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The Ultimate Buyers Guide To School Sinks & Wash Troughs

School sinks: a buying and installation guide

Wash troughs: they may not have the most appealing name, but they are an attractive and - more importantly - cost effective alternative to the traditional individual hand washing basin. In this guide, we’ll walk you through different kinds of trough sink, the materials they’re made from, and tips on installation. First, though, let’s take a look at what makes trough sinks superior to bowls in a school setting.

Why trough sinks?

The main difference between wash troughs and individual basins is that wash troughs can accommodate multiple users at a time, while requiring essentially the same amount of plumbing. This makes them not only cheaper to purchase, but also far simpler to install.

Furthermore, the Department for Education and Skills (now the Department for Education) specifically recommended wash troughs in its Toilets in Schools Guidance, stating that ‘Wash troughs are preferable to individual wash basins – they are easier to clean, aesthetically more pleasing, and reduce the potential for pupils to flood the toilets.’


Wash troughs tend to be constructed from two main materials: stainless steel and solid surface. But which is better? Well, it’s entirely subjective. Here are the pros and cons of each, so you can make up your own mind and decide which is best for your school.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is ordinary steel with a special zinc oxide coating, which keeps the underlying metal from rusting. As well as being anti-corrosive and easy to clean, stainless steel is also extremely hardwearing, and, consequently, resistant to vandalism - all of which make it ideal for manufacturing wash troughs and other washroom appliances.

The downside to stainless steel is that it isn’t as easy to shape as solid surface; many also prefer the latter for its aesthetic properties. While stainless steel can look great in washrooms with a minimalist or industrial, some people find that it has a slightly ‘prison-y’ vibe. That said, we do stock a range of coloured stainless steel wash troughs, which you may find a little more aesthetically pleasing/easier to integrate with more modern school washrooms.

Solid surface

Solid surface material is essentially a mixture of naturally occurring minerals and pigments, suspended in resinous binding agent. Since the patent for the original solid surface product - Corian, by DuPont - expired, many alternatives have entered the marketplace; at, we favour Corian, although we can also supply wash troughs in Hi-Macs® if desired.

Solid surface can be easily formed into different shapes, meaning that solid surface wash troughs come in a greater variety of designs than their stainless steel counterparts; however, it is less robust and more prone to vandalism than stainless steel, and can be easily scratched.

Types of wash trough

To complicate matters further, our school wash troughs come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and installation options. Don’t despair - simply read through the explanations below, and you’ll be a veritable wash trough expert.

Wall-mounted trough sinks

Wall-mounted trough sinks do what it says on the tin: whether they’re constructed from stainless steel or solid surface, they’re mounted to a wall, normally with integrated fixing brackets. Just make sure the wall you choose is sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the wash trough before installation.

Sit-on trough sinks

Sit-on trough sinks are designed to be mounted onto an existing surface within your school washroom, such as a vanity unit. We only offer solid surface sit-on trough sinks, owing to the design of stainless steel sinks.

Inset trough sinks

Inset wash troughs are designed to be set within an existing surface, and as such are a great way of saving space in your washroom. Check out this stainless steel inset trough sink for inspiration.

Splashback trough sinks

Splashback trough sinks come with an integrated splashback to protect your walls from unsightly splashes and water marks. They are available as both sit on and wall mounted in solid surface.

Designer trough sinks

The versatility of solid surface material means that it can be formed into any number of weird and wonderful shapes; we’ve used it to create our range of designer trough sinks, which includes a tasteful incline trough sink and a special modular design. The designer range is perfect for forward-thinking schools and colleges who take design seriously.

Junior trough sinks

Our trough sinks are also available in junior dimensions for nurseries, preschools and junior schools. See our wall-mounted stainless steel junior trough sinks, as well as our wall-mounted junior trough all in solid surface.


Finally, when you’ve settled on a trough sink, you’ll need to install at a height that suits your users. There are no hard and fast rules on this, but we find the following to be a useful rule of thumb:

  • Infants: 610mm
  • Juniors: 690mm
  • Secondary: 790mm
  • Adults: 810mm

All the above measurements are from the floor to the top front ledge of the wash trough.

25th July 2017

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