When searching for a kitchen sink the most important thing to consider is how the sink is going to be used. Think about how you use your current sink and don’t fool yourself into thinking you can change your habits because you found something lovely. Some sinks are high maintenance. Some sinks will transform. When it comes to how well the sink will hold up to use it is the material of that sink that matters. So here are the options.
Consumer Reports state – after months of testing – the brand of the sink is not as important as the material that it is made from.
Stainless Steel is the most commonly purchased kitchen sink. These sinks are relatively cheap and easy to keep clean. With a lower gauge the thickness of the steel increases. Most commonly stainless steel sinks are 18-20 gauge while higher quality sinks are 16 gauge and lowest quality are 24 gauge. Stainless steel sinks are noisy, but with sound-absorbing pads added to the bottom and sides the sink will be much quieter. Stainless steel will not be damaged by heat or impact but lower quality sinks can rust.
Porcelain over cast iron is popular, more so for bathrooms than kitchens. It has the benefit of scratch and heat resistance and is available in many colors. It is one of the most durable materials available for kitchen sinks but it can still be damaged by impact. There is a greater chance of breaking dishes in this type of sink before a stainless steel sink because of its density. The finish of a porcelain sink is glossy and smooth. This finish should not be cleaned with strong or abrasive cleaners as they can damage the porcelain. Porcelain over steel is less expensive than porcelain over cast iron. Again, many colors shapes and sizes are available. Porcelain has a better chance of becoming damaged with impact when it is used on stainless steel before cast iron. When the enamel becomes damaged the metal beneath has a better chance of becoming rusted.
- Solid surface sinks are not the best choice when it comes to durability and vigorous use, especially if they are made from acrylic. Acrylic has the potential of looking creative but has its shortcomings. It scratches easily. It is also not resistant to heat and will melt if a hot dish is placed in it. If you are careful with your kitchen LivingStone produces 100% acrylic solid surface sinks. LG Hi-Macs are a combination of acrylic and other manufactured materials. Similar to LG Hi-Macs is Corian from DuPont. Corian is made up of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate. It is non-porous. There are almost unlimited options for shape and size. Samsung makes Staron Solid Surface sinks. Durat produces a solid surface kitchen sink that is made with polyester. 30% of this solid surface is made from recycled material. It is also 100% recyclable. With this surface you can sand and polish scratches. There have been complaints about solid surface sinks breaking. They do seem slightly delicate and I wouldn’t recommend one in a family home. I would recommend that they be installed by a high quality professional.
Soapstone sinks have been used for hundreds of years. This stone is also widely used in labs and science classrooms, so this should say something about it’s quality as a sink. Soapstone feels soft to the touch. It is stain and heat-resistant, but it will end up scratching. It is possible for the stone to crack or chip with hard impact. To maintain it’s color and finish, this type of sink will require regular treatment with oil such as mineral oil. All stone sinks require a good sealer. Over time the color of the soapstone will naturally transform to become deeper and darker.
Limestone sinks are absolutely warm and charming, but they are high maintenance and costly to upkeep. Limestone is porous and requires sealing. It should be sealed with a hydro-oil repellent sealer. This type of sink can become damaged from acidic substances and cleaners and stained by food and liquids if it is not cleaned immediately. Limestone will also damage with impact. If you are looking for something that will have distressed appeal over time then limestone is a good option.
Copper sinks can add character to any kitchen. If you are looking for something that is charming and rustic without the maintenance of limestone, this may be a more suitable option. Like stainless steel, copper comes in different gauges. The lower the gauge, the louder and more susceptible the sink will be to damage. Copper has higher anti-microbial properties than stainless steel and it will not rust or corrode. However, copper does scratch easier than stainless steel and it has a lower threshold for heat. It is not a good idea to lay a hot pot or pan in a copper sink. Over time copper will develop a patina, but be warned that this may not end up even. If this is a turn off, there is also the option to buy a copper sink that has already developed a patina.
Wooden sinks are expensive and luxurious. Teak and bamboo are commonly used to make wooden sinks. This type of sink will need to be varnished for an impermeable seal to prevent mold and mildew. The benefit of a wooden sink is it’s beauty and warmth. It is also much harder to break your dishes with a wooden sink. Because wood and water do not really work well together I wouldn’t recommend this as a DIY project. It would be best to find someone that works with wood (preferably wood boats) regularly. If you are looking for something cheaper than teak or bamboo it would be best to add a layer of fiberglass to the wooden sink for long lasting quality, hence the boat builder.
Fireclay is a good option for a kitchen sink. Many people swear that this is the best option. Fireclay sinks are resistant to acidic substances, stains, scratching and damage from impact. They are heavy and if you are set on an apron-style fireclay sink you may need to add some extra support. Like any high quality product fireclay sinks are a little more pricey than other options. Fireclay can be poured and shaped into almost anything your imagination can come up with.
Concrete is one of the most flexible materials to construct a kitchen sink from. Deciding to go with a concrete sink will leave you open to endless possibilities. Concrete has a natural rugged appeal but can look polished and high-end depending on the finish. Concrete is very versatile. A concrete sink can be custom molded to any color, shape, size, texture and configuration that you are able to dream of. If you choose to have a concrete kitchen sink you will be able to customize it with as much creativity as you like. Concrete is also a very sturdy material. Think about all of the concrete still kicking around from Ancient Roman times. Although we’ve lost the ancient recipe for concrete, concrete sinks are made with an even more dense mix than standard concrete so that they are less porous. They do require sealing, mostly to block moisture. As with a stone sink, this sink requires a high quality sealer. There is no point in spending the time and money it takes to have a concrete sink and then settle for a sealer that will leave you with stains and scratches. Concrete is heat resistant but the sealer used on the sink will determine if you can place a hot dish in the sink or not. If the sealer is not heat resistant then there will be apparent damage or discoloration. Typically sealers will also become etched from acidic substances if they are not cleaned up quickly. Concrete is also a heavy material so like stone there will need to be extra support for this type of kitchen sink. Concrete can be treated with colored stains, aggregates and epoxy giving you just as many options as you would have for paint colors for your wall. Also consider that your concrete sink will patina over time. During the molding stage embellishments or stamps can be added to the concrete for one of a kind expression. Concrete can also be made with a veined appearance like natural stone. Although it is considered ‘poor man’s granite’, concrete sinks are somewhat costly. Below are examples of concrete sinks. I’ve added bathroom sink examples to show just how creative you can be with your sink.