Laundry sinks originated as stationary replacements for old portable galvanized-steel washtubs. Typically made from soapstone or concrete, early models were designed for washing clothes and featured one ribbed surface on the inside face to serve as the washboard. The washboard feature has since gone the way of the ringer, but the deep, steep-sided bowl design remains the key to a laundry sink's utility.
As laundry rooms moved out of the basement and into finished spaces that featured countertops, manufacturers expanded their lines, and now they differentiate between sinks and tubs. Laundry sinks are typically 10- to 12-in. deep and designed to mount on or under a countertop -- like a kitchen sink. Laundry tubs are typically 12- to 16-in. deep and are mounted on a set of legs or a base.
The MTI Jentle Jet Laundry Sink is perfect for washing delicates. It features a jet system that recirculates the water, similar to a jetted bathtub.
Tough jobs call for a sink and faucet with industrial utility and durability. The Elkay Pursuit Sink is made from 14-gauge stainless steel, and the Elkay Commercial Faucet has a flexible hose that extends 30 in.
Even a small laundry sink is larger than most kitchen and lavatory sinks. Sizes range from 17-in.-wide single bowls to 36-in.-wide double-bowl and even 48-in.-wide triple-bowl models. It's typically best to install the largest model for which you have room. Multiple bowls provide the most versatility, permitting you to use one bowl to presoak laundry and still have at least one bowl free for the washing machine to drain into and where you can wash out paintbrushes, etc.
Most utility sinks are defined by their deep basins, but in some cases a wide, shallow basin is more suitable. The Kohler Oceanview is 48 in. wide and only 6-3/8 in. deep. This sink would also work well installed on the floor.
Laundry sinks are available in a variety of materials. One-piece molded-acrylic tubs are common, affordable and relatively durable. Solid-surface materials such as Veritek by Swanstone offer better durability and a variety of solid-surface color options. Stainless steel sinks are probably the most durable and most resistant to chemicals and staining. Cast iron is less commonly used for laundry sinks, but it is a time-tested material that provides traditional style and a solid feel. Finally, soapstone is showing resurgence in popularity among homeowners looking for natural material that is as beautiful as it is functional.
Just because it's functional doesn't mean a utility sink can't have style. An undermount model, such as this Kohler Glen Falls Utility Sink, paired with a kitchen faucet can give your utility or laundry room a more refined appearance.
A deep, large bowl may be all you need in a laundry sink, but a few other features are worth considering. First, several models feature built-in shelves and ledges for keeping soap, brushes and other tools close at hand but out of the water. Second, two faucet holes are standard, but some models feature three holes, which gives you more faucet options. Finally, MTI Whirlpools makes a sink with built-in jets that circulate the water around the bowl. It's like a mini whirlpool tub for washing individual items and "delicates."
If your laundry sink has seen better days, consider making an upgrade. If you have enough space, move up to a larger size or install a base cabinet to add storage and improve the look of your laundry room. It may not be the most exciting upgrade you'll ever make in your home, but it might be one of the most useful.
$150 Laundry-Room Makeover
Fully finished main-level laundry rooms are common in newly constructed homes, but in many homes (mine, for example) the laundry room is located in a remote unfinished area of the basement or garage. Even though the laundry room is one of the most frequently used rooms in a home, it is often the most overlooked and neglected. A room that gets that much use deserves some attention. You can revitalize just about any laundry room in a weekend with three projects that cost only about $50 each. I did all three and got a better reaction from my family than just about any other home-improvement project I've completed. Doing the laundry is still a chore, but it's a lot more pleasant since I enhanced the room. Try these tips for successful makeovers:
1. Paint the walls and ceiling a bright color. Use moisture-resistant paint on exterior masonry walls.
2. Replace single ceiling bulbs with 4-ft.-long double-bulb fluorescent light fixtures.
3. Add storage shelves or a couple of wall cabinets over the washer and dryer. Cabinets with doors are the best way to eliminate clutter.
Installing a new laundry sink or upgrading to a larger tub is not difficult if you have some basic plumbing skills. Here's how we upgraded from a single-bowl to a double-bowl model.
1. Disconnect the old drain and supply lines and remove the existing sink. If necessary, rotate the waste stub-out to realign with the new drain location. In this case the stub-out was rotated and the galvanized extension was removed. Note: Use caution when rotating an old fitting — you run the risk of breaking the old pipe. Thread a new PVC trap adapter onto the waste stub-out (photos below)
2. Assemble the faucet and attach it to the sink. We installed a brass utility faucet. This tried-and-true design isn't fancy, but it's reliable and easy to service. The faucet mounts on riser posts that are secured with washers and nuts in the faucet-mounting holes. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to assemble the new sink's double-outlet drain (photos below).
3. If necessary, reroute the supply lines to align with the new faucet location. We also installed new threaded tees for washing-machine shut-off valves (photo below).
4. Connect the supply pipes to the faucet; then install the new washing machine shut-off valves and braided stainless steel lines (photo below).
5. Finally, connect the new drain-trap assembly to the sink and stub-out. Then anchor the sink legs to the floor with masonry screws (photo below).