Choosing a Kitchen Sink You'll Love

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the sink is the heart of the kitchen—taking on the lion’s share of the daily food prep and clean up. Even the best of kitchen sinks can’t handle that amount of abuse forever. Most sinks typically hold up for 15 to 20 years before they start to show signs of wear and tear. No matter what type of material they’re made from, the finish will ultimately dent, chip, stain or fade.

Although you adore your kitchen, putting up with that old, worn out sink definitely sours the romance. It’s time to replace your kitchen sink with one that’s the perfect blend of aesthetics and function--one that you’ll love for years to come!

Choose a sink material that will hold up to the rigors of use and will look great with your plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets, flooring and backsplash tile. Here are a few options to consider:

Solid Surface sinks are made from a combination of acrylic and polyester resins, marble dust, bauxite and other natural and man-made ingredients depending on the manufacturer. The non-porous material contains pigment throughout so scratches and burn marks can be lightly sanded to remove.

Cast Iron sinks are just what the name implies—they’re made from iron that is cast in the shape of a basin. The extremely heavy iron is coated in a glossy enamel providing a hard-as-nails, non-porous surface that is easy to clean. Modern cast iron sinks will not crack or dent like their stainless steel or solid surface counterparts. They come in a rainbow of beautiful shiny hues to match any color scheme.

Stainless Steel provides the best of all worlds with regard to price, durability and maintenance. If you can, opt for the highest quality stainless steel sink you can afford. Look for thicker gauge stainless to cut down on dents, scuffs and vibration. Find a sink basin with foam insulation on the underside to reduce noise. In addition, the better the stainless, the less water spotting and easier cleanup.

Soapstone is a practical and stylish choice for any kitchen. An integrated soapstone sink looks amazing with matching countertops, but will also work beautifully with alternative counter surfaces like wood, quartz, stainless or concrete. Soapstone develops a patina over time changing to a soft gray hue. Simply wipe it down with mineral oil to maintain its dark charcoal color. This stone is germ-free, heat proof and impervious to acid and water stains.

Fireclay sinks are crafted from clay and protected with a porcelain enamel glaze. They’re fired at extremely high temperatures to fuse the enamel to the clay creating a solid sink with a shiny, durable finish. Most farmhouse or apron sinks are of the fireclay variety. Colors are very limited—so if you like white, you’ll like fireclay. The downside: its surface can stain if not cleaned immediately and the enamel tends to crack and chip with age.

Copper will give your kitchen an organic, rustic feel with its warm glow and handcrafted appearance. It’s a metal that will never oxidize and requires little in the way of upkeep. Copper blends well with wood and stone surfaces and takes on a fabulous patina with use. This metal also has anti-microbial properties making it perfect for the kitchen.

The size sink you choose depends on its intended use. If you only use it to rinse dishes and tidy up the kitchen you can probably get by with a standard size sink. For the resident gourmet who cooks every day and uses the sink for veggie prep and washing pots, a wide and deep sink is probably the right choice.

When replacing an existing sink, look for one with exact dimensions of the old one if you want to keep things simple. If the cabinet width and depth allow, you can make the cutout bigger and install a larger sink. The interior width and depth of the cabinet will determine how large you can go. Standard base cabinets will easily accommodate a 22-inch by 24-inch single basin sink.

Obviously, if you’re designing a new kitchen or doing a complete remodel, your only limitations are the location of the plumbing.

Determining the number and placement of sink basins, or bowls, is based on the sink’s basic functions. For small kitchens, a single bowl sink is adequate for most normal activities. Double bowls of equal or staggered size are the ideal solution for prep and cleanup.

Single bowl sinks offer enough room for large dishes and oversized pots and pans. They take up the least amount of space but can be as wide as 33 inches.

Double bowl sinks make cleanup a snap with separate basins for washing and rinsing dishes. You can find double bowl sinks up to 42 inches wide.

Triple bowl sinks may not be as common, but they function well in large family kitchens. They typically offer a smaller integrated third bowl for food prep. Most triple bowl sinks measure 44 inches in width.

You have several installation options for your new kitchen sink. Part of the choice is based solely on aesthetics and the other depends on countertop construction and sink material.

Drop-in or top mount sinks are placed into a cutout in the countertop. The sink edge rests on the counter and is sealed with silicone to prevent leaks.

Undermount sinks install under the countertop and are secured in place by clips and silicone caulk. The streamlined look is great for contemporary kitchens. There is no lip between the countertop and the sink making for easy cleanup.

Integrated sinks are part of the countertop so there are no seams, rims or edges to contend with. The clean lines and smooth surface of this design works particularly well in modern, European style kitchens.

Many sink manufacturers offer a complement of kitchen tools that make your sink area more efficient and help to optimize space. Some of the features include custom accessories like adjustable cutting boards, basin racks, cocktail stations, colanders, knife holders and rinse baskets that fit right onto the sink. Now your sink is a fully-functioning work station!

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