By now you have probably discovered the benefits of a glass sink – their unique shapes, designs and vivid colors. Sorting through the maze of glass sinks available in the marketplace, along with many of the "myths" surrounding their durability, however, can be a headache. You will see prices as low as $100 up to $5000 or more. Why the difference?
On the low end of the market, you will find offshore imports – glass sinks that are made in factories (usually in Asia). These are essentially colored glass sheets slumped into a mold. Sometimes these sinks are painted underneath or designs might be applied in-between two layers of glass. At Glass Sinks Online, we do not specialize in these types of low end "production house" sinks and are not fans of either their quality or aesthetics. For the most part, these sinks lack soul and will not set your project apart. If this is what you want, they can be found at the big box stores or on EBay.
If you are willing to spend a little more and want a unique, colorful, high quality sink that will last for years and add pop (the infamous "wow factor") to your project; those are the types of glass sinks we specialize in. Most of our glass sinks are handmade by artisans here in the US or in Europe. We have many sinks in stock, but also specialize in custom made glass sinks made to your own specifications of size, color and style. Many of our sinks are one-of-a-kind works of art that are often signed by the proud artist that made them. As you shop through our online catalog, you will see that we offer the largest selection of amazing glass sinks found anywhere.
Techniques Used To Make Glass Vessel Sinks
To better understand the three main categories of glass vessel sinks, it helps to understand the three main types of glassmaking:
- Cold Glass — Working with glass at room temperature. Examples are mosaic glass, stained glass, glass carving and etching.
- Warm Glass — The process of fusing, slumping or other kiln forming techniques at temperatures between 1100 and 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hot Glass — The process of blowing glass using a furnace that melts the glass at 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the glass is gathered on the end of a pipe, the artist forms the hot glass using a Glory Hole (an oven that maintains a temperature of around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit). The resulting work is then slowly cooled in an annealing oven.
With the above in mind, there are three main categories of glass sinks you will find in our selection:
Fused & Slumped — Glass fusing is the process of joining together pieces of glass. When the right kind of glass is heated and then cooled properly, the resulting fused glass piece will be solid and unbroken. Using fusing techniques, the artist creates patterns and designs in color. The resulting sheet of fused glass is then slumped into the vessel shape. In the slumping process the glass is laid into, or on top of a mold and heated just to the point where it "slumps" to fit the form of the mold. Once the glass reaches the desired form it must be cooled quickly enough to stop the movement that will result in cracking. Although this might sound simple, the resulting sinks can be quite intricate in their design and require hours of painstaking labor.
Blown Glass — Hand blown glass sinks are created through a much different process. This "hot glass" process allows an artist to create myriad different styles, colors, shapes and sizes that are always unique. Layers of glass are "gathered" onto the end of a "rod" or "pipe" and formed, blown and worked into a vessel shape. Color is applied in many different forms at the beginning of the process. Once finished, the piece is "annealed" for a minimum of 48 hours for maximum durability. Due to variations in the glass blowing process, every sink will be unique.
Mosaic Glass — Pieces of hand-cut colored art glass are adhered to the inside surface of a 1/2" thick annealed glass bowl. Annealing is a process of bending the glass at extremely high temperatures to assure durability of use in the most extreme temperature conditions. The sink is then grouted with a specially mixed blend of sand and tinted cement, then sealed and finished with a protective clear polymer coating to create a smooth surface which is colorful, sturdy, easy to care for and a breathtaking focal point for any bathroom.
Hand Painted Glass — These are a few very talented artists that are working in this medium today. Using high grade tempered glass, the artist hand paints each sink using special paint that will adhere to the glass for a lifetime. A water tight transparent sealant is applied to the underneath painted surface of each sink. The advantage of this technique is that each sink will be an original – no other sink will be the same. The artist can also custom color the sink and match any décor style or design.
Durability and Care of Glass Sinks
How do we, as glass specialists, reassure the end user of a glass sinks durability? The analogy I use is that the glass sinks we sell are made by professionals and are able to withstand similar abuse as a porcelain sink. In other words, if you drop a heavy object into a glass sink with enough force to break it, you would have also broken a typical porcelain sink. They both have similar strength characteristics. There are certain types of glass that are stronger – for example a glass that is "tempered" – but strength is also determined by thickness. If a glass sink does crack or break, the failure can usually be identified as one of two reasons: 1) over-tightening of the drain, or 2) thermal shock.
Thermal shock can occur when there is a sudden temperature change of more than 70 degrees. For example, you don't want to pour scalding hot water (over 120 degrees) into a glass sink. Hot water from the tap is generally 100-110 degrees, so the temperature difference is well within the safe zone. The most common occurrences of thermal shock happen when a sink is left on a jobsite where the temperature is unregulated.
When installing a glass vessel sink, be sure your contractor knows that thermal shock can be a problem if the jobsite is not yet heated. In addition, make sure they know that the drain assembly should be hand tightened only. Over-tightening the drain is the second most common cause of breakage.
Care — Glass sinks are tough enough to withstand everyday wear and remain as beautiful as the day they were purchased, when treated correctly. They require no more special treatment than a standard porcelain sink. When water spots occur, a solution of vinegar and water will dissolve the spots. Abrasive bathroom cleaners are not recommended.
Installation — We recommend you use a professional plumber to install these sinks. We have found that the most common cause of breakage is during installation. The drain on a glass vessel sink should only be hand-tightened.
Specifications — Be sure your artist has been creating glass sinks for a long time and offers a warranty. A proper annealing process and the correct glass are important considerations. Sinks must maintain consistency in thickness and they must not be flat on the bottom, so as to prevent creating a well and retaining water around the drain. They also must be drilled correctly with a bevelled edge which allows the drain to sit level with the glass.