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Oct 21, 2012 05:58 PM

Has anyone an opinion on Kohler Vault Smart Divide Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink?

Hi -

I am in the process of 'discussing' the pros and cons of single bowl sink vs. multiple bowl sink with my hubby of 24 years and someone says - Why not choose the best of all worlds - Kohler Vault SS Smart Divide Sink?

Has anyone used one of these or decided against/ for and can offer any comments/opinions?

My hubby just wants me happy so he is not much help here :).

I have only a few constraints
- the sink will be installed in a SS Island top and we have been told that a top-mount sink is the best choice for our application.
- I have a 36 inch base cabinet, depth is not an issue.
- Noise is always an issue for the family so sound dampening is all positive
- Easy to clean and this sink I am asking about has near-zero radius corners which might prove to be a challenge in cleaning...I am used to the rounded corners.
- We are a family of six, we prepare and eat a lot of veggies and fruits (compost scraps), we do a lot of dishes, even just to rinse ready for DW. I have been a user of two bowl sinks for most of my life as I hate not multi-tasking - dishes in one side, prep work in other but would love to hear what others feel...
- Money is not growing on trees and this sink is not cheap by any means
- I was hoping to find a SS sink that was 16 gauge, this one is 18 gauge...

Would love to hear what you all think as putting a sink in a SS island top is not something you can easily change down the road if you don't like your sink set-up...

Thank you!

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  1. I haven't owned that style of sink but I have worked in them enough to know I hate them. Actually it would be a toss up between those and the small, shallow second bowl sinks for uselessness. That half divider is just in the way and interferes with the benefits of either straight up sink option, IMO.
    Prior to the giant ss single bowl, zero radius sink I have now, I had only ever lived with double bowls. The big single bowl did dictate that I change my ways, but I was aware of that going in. Seven years on, I would never, ever go back to a double bowl. Ever. There are just too many pros--being able to wash big stuff like cutting boards and stock pots, even full size sheet pans with ease. I almost giggle every time I do that. I used to absolutely dread those types of things in a double bowl. I do a huge amount of veg prep and cooking, too, fwiw.
    I use a plastic drainboard for handwash that gets dried and put away, and a dishpan for in the sink that I use for soaking towels and not much else.
    If it were me doing a SS island top, I'd have the sink and counter fabricated as one unit. Barring that, I'd INSIST that the fabricator devise a way to make an undermount sink work. I hate top mount sinks, but at least these do not have a tall, raised lip like some.
    The SS is louder than, say, enameled cast iron or fiberglass.
    If price is a big factor, look at other brands besides Kohler as they are definitely on the very high end vs. other brand similar products. I found many very well priced 16ga. zero radius big singles by googling.
    The zero radius does require the extra step of attending to the corners once in a while. I have a OXO brush with a pointy rubber end that I use, although a dishcloth on the end of a fork or knife worked fine for me for a long time:
    bonus that I want a wee brush for scrubbing around the rivets of my All-Clad, so it does double duty.

    18 Replies
    1. re: splatgirl

      Hi splatgirl!

      Thank you so much for your opinion and the fact that you have firsthand experience is so welcome!!

      I do a fair amount of pressure cooking and a couple of my pressure cookers are as big as a stock pot so I was a bit worried about the capacity of the double bowls since the bowls are shallow with that short divide and not as big as I am used to using to begin with...

      I did a search on 16 gauge because I too would love a thicker gauge and came up with just a couple of sites. I will investigate further! What is the SS single bowl sink that you went with? I saw a Vigo 32", a Belmont 32" and an Italia 33" but, at the time I was searching, all of those were undermount.

      I actually did ask the SS top fab if they could work an integrated sink but the cost was prohibitive so I settled for top mount. I will address the undermount and see if they can do something there. Why is that no one thinks out of the box anymore or discusses alternatives? It is aggravating!!

      I know what you mean about changing your ways. As adults, I know that my hubby and I can learn new habits when it comes to sink use but it will be fun to see how our four kids deal with handling their dishes differently :). I am sure I will get the rolled eyeball look too many times to count!

      Thank you so very much for responding! I truly appreciate your take and your advice!

      1. re: cabinsink

        At the time I was designing several years ago the whole zero radius thing was very new. Blanco was one of the only manufacturers, so that is what I have. I'm pretty sure it's 18ga. not 16. I love that there are more options now, and that not everything is as crazy expensive.
        I don't think the brand matters a bit when it comes to stainless steel, personally. I have had good experiences and bad with both high end and cheap fixtures. Ninety percent of everything is just variants of the same Chinese crap anyway.

        It's very likely that making accommodations for an undermount in your SS top would be cost prohibitive as well--it would involve a lot more detail work than just cutting a hole for a drop in, but it CAN be done and they should at least give you a quote. If you're not happy with their responsiveness I would encourage you to look for another fabricator.
        or what appears to be the same thing:

        I will restate the awesomeness of a super single for dealing with big stuff. I never minded having to alter how I did things when I switched but even if I had, being released from the PITA of trying to wash large items in a double bowl makes up for that a thousand times over.

        1. re: splatgirl

          Super single,I am with you.I don't wash anything that will fit in the dishwasher.If it needs a corner scrub or two is all I do.
          If it won't fit comfortably in the sink I am SOL with the dishwasher,NOW WHAT

          1. re: splatgirl

            Thank you for links splatgirl!

            Have calls into both fabs to see what an undermount would come to. Both fabs are willing to create the island top in 16 gauge, one even mentioned 14 so I know they have the materials, it is just the creativity that I wonder about.

            Do you have any recommendations when it comes to kitchen faucets? I will put this on a different thread too so it isn't lost but I would love to hear what you have to say. I was leaning toward the tall one w/ aerator spray head to allow for filling the tall pots (from both counter top and in the sink).

            Talking about Chinese crap - I think I read that there was some fed investigation going on because the cost of those Chinese sinks is undermining what the US is able to sell.

            Many Thanks!!

            1. re: cabinsink

              I have a big commercial looking Blanco--the Mastergourmet or something in my main kitchen and a different Blanco with the same shape faucet sans sprayer in my pantry. My home is modern/industrial, so ymmv with that style. I do like the functionality of the very high spout and downward pointing sprayer vs. a pullout style sprayer of any sort. Those bug the crap out of me--too futzy. And it's single handle or nothing, IMO.
              If you go with either of those drop in sinks I linked you have three holes to fill--faucet, soap dispenser and other dispenser (?). If you are in a dishwasher air-gap-as-code state, problem solved.

              Try a restaurant supply for a line on potential SS fabricators, but also call every metal shop you find and ask--just because they don't specialize in counters doesn't mean they can't or won't do them and do them beautifully. I work with metal fabricators all the time for other stuff and my best people are all very under the radar, meaning you wouldn't find a listing for them for anything more specific than metal fabrication.

              1. re: splatgirl

                GREAT ADVICE

                With you also about the fussy,gizmo faucets.

                1. re: splatgirl

                  "I do like the functionality of the very high spout and downward pointing sprayer vs. a pullout style sprayer of any sort. Those bug the crap out of me--too futzy."

                  I could not agree more on the pullout sprayers. I absolutely hate the two we have had. Mr. CB does all the clean up so he picked the pullout style but both (different manufacturers) suck. We have had parts break, the hose gets tangled up in under-sink items such as spray bottles, and after a while, the sprayer just doesn't fit tight back into the spout anymore.

                  1. re: cleobeach

                    Hi cleobeach -

                    I hate to even ask (:)), but what foul faucets have you had in the past? I was looking at a Grohe Prep Sink Dual Spray Pull Down, 32283DC0 and my past faucet was also a Grohe but maybe I should be more open? Had also considered some Kohler models... Tell you one thing - Grohe is pricey but I have found them to be excellent on the whole.

                    Many Thanks

                    1. re: cabinsink

                      I cannot find the brand on the facuet. I even looked under the sink at the parts. I know its above typical big box brand because my husband bought it at a local plumbing (independent) store.

                      I will ask him.

                      1. re: cleobeach

                        Thank you cleobeach!

                        I would love to hear what brand faucet you have as none of the ones that I have looked at are inexpensive and if there are some that stink, I will willing write them off my list.

                        Thank you for all the effort!

                        1. re: cabinsink

                          No luck but we know it wasn't super-high end.

                          1. re: cleobeach

                            Thank you cleobeach! I will make sure that I keep my option open on the full spectrum that seems to be available - boggles the mind! :)

                          2. re: cabinsink

                            if it helps you at all, in faucets, I have everything from $50 ebay to $1K , all in heavy use areas. The only one that's been an issue was the rather expensive Blanco I mentioned earlier. It sprung a leak from the vertical part of the spout as the result of what I assume was a casting defect. It was replaced under warranty with very good customer service from Blanco, but still, a PITA.
                            Hence my "all variants of cheap Chinese crap".
                            If you are doing built-in soap dispensers, use whichever brand has the longest warranty. I have had to replace two of mine and fully expect to do that again.

                            1. re: splatgirl

                              Thank you splatgirl - I know what you mean about the soap dispensers - none of the ones that I have bought have ever lasted but I like that the top of the counter is more minimized of clutter. I will certainly review the warranty period because 1) I usually buy with an overall design in mind and 2) they are not inexpensive and you would think they would last longer than they do - I know that many manufacturers have planned obsolescence in their products but honestly where is the craftsmanship of old???

                              Many thanks for all of your wonderful input!!

                              1. re: cabinsink

                                You would think, wouldn't you. It makes me crazy that a $100+ soap dispenser is a consumable. I have two different brands, both with lifetime warranty, but last time I checked--meaning needed a replacement--I seem to recall that had been changed.
                                I also seem to recall seeing at least one brand that has replaceable guts now.
                                Are you aware of the Never M-T:
                                could not live without!

                                1. re: splatgirl

                                  I've never paid more than about $30 for one but after the first one stopped working I bought a second one and kept the receipt. When that died after 9 months, took it back to Home Depot for a new one...they gave me one with no questions asked. (So I wouldn't lose the receipt I taped it right to the soap "bottle" with blue tape.

                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    Oh my goodness - the Never-MT-Soap looks SUPER! Thank you so much for the link!! I cannot stand filling from the top (always overflows no matter how careful we are) and I usually unscrew from below which is a yoga position (at least for me)!

                                    You have so much wonderful advice and great experience with various products! Thank you so much for sharing!!

                                    I will certainly post what I ended up doing with the TapMaster - another jewel of advice of yours!!

                      2. re: splatgirl

                        Will do splatgirl re: fabs!

                        And thank you for your insight on the faucet - I think the same thing! High spout and integrated sprayer is all positive in my world too but wanted to hear what everyone else has had good experience with...

                        Holy Cow! You must have one heck of a pantry!! A sink in it no less? I am jealous!!

                        Thank you for your help!

              2. splatgirl has given you some VERY GOOD advice and information

                The Kohler sink you are looking at I think is HATEFUL.Double sink,WHY ? If you own only one pot or pan that doesn't fit,how happy,unhappy will you be???
                If you have the time and $$$,get out your largest pot or pan and carry to ALL the sinks you are looking at.If none work well,go custom.All four sinks I have chosen are,were custom.All standard grades and weights and a $$ wash to close but not just right.The only real draw back is you may have to WAIT.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lcool

                  Thank you Icool! I actually did that with my dishes when it came to picking out our DW as I cannot stand it when most everything fits but not all! Talk about disgusting! Who wants to be handwashing when you can use the DW and do something more fun?

                  Do you have any custom fabricators that you know of that are in the midwest area? I am not against traveling a few hundred miles if the outcome is exactly what I am looking for. Have you experienced problems when it comes to sound deadening? I know that this is a recognized problem with SS sinks and that sound prohibitors (for lack of a better word?) are added...

                  As to waiting, I am used to that. My husband and I think things through then play what-if and then come back from a bunch of different angles and then FINALLY we say, Good Enough, lets do it! So far, we have yet to disappoint ourselves although it drives family members crazy. But, when the whole comes together, no complaints are heard. Took us over a month to decide what we wanted our cabinet maker to use for our kitchen cabinets - rustic alder, hand-scraped (distressed) - should be beautiful against the stainless steel.

                  Many thanks for your input!

                  1. re: cabinsink

                    Again,splatgirl has given EXCELLENT advice.Metal fabricators,talk to everyone.I would include restaurants,is their a name on the stuff in your school cafeteria,restoration folks,even people that do copper and brass.All of these people know even more people.Like splatgirl 90% or more of my preferred service etc have been under the radar.

                    1. re: lcool

                      Awesome Icool - thank you for the vote of confidence!! Networking is power!!
                      Many Thanks!

                2. We recently replaced our porcelain sink with stainless steel and love it. It is a large single bowl, undermounted to granite. What makes it work so well is the rack that sits in the bottom. (I had no idea what it was for.) With it, nothing is ever sitting on the bottom of the sink so food bits fall through, you can't block the drain, just all in all a great invention. I have said no to SS for at least a decade because of concerns about noise and cleaning--I'm sorry I waited so long. PS I would not want anything but undermount.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: escondido123

                    Hi escondido123 -

                    What SS sink did you end up going with? I bet the sink with the granite is lovely!

                    I used to be a SS sink snob too due to the lack of perceived warmth - grey metal - brrrr but now I like the combination with the different kitchen parts, counter tops, cabinets, lighting, tiles - you name it!

                    Also, does your sink have the near-zero radius corners? How do you like them? The idea that I like a lot is that the sink bottom is nearly flat which will be so great for washing the wine glasses!

                    Many thanks!

                    1. re: cabinsink

                      Put the wine glasses in the dish washer,a row of plates in the back,stems in front maybe protected from wobble by,?,you'll figure it out.Reidel,Orrefors,Schott,Villeroy&B etc all go in here,with care.

                      I have never lost a stem to the machine,loaded with care.Plenty broken over the years.All have been it's their time or shit happens.

                      1. re: lcool

                        Using DW is, I think, a great idea as I have lost a grip on a glass or two ;) but hubby thinks that Reidel deserves a bit more care & appreciation. I am going to look at the other glass makers that you mentioned as I find the whole enjoyment of wine rather intriguing and a challenge. I used to walk away from Cab Sauv until I sipped it from Reidel stemware and thought - WOW, no way! I must be mistaken!! Now the depth of tannins bring out more appreciation and much less aversion!

                        Thank you for your input!

                        1. re: cabinsink

                          Stay with the wine,keep notes,remember your tastes etc.As the keeper of a 600+ case cellar those old notes and receipts do sometimes count.AND KEEP IT FUN

                          Reidel is TOUGH..... so are my others,it's a practice,don't crowd or flop load.I have friends that are constantly arranging,re arranging the machine to get in,JUST ONE MORE THING,to save what.Their breakage rate for everything is way more than mine in or out of the machine.

                          Reidel..."Restaurant" Reidel ,last time I bought some was not quite $5.00 a stem.You need to find a "connection",restaurant,bar friend to access,because it is not for re sale.Reidel has also swallowed up Speiglau and other old Austrian and Hungarian makers.Much of the discontinued or overstock turns up on discounters
                          shelves,HomeGoods etc. forgot DiVino by Rosenthal all cheaper than Bormoli.

                          1. re: lcool

                            Thank you Icool!

                            Is that the Vinum series in Reidel? The restaurant brand that you speak of? I could certainly handle $5/glass - thanks for the info!!

                            And you bet on the FUN - cannot imagine enjoying anything in life with out some fun involved!

                            Lucky you on your cellar! So, what is your opinion on synthetic vs. cork vs. screw-on?

                            Many thanks!

                            1. re: cabinsink

                              Reidel restaurant is a bit different than vinum,clarity equal,shapes a tad different and TOUGH.

                              I like all three stoppers,with caveats.I have been around long enough to know and accept organic cork isn't always the end all to be all.The synthetics and glass stoppers will be shaking out their respective pluses and minuses for a while yet.Screw caps for wine ready now or short to medium cellars time benefits are fine for me.
                              We started our cellar in earnest 1972,when ours was 500 cases we inherited dad's and uncles,both serious buyers even after they cut back to a glass a day.

                              1. re: lcool

                                Thank you Icool! Way to go on your cellar!! I wish I could invite my husband and I to a tasting :)! Hopefully you enjoy some of your collection and not just have for an investment - that would be tragic!

                                1. re: cabinsink

                                  Thank You

                                  None was ever for investment.When the $ values went from an honest high to the stratosphere,2000,2005 we sort of stopped.We can't drink it all,yes we have sold some.Dad and uncle still buying really upped the anti.

                      2. re: cabinsink

                        The sink is Kraus--

                        As you can see It is not a near zero radius, but with the grid in the bottom it is all flat so no problem there. Also very quiet.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Thank you escondido123 - I will check the site out.

                          One thing in particular that we have been impressed with with is their willingness to advise on chosen faucet and sink combo splash-up!! Can you imagine anything worse - pick up a sink, pick up a faucet and for the rest of their useful lives, you want to kill someone when they mess up the whole tidy sink surround??? Not that I am such a neat freak but would it be too much to ask for the sink area to stay pleasing for just a bit of time vs. after every use the need to go dry up?

                          Thank you so much for the link and advice!

                          1. re: cabinsink

                            We have a gooseneck faucet with no pullout and paddle handles--I just like the simple look of it even if it means a little more work cleaning around the edges of the sink. To each his/her own!

                            1. re: escondido123

                              Thank you escondido123!

                              Seems that the sinks I am looking at have fewer than number of needed holes so I am going to have to choose carefully. I figure if there are minimal controls on the faucet, then there will be less spit-n-polish needed :) Again, nice to save time to do so many other things then grabbing out my toothbrush and scrubbing away!

                              Thank you for the advice!!

                            2. re: cabinsink

                              Keep in mind the location of the operation handle(s) if it drives you nuts to have water getting everywhere. If the handle(s) are located over the counter, you'll always have a puddle or drips there from turning it off with wet hands. OTOH, if the point of contact on the handle is over the sink basin, drips fall where they belong.
                              I shake most of the water off my hands before going to turn off the faucet, but my s.o., NOT. I can always tell when he's washed his hands at the kitchen sink because there's a puddle on the counter under the lever.
                              Or get a Tapmaster.

                              1. re: splatgirl

                                splatgirl - The Tapmaster looks GREAT! I was contemplating a motion sensor for a bathroom faucet replacement but now I am going to go with the Tapmaster. Have you had any experience with any of the models they depict - toe kick, knee nudge, in-floor, european? I am thinking about the in-floor as I think everyone can use it (young or old) whereas the kids might not get the stay-on feature of the toe-kick and european models and leave on by accident... Although it may take a bit of doing as the floor is tile... Would love to hear what you have to say! Many Thanks!

                                1. re: cabinsink

                                  I actually do not have nor have I ever used in a residential setting, but I know people who have them love them like almost nothing else.
                                  The in-floor one is new since the last time I looked. I like that idea the best, I think. Or the euro foot one? OTOH, the toekick version that lets you choose the water temperature seems pretty fabulous, albeit less sleek.

                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    Hi splatgirl -

                                    I didn't see the one that allows you to choose water temp. Will look again because that would be handy when your hands are all goopy and you want some hot water pronto!

                                    All the various Tapmaster models look amazing in that you don't have to remodel your kitchen or dig yourself a hole under your cabinets to change out batteries.

                                    The Tapmaster will be an awesome addition to both kitchen and bathroom so thank you so much for bringing that up!!

                                    1. re: cabinsink

                                      the toekick style has a hot/ warm/ cold version but then I also noticed that the in-floor style has a hot/cold model, too.
                                      Please report back on whether you think they are worth having or not. It's something I've still considered adding from time to time. Of course now that I've perused the selection and see all the improved models, I decided the most expensive one is what I would want :(

                      3. Well, I think you're going stainless is best for your situation, whatever the gauge is. I am now the owner of a double bowled porcelain sink in white, and I am really concerned about staining. SS would always be my first choice for easier care.

                        I've always had double bowl sinks, but I've had the combo with the smaller sink dedicated to the disposer most recently. I'd say the deeper the better, and the higher quality stainless the better. In that area, get the best you can afford. If you do a lot of cooking with large pots, especially if you wash them by hand, get the largest, deepest bowl possible. If you go double bowl, get one larger bowl, and get one of those swan necked faucets for ease in filling pots.

                        Basically you should decide how you would use the sink I think, and then make your decision based on that. Also, if there will be 2 sinks in the kitchen, your decision might be influenced by that.

                        Good luck!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Hi sueatmo -

                          Thank you for your input. We have been listing all of the hand-washables just to be sure that one bowl is the way to go (it will be a departure from the norm but not insurmountable and by the majority vote, the definite way for us to go in our situation) and so far the single bowl is the clear winner. One of the kids just reminded me how nice it will be to easily wash our dehydrator trays - which I forgot all about but every time I have to wash them, I grind my teeth in frustration since they do not fit in my dbl bowl sink.

                          I don't like to use bleach very often (makes me sick) but we had a light colored porcelain sink and if my Shaklee scrubbing paste didn't remove the stains (gentle on body and environment but tough stuff on stains) then I would find myself making a gallon of hot water and dumping a cup of bleach in it and let is set awhile in the sink (at least an hour or more). If I needed to reach stains that were higher, I just made more of same concentration until the stain was underwater. It worked every time and didn't hurt my sink but you might want to refer to your manufacturers specs. since I don't want your sink damaged...

                          1. re: cabinsink

                            Sounds like you are on the right track with your sink. The single large sink sounds like a winner for you.

                            So far Bon Ami has worked on the current sink. I think I would try Oxygen bleach before trying chlorine bleach on my sink. But, I keep regular bleach around. You never know when you will need it.

                          2. re: sueatmo

                            This misses an important feature of this sink, the divide is not full height. It's about half-high. So you can wash a larger dish or pan without having it teetering up out of the whole sink. This lets you have a separate scrap sink, presumably with a disposal, along with a second one. Go with the 70/30 split and you're set. The only downside I can see with this is the squared corners. But I don't think anyone else is making a 70/30, lowered divide sink with radiused corners... yet.

                            1. re: wkearney99

                              Hi wkearney99 -

                              Thank you for your input. It was a long decision-making process within the family but we were really biased toward 14 and 16 gauge SS. There are only a few manufacturers that create sinks in these gauges so we were limited. Haven't received the sink yet but will let everyone know if it is a good one once we have used it for awhile... Since we are on septic, we will not be having a garbage disposal - plumbers were shocked that we would even consider it since not on municipal sewer... Who knew?

                              1. re: cabinsink

                                I'm on septic and have a disposer (actually two of them, one in prep sink and one in regular sink). My folks had one on a septic system for 50 years. No problem, tho I am careful about what goes down them -- big quantities of really rough and especially uncooked stuff like onion skins and potato peels generally go into the trash. I'm six years into it now and never any problem. I don't know what the plumbers in your area are worried about.

                                1. re: johnb

                                  There are GD's specifically for septic, fyi.
                                  Never trust anything a plumber tells you. If you wish to have a GD, do the research and decide for yourself.

                                  1. re: johnb

                                    Heh, my wife tried to run shrimp shells down ours once. ONCE. Two hours later and we're now clear on what should or shouldn't go down a disposal...