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Kitchen Sinks and What You Need to Know

By August 25, 2020 Project Planning, Kitchen 101
kitchen sink remodeling

Kitchen sinks have come a long way since your grandma’s kitchen sink…unless she lived on a farm in which case the farmhouse sink style has been back for a while and continues to be a popular trend we see in many of our renovations.  The following are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing your new kitchen sink:

Kitchen Sink Styles and Installation

Top Mount/Drop-In Sink

One of the easiest and most common sinks is the top mount sink, also known as the drop-in sink, as it is designed to simply drop into your base cabinet. It typically has a rim that helps hold it in place. Consideration should be given to the size of the sink relative to the cut out in the cabinet in which it is going.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Can be used with all types of countertops including laminate
  • Least expensive type of sink

Cons:

  • More difficult to simply wipe things off the countertop into your sink due to the rim
  • Requires regular checks and maintenance of caulk around the sink
  • Can be loud due to thinner material used
  • Due to lip of the sink, it takes up countertop space
drop in kitchen sink

Undermount Sink

This type of sink is mounted underneath the countertop with hardware, creating a seamless look from countertop to sink.  This type of sink can be mounted flush with the countertop(edges of the sink and the countertop align), with a “positive reveal” (the countertop edge stops before the sink bowl-leaving the sink rim exposed) or a “negative reveal” (the countertop overhangs the sink walls).

Pros:

  • Easy to wipe things into the sink due to no rim
  • Attractive and clean aesthetic
  • Works well with solid surfaces such as granite or quartz

Cons:

  • Installation may require internal support (depending on the weight of the sink)
  • More expensive to purchase and may require professional installation
  • Water can get between the sink and counter resulting in mold and mildew growth
  • Requires regular checks and maintenance of caulk around the sink
under mount kitchen sink

Farmhouse/Apron Front Sink

Traditionally used on a farm, hence the name, this type of sink has an apron on the front which extends over the edge of the counter.  Fun Fact: It originated when there was no running water in the house, to hold large amounts of water that was fetched from the local pond or lake.  The Farmhouse sink has grown in popularity and continues to be one of the most widely used sinks in many of our renovations.  This style of sink continues to evolve with more options and stylistic choices.

Pros:

  • Large sink for washing larger pans (or small children or animals).
  • Generally, the deepest of sinks
  • Able to get closer to the sink which is ergonomically better on your back
  • Extremely durable and easy to clean
  • Allows clean aesthetic of faucet mounted into countertop behind the sink

Cons:

  • Typically, more expensive than the Drop-In or the Undermount sink
  • More difficult installation requiring a professional
  • Usually, a heavier sink dependent on the material used
  • Requires cabinet to be built specifically to the sink
  • Can be unforgiving in showing dirt and grime (especially around drain)
farm house kitchen sink

Material Used to Make Kitchen Sinks

Stainless Steel Sinks

Due to the affordability and availability, stainless sinks continue to be very popular.  They come in the widest variety of shapes and sizes, are heat and stain-resistant, and require little maintenance to stay shiny.  They can be noisy and come in a variety of grades and thicknesses or gauges (a 23-gauge sink is about half as thick as an 18-gauge sink, so it will be cheaper but less durable).

Granite Composite Sink

A cutting edge type of sink, granite composite sinks, provide a modern aesthetic that is very popular and a growing trend.  It is made by gluing crushed granite with a resin filler and is incredibly durable. It resists scratches and can withstand high temperatures. Granite composite sinks are stain-resistant and quieter than stainless sinks, in part due to their heavier material.  But keep in mind that what makes them very hard can also result in fragile dishes more easily breaking if dropped in them. They are resistant to bacteria and smells and are available in a variety of colors.

Cast Iron Sinks

Cast iron sinks are iron sinks that are coated with a porcelain enamel that gives them a hard, durable surface.  Their smooth, glossy finish is beautiful and easy to wipe clean, hiding waters spots or streaks, which many homeowners love.   They retain heat well, which is helpful when washing lots of dishes and are becoming available in additional colors from their trademark white.  The downside to cast iron sinks is their heaviness, requiring more support than other sink materials, as well as their ability to sustain chips and stains. You cannot use an abrasive cleaning product as it will scratch the enamel, resulting in stains and discoloration.  A basin rack or pad is highly recommended to protect your sink as well as dishes.

Fireclay Sinks

Handcrafted out of fused clay and glaze at about 1600 degrees, the fireclay sinks have an artisanal look and feel with similar pros and cons to the cast iron.  They are very hard and durable with a beautiful shine and resistant to scratches and chips. Fireclay sinks are easy to keep clean.

Copper Sinks

While used for decades, the copper sink is gaining in popularity for bar and prep sinks as an alternative to stainless steel.  They are aesthetically appealing with their reddish surface which can patina or darken with age. They have antimicrobial properties that kill up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria that lurks in many sinks, making a safe and more hygienic sink.  They come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Copper sinks are highly durable, ranging from 20 gauge to 14 gauge making them thicker than most stainless sinks.  The disadvantage is they tend to cost more and require more maintenance. You should limit contact with acidic foods and liquids which can damage the patina.

Sink Bowl Options

Single Bowl Sink

Single bowl sinks come in a wide array of sizes, making them perfect for small areas such as a bar or smaller kitchen.  They are usually larger than one bowl of the double bowl sink, which allows you to wash larger items easier.  However, they can only serve one function at a time, such as washing dishes or food prep, and require a separate area for dishes to dry, taking up valuable counter real estate.

Double Bowl Sink

Divided or double bowl sinks are a longtime favorite due to their convenience for separate functions, such as washing dishes on one side and air drying on the other.  However, with the space split between two bowls, you may not be able to fit your larger pots or cookie sheets or wash your small dog. A few manufacturers, however, now offer double bowl sinks that have a low divider measuring half the height of the sink that allows for separate work areas, as well as room for larger items in your sink by filling both sinks with water.

Final Considerations

Arrangement of your components such as faucet and soap dispenser are also important to consider when choosing your sink style and material.  Some sinks come with pre-drilled holes for faucet placement, so ensure that the model you choose accurately accommodates your faucet style. Some faucets require three holes for the faucet itself and for the hot and cold handles, while others may require only one hole.  Some sink materials such as fireclay and cast iron may have no faucet holes at all and require the faucet to be installed in the wall or on the counter.

Educating yourself about your options beforehand can make your final decision less stressful when it comes time to pick your sink. Sink manufacturers continue to improve on their design and function, resulting in a plethora of options for you to choose from, including many new color possibilities. In the long run, your decision should be based not only on cost, but also on functionality and aesthetics, and only you know best how you wish your kitchen sink to function for you and your family.

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