The kitchen sink may very well be the most-used item in any household. And, not only does it need to be functional and easy to maintain, but your kitchen sink must also be a beautiful addition to your kitchen. Knowing something about the different sink materials and styles will help you make an informed decision when it comes time to replace your kitchen sink.
While kitchen sinks are available in dozens of materials, the most popular option is stainless steel. Stainless steel has many qualities that make it an ideal choice for a kitchen sink. First, although stainless steel sinks are available in a wide range of price points, it is usually the least expensive option. Stainless steel sinks can range in price from $60 on up to well over $1,000. Stainless steel is also non-porous, so it does not promote the growth of bacteria, making it perfect for maintaining a sanitary cooking and cleaning environment. Maintenance is minimal, as well, since stainless requires little more than a quick daily wipe-down to keep it looking its best. Since it is a metal, stainless steel highly resistant to heat, so you have no worries about cracking the sink when it is exposed to a hot pan.
Stainless sinks fit into any kitchen, regardless of style. They blend well with many types of countertop materials, from granite to laminate. A word on style: some folks believe that if you choose a stainless steel sink, you must also have stainless steel appliances in your kitchen (and vice versa.) Not so; feel free to mix your appliance and sink finishes!
The biggest downfall of stainless steel is the fact that it will scratch. While light scratches can be buffed out of the surface, deeper scratches cannot be fully removed. Also, if you choose a cheaper sink made with a lower gauge (thickness) of stainless steel, you may find that your sink has a “echo” when you run water into it. This tinny sound is objectionable to some folks, and will be greatly reduced by choosing a high quality sink with dampers beneath it for sound deadening. Water spotting can also be an issue, but wiping it down after use and choosing a sink with a matte finish help you avoid this problem.
Another sink material commonly used today is porcelain. Porcelain sinks are usually cast iron beneath the surface, so you may hear them referred to as “cast iron” sinks, as well. Porcelain sinks come in an array of colors and finishes, allowing them to blend with nearly any countertop surface. In fact, their variety of colors and finishes make style one of the biggest assets for porcelain sinks. They are very durable, but also very heavy.
Porcelain must be treated carefully, however to avoid chips and scratches in its surface. The surface can also stain over time, so it does require a bit more cleaning and maintenance than stainless steel does. In terms of style, porcelain sinks are almost always available only in a glossy finish, which has lost some popularity recently.
Composite sinks have been growing in popularity in recent years. Composites are made from granite or quartz combined with fillers and resins to create the sink material. The most durable composite sink is the granite option. Products like Blanco’s Silgranit line are resistant to heat, scratching, chipping, water spotting and staining. They offer a matte finish popular with homeowners, and a variety of neutral colors to blend with any decor. The Anthracite color option looks great with darker countertop materials. About the only “con” I can come up with for granite composite sinks would be the limited choice of colors available today. But, really, the half-dozen neutral hues most often available will work in nearly any kitchen.
Specialty kitchen sinks can be found in materials ranging from copper to soapstone. These sinks are vastly more expensive than more standard options, and require much more maintenance to keep them looking good and performing well. They can, however, add a sense of style to your kitchen like no other options can. If you are thinking about choosing a specialty kitchen sink, be sure to find out about all the potential pitfalls and maintenance requirements before taking the plunge to avoid any nasty surprises later.
For example, copper sinks will change color over time, and this is not considered a defect of the material; it’s simply something you must be happy with when you choose a copper sink. Stone sinks, such as those made from limestone, slate or soapstone, must be sealed periodically, and are highly susceptible to staining and scratching. They must be treated much more carefully than today’s more durable sink materials.
Whether you prefer stainless steel, porcelain, composite or stone you will find an option to work in your kitchen. Each sink material offers a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and finishes to work in kitchens from the very traditional to the ultra-modern. Be sure to choose the sink material that most closely matches your need for maintenance, style and durability.
Come back tomorrow to check out Part 2 in my kitchen sink article series; you will learn about the various sink configurations and installation styles to find out which could work best for your home and lifestyle.