How to Choose the Right Sink(s) for Your Kitchen
Few things in our kitchens get as much use as the kitchen sink. This kitchen workhorse is probably also one of the most overlooked elements of kitchen design. Designers and clients alike tend to focus on the most visible elements of the kitchen like cabinetry, countertop surfaces, backsplashes and appliances with all the bells and whistles, leaving the kitchen sink as one of the last items to be selected. But what is a kitchen without one or more fully functional sinks? Technically speaking, it is the most used appliance in the kitchen!
With people spending more time than ever in their kitchens, preparing meals for family and friends, the practicality and importance of choosing the right sink shouldn’t be overlooked. So what is the right sink for the kitchen? This is a simple question with a not so simple answer. It really depends on a few factors and among them are: your kitchen countertop surface; your functional needs; your design flair; and to some extent how much you use your kitchen.
When it comes to kitchen sinks, bigger is usually better as it applies to the main sink. Demand for double sinks, which have been popular for decades, is yielding to larger single sinks nowadays, which can more easily accommodate large pots and pans, making clean up faster and much easier. Another increasingly popular trend in modern kitchen design is the incorporation of task focused sinks that tend to be smaller in size and more conveniently located next to food preparation areas and the refrigerator. Sink depths are also increasing: whereas 8” was the standard for many years, a 9” deep sink (and this is the actual sink depth – you can add the thickness of your countertop to derive an overall depth) is much more prolific these days and in some instances, a whopping 10” deep sink is offered!
Here’s a review of the most popular style kitchen sinks on the market today along with the benefits and drawbacks to help you make the most well informed decision to select the kitchen sink(s) right for your kitchen.
This is the most common style sink in American kitchens today due to its ease of installation and relatively, lower cost to purchase. Predominantly available in stainless steel, porcelain and enameled cast iron, self-rimming or drop-in sinks simply drop into a cut out in the countertop surface. The sink’s weight is supported by a rim that extends above the countertop surface. Drop in sinks can be made durable, affordable and easy to clean, with stainless steel being the most popular material for kitchen sinks. Plus, the remnants from the countertop (especially if you are using engineered stone or solid surface) cut out can be used in multiple ways: cutting board, pastry board, or for cheese and charcuterie.
Not all drop-in sinks are made equal so you should be very mindful of the type and gauge steel used. Thicker steel is better and counter-intuitively, the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. For example, 18 gauge is better quality than 20 or 22 gauge and if you want a real tank, 16 gauge sinks are amazing! The type of steel used is also very important to your long run satisfaction, for example, 304 Stainless (also known as Food Grade Stainless) is the preferred metal to be used and one that has ideally an 18/8 or 18/10 Chromium-Nickel content. Less chromium and less nickel will make the sinks duller and softer–as well as using a lesser grade steel, like a 200 series stainless. A few questions and reading of the box should elucidate what you are buying–just remember, sinks are no different, generally speaking, you get what you pay for!
The other thing to know about drop-ins is that since the flange of the sink rests on top of the countertop, the point where the flange meets the top can become unsanitary or dirty if food and liquids get trapped there–this is the main reason you will tend to see less and less with newer homes and remodels these days.
Installed below the countertop, undermount sinks offer a seamless look on the countertop surface and allow for easy countertop cleanup. This type of sink is almost always used with solid-surface, natural or engineered stone countertops. Stainless steel is the leading seller in this style due to high functionality, durability, and design flexibility. Enameled cast iron, fire-clay and granite composite are other popular materials for kitchen sinks, and range in affordability, color and style options.
Meant to resemble sinks from historic farmhouses, apron sinks add timeless appeal to a kitchen. Apron sinks are available in a wide range of materials, including porcelain, stainless steel and copper. They can range from very modern, sleek and minimalist designs to more rounded, traditional looks. The apron sink is extremely functional and versatile, making both food preparation and cleanup easier.
As kitchen design has evolved and the kitchen has taken center stage in most American homes, more and more homeowners are supplementing their primary kitchen sinks with food preparation sinks, which are available in a variety of shapes and styles. Having a secondary sink for food preparation allows for a much more efficient and fun cooking experience for the entire family.
Whether large or small, modern or traditional, the best kitchen designs incorporate the right sink to support the specific needs of those using the kitchen. Sinks range widely in price, style, shape and color so take your time and do your research to see what type of sinks would be just right for you.