My question was inspired by this one. The majority of public restrooms have huge sinks and short faucets. When I wash my hands, most of the time I touch the back wall of the sink and that makes me wonder, what is all that empty space in the sink used for if the faucet only reaches in to about the fifth of the sink's diameter. Why can't sinks be smaller or faucets go out to the middle of the sink?

  • 2
    Sinks are cheap, faucets are oddly expensive?
    – CaffGeek
    Mar 6, 2012 at 22:03
  • 1
    lot of bathroom posts of late..
    – Mervin
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:36
  • They are making some that are higher, or do what I did put a kitchen sink in bathroom. Had a extra hole drilled in vanity top and put a sprayer for rinsing hair. Everyone has loved it. It comes out further so hands don't hit back of sink and the kid's like it. May 29, 2023 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


In addition to the material cost that Chad mentioned, they are more durable. Public restrooms are likely to experience much wear-and-tear from abusive patrons, especially in certain settings. They must be built to last.

If you have a longer faucet, you can exert greater force on the base of the faucet with less effort on the end. Simply put, longer faucets are easier to break.

  • Breaking off a faucet to get into a fight... maybe. But why are the sinks so wide?
    – Eugene
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Eugene To facilitate multiple people scrubbing simultaneously (not all of the sink time is spent under the faucet)...
    – Farray
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:24

My speculation would be that it also helps to save water (same as the tricks used to make people push controls for the water to flow every 5 seconds) If you have the faucet in a more convenient distance to yourself, you'll probably just keep the water running even when not directly using it, if it's less convenient to reach - you may be encouraged to run the water less times.

Interesting to consider as well (my observations):

  • if you live in a Scandinavian country (e.g. Holland) you'll notice that in many cases the whole sink/faucet station is so high that a normal/non Scandinavian person, especially a girl, can not really use it properly. Do we really need this kind of height adjustments based on the statistical height of the population?

  • in South East Asia in smaller bathrooms sometimes you notice that the sink and a shelf above it are almost the same size, protruding from the wall with same distance which makes it impossible to for example wash your face (the shelf will prevent you from keeping your head over the sink) - bad design or built with some purpose?

Just some more bathroom stuff :)

  • 1
    And also if the faucet is short, then the sensors will not be able to accurately pick up if someone is ready to wash their hands.
    – Eugene
    Mar 7, 2012 at 5:47
  • 5
    Holland is not a Scandinavian country, but thanks for playing! ;)
    – Rahul
    Mar 7, 2012 at 10:31
  • 1
    @rahul you're right, I should have phrased the dutch as simply Scandinavian-like very tall people ;)
    – Marina
    Mar 7, 2012 at 11:14
  • Holland is not a country at all, actually, Scandinavian or otherwise.
    – TRiG
    May 13, 2014 at 11:17
  • As a fairly tall person (1.85 cm, just slightly above average in Norway) I can tell you that using a sink or kitchen desk, etc. much lower than what is the standard height in Norway (sometimes found in kindergardens or childrens schools and everywhere outside scandinavia) so that i have to reach down to about knee height with my hands; it's quite painful to the back. Fewer would probably wash their hands if the sink were uncomfortably high or low, so adjusting for the average height is probably sensible. Apr 9, 2015 at 13:46

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