When it comes to choosing your kitchen sink and faucet, it is always best to go with function over style. The kitchen sink and faucet are most likely the hardest working parts in your kitchen. Think about how many times a day you use the sink, as well as what you use the sink for – washing hands and dishes, food prep, etc. Be sure to pick out a sink that fits your needs as well as your kitchen.
When shopping for a new sink, consider the type of sink you want, the number of basins, and the material that the sink is made out of it. Other things to keep in mind when selecting a new kitchen sink are the placement of the sink in the kitchen, the location of the drain and garbage disposal, and the configuration of the sink because it affects the usability and effectiveness of the sink. Some sinks also come with add-on features that are attached right to it – including cutting boards, drain boards, built-in prep bowls and colanders, knife blocks, and racks for drying dishcloths or baskets to dry utensils.
TYPES OF KITCHEN SINKS
Kitchen sinks come in four different installation types: drop-in, undermount, flush-mount, and kitchen/apron front. Littler sinks, known as bar or prep sinks, are also available for smaller kitchens or as a secondary sink in larger kitchens where there is room for a second sink. Each of the sinks/installation types have advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.
Also known as top-mount or self-rimming, drop-in sinks fit into a cutout in the countertop. The sink is then supported by flanges that overlap the cutout as well as clamps that are underneath the countertop. Caulk then provides a tight seal between the edge of the sink and the countertop. Advantages are that drop-in sinks are compatible with all countertops, easy to install and replace, and are available in almost every type of material. The main disadvantage of drop-in sinks is that a barrier between the countertop and the sink is formed where the two overlap, and debris can get caught under the lip.
Undermount sinks are secured to the underside of the countertop, and, depending on the weight of the sink, are also supported from underneath. Because the countertop overhangs the edge of the sink, the edges of the countertop must be waterproof. Undermount sinks are best suited for solid surface countertops, and can even be made out of the same material as the countertop for a solid, seamless look. An advantage of undermount sinks is that there is no lip for food to get caught under. The main disadvantage of an undermount sink is that if it is not installed and sealed properly, water can get in between the sink and the countertop. This can cause mold problems. Also, laminate and tile countertops typically cannot support the weight of undermount sinks.
Flush-mount or integrated sinks are ones where the top of the countertop is on the same level as the edge of the sink. This is more often seen where the countertop and the sink are made out of the same material, but are fabricated separately. The sink and countertop are then glued together into a nearly invisible seam. While less common, another type of flush-mount sink is done with tile countertops. The edges of the tiles are installed right up against the edge of the sink.
Farmhouse or Apron-Front Sinks
Farmhouse or Apron-Front sinks require a specific type of base cabinet because the front part of the sink juts out from the cabinet and is exposed. They typically have a single basin that is both wide and deep, but there are ones available with double basins. These types of sinks come in a variety of materials, and they will give your kitchen a vintage look. The downfall to farmhouse and apron-front sinks is that they are heavy and difficult to install. If the sink needs replaced, there is a possibility that the entire cabinet will need to be replaced as well.
Because they are meant for small jobs, bar or prep sinks are smaller than the average sink. These sinks are typically installed close to a cooktop, on a kitchen island, in a food prep area, or in a bar or entertainment area. Bar and prep sinks are available in both drop-in and undermount sink styles, and they are compatible with most countertops.
NUMBER OF SINK BASINS
When shopping for a new kitchen sink, you should keep in mind how many basins you want to have in your new sink. Sinks come in single, double, and triple basins, and each type has advantages and disadvantages.
Single basin sinks usually take up less counter space. They also make it easier to prep large quantities of food or to soak large pans and pots. Unfortunately, because there is only one basin, it makes it harder to do both at the same time.
Double basin sinks allow for multitasking – soaking dishes in one basin while prepping food in the other. A unique feature to double basin sinks is that the basins can be the same size (50/50 split) or two different sizes (60/40 split or 70/30 split). A disadvantage to double basin sinks is that the basins are smaller and usually do not have enough room to soak large pots and pans.
Triple basin sinks typically have two large sinks and one small sink. While these sinks allow for various tasks, they also take up more counter space than a single basin or double basin sink.
Stainless steel sinks are probably the most common type of kitchen sink. This is because they are durable, made to last, and provide a consistent look with other stainless steel fixtures or appliances throughout the kitchen. Stainless steel sinks come in a variety of finishes (including brushed and polished), but they are only available in one color. When choosing a stainless steel sink, look for one that has a high content of chromium and nickel. Also, the smaller the gauge number, the thicker the stainless steel is. Thicker stainless steel is more dent resistant and is also less noisy.
Advantages of stainless steel sinks are that they are affordable, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are easy to clean and disinfect for a sanitary surface, and are more forgiving on dropped dishes than other types of sinks. The stainless steel is also impervious to heat, rust, corrosion, and stains. The disadvantage is that water spots and soap scum will show on the stainless steel. Also, stainless steel is prone to scratching and denting.
Enameled Cast Iron
While cast iron is a heavy and brittle iron alloy, it is also very durable and will not crack or dent. The cast iron sink is coated in a porcelain enamel and then fired at roughly 1200 degrees to harden the enamel. Enameled cast iron sinks are similar in appearance to fireclay sinks, but they are less expensive. Drop-in cast iron sinks are easy to install, but undermount cast iron sinks will need extra support due to the weight. Advantages of enameled cast iron sinks are that they are easy to clean and maintain, come in a variety of colors, and have an attractive, glossy look. Disadvantages are that the enamel can scuff, chip, or wear away. If the cast iron is exposed, it can rust. Also, the enamel is not compatible with abrasive cleaners.
Enameled steel sinks are stainless steel sinks that are coated in enamel. They look similar to enameled cast iron sinks, but are much thinner, lighter, and cost less. Enameled steel sinks are easy to clean, and come in a variety of colors. They are also prone to scratches, chips, and other damage. Chips in the enamel may expose the steel substrate to rusting. Also, enameled steel is not as durable as other materials.
Fireclay is made out of clay and glaze that are fused together at a high temperature (roughly 1600 degrees) to form a ceramic that looks similar to porcelain but it more durable. These sinks come in a variety of color options, and can have a glossy or matte finish. On the other hand, there are less styles and sizes to choose from. Because they are nonporous, fireclay sinks are easy to clean and maintain. While resistant to scratching, they can chip or crack. They are also not friendly to dropped dishes. Fireclay sinks are heavy, and may require careful installation of the drain and garbage disposal to prevent damage to the sink.
Also known as ceramic or vitreous china, porcelain sinks were originally just for bathrooms. Porcelain sinks have now made their way into kitchens, but they are not as durable or practical for kitchens that see a lot of hard, daily usage. They are similar to fireclay sinks, but are easier to mold into multiple bowls. Porcelain sinks are low cost and low maintenance, but they are prone to chipping.
Acrylic sinks are made out of molded plastic that is then reinforced with fiberglass. They are inexpensive when compared to other sink materials, but also will not last as long. Acrylic sinks are nonporous and easy to clean. They also won’t stain easily, and scratches can be sanded and polished. A disadvantage of acrylic sinks is that they are not tolerant to high heat and can burn. They can also be damaged by certain chemicals that are in cleaning agents.
Solid surface sinks are made out of a mineral compound that is mixed with polyester and/or acrylic resins. They are typically made out of the same material as the countertop to give a seamless look. Solid surface sinks come in a variety of colors, are durable, and scratches are less noticeable. Disadvantages are that solid surface sinks are not tolerant to high heat, and they can crack or break under a heavy impact.
Composite sinks are made out of a combination of crushed stone, typically granite or quartz, and a resin binder. These sinks are similar to solid surface, but they are more resistant to heat. Granite is made out of a combination of granite stone powders and adhesives, while quartz is made out of quartz stone powder combined with an adhesive. Some are smooth, and some are rough. The rougher texture is harder to clean. Advantages are that the material is very durable, comes in various colors, the color goes all the way through the material, and it is resistant to scratches and chips. Disadvantages are that the hard material is not friendly to dropped dishes and that scuffs and scrapes are harder to remove.
Stone sinks are typically made out of soapstone, and can match the countertop. They are a unique option that gives a rustic look to a kitchen. Soapstone is a very durable, light gray material that darkens over time. It will not burn, but it can chip or scratch. Soapstone is also porous, so the sink would need to be sealed every year or two. Stone sinks can be expensive, and may require special cleaning products.
Concrete sinks are made by pouring the concrete into a sink-shaped mold. The concrete is then highly polished. Concrete sinks are a unique style option, and can be combined with a concrete countertop for a seamless look. While concrete is a very durable material, it may show cracks and fissures over time. It also requires periodic sealing to repel moisture and avoid stains. Concrete sinks come in a very limited selection of styles and sizes. They are also heavy and will require a significant support system.
Metal sinks are made out copper or bronze, and would be the focal point of your kitchen. Both types of metal are expensive and involve high maintenance to keep them shiny. Because copper is a soft, malleable metal, you will want to get a sink with a thicker gauge so that it is less prone to dents. Look for a sink that is made out of 99% copper and 1% zinc (the zinc provides strength). Unless sealed, copper will take on a patina and darken over time. Bronze is made out of a combination of copper and tin to provide a darker color than regular copper.
You can learn even more about kitchen sinks here.
Since the kitchen sink and faucet go hand-in-hand, it is wise to pick them out/purchase them together so that they complement each other. Also, some sinks come with predrilled holes, so you will want to make sure your faucet matches up.
Faucets come in various finishes – including chrome, brass, brushed nickel, colored coatings, stainless steel, bronze, hand-rubbed bronze, and plastic.
Kitchen faucets come in various styles including bridge, gooseneck or high arc, pot fillers, deck-mounted, and wall-mounted. There are also four different types of valves: compression, ball, cartridge, and ceramic disc.
Faucets will also have single handle (same handle controls the water temperature and pressure), double handle (separate handles for more precise temperature and water pressure control), and hands-free. The hands-free faucets are more hygienic because they are controlled either by touching the faucet or by electric sensors.
You can learn even more about kitchen sinks here.
If you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen, contact us today for a free estimate. Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is Lancaster, PA’s premier kitchen remodeling company. We offer StarMark Cabinetry and are here for you through the whole process to help you create the kitchen of your dreams.