Stainless steel sinks are still the most popular type of kitchen sink even though they've been around for a hundred years, because they're inexpensive, lightweight and don't rust. Some models start around $100 and for those on a tight budget, they make a lot of sense. They also go with almost any kitchen decor and since a stainless kitchen sink is mostly hidden below the counter surface until you stand next to it, there hasn't been a lot of focus on dressing it up much.
Now suddenly kitchen sinks are popping up out of the counter top to take their rightful place as a focal point in the kitchen, especially when the kitchen sink is in the island. We talked about new kitchen styles in another article, More Kitchen Sink Choices to Fit Your Lifestyle (add link). In this article we're going to focus on the more practical aspects of picking your next kitchen sink based on materials and how durable they are, and how different kitchen sinks are installed.
Lots of Choices in Kitchen Sink Materials
Now that there are so many choices available in kitchen sink materials, it's important to pick a material that will hold up to heavy use and look nice without lots of care.
Given the wide array of options, it's important to educate yourself on the different kitchen sink materials, their durability, price points, and usefulness. Understanding your options will help you select a kitchen sink style, color, and material that's right for your kitchen. Here are some basics to help you get started.
Stainless steel is still the most popular kitchen sink style, and it offers the lowest price point, with some models starting at $100. One reason this kitchen sink is so popular is that it matches commercial-styled appliances. When you're choosing a stainless steel sink, the important things to look for are the thickness or gauge of the steel, and the sound deadening ability, which determines how loud the noise is when something is dropped into the kitchen sink, such as a piece of silverware.
Thicker gauge steel is higher in quality and will make a more dent resistant and durable sink. But in general, stainless sinks are prone to scratching and water spotting. A satin texture finish can help protect your kitchen sink from these issues. For increased sound buffering, get a sink with spray coatings and special sound pads beneath the basin.
A stainless kitchen sink offers many benefits including resistance to chipping, cracking or peeling. They are available in both undermount and drop-in models, though if you want to undermount a stainless steel sink, the countertop must be a solid material and not a laminate, due to water exposure, laminates can eventually separate and bubble.
Cast Iron Sinks
If you have an older kitchen, there's a chance you have a cast iron kitchen sink. This kitchen sink has an iron base coated with an enamel finish. The main disadvantage of these sinks is that they chip or scratch and expose the black surface underneath, which often leads to rusting. A cast iron kitchen sink is difficult to install because its heavy and awkward. Cast iron also offers a very limited amount of undermount installation options. Some homeowners still prefer a cast iron kitchen sink because of the authenticity it lends to older homes, its glossy finish, and its stain resistance.
Composite, Polyester/Acrylic, Quartz
The use of composite, polyester/acrylic, and quartz kitchen sinks is growing rapidly. Of all the types of composite sinks available, polyester/acrylic are the lowest performing in terms of scratch and stain resistance, as they are made from soft materials that can cut and nick easily. On the positive side, a polyester/acrylic based composite kitchen sink tends to have a shiny look, which appeals to many homeowners because it can brighten up a kitchen. They come in a wide range of colors and they're affordable for the budget conscious.
With a combination of 70 percent quartz and 30 percent resin filler, a quartz composite kitchen sink provides a much more durable surface than polyester/acrylic. Not only does it resist everyday cuts, scrapes and dents, it stands up to cleaning materials and liquids that stain other sinks.
Quartz composite sinks are available in many colors and in various configurations such as 2, 3, 4 basin, and small, medium and large basin. You can get matching bar and prep sinks. These kitchen sinks can be mounted from above or below the counter. The only drawback is that with some styles, consumers may give up the glossy finish that they would get from a cast iron sink.
The most scratch resistant kitchen sink material available is a granite composite. Although you might pay a premium price for these sinks, they offer extreme chemical and scratch resistance. In addition, they have the most durability due to a high density of rock particles at their surface. A granite-based kitchen sink is only available in a matte finish, so consumers who prefer a glossy look should explore other composite options.
A solid surface kitchen sink has become increasingly popular because of its ability to be one, integral unit with the countertop. This is an attractive option for those who want a clean surface with no exposed edges from countertop to kitchen sink. The solid surface sink materials are softer than the quartz composite sink. They can nick, scratch and dent, but can be repaired. Although a solid surface kitchen sink can be cost prohibitive for some, it offers excellent resistance to heat and light exposure and are easy to maintain.
Don't forget the many optional accessories that make your kitchen sink the fun and efficient feature you want to add to your kitchen. Choose from options that include form-fitting cutting boards, drying racks, colander baskets, lotion or soap dispensers and a pullout spray.
Different Ways to Install a Kitchen Sink
Depending on the type of design and style of the sink you choose, their are five different ways your kitchen sink can be installed.
- The undermounted kitchen sink is attached beneath the countertop, and installation can create a look that blends with modern designs.
- The integral kitchen sink installation is one in which the sink and countertop are made from one material, so there are no noticeable seems and it's easy to maintain.
- The self-rimming kitchen sink installation has a rolled edge mounted over the countertop. This sink will look good with any type of kitchen design, from traditional to contemporary.
- Rimmed kitchen sinks are the most common and the least expensive. They can have many uses, but don't bring much in the way of style to a kitchen.
- The tile-in kitchen sink is used with tile countertops and is intended to be used in situations where there is no visible separation between the sink and surface.
In deciding how best to have your kitchen sink installed, consider the style of your sink and the look you are trying to create. Also talk with your contractor or kitchen designer about what is actually feasible.
Have you chosen s kitchen sink? Or have you installed a kitchen sink recently?
Share your homeowner stories related to your kitchen sink