Sinks (Kitchen) Buying Guide

Sinks (Kitchen)
  • Getting Started

  • Utilitarian primarily, kitchen sinks also can add beauty to the room with style and color. Due to the popularity of stainless steel appliances, stainless steel sinks are very popular, but sinks of other materials can complement the kitchen and perform well for cleaning — whether pots and pans or vegetables and fruits.

  • What to Consider

  • Functionality: Created for cleaning a multitude of food stuffs and appliances, the kitchen sink should be deep and large enough to wash your largest pots and pans. Usually created between 6-inches and 12-inches deep, the length of the sink should handle your roaster all at once.

    Purpose: If the sink will be used as a prep workstation, such as in an island, then look for designs that will accommodate accessories for straining, or chopping foods.  A double sink of various depths may work best in this area of the kitchen.

    Style: Kitchen sinks are created in myriad designs, from the basic rectangle to units with integral drainboards. The design should complement the cabinets and appliances.

    Lifetsyle: Manufactured in a variety of materials, kitchen sinks should stand up to the uses demanded of them. If children participate in cooking and/or cleaning duties, consider the depth of the sink. Created from 6-inches deep up to as much as as 12-inch deep sink, the latter will be difficult for shorter individuals to reach into. Consider 7-plus to 9-plus inch depths for family use. 

    Cabinet Size: The length and depth of base cabinet into which the sink is situated will also have an impact upon the size of the sink. The faucet location will take up some of the countertop and base cabinet space, so choose the faucet set when choosing the sink.

    Maintenance: Different manufacturers will recommend maintenance measures. Some materials require regular maintenance; others require less.

    Budget: Quality, size and styles will have an impact upon the budget. Purchase the best quality for the budget.

  • Material

  • Stainless Steel is the most popular material for kitchen sinks due to the strength and corrosion resistance created by adding chromium and nickel to the steel alloy.  Look for a ratio of 18:8 chromium to nickel or 20:10 — the higher the number the better quality of the stainless steel. Stainless steel is pore-free, recyclable, and durable. Manufactured in a variety of gauges— the lower the number the thicker the metal—to reduce dents and dings. An undercoating will deaden noise and reduce condensation. The thicker the gauge and the thicker the undercoating, the more expensive. Add sound deadening pads and the price increases.

        •  16-gauge is the highest quality regularly manufactured sinks. Available in a range of sizes and styles, sinks will include a high-end sound deadening system.

        •  18-gauge is the most popular thickness for high-quality sinks. A broad range of sizes and styles are available from a variety of manufacturers. Look for a fine finish and a very good sound deadening system.

        •  20-gauge and 22-gauge sinks are lower quality and may not resist dings and dents.

        •  Mirror finishes will show water stains and mars from cleaning.

        •  Brushed finishes are less likely to show water spots and scratches.

    Cast Iron sinks are created by baking an enamel top-coat on an iron mold that often contains up to 80 percent recycled material to produce the iron alloy.  This results in a non-porous, durable finish that accepts heat well and is stain resistant. The enamel finish may chip if heavy items are dropped inside, causing the iron below to rust. Easy to clean, the finish does not show water spots or streaks and requires little maintenance. Cast iron sinks are available in a wide range of styles and colors to complement any kitchen design.

    Composite sinks are produced by mixing crushed granite or quartz with resin and molding the mixture under high pressure into a variety of sizes and styles for use in the kitchen. Nonporous, composite sinks resist stains, scratches and dents, but they are so strong they make cause glasses to break if dropped into them. The color is found throughout the material. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed for care and cleaning as some chemicals can damage composite sinks. Also, some may be affected by high heat from pots placed on the surface.

    Fireclay is produced by firing porcelain enamel onto a molded ceramic clay shape. The process takes a long period and high temperatures to create the sink, which then is strong and durable. Most often used for apron sinks due to the beauty and strength of the front edge of the sink.  Easy to maintain and clean since the enamel surface is non-porous.

    Acrylic sinks are molded polycarbonate plastic reinforced with fiberglass to create a variety of sizes and styles. With the color throughout, minor scratches can be scrubbed or sanded out. Non-porous, acrylic is stain resistant. Since it is plastic, heat will damage it and deep scratches will show up and reduce the life of the sink.Natural Stone sinks of soapstone, granite, and marble are made for use in the kitchen. These may be carved out of the stone and created most frequently as apron sinks so the beauty of the stone is visible or as prep sinks.

    Soapstone is non-porous and strong so it is stain and even acid resistant. Hot pots will not damage the stone. Soapstone is available in shades of black and gray for use in classic or even modern homes. Easy to clean, soapstone sinks are created in a variety of shapes and styles, although most frequently in apron front designs.

    Granite sinks will be heavy and require additional supports in the base cabinet. If granite is used as the countertop, a sink can be fabricated from the same material.  Seal the stone for maintenance.

    Marble also produces a beautiful sink that when sealed will last a long time. Wipe stains right away and use a scrubbing pad on acids for cleaning. Regular sealing will maintain the beauty of the marble.

    Copper kitchen sinks produce a look like no other metal or material. The nature of the copper eliminates bacteria from the surface.  Created in several finishes, such as polished, hammered, antique, copper sinks are available in a variety of styles, most often apron or prep sinks.

  • Types

  • Undermount sinks provide a clean sweep from the countertop. The unit is fitted underneath the counter with an edgeless finish. Used most frequently with granite, composite, wood and solid surface counters.

    Topmount sinks are manufactured with a rim that extends over the countertop. Easy to install, the topmount sink will be drilled with holes to accommodate the faucet set.

    Apron front sinks are often called farmhouse sinks as they were found as workhourses in older homes. The sink offers a large bowl for cleaning pots and pans.

    Single Bowl sinks may be rectangular or rounded corners from six-inches to 12-inches deep. The drain hole may be centered, or off to a side or back to provide more workspace in the basin. As large as 33-inches, a single bowl sink usually fits a standard base cabinet of 25-1/2 inches by 36-inches. Several styles are available to accommodate faucet alignment.

    Double Bowl sinks offer separate spaces for different tasks, such as preparing vegetables and washing up utensils. The bowls may have two different depths and sizes. May be as large as 48-inches long.

    Triple Bowl sinks require a large base cabinet as they can run up to 60-inches long. Two larger bowls will sandwich a smaller prep sink. Bowls may be different depths and sizes.

    Prep sinks may be round, rectangular, topmount or undermount but will be smaller and not as deep, usually in the 6-inch range.

  • Accessories

  • Colanders and drain baskets are designed to fit across the sink to drain fruits or vegetable or even small dishes.

    Wooden Cutting Boards are created to fit within the sink, sometimes on a lip designed into the sink to hold the cutting board above the basin bottom.

    Bottom grids fit into the bottom of the sink to protect the surface and provide a cushion for utensils and dishes.

    Roller mats fit over the sink to provide more workspace.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Materials will impact the cost of the sink, especially stone and copper.

        •  Stainless steel ranges depending upon the gauge and the sound suppression material, and size.

        •  Cast Iron can range slightly more than stainless steel depending upon size and style.

        •  Acrylic is the least expensive and again varies due to size and style

        •  Composite range slightly more than the lowest grade stainless steel and again will vary due to size and style

        •  Fireclay is one of the more expensive materials and again will vary with size and style.

        •  Natural Stone is expensive due to the nature of the stone and way it is prepared.

        •  Copper is one of the more expensive sinks ranging due to size and style.

    Sizes: Larger sinks cost more than simple, single bowl sinks. Double bowls are often more costly than single bowls, with Triple Bowl even more so.


        •  Topmount usually cost less than Undermount.

        •  Apron front sinks are more expensive due to the amount of material needed to create the sink and the detail required.

    Installation by a plumber will add to the expense. Some municipalities will require installation by a professional and an inspection from the building department, especially if the drain or water pipes are being moved in a retrofit. Check local building codes if the size or location of the sink is involved.

    Accessories will increase the cost, and sinks designed to accept accessories may cost more due to the design.