with the style theme of your bar, whatever it may be. Highly functional in addition to being good looking, the stainless steel bar sink is likely to remain the most popular type for a long time to come.

Installing a Bar Sink

You are either adding a bar sink or changing the bar sink you have in your home bar. So how do you install a bar sink? Well, the honest answer is it is no different than installing any other sink, but usually on a smaller basis. If you already had a sink in place and are just switching it out with another sink of the same basic size and type, the process will be pretty simple.

On the other hand, if you are changing the sink size or mount type, and if you don’t have water lines and a drain close by, the process is much more involved, and should probably be handled by a professional.

If you already have your new bar sink, and the old sink has already been removed, then you can begin to install the new sink. As I said, if it is a case of simple installing a sink of the same size as the old one, then the installation is really a matter of reversing the process you used when removing the sink. You need to inspect the water lines to be sure they are still in good shape. If they show any signs of wear, this is a good time to replace them. Once the sink is installed and in operation, changing the water lines is a little more of a pain. It is not a hard thing to do, but can be complicated by having the sink in your way, along with any other items you might be storing under the bar cabinet. The new sink came with instructions on mounting, and if you follow them you can’t go wrong. if you duplicate the mount of your old sink you also can’t stray too far off course. If the sink is a drop in, or top mount, there is not much in the way of bad things that can happen if you make a mistake mounting the sink. But if the sink is an undermount sink, you must pay careful attention to the mounting process or the sink mount can fail when under a load. That is a very bad thing, so if you have any doubts, have a professional handle the installation.

If you are installing a sink that was different than the original, or it is the first sink in your bar, the installation process will be a bit more complicated. If the sink is a top mount, or drop in sink, you have to have a hole cut in the counter top to match the template that came with your sink. The sink will fit into the hole, and mount from under the cabinet with clips and screws. You can then connect the drain and water lines and you are ready to go. As stated above, with a top mount sink there is not much that can go wrong if you make a mistake. the biggest issue might be a loose sink, but it basically hangs from the counter top so there is not likely to be any damage.

If you are installing an undermount sink, pay close attention to the instructions that came with your sink. For more information on undermount sinks, check out the undermount sink guide above.


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