Bathroom counters consist of two different pieces: the base and the countertop. The countertop overhangs the edges of the base, as opposed to sitting flush with the ends. Whether you have a counter with one sink or make room for a double sink, you should still have a standard overhang. The standard overhang is typically 1 inch.
The standard size of a bathroom countertop is 22 inches deep. The main difference between different types of counters is the length. A single sink measures 31 inches up to 49 inches long with the recess for the sink placed in the exact center. A double sink countertop measures around 61 inches long. The recesses for the two sinks are evenly spaced across the center of the counter. The countertop attaches to a durable base or cabinet, which serves as the bottom of the counter.
Adding an Overhang
When you buy pre-made bathroom cabinets for use with a countertop, the overhang already exists. The cabinets measure around 20 inches deep or slightly longer. The cabinet butts up against one wall in the bathroom and the counter sits on top. When you add the counter, it overhangs the top of the cabinet. If you make the cabinet yourself, you must make it slightly deeper than the purchased counter, creating that 1-inch overhang.
Importance of the Overhang
Having the counter overhang the cabinet is important because it creates the balance of the piece. You apply a thin line of silicone caulk to the edges of the cabinet and set the counter on top of the caulk. The caulk oozes in either direction, filling the area on either side of the counter for a stronger seal. If you make the counter sit flush with the base, the caulk oozes out the sides, ruining the overall look of the space. The small overhang creates a lip that provides more stability.
The size of the counter overhang is especially important if you create a bathroom compliant with ADA standards. The Americans with Disabilities Act offers specific guidelines and regulations for public restrooms. The ADA warns against using any type of overhang that might interfere with a wheelchair or other health-related aids. Having a larger overhang creates a problem because it reduces the overall space available in the bathroom. Those with a wheelchair or walker might injure themselves by bumping or falling into an overhang more than 1 inch.
Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.