Sink Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Sinks come in many different styles, materials, sizes, and colors. Finding a functional yet beautiful sink doesn't have to be a challenge. Whether you're shopping for a sink for your kitchen, your bathroom, or another room in your house, this is what you need to know while you shop.

Buying Kitchen Sinks:

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  • Choose your size.

    The standard kitchen sink is 22 by 30 inches with two side-by-side equal-sized bowls that are about eight inches deep. You may want to consider other sink sizes based on how you cook; for example, sinks with nine or 10 inch deep bowls will better accommodate larger pots.

  • If you're replacing an existing sink and want to reuse the faucet, consider the number of holes.

    Kitchen sinks generally have four holes used for mounting faucets, handles, and sprayers. Others will combine all the features into one hole; you'll need a monobloc faucet for these. Some sinks have additional holes for liquid soap dispensers, hot water taps, or purified water taps.

  • Choose between self-rimming sinks and undermount kitchen sinks.

    Both have their benefits, and the choice is really just a matter of taste and function.

Kitchen Sink Mounting Styles:

Self-rimming rinks have a finished edge and are installed onto the countertop. These are the easiest sinks to install, and they are easy to replace. They are a bit trickier to clean because dirt can collect at the seams. There are no restrictions on the counter-top material when you use self-rimming sinks.

Undermount sinks, also known as recessed sinks, attach to the underside of the counter, creating a seamless look. They are easier to clean than self-rimming sinks but are also more difficult to seat. Undermount sinks can only be used with counters made out of solid material, such as concrete or granite; they will not work with laminate counter tops.

  • Decide which material you prefer. The material will affect the appearance as well as the durability.

Types of Kitchen Sink Materials

Stainless steel kitchen sinksoffer quality, durability, a low price, and ease of cleaning. The material won't be damaged by hot or cold objects, and it will resist damage caused by impacts. One disadvantage is that they tend to be noisier than most other materials due to the stainless steel being thin (although better sinks apply a heavy coating of vibration-damping material to the underside of the sink). The highest-grade stainless steel, which is known as Type 302, or 18/8 will have a durable, rust-resistant finish. A thicker sink is less likely to dent, and it won't be as noisy as a thinner stainless kitchen sink. Most sinks come in 18 to 20 gauge; sinks in 14 and 16 gauge steel are available on the high end as well as 24 gauge steel on the lower end.

Porcelain or enamel over cast ironis heavy and durable, but they can also be very stylish, since they are manufactured in a wide range of shapes and colors. They are resistant to hot or cold objects, just like stainless steel, however, porcelain can be damaged by sharp impacts. Cleaning aggressively will dull the surface, leading to more dirt accumulation. Enamel over cast iron is similar to the porcelain. However, these sinks are a far less rugged and less costly alternative. Easy-clean enameled cast iron does provide the most color choices and a hard finish.

Integral solid surface kitchen sinksform part of a solid-surface countertop. Since it's seamlessly joined to the solid surface countertop, forming one seamless piece, there are no crevices for moisture and grime to build up.

Composite sinksare often made from quartz or granite mixed with an acrylic binder. These sinks are fairly hard, scratch-resistant and a good value for the money.

Soapstone sinksare created by joining slabs of soapstone with epoxy to form the sink basin. The only drawback seems to be the perfectly flat bottom. Anything on the bottom of the sink, such as crumbs, must be manually swept toward the drain. Soapstone is stylish and ages well.

Buying Bathroom Sinks

  • Choose the style of mount.

    Sink options now range from tiny wall-hung versions for the smallest of powder rooms to elaborate dual-basin models for luxurious master baths. The sink mounting style you choose will depend on the size and style of your bathroom and of the bathroom vanity you choose.

Bathroom Sink Mounting Styles

can be set into or on top of a vanity or a freestanding frame. This allows for storage, unlike pedestal or wall-mounted sink styles. Integral bowl sinks, like their kitchen counterparts, form part of a countertop and come in many prices, colors, and materials.

are mounted directly to the wall, making them great for smaller bathrooms. Remember that the piping will show beneath the drain.

sit on furniture-style legs and offer an expanded counter space for your toiletries. They create a stylish and spacious look.

are known for their beauty and functionality, and they're becoming increasingly popular in bathrooms. A vessel sink can be installed sitting on the countertop or it can be sunk down up to half of its height.

  • Decide on a material.

    The materials are the same as those for kitchen sinks, with more decorative choices. Materials include enameled cast iron or vitreous china for traditional baths, and metal including copper, glass, crystal, stone, granite, marble, travertine, limestone, onyx, and sandstone. Wood or solid-surface resins will work best for contemporary style sinks.

Other Sinks

  • Bar sinks

    , also known as prep sinks, are much smaller than your typical kitchen sink. The small size allows you to install them in a center island or in a bar that is located off the kitchen or in the basement. With a small sink closer to where you need it, a bar sink is perfect for entertaining and quick access to water.

  • Utility sinks

    are typically installed in a laundry room or garage. In laundry rooms, they allow you to give extra attention to stubborn stains or wash off spilled detergent. In a garage, they are great for cleaning off car parts, dirty shoes, or any mess you don't want to follow you into the house.