Do Vessel Sinks Have Overflow?

If you plan to install a vessel sink, you might have already heard that these sinks can pose drainage issues. Naturally, you'd wonder whether a vessel sink has an overflow to assist drainage. We've researched vessel sink designs and drain styles to answer this question for you.

A vessel sink does not have an overflow. This sink design uses one primary drain for exiting water to flow. Because of the lack of this feature, a vessel sink tends to drain slowly and can potentially overflow the basin's rim if a clog forms in the drain. However, vessel sinks remain a popular statement piece, particularly used as bathroom fixtures.

Although a vessel sink does not feature an overflow, it is still a functional and stylish choice for your home. Read on to learn the purpose of a sink overflow, how to encourage a smoothly draining sink, and whether the vessel sink trend seems to be on its way out. 

bathroom with marble counter top, vanity mirror, gold vessel sink. Do Vessel Sinks Have Overflow

A Sink Overflow's Purpose

A sink's overflow is built into the sink's sidewall, typically installed in top-mount (drop-in) and under-mount sink models. On a vessel sink, the basin not only sits exposed atop a countertop, and the sidewalls are generally bowl-shaped, rising upward and somewhat slim thickness. Therefore, there is not adequate space to incorporate an overflow into the styling of these chic sinks. In particular, for glass-styled vessel sinks, an overflow would be an eyesore. 

Click here to see a tempered glass vessel sink on Amazon.

The overflow provides a back-up draining method; should the sink fill nearly to the basin's brim, water would exit via this overflow hole. It acts as a secondary drain. It also provides ventilation to aid in the speed at which the sink's drain enables water to exit. Because the overflow is connected to the drain's plumbing via the interior sink sidewalls, air can move freely out of the way of exiting water; so the water entirely fills the drain and plumbing without getting backed-up.

A sink overflow prevents flooding in the event of a clog and ensures your sink drains sufficiently during use. If the vessel sink design has piqued your interest as to how a sink could possibly get away without an overflow, check out "Do Bathroom Sinks Always Need An Overflow?"

Why Does My Vessel Sink Drain Slowly?

Poor ventilation is typically the culprit for a slowly draining sink --unless there is a clog. Because there is no overflow, a vessel sink will drain slowly as some air becomes trapped between the grid or pop-up drain and plumbing. Exiting water is blocked. When an overflow is incorporated into the sink, air can still move throughout the system as water drains.

Generally, vessel sinks are equipped with grid drains to allow water to flow continuously. There is no ability to close this drain as with a pop-up type. Theoretically, the draining process should be smooth as long as the plumbing can accommodate the water flow. Slowly draining tends to be a common issue for vessel sinks, nonetheless.

Click here to see a grid drain on Amazon.

Please note that the drain selection for your sink model will depend on the corresponding faucet. Most vessel sink faucets are not equipped with pop-up levers; they are simply becoming outdated. However, you might choose a soft-touch pop-up drain to operate the plugging/unplugging feature by hand. 

Click here to see a pop-up drain on Amazon.

How Do I Know If My Sink Drain Is Clogged?

Draining slowly is not the only tip that your sink's drain might be clogged. If water is just not going down or is bubbling back up, you likely have a clog! You might also hear gurgling sounds coming from the drain. These are all evident factors that you'll need to investigate further to resolve the issue.

For starters, check that the pop-up or drain trap is clear of debris. If those areas are clean, try using plunging the drain to loosen any build-up inside the plumbing. If the water drains, that's great! You can clean the drain for further prevention and continue using your sink. If still clogged, you might need to use a heavy-hitting de-clogging agent, snake the plumbing, or contact a plumber.

Do Vessel Sinks Leak?

The plumbing beneath the vessel sink basin is identical to that of any other model sink. Therefore, although there is no overflow hole in the sink's sidewall, usual drainage should not leak. If your vessel sink does leak beneath the basin, you'll need to take a closer look for the cause or call in a plumber to resolve the issue. 

That being said, vessel sinks are known for spillage --water splashing over the sidewalls onto the countertop. This happens for a few reasons: 

  • Vessel sink basins tend to be deep, but the sidewalls are fairly thin. 
  • The basin can fill quickly, and since the water level is near the rim, it can easily splash out if hands, soap, or bath toys are plunged into the nearly full basin.
  • Particularly for children, the tall sidewalls can be difficult for short arms to reach inside to keep water at bay while hand-washing.
  • Alternatively, some vessels sink styles have very low sidewalls that make it easy for water to be transferred onto the countertop while washing or splattering out due to a strong water pressure releasing from the faucet. 
  • Faucet handles are typically located outside of the basin; therefore, wet hands can drip on the countertops while adjusting the water temperature or turning the faucet on/off. 

Often, homeowners relate vessel sinks to water splattered countertops --and this is a real setback to installing a vessel sink. These sinks make an ideal basin for small areas such as powder rooms, and if used less frequently for the occasional hand-wash versus daily morning and evening routines, are less apt to leave a damp countertop.

Are Vessel Sinks Still Popular? 

Side view of modern bathroom interior with white walls and stone double sink standing on wooden shelf with big round mirror above it

Vessel sinks are unique. Now that you know the details on draining a vessel sink, you probably wonder whether you should go through the effort of installing one for the sheer style of it. Still trendy, the vessel sink is a popular choice typically for bathroom fixtures. Homeowners like the sleek designs and simplistic finished look. It is not a sink style that will fade away quickly.

With an easy installation, vessel sinks can sit atop nearly any countertop or even pedestal space. They are simple to interchange for an upgrade or style change as they feature standard drain sizes and are relatively affordable. As for design, vessel sinks require little space, and basins are shaped like a bowl, oblong, square, or rectangle.

This modern design, leaf-like tempered glass vessel sink would look stunning atop a natural stone countertop. Click here to see it on Amazon.

This trough-like, black and white ceramic vessel sink would fit neatly into a cozy, rustic design. Click here to see it on Amazon.

This contemporary, porcelain ceramic sink will suit any homeowner's style with ample space for daily bathroom routines. Click here to see it on Amazon.

In Closing

A vessel sink makes a popular choice given the appropriate location and use. It can drain adequately even without an overflow, so you'll have a fully functional sink for any room in your home. If you are still in search of inspiration for your bathroom remodel, check out  "27 Awesome Bathroom Sink Ideas You Need To See."

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