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Plumbing Terms 101 - How To Talk Reno

Starting out on the journey of your first home renovation can be a daunting experience.

What was once just a room in your house is now a complicated puzzle of interlocking thingamajigs and whatsits. Take one out and replace it with something else, and you could have a big problem on your hands.

When it comes to your reno, you know the style you like, but how to get that across to your significant other/installer- and what to search for when looking online?

As we all know, Google is only as good as the search terms you enter.

If you don’t know your PVC elbow from your… err… actual elbow though, don’t despair. You’re not alone. Plumbing terms can be misleading and binge watching a few seasons of The Block does not make an expert. When it comes to overhauling your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry though, not having a basic understanding of plumbing terminology can blow out your budget and cause significant delays. To ensure you’re not bamboozled by your plumber or left ordering something that you definitely don’t need, we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used plumbing terms below.

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Fine Fireclay Laundry Sink - Turner Hastings

Basins & Sinks

Repeat after us - basins go in the bathroom, kitchens are for the sink (or laundry).

Not to be confused with one another (though you will often find the terms used interchangeably, thanks to our US cousins), sinks are different from basins. Here’s why....

Sinks are typically stainless steel (though they can be composed of various composite materials, or in the case of “butler sinks”, be a gorgeous fireclay ceramic).

Sinks are larger than basins, are almost always inset or undermount, and can have one or two bowls, and one, two or no draining areas. They are installed in kitchens and laundries and have a 50mm waste to allow for water to drain quicker from their larger capacity bowls.

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Basins, on the other hand, are for bathrooms only. They have smaller bowls and smaller wastes, and although have traditionally been manufactured from vitreous china only, recent styles have seen the introduction of natural materials like cement, stone, and even glass.

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Pic: Halo Concrete Basin - Concrete Nation (available through Cook's but not yet on website - contact us for further info)

When selecting a bathroom basin, there are a few terms you need to know to help you get what you want.

Waste: This is the part that sits inside the basin and fits to the pipe to allow water to drain. Some wastes will have a plug and waste type set up, where the plug is separate, but trending right now is the pop up version, which is integrated with a top section that “pop ups” to allows water to pass when pressed.

Wastes for basins come in either a 32mm or 40mm size, so it’s important to know what size your basin takes if there isn’t one included in the box. Our highly experienced Showroom Consultant's can help you with this.

Overflow: Some basins will have an “overflow”- a small hole to allow for water to drain when the bowl reaches its capacity and it can’t empty through the waste. If you’ve selected a basin that has an overflow, you’ll need to make sure your waste has one too. Again, a Cook's Showroom Consultant is the best person to hit up for advice if you’re unsure.

Bottle trap: Bottle traps are decorative pipework used to pretty up the necessary piping that hangs from beneath wall hung basins. They come in a range of finishes to suit your tapware look.


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Pic: Caroma Wall Hung Basin With Black Bottle Trap & Mixer

Tap landing: A tap landing refers to a flat part on a basin that will more than likely have a hole or holes in it for installation of tapware or a mixer. Basins come either with no taphole (where tapware and mixers can be mounted into the benchtop directly, or against the wall), 1 taphole (for basin mixers), or three taphole (for three-piece basin sets).

Above counter/ undercounter/ inset/ semi-recessed/ wall: These terms refer to the installation method of the basin, and they’re really important to know and get right (even more so if you’re dealing with two different trades on your vanity make).

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Plumbing Terms blog, where we cover toilets and tapware.