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Kitchen sink recommendations?

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We're beginning to renovate our kitchen, and I'm amazed and bewildered by the various materials sinks are made of and by the astonishing difference in prices just for stainless steel sinks. My priority is ease of care, not looks (though my head, too, can be turned by a pretty sink). But I'm not sure what makes a sink good or bad for durability, for cleaning, and for not harming my glasses, dishes, pots, etc.

Stainless steel sinks:
1. Why, for roughly the same size and configuration and gauge, does the range of prices go from about $200 to more than $1,000, with some more than $3,000? What is the difference between the $250 triple-bowl 18-gauge stainless steel sink, the $1,000 triple-bowl 18-gauge stainless steel sink, and the $2,500 triple-bowl 18-gauge stainless steel sink?

2. Are there different kinds of stainless steel? How do I find out what the differences are? Is some stainless steel more stainless than other stainless steel? Is some more easily scratched? Does thicker gauge SS make for a better sink?

Enamel or porcelain-coated sinks:
1. The enamelled cast iron sinks look very, very, pretty, but even if they're advertised as "crack, chip and burn"-proof, they're not scratch- or stain-resistant. I figure they'll end up just as dull as the old porcelain sinks I've come across. And once the shiny surface is gone, don't they stain worse and worse? Does anyone have any observations about having enamelled or porcelain-coated sinks?

2. Do you risk scratching or breaking more of your fine glasses and dishes in coated iron sinks because they are so hard?

Other materials: granite, corian, etc:
1. Do you have any experience with or observations of sinks made of other materials? How easy or hard are they to take care of?

If you particularly like or dislike the sink in your kitchen, why? If someone came along and offered to install another one for free, what would you choose and what would you never choose again?

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  1. Since I live in Southern California and do not have a whole house filter to eliminate the calcium that shows up as white spots/streaks on everything, white porcelain is the only choice for me. If that was not a concern, I'd still go with it because I don't like the sound of the metal. I understand one of the main differences in price among SS sinks is the amount of insullation and how effective it is since cheap SS sinks are noisy. For me, the most important requirements are large size, single bowl and true/complete undermount.

    1. The main price issues I found in stainless steel, when building out our wine bar, were thickness (gauge), single wall vs. double wall, and size. We needed a standard three compartment bar sink, and prices ranged from around $600 to $3000. I was told that McDonald's specs the highest price sinks in their "restaurants" due to high-use. We were light-use and the lowest priced model was fine for us.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Midlife

        I love cast iron sinks
        When we renovated our last house, we had black and tan granite and a 2 compartment undermount BLACK cast iron sink. It was so beautiful. I wish I could have brought it with me:(
        I grew up that with kind of sink, and never had issues breaking things, but I'm generally gentle with all my belongings ( a pet peeve is guests slamming my car doors!!)

        Now we have a cheezy SS sink in this house (came with house) and I hate it every time I see it. It has scratches and looks cheap. I honestly don't know why they are so popular. But if you are going to get one, get the best one you can afford- thickness or guage, walls, large size

        Make certain your dimensions UNDER the sink cabinet allow for the depth of the sink and the disposal etc. and where the lines are. I don't know the details, but the plumber who installed our sink plumbing at the other place had to make some adjustments becuase our black one was bigger than the one we replaced.

        The other thing I don't like about the current sink is that it is shallow, maybe 5 inches? I think that black sink we got was 9 inches deep. Take that measurement into consideration when shopping.

      2. "If someone came along and offered to install another one for free...."

        Silestone sink+countertop single piece.

        1. Porcelain over cast iron has been around for a long time and is very durable. Over the years scrubbing with abrasives causes the glaze to be worn away and then it is more susceptible to stains and 'pot marks'. Since it is heavy the counter top must be adequate to support the weight. A standard Kohler (22x33) is about $230 plus installation so it is economical.

          As mentioned inexpensive SS is noisy.. Better SS is quieter. Many people switched to SS to complement their new SS kitchen appliances. SS is cheaper to make and hence more profitable. There are many types of SS but most are too expensive and not necessary for kitchen sink construction.

          Both will be easy to care for if not abused. I don't know much about the newer synthetics such as stone. Undermount is nice and reduces clutter and counter top cleaning.

          In the end it comes down to personal tastes.

          1. Try other materials, Blanco granite are quite nice and darn near industructable. They are a composite material with resin binder and crushed granite. Take a look http://www.blancoamerica.com/c3/blanc... We have researched and talked to home owners and seen their sinks and none have been uphappy with the Blanco sinks.

            Stainless Steel sinks vary in price for a number of reasons, one reason you may have found three price points for the same guage and width, is that they may not have the same depth to the bowls. Stainless sinks are stamped and it's much more difficult to draw a deep bowl in a sink than a shallow bowl. Another factor is surface finish, brushed or polished. Polished is often more expensive because it's more labor intensive. Unfortunately, all stainless sinks scratch, regardless of the finish. Stainless is still the most popular kitchen sink material.

            Enamel over cast iron or steel is another option, but steel substrates are not very good and don't hold up well. Cast iron makes a nice heavy sink that will last until you drop a pot and chip the enamel or drag out the scowering powder and scratch the surface. It's still one of the better choices for a home kitchen sink. Consummer Reports still ranks them at the top of the list.

            The granite composite sinks are relatively new, by comparrison, but so far, they appear to have no real drawbacks. They don't scratch or stain, they are good sound insulators for the garbage disposal, they don't burn, and they come in a selection of colors to go with any decor. These have yet to be ranked by Consummer Reports, although they do mention them in their Kittchen Remodeling edition.

            1. The fireclay sink we bought to replace our stainless steel model is the single best kitchen purchase we've ever made:

              We got the four hole top mount (with the two bowls) & I'd definitely pay for another one of these than take a free stainless sink. It cleans up with soap & water, no abrasives necessary. Stubborn stains may not remove the first time, but by the next time you wash it down they're gone. The outer dimensions are smaller than the SS sink it replaced, but the interior (usable) dimensions are actually larger because the material can be cast into thinner walls than steel can be bent/bulged/extruded.

              1. The company that did our granite countertop provided a SS sink by Artisan. I had never heard of them, but the sink is great. 16 gauge SS and very deep.


                1. We're now at the tail end of our kitchen renovation and we bought a Kraus sink:

                  Our kitchen designer recommended it to us - we initially did some of our own research but in the end had a hard time figuring out the differences. She had other clients who bought Kraus and were very happy. The sink is nice and deep and has insulation to prevent it from being very noisy when dishes/pans/etc are placed in it. It was also very affordable (or we thought so) at about $400 which was the price our contractor got from her supplier.

                  Good luck with your renovation! Ours has lasted 5 months and we're so happy to not be eating out of a microwave or crock pot any longer!!

                  1. Whatever you buy, get one without a partition. A partition serves no purpose other than to make a large sink smaller.

                    1. Figure out what material YOU want your sink to be made from and then buy the best quality you can afford. You will get lots of differing opinions on this matter but in the end it will be living in your kitchen. Everyones taste is different and hopefully the decicion makers in your household can agree. but again purchase the best quality you can afford because over the course of many years the difference in coast is negligible. This is the SS sink that we chose:


                      Good luck in your decision making and remember to have fun in the process.

                      1. After many years of a divided, chipped enamel-on-steel sink, we had a big single Silgranit sink installed several months ago, with a Delta faucet that can be turned on and off by touch, which also has a pull-down sprayer. I am deliriously happy. There's a removable stainless grid that sits across the whole bottom of the sink.

                        There's room to soak and really clean the stove burner grates and the grill grates, and room to maneuver so washing even the biggest pots is easy. Pots can quickly be soaked, rinsed out, or washed and left to drain on the grid, so washing as you go during cooking is a breeze. I'd go back to a divided sink only under duress.

                        I wanted a white sink, having always had one. Stainless appliances and fixtures don't appeal to me. The Silgranit material is comfortable -- not so cold and hard to the touch as enamel, and quieter than most stainless sinks. It's easy to keep clean*, and comes in other colors including black. The model we have can be undermounted or dropped-in; ours is dropped in because it was being installed in an existing cut-out. *I understand that some years ago when Silgranit first came out, it stained easily, and still has that reputation among plumbers and installers who haven't kept up. "Silgranit II" has shown no sign of staining or scratching.

                        A sink is used as often as anything in the kitchen; for food prep, non-dishwasher items, and rinsing dishes headed to the machine (maybe not necessary for everyone with a DW, but ours is 25 years old). As much as I was looking forward to the space and cleanliness and improved faucet capacity of this new sink, I wasn't prepared for just what a huge positive difference it's made. Two months on, I'm still getting a charge out of washing a stockpot, or spraying down the sink after a session of veggie cleaning.

                        The sink was about $600, the faucet $400. Hard to gauge installation costs because ours was combined with a re-do of ancient water pipes to increase flow and pressure. Worth every penny. The Garden Web kitchen forum introduced me to the idea of big single sinks, composite granite material, and the faucet features now available. Whatever you're considering, there are people on that forum who've used it and can speak from experience.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ellabee

                          A word about depth: Nice as it is to be able to put pots in the sink and have them 'disappear', if you do any significant amount of hand washing you don't want it so deep that you have to bend forward much. That makes even a short session of cleanup a real strain on your back, an effect that's worse the taller the person at the sink.

                          Counter measures: 1. Make sure the whole counter (and thus the sink that sits in it) is really high enough for you; many people are not suited to the procrustean standard height. 2. Don't get a sink deeper than 9". The grid in the bottom lifts things up another inch, and you can set a dishpan onto it for contained washing, so the effective depth is from the top of the counter or sink edge (depending if it's under- or overmount) to the top of the grid.

                          1. re: ellabee

                            This is so true. Do not forget the body mechanics. Comfort when using the the sink is a very overlooked part of the selection process. Another aspect to this is to consider an apron front(farmhouse) sink. This brings the sink much closer. I have seen some sinks with stone countertops that push the sink almost 5 inches back. My inlaws had the absolute worst sink. It was a "butterfly sink in the corner and set back. It killed your back. Even an inch or two one way or the other and causing you to lean forward can cause your back to hurt. Your hands should touch the bottom of the sink when standing in front of it.

                        2. We have an excellent Blanco D-shaped single deep stainless sink with a rack in it. We've had it since our first kitchen remodel 10 years ago, and if it's scratched, I can't tell. The rack needs to be replaced (it's a little corroded), but after 10 years' use, I can't complain. I can fit a whole cookie sheet flat in it and scrub away.

                          Sinks are really personal. I don't want a double sink, especially not one with a little shallow bowl and disposal, but my mom would never have any other kind.

                          1. Can't speak for the other materials, but I've got a white enamel cast iron sink, and I definitely prefer it to the stainless steel sinks my parents always had. No worries about scratches/stains...I give that guy a once-over with the barkeepers friend every couple months and it polishes up like new.

                            1. Love our granite sink. Doesn't stain or scratch, it's quiet and stays relatively cool. It was cheaper than stainless, too. As of now I don't think I'd want another type of sink. On our next one I am going bigger basin, though. Ours is standard size with two matching basins and its not convenient.