Selecting A Kitchen Sink

Selecting a Kitchen Sink - Kitchen Design

Every kitchen needs a sink and faucet—some may need two!

When selecting a kitchen sink for your new kitchen it is essential to select a sink and faucet that will work well, look great, and withstand years of daily use.

Your kitchen sink may be the hardest working fixture in your kitchen. Pause for a moment and think about how many times per day you use your current sink. Compare that to the number of times you use your oven or the microwave.

With the kitchen’s evolution into the home’s multi-functional hub of activity, sinks have had to keep up as well. The result is a vast array of wonderful choices involving everything from sink materials to sink bowl configuration.

When starting the selection process your best first step may be to talk to a kitchen designer. A designer will be able to inform you on the variations of style and materials as well as mounting types.

There are three major considerations:

  • Installation Type
  • Sink Configuration
  • Sink Material

Let’s review each item separately and then review some final considerations.

Installation Types

  • Drop-In (self-rimming)
  • Undermount
  • Flush mount

Drop-In Sink

Self-rimming or drop-in sinks are the easiest to install. They simply fit into a cutout in the countertop. The sink is supported by the overlap which extends beyond the countertop cutout.

Though the easiest to install, the overlap means that the sink rim and countertop are not at the same height. There is the barrier between the countertop surface and the bowl that is formed by the lip. This may be viewed as a disadvantage if you want to sweep food and liquids into the sink right from the countertop.

Undermount Kitchen Sink

Undermount sinks are attached under the countertop. They either hang from the underside of the countertop or are supported from underneath by a structure built into the base cabinet.

Undermount sinks allow you to brush items from the countertop directly into the sink. This is considered an advantage by many. They require clips and/or glues to attach them to the underside of the countertop.

If you desire a heavy kitchen sink made from cast iron or stone in an undermount sink type, then you will require a well-designed mounting system to support the weight.

Solid Surface Kitchen Sink

A solid surface sink combined with a solid surface countertop is another form of undermount sink although it may not appear as such. This type of sink is glued to the underside of the solid surface countertop. After the installation the joints are made smooth so that the joint between the two surfaces is essentially invisible—you will not be able to detect the seam.

An undermount sink’s “reveal” refers to the degree that the countertop extends over the edge of the sink. A positive reveal means the lip of the sink juts out slightly from the edge of the countertop. A negative reveal means the countertop surface overlaps the edge of the sink.

Flush mount sinks are also called “tile edge” sinks. They’re like a drop-in sink except they’re 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 Configuration and Size

Sink “configuration” simply refers to its broad attributes like number of sink bowls, square or round corners, number of faucet holes, etc.

Size is self-explanatory.

Both the size and the configuration are important because they directly relate to usability and effectiveness. You want a sink that looks great and complements your kitchen, and you want it to work well and do everything you ask of it. You need it to be the proper size and the proper configuration.

For example, a small galley kitchen might do best with a smaller, single-bowl configuration. A large kitchen may be able to accommodate a wide three-bowl, multi-depth sink or perhaps even two sinks—one for prep and one for clean-up.

As another example, if you place the sink in a corner and match the sink configuration to the location then you can make the most of your kitchen’s available area. An experienced kitchen designer can help you to maximize the look and workflow of the kitchen.

Choosing a size and configuration that suits your kitchen and lifestyle is the objective.

Kitchen Sink Materials

There is a great selection of materials, and here is a list that highlights some of the key features of each. Your kitchen designer can discuss them with you and help you decide which sink material is best for you.

Fireclay

  • Low maintenance.
  • Available in many colors.
  • Sometimes a solid white clay is fired at extra high temperatures for long period of time to create a material that looks like porcelain but is much more durable.

Porcelain

  • Very low cost and low maintenance.
  • Not very durable for heavy use kitchen sinks.
  • Sometimes referred to as ceramic.

Stainless Steel

  • Low cost.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Large selection.
  • Stainless steel sinks can dent and scratch.
  • The steel typically contains chromium making it resistant to tarnishing and rust.

Copper

  • May become the focal point of your kitchen as this material is stunning.
  • Copper sinks are high maintenance.
  • Expensive.
  • Pure natural copper either molded or welded into a sink bowl.

Stone

  • Very durable and can be a unique style.
  • Requires re-sealing every year or two.
  • Sometimes made of a solid slab of natural stone carved into a sink bowl.

Bronze

  • Like copper but offers darker finishes.
  • High maintenance.
  • Expensive (similar to copper).
  • A metal material made of mixing copper and tin to create a darker color.

Quartz

  • Lower price than Fireclay, which it is trying to imitate.
  • Feels like plastic to the touch.
  • Very limited selection of styles and sizes.
  • Quartz stone powder is combined with an adhesive and molded into a sink bowl.

Cast Iron

  • Cast iron coated with a layer of porcelain.
  • Low cost alternative to fireclay for those looking for white porcelain style sink.
  • The porcelain layer can easily chip.
  • Not available as an apron sink.

Polished Concrete

  • Very durable.
  • Becoming popular as it is an unusual material.
  • Very limited selection of styles and sizes.
  • Concrete molded into a sink bowl and then highly polished.

Granite

  • Very affordable for the durability it provides.
  • Feels like plastic to the touch.
  • Engineered from a combination of stone powders and adhesives.

Choosing A Sink—Final Considerations

Beyond materials, installation type, and configuration here are some additional points to ponder when choosing a kitchen sink.

Match the Size of the Sink to the Size of Your Kitchen

The size of your kitchen usually dictates the size of sink you should install. Small galley kitchens may be overwhelmed by a large sink. The guidelines we use is that it is often best to select a single bowl sink for a small kitchen and double or triple bowls for a larger kitchen.

You want to match the size of your sink to your kitchen so that it looks perfectly at home in your kitchen.

Larger Sinks May Require Custom Cabinetry

Make sure the sink that you want will fit into the base cabinet that will support it. Most stock and semi-custom base cabinetry is made in varying widths up to 36 inches and sometimes up to 48 inches.

An extra wide sink (for example one that is 60″ wide) will require special base cabinets to accommodate its oversize width.

Faucet and Sink Accessories

You will need to know the type of faucet setup you’re going to use (or already have in the event you’re replacing your old sink). You will also need to determine whether you plan to use additional features like water treatment accessories and/or a soap dispenser for specifying the right number of faucet holes in the sink.

Sink Use

Think about how you’ll use the sink daily to determine what configuration will work best for you. If you hand wash a lot of your dishes you may want a double bowl—one for washing and the other for rinsing/draining.

However, if you primarily use the dishwasher and only wash large pots and cookie sheets you may want a large single bowl or one of the low-divide double-bowl products that better accommodate larger pans.

Deeper Sink Bowls

Deep bowls allow you to more easily fill and clean deep pots and other large items. But depending on your height, they can cause fatigue if your hands don’t naturally reach the bottom. Having to bend slightly to reach down to the bottom of the bowl can be an annoyance, depending on how much time you spend at the sink. It’s a minor issue but one to think about if you do a lot of dishwashing.

Sink Material

Choose a material that will stand up to your environment. Some sink materials are tougher than others. Is your family large and active resulting in hard daily use or are you designing for light as a retired couple? Do you use heavy cookware that could more easily chip an enameled sink? If your sink will see heavy use then a stainless steel sink may be your best choice.

Selecting A Kitchen Sink—Summary

Kitchen and Bath Creations is here to help you with the design of your kitchen, and this includes the selection of your kitchen sink. The sink will be an essential part of your new kitchen for years to come.

The installation type, sink configuration, and sink material are the key items to consider, and KBC can work with you to get it just right for you with consideration for your budget as well.

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Gary Horsman

Gary is a consultant for KBC. He enjoys working in the kitchen whether it is cooking up a New Orlean's style Gumbo or a spicy curry. Socializing in his home is often centered around the kitchen as this highly social room is between the deck - also used for entertaining - and the dining room.

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