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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.
        http://www.chicagohomemag.com/Chicago...

        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.