11 Types of Bathroom Sink Drains: Both With and Without Overflow

While sink drains may not steal the spotlight in your bathroom, they are an essential component of your bathroom sink. For most people, it’s not even a thought. This is because most faucets come equipped with a drain that is compatible with the most popular type of sinks. But what if either your sink or your faucet is not the norm, how do you know how to switch the drain without replacing either one of those two items?

The truth is that while brands make it easy to give you something that just works, it’s important to know how this part functions so you know what to choose when an unpredictable situation presents itself. Learning to identify the types of sink drains and their use cases, will help you know what you’re looking when you’re looking to pivot to a different drain than the one that comes with your faucet.

There are two components to a sink drain

  • The mechanism that allows the water to drain out of the main sink drain
  • The secondary drain for the sinks that come with overflow holes to prevent water from overflowing out of the sink

As you will see below, all the types of sink drain on this list will address these two components.

The Pop up Drain without overflow

  • Very rare.
  • Only used due to oversight or a mistake by the buyer or the salesperson
  • There are more preferred alternatives for drains without overflow

A pop up drain is a type of drain that has two parts: the lift rod located on the body of your faucet and the drain stopper installed in the sink drain hole. The stopper parts connect to the lift rod via a chain that is out of sight under the sink. The user simply has to pull up the lift rod from the faucet to close the drain stopper and push it down to shut it.

Most sinks come with additional holes to drain excess water and prevent the sink from overflowing. These are called the overflow holes and typically connect to the body of the drain stopper that is also equipped with an overflow hole of its own.

The Pop up drain without overflow hole simply doesn’t have this additional feature and is meant to work in conjunction with sinks that do not offer this feature.

In the real world , this type of drain is used as a last resort when the buyer or salesperson did not anticipate that issue down the road. The truth of the matter is that people tend to pick other types of drains for sink without over flow (i.e. click drains, or grid drains). People only select pop up drain without an overflow when they already committed with a faucet that comes with a pop up and therefore have to choose a pop up drain without overflow to replace the drain that comes with a faucet (which is usually a pop up drain with overflow).

In other words, if you need a pop up drain without overflow, someone had probably made a mistake during the buying process.

The Pop-Up Drain with overflow

  • Most Common type of drain on this list
  • Typically Sold with your standard faucet
  • Standard replacement pop up drains are compatible with most faucets that have a generic style lift rod

A pop-up drain with overflow is a type of sink drain that includes a drain cover for the sink and a lift rod that can be found on the faucet. It is the most common type of sink drain and is often sold together with the faucet as a complete set.

The name “pop up drain” is kind of a misnomer has the drain stopper stays up by default. When the rod is lifted up by the user, the drain stopper drops down to shut off the drainage. It only pops up when the user pushes it back down into its original position.

The reason it is called a Pop Up Drain “with overflow” is because it is designed to be compatible with sinks that have an overflow feature. An overflow is a small opening near the top of the sink bowl that allows excess water to drain out if the sink gets too full. This prevents the sink from overflowing and causing water damage.

If you were to go and check out the faucet in your current, there is a high likelihood that your faucet has a rod that is either located on top of the spout of in the back of the faucet. While it’s the most common type of look for a faucet, it’s not the most appealing which is why we’re starting to see more and more faucet

Push Button Drain Without Overflow

  • Most commonly used with Vessel Sinks
  • Ideal for more modern style bathrooms
  • Manufacturers are started to ship these drains with contemporary single hole faucets

As the name suggests, a push button drain is a drain that is activated by pushing down on the drain cover itself. Pushing down activates both the open and close function of the drain. A push down drain without an overflow is made to be compatible with sinks with no overflow.

This type of drain is popular with vessel sinks. As you may have noticed, vessel sinks are propped up over the counter and therefore have no way to connect back down to a drain as a result, you can only opt for a drain without an overflow.

This drain may be considered “illegal” to use with vessel sinks in some states as it allows the sink to be filled up and potentially overflow. Some states may require that you use a grid drain instead.

The one major drawback of the push button drain in general is that the user has to reach inside a sink filled with potentially dirty water to activate the opening of the drain. That is not an issue with other drains that don’t require you to touch the drain cover to open and close them.

Push Button With Overflow

  • Most likely the second most used sink drain on this list
  • Has been getting popular as a standard over the past decade or so
  • Manufacturers are shipping these drains with their contemporary faucets instead of pop ups

Like the Push Button without an overflow, the push button drain with an overflow allows the user to push the drain cover down to activate both the open and close function. The key difference is that it does not come equipped with an overflow on the body of the drain as it’s meant to specifically work with sinks with overflow holes.

This type of drain is ideal for contemporary faucets with a clean minimal design. Unlike the pop-up drain, there is no lift rod sticking out of the body of the faucet which makes the faucet more appealing to their target audience.

It’s becoming more common for the push button drain with overflow to ship with with the faucet in the box as manufacturers are realizing that this makes more sense for the modern style faucet. Before this movement, they would try to make the lift rod to look as discreet as possible but nothing beats a clean faucet body with no holes.

Grid Drain Without Overflow

  • Grid drains can’t be closed to fill the sink.
  • Ideal for commercial applications to prevent accidental flooding
  • Grid drains without overflow are often the only compliant drains in some jurisdictions as many states do not allow vessel sinks to be filled.
  • Often used as the drain underneath branded drain covers

The Grid drain Without Overflow is a a type of drain that comes equipped a drain stopper with a cover perforated with medium sized holes. There is no mechanism to close the draining of the water. This version of the grid drain does not come equipped with overflow holes.

Since there is no way to close the drain, there is no real need for sinks to have overflow holes when paired with a grid drain.

The grid drain without overflow is most commonly used in two common areas

  • Commercial applications where regulations do not allow bathroom sinks to be filled up
  • Vessel Sinks that many jurisdictions do not allow get filled up.

Since vessel sinks tend to be installed in powder bathrooms and more uniquely designed bathrooms, many grid drains come with decorative style drain holes to add some sort of flare to the drain and make it look utilitarian drains used in commercial spaces.

Grid Drain With Overflow

  • Grid drains can’t be closed to fill the sink.
  • Ideal for commercial applications to prevent accidental flooding
  • Grid drains without overflow are often the only compliant drains in some jurisdictions as many states do not allow vessel sinks to be filled.

The Grid drain with overflow is a type of drain equipped with multiple holes for easy draining and no mechanism to shut off the drain. Although this drain can’t fill up, it still comes equipped with overflow holes to offer compatibility with sinks already pre drilled with holes.

The grid drain with overflow also provides a secondary layer for protection of overflow. While it could never be intentionally filled up, there is always a possibility of the sink drain to be clogged. In this instance, the grid drain with overflow will allow water flow out its overflow holes as long as it’s paired up with a compatible sink.

It’s important to note that this type of drain is not common, since most users prefer to have the option of closing down the drain to fill up their sink, even if they never really use that function. The Grid drain without overflow is used more often only because it’s the only option when regulations require the usage of a drain that can’t be closed.

Offset Drain Without Overflow

  • Used in commercial sinks that are wheelchair accessible
  • It’s essentially a grid drain with an offset pipe body that is typically exposed
  • Like a grid drain, it can’t be filled and provides overflow protection without an overflow.

The offset drain is a type grid drain specifically designed for sinks installed in commercial ADA bathrooms. The offset pipe allows for the sink area to be wheelchair accessible as the horizontal pipe is off set to the back and away from where the disabled person would be sitting. This allows for the person in a wheelchair to have unobstructed access to the sink and the drain.

Since the offset drain is a grid drain that can’t be filled up, there is no need for an overflow. However, this type of drain is not as common as you would think since the most popular sinks come equipped with overflow holes.

Offset Drain With Overflow

  • Used in commercial sinks that are wheelchair accessible
  • Provides a second layer of overflow protection since it comes equipped an overflow channel
  • Because most sinks come equipped with overflow holes, it’s more popular than it would have otherwise been.

Offset Drain with Overflow is a type of grid drain used in commercial wheelchair accessible bathrooms. The drain body is exposed and offset to make room for a sliding wheelchair. Although a sink with overflow is not required for this type of application, it’s pretty common as the most popular sinks tend to come equipped with overflow holes.

It’s important to note that although the drain body is meant to be exposed, in real world applications it’s often covered by a rubber drain cover to reduce injuries from accidental contact with the metal drain body.

Lift & Turn Drain Without Overflow

  • Commonly used with vessel sinks
  • It’s ideal for traditional bathrooms, as an alternative to the more modern looking push button drain
  • Can be annoying to operate

A Lift & Turn Drain without overflow is a type of drain that requires lifting and turning the knob on top of the drink cover in order to open and close the drain. This version of the Lift & Turn Drain contains no overflow as it’s mainly used for vessel sinks and other sinks that are not equipped with overflow holes.

this type of train is an alternative to the push button drain as it leaves the user to manually reach into the sink to fill up the sink or allow water to pass through.

As you could imagine this type of drain is not as popular as the push button drain since it’s a harder mechanism to get used to. Opening the drain is particularly tricky as it needs to be turned exactly in the right position to lock it in.

Lift & Turn Drain With Overflow

  • Not as common as the drain without an overflow
  • A good option for thicker over the counter vessel sinks that come equipped with overflow holes
  • Can be annoying to operate

A lift and turn drain is a type of drain that allows its users to use a knob on top of the drain cover to either open or close the drain opening. This particular version of the lifting turns rain is equipped with overflow or holes to accommodate sinks that come standard with overflow channels.

the left and turn drain with overflow is not a common type of drain. There are other types of drains with overflow that are more common like the push apart and and the pop-up drain.

The one advantage of the lift and turn drain that it has over the push button drain is that it’s more compatible which traditional style bathrooms. The knob on top of the drain cover it gives it more of a vintage feel.

Chain & Plug Drain

A chain & Plug drain is a vintage style sink drain that comes with a plug to shut off the sink drain. This plug is attached to a chain that is used to pull the plug out without the need reach in the dirty water to open the drain back up.

This type of drain is extremely rare and only used to fit into a very antique style bathroom. This type of drain is typically sold by manufacturers of antique style bathroom fixtures like

Are all these types of Bathroom Sink Drain Universal Or Interchangeable?

Most consumers tend to purchase their bathroom sink drains as a part of their faucets. It’s usually not even a thought unless they’re doing something out of the ordinary in their bathrooms. As a result, the everyday consumer rarely has to purchase drains during a new construction or a remodel.

The most common way for an everyday homeowner to have the need to purchase a drain is when it needs to replace and this is where the question of interchangeability comes in. So are most bathroom sink drains universal?

Bathroom sink drains within the same category are interchangeable across brands. However there are other important design aspects to consider when replacing a sink drain with one made by a different manufacturer.

To help easily illustrate the compatibility between drain

Compatible with each other (Tier 1)Not Fully Compatible with other types (Tier 2)Not Compatible with other types under any circumstances (Tier 3)
With OverflowGrid Drain, Lift & Turn Drain, Push Button drainPop up Drain, Offset Grid DrainVintage Chain & stopper Drains
Without OverflowGrid Drain, Lift & Turn Drain, Push Button drainPop up Drain, Offset Grid DrainVintage Chain & stopper Drains
  • Tier 1 drains can be replaced by other tier 1 drain since there is no direct link to the faucet as they operate on their own. Additionally, the drain body is identical.
  • Tier 2: these two types of drains are not fully compatible with tier 1 drain for different reasons; The pop up drains connect directly to the faucet, while the offset grid drain has a unique drain body to make the sink area accessible. They both can be replaced by tier 1 drains if you’re willing to give up some functionality.
  • Tier 3: The chain and stopper drain is a dinosaur of a product and is only used to make a statement and is quite far from practical.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts