Every kitchen needs a sink, but as with most home necessities, there are a variety of kitchen sink options including styles and materials, each with their own set of pros and cons. You also need to consider the installation type, as the type of countertops you have will often dictate what will work best for you. Today we will look at the various kitchen sink options and help you decide the right kind for your home and way of life.
First Things First
With so many kitchen sink options — single bowls to multiple bowls of different sizes, shapes and depths — you need to consider the size of the room and how you’ll use the sink. Large multibasin models, which are popular right now, will overpower a small kitchen. Make sure the size is proportionate to the area it will be installed in, such as a large space or smaller island.
Kitchen Sink Options – Mounting
How and where your new sink is attached to the countertop is a decision you’ll need to make before you order your new basin. Self-rimming sinks (Drop-In)
are easiest to install; most take about an hour. Lighter sinks, such as stainless-steel or composite models, are secured to the counter with clips and screws. Heavy cast-iron sinks are held in place by their weight.
A few stainless-steel and enamel-on-steel sinks are held in place by a separate steel rim. However, you wind up with two seams where germs and dirt can accumulate, which is not always ideal. Undermount sinks
are popular because they’re sleek looking, make wiping off the counters into the sink a breeze and allow you to combine bowls of
different shapes and sizes. However, undermounts often take at least twice the time to install as self-rimming models. They also require solid materials, such as granite or solid surfacing, since the counter material is exposed. You can install undermounts with butcher block countertops, but it is extremely important that the counters are sealed – we would suggest 5 times. This is because the wood edges will be exposed to moisture on a daily basis, which can cause damage. Flush Mount
sinks are also called “tile edge” sinks. They’re similar to a drop-in sink except they’re used with a tiled countertop. The tile is installed so that it’s flush with the mounting flange of the sink providing a flush surface with the countertop. There’s usually a grout line between the edge of the sink and the tile. Apron Front Farm Sinks
lend a very cozy, welcoming vibe, but their design was created for comfort and practicality, not style. Often found in rural homes in decades past, these sinks were made for women who spent long, long hours at the sink, so it was important not to have to bend over – the apron front’s forward orientation eliminates the countertop that causes the user to lean forward and strain more than necessary.
Unlike recessed sinks, the apron sinks have a front that juts out from the surrounding cabinetry. This feature helped prevent damage to the cabinets, as any water or suds that dripped over the lip of the farmhouse sink would drip to the floor rather than puddle on the wood of the cabinet countertop. There are some beautiful farm sinks available in materials like copper, stainless steel, traditional porcelain and even concrete!
Kitchen Sink Options – Material
Stainless steel sinks are preferred for their clean looks and durability. Available in brushed and polished finishes, better sinks are made from thicker steel, measured by gauge thickness. Stainless sinks have a bit more “give” than a harder material like cast iron and are more forgiving on dropped dishes and glassware.
|Good durability and longevity on quality sinks. Provides a consistent look with stainless appliances. Affordable (though sinks with more features add cost).||Thinner gauges (>20) may sound tiny and flex too much. Will show dried water and mineral spots unless wiped after use. Can scratch although they’re less visible on brushed finishes.|
Cast iron has a long track record of being a durable sink material. They are finished with porcelain enamel, a coating fired at high temperatures that provides hardness and durability. It’s not indestructible however as it’s possible for the enamel to wear away or chip over time. They’re heavy but durable, making undermount applications a bit trickier than drop-ins. If you like the look of glossy sink, cast iron is a good choice.
|Offers a durable sink that’s available in various colors. Easy to clean and maintain. Heavy mass retains heat longer (though it takes longer to warm up). Porcelain finish has a nice sheen.Drop-in styles are easy to install.||Undermount installation requires solid fixturing due to weight. Porcelain can wear/chip over time causing underlying iron to rust if it’s exposed. Not compatible with abrasive cleaners; can dull the gloss finish. Heavy pans can leave marks on lighter colors (usually cleanable however).|
Fireclay sinks are a form of ceramic, similar to vitreous china yet stronger and more durable. Fireclay is fired at a higher temperature than vitreous china which helps provide the added durability. These products can have either a glossy or matte finish depending on the brand you buy. Typical colors are in the white and off-white family although there are some blue, black and grey products too.
|Durable, hard, non-porous finish that’s easy to maintain. Ceramic material isn’t susceptible to corrosion when the surface finish is chipped, like what can occur with cast iron. Typical styles are massive and command a presence making them a definite style statement in the kitchen.||Can be expensive. Despite durable surface finish chips can occur from hard knocks though there are chip repair kits available. Depending on manufacturer sizing can vary; having a sink on-hand before templating for countertop cutouts and installation may be necessary. Requires careful installation of drain and garbage disposal to avoid cracking that can occur due to over-tightening.|
Solid surface sinks are made from the same material as solid surface countertops. When coupled with a solid surface counter, these sinks offer a great seamless look, the ultimate in sink/counter design with no ridges or edges to catch gunk and grime. They are high on our list of great kitchen sink options.
|Provides a seamless joint with solid surface countertops. Self-rimming solid sinks also available for easy installation. Durable surface that stands up to scrubbing. Color goes through the material – scratches are less noticeable.Deep scratches/cuts are repairable, similar to solid surface countertops.More forgiving to dropped objects than cast iron and stone sink.||Not tolerant to high heat and very hot pots/pans. Can crack or break under impact from heavy objects. Seamless installation with countertops requires professional fabrication. Cracks/fractures require professional repair (usually replacement).|
Copper & Bronze
A copper or bronze sink offers a distinctive look that will take on an aged patina depending on the type of care it’s given. Kitchen sink materials such as these are mostly about the look in my opinion.
|Non-rusting material with a unique visual distinction. Certain alloys of copper have antimicrobial properties (valid products must be registered with the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).||Expensive to very expensive depending on size and design. Will need polishing to retain bright appearance.|
While these are the most popular kitchen sink options in the market today, there are additional kitchen sink options available. Those in this list are simply the most highly used and sought after. My personal favorite of the kitchen sink materials would be stainless steel, which can look great in a kitchen of any style and provides a high level of durability. My favorite mounting style is the Farm Sink, for the comfort features, but primarily its charming look. Knowing your options before purchasing a new kitchen sink can save you money or stress in years to come. We offer all of the above options at Builders Surplus for a lower cost, so come check us out in store before you buy and we can discuss any additional points to consider. Thanks for reading!