Kitchen sinks are by far the most used fixture in the kitchen; arguably in the entire house. Consider how many times a day you use your kitchen sink compared to the number of times you use your stove, microwave, or any other room. There is such a wide range of choices including everything from materials to bowl configuration, that you can wonder where to begin. This means that a lot more thought needs to go into choosing the right kitchen sink, in terms of design and functionality, for your home.
First, you need to be aware of all the choices and options that are now available to you. Sinks have come a long way over the years and they are no longer considered just a wash basin. Next, you need to have a good understanding of what your needs and preferences are and whether you’re simply replacing an existing sink or doing a complete kitchen remodel. Combining these two areas of information will help you find matches that will provide a new sink you will be satisfied with. When considering the many sink options, there are three basic factors you will need to become familiar with. They are:
What type of installation will be needed, or how will the sink be installed and affixed to the countertop.
What overall configuration/size you need (such as bowl, or multi-bowl).
What material you want the sink to be made out of.
Having a firm understanding of what you want from these basic features will help you narrow down the list of available choices and target your search. From there you can zero in on the range of options offered by the various manufacturers that fit into those three basic criteria. In regards to installation, there are three basic ways kitchen sinks can be installed in your home:
Self-rimming (drop-in): the easiest to install. These type of sinks are easily positioned into a cutout in the countertop on top of a base cabinet, supported by the flanges of the sink that overlap the cutout. The biggest disadvantage to this type of installation is the barrier between the countertop surface and the bowl that’s formed by the lip. When you try to sweep food and liquids into the sink, from the countertop, you end up catching the debris at the edge of the sink, where the countertop meets.
Undermount: Undermount sinks are attached under the countertop. The sink either hangs from the underside of the countertop or it is supported from underneath the cabinet by the base cabinet structure. Undermount sinks allow you to brush items from the countertop directly into the sink without any “catch points” which can capture food particles and moisture. These sinks require clips and other mechanical fastening devices to attach them to the countertop. Heavier kitchen sinks, made out of cast iron or stone require a well-designed mounting system in an undermount installation.
Flush mount: Flush mount sinks are also called “tile edge” sinks. They are similar to a drop-in sink except they are 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.
Sink Bowl Options Configuration and Size
A sink’s configuration refers to it’s design, including the number of bowls, whether the corners are square or rounded, number of faucet holes, etc. Size, of course, refers to the dimensions of the sink.
A smaller, single-bowl configuration may work better in a small galley kitchen, whereas a large kitchen may be able to accommodate a wide three-bowl, multi-depth chef sink. Another idea is to install a corner sink configuration that makes the most of a kitchen’s available area.
Choosing the size and configuration that best fits your space and lifestyle is important. Kitchen sinks come in a variety of materials. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the common sink materials:
Stainless steel sinks are very appealing for their neutral, clean look, as well as their durability. They are available in brushed and polished finishes. The higher quality sinks are made from thicker steel, measured by gauge thickness. They are usually more forgiving when dishes and glassware are dropped.
Cast Iron sinks have a long history of being durable. They are finished with porcelain enamel, a coating fired at high temperatures that provide hardness and durability. This doesn’t mean cast iron is indestructible, the enamel can still wear away or chip over time. Minor chips and scratches can be fixed. Cast iron sinks are heavy but durable, making undermount applications a bit more difficult than drop-ins. If you like the look of a glossy sink, cast iron is a good choice.
Fireclay sinks are a form of ceramic, similar to vitreous china but 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.
Acrylic kitchen sinks are economical with a surface that is easy to maintain and very resistant to stains. Acrylic is a plastic that’s molded to form the shape of the sink. It is typically reinforced with fiberglass.
Decide how you will use the sink on a day to day basis to determine what configuration will work best for you. If you hand wash your dishes most of the time, you may want a double bowl, one for washing and the other for rinsing/draining. However, if you use a dishwasher most of the time, and only wash large pots and pans, you may want a large single bowl. Take the time to become familiar with all the new features in kitchen sinks and you will have a better chance finding a sink you will not only be happy with but one that will make your kitchen a more efficient work space.