Kitchen Sink Buyer’s Guide: How To Get The Right Sink For Your Kitchen

Choosing the right kitchen sink is a major commitment. After all, a good kitchen sink should last you for the lifetime of your kitchen – or at least until your next major remodel. So you want to take your time to choose one that you’re going to be happy with for the next decade or so. Many factors go into making a sink the “right” one for your kitchen, and they’ll be different for every person, but this quick list of things to think about should help you find a place to start.

How Big?

Single Bowl Kitchen Sink From Vigo
Single Bowl Kitchen Sink From Vigo

It can be tempting to buy a big, beautiful double or even triple bowl sink, but a sink that’s too large can overwhelm a small kitchen, and is probably more sink than you really need. Besides, if you have a kitchen that 150 or fewer square feet, you probably want a smaller sink like this Single Bowl sink just to be able to maximize your available counter space. That said, multi-bowl sinks are great for larger kitchens, and can even make kitchen prep and cleanup easier by allowing you to put your dirty dishes in one part of the sink while still having room to rinse vegetables in another bowl.

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How Many Holes?

Executive Chef Double Bowl Undermount Sink From Kohler
Executive Chef Double Bowl Undermount Sink From Kohler

This one is maybe a bit nitpicky, but it is important to think about. Kitchen sinks typically have between one and five holes – this Executive Chef sink from Kohler has four – and while you can cover up extra holes if you have them, it can be difficult or impossible to add them if you realize you need them later. You should definitely pick your sink and faucet together. Kitchen faucets can require one, two, or tree holes, depending on how the handle is set up and whether or not it’s attached to the spout, but you also want to consider whether or not that faucet comes with a sprayer, whether or not you want to install a permanent soap dispenser, and whether or not you want an additional filtered water tap.  Even a single-hole faucet, when paired with all these accessories, can require four holes, so be sure to get a sink that can accommodate your needs.

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Installation Type

Undermount Farmhouse Sink From Barclay
Undermount Farmhouse Sink From Barclay

How you install your kitchen sink is important as well, and is a decision that you definitely need to make before you purchase your new kitchen counter top. With the exception of apron style sinks like this Farmhouse Sink from Barclay (which, really, are a form of undermount sink) there are two types of kitchen sinks – self rimming and undermount. Self rimming sinks have a lip that goes all the way around the top edge, which allows you to more or less just set them on top of your counter. Heavier sinks, like enameled cast iron, will hold themselves in place with their weight, but lighter sinks, like stainless steel ones, will probably need to be screwed or clamped into place. Self rimming sinks are the fastest and easiest to install, and can typically be installed in any kind of kitchen counter. Undermount kitchen sinks, on the other hand, attach to the underside of your kitchen counter. This creates a smooth, seamless finish and makes it easy to sweep water or debris off your counter and into the sink, but is also much, much more difficult to install (it can take at least twice as long), and requires a counter top made of a solid material, as a rim of it will be exposed all around the edge of the sink.

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Materials

Material is probably the biggest decision you’ll make with regards to your kitchen sink, and with basically every type claiming to be the best, most durable, and most beautiful, it can be a little difficult to decide.

Copper

Copper Farmhouse Sink From Artisan
Copper Farmhouse Sink From Artisan

Copper kitchen sinks are a highly decorative luxury item, often artisan made and beautifully hand finished, like this gorgeous Farmhouse copper sink from Artisan. You can find them either highly polished with a new-penny shine or, more likely with a deep, rich patina that will continue to develop with use (and requires a lot less maintenance). Copper kitchen sinks are naturally antiseptic, which makes them the most naturally bacteria free of any sink material, and also makes them easy to clean. Plus, because copper has an organic finish, any scuffs or mars will eventually blend back in to the surface of the sink. The one thing you need to be aware of is that the patina on the copper is very sensitive to acid, so you want to be careful not to leave acidic foods like tomato, vinegar, or lemon, on the surface too long. It won’t hurt the sink, but it will “clean” it back to that new-penny finish, which can take time to blend back in to the rest of the sink.

Stainless Steel

Double Bowl Stainless Steel Sink From Vigo
Double Bowl Stainless Steel Sink From Vigo

Stainless steel is far and away the most popular material for kitchen sinks because they’re both affordable and durable. Probably the least expensive sinks on the market, stainless steel kitchen sinks come in almost every shape and size. Be aware, though, that stainless steel sinks will scratch – a fact that can actually enhance the appearance of a sink with a satin finish like this Double Bowl sink from Vigo, but which can really ruin one with a mirror finish very quickly. Also, you want to look for a lower gauge (the lower the number the better, 16-18 is ideal) and some sort of sound dampening feature. The lower the gauge the thicker the sink and the less likely it is to dent, and the less likely it is to make a lot of noise when exposed to heat or cold, or if an item is dropped into it.

Enameled Cast Iron

Anthem Cast Iron Kitchen Sink from Kohler
Anthem Cast Iron Kitchen Sink from Kohler

Enameled cast iron kitchen sinks like this Anthem Sink are probably the most traditional choice, and if you have an older kitchen or an older home, this is probably the type of sink you have currently. That said, they’re falling out of favor for a reason – they’re very heavy, and while they’re highly resistant to acid and minor surface scratching or staining, they don’t hold heat well, and have a bad habit of chipping if heavy objects are dropped on them. Unlike sinks made of a single material all the way through, when enameled kitchen sinks chip, it shows, and the underlying cast iron can even begin to rust over time. That said, if you live in an older, traditional home, an enameled cast iron kitchen sink is the most authentic (if not necessarily the most practical) option.

Fireclay

Luberon Fireclay Farmhouse Sink From Herbeau
Luberon Fireclay Farmhouse Sink From Herbeau

Fireclay kitchen sinks are made out of a special, ultrafine white clay that’s extremely dense and, when fired, creates a surface that’s non-porous and extremely hard. That means that, while they look similar to enameled kitchen sinks, they have quite a few advantages over them. The surface is smooth and easy to clean, and resists staining, scratching, chipping, and acids, and retains heat very well. Like enameled sinks, fireclay sinks are quite heavy, and typically come in traditional, farmhouse or apron style sinks like this Luberon sink from Herbeau. Because of the rarity of the type of clay, and the fact that many fireclay kitchen sinks are artisan made, these can be a little more expensive, but are much more durable than most other kinds of sinks.

Composite

Diamond Silgranit Kitchen Sink From Blacno
Diamond Silgranit Kitchen Sink From Blacno

Composite sinks are kitchen sinks made of a combination of materials, usually quartz or granite, mixed with a sealing resin and heated to very high temperatures. These sinks are among the most durable available on the market, because not only is the stone-based material extremely hard, it’s also a consistent color all the way through, so small scratches won’t show and larger ones are easily repaired. Composite kitchen sinks like this Diamond sink from Blanco are also rapidly gaining popularity because they’re one of the more eco-friendly options, as they’re made from what would otherwise be considered “waste” material, and can be recycled. Each company has a different name and mixture for their specific composite material – Silgranit is just one among many – but the material can be dyed with a wide variety of colors to match just about any  kitchen design.

What kind of kitchen sink are you most interested in? What type of sink do you currently have, and how do you feel about it?