Bathroom sinks are an integral part of any bathroom design. They receive a lot of use on a daily basis, and their style and material can help complement the rest of the bathroom's features. Two frequently used materials for bathroom sinks are cultured marble and porcelain, or vitreous china. Both materials have many attributes that make them a good fit for many bathrooms. Learning the differences between them can help you make the correct decision for your bathroom.

Most pedestal sinks are made of porcelain.

Cultured Marble

Cultured marble is made from a mixture of marble dust, pigments and resins. This smooth, solid surface material is poured into molds to form sinks, counters and shower surrounds. It can be made with a glossy or matte finish. While it scratches easily, can be refinished easily. A cultured marble sink is usually integral to the counter tops with which it is installed; the counter and the sink are usually cast as one piece. Cultured marble sinks are made in a number of shapes and sizes and include designs such as shells, ovals and rectangles to complement a wide range of bathroom styles.


"Porcelain" is the name of clay-based products, including sinks, that may include vitreous china, ceramic and fire clay products. Wet clay is cast in a mold, glazed and fired to high temperatures, which produces a hard, durable product. A porcelain sink usually has a high-gloss finish. The sink can be dropped in and mounted under a counter or above a counter as a vessel sink. Most porcelain sinks are sold in the same colors as other bathroom fixtures, but they can be custom painted to include various designs. They are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, including ovals, circles, squares, rectangles and fluted shapes.

Cultured Marble Appearance and Care

Cultured marble sinks and counters create a unified, sleek appearance and require simple care. A cultured marble sink has no rim in which debris can be caught, and the entire surface can be cleaned with any non-abrasive bathroom cleaner. Cultured marble can scratch and dull over time, however. Sandpaper, gel coats and car wax each can be used to buff affected areas and restore a sink's surface to its original finish. Cultured marble rarely chips or dents. Pairing a cultured marble sink with a cultured marble shower surround or shower tray can create a unified style in a bathroom. Many colors and patterns are available, including subtle and bold marbling patterns.

Porcelain Appearance and Care

Porcelain sinks are the most versatile in terms of style and use. Because they can be dropped in, undermounted or used as vessels, they are useful in modern, traditional and transitional bathroom designs. Depending on their installation and on whether or not they were custom painted, some porcelain sinks may be easier to care for than others. Those that are mounted above the counter have a rim that may collect debris. Those that are hand painted need to be cleaned with a soft cloth and gentle, neutral-pH soap. Undermounted porcelain sinks have the least amount of maintenance and can be cleaned with a bathroom cleaner.