If you're remodeling your kitchen on a budget – or equipping a new kitchen and haven't a clue where to start – focus on the kitchen sink. Yesteryear's limited selection of cast iron and stainless steel can't compete with today's stylish, modern sinks.
Simply choose the mounting type and style, then select the material. A new sink will transform your kitchen.
Kitchen Sink Mounting Types and Design Options In general, your kitchen sink will either rest above or attach beneath the kitchen counter. Understanding installation types, styles and terminology will help you find the sink you really want.
Surface-Mounted Sinks: Surface-mounted sinks drop into a hole made in the kitchen countertop. If the sink is rimmed, it features an exposed flange that meets and seals to the countertop. Self-rimming sinks, on the other hand, lack the flat flange, using rounded outer edges to rest on the countertop instead. Both are fairly simple to install and work with most countertop materials.
Under-Mounted Sinks: For a kitchen countertop that looks seamless, consider an under-mounted kitchen sink. The countertop still features a cutout to accommodate the sink, but instead of dropping through the counter, it mounts to the underneath. The effect is a sleek counter surface. It's considered a low-maintenance design that looks especially good with modern interiors. Under-mounted sinks work best with solid counter materials like stone and concrete, not moisture-permeable countertops like laminate.
Tile-In Sinks: As the name suggests, a tile-in sink is surrounded by a tile countertop. The sink drops into a hole, like a surface-mounted sink. The difference is the height: Once the tile is installed, the sink rim is actually flush with the surrounding countertop. This makes cleaning the countertop a breeze and calls attention to the beauty of your tile, rather than the sink basin.
Integral Sinks: Some people mistakenly call these "Corian sinks," but Corian is just one integral sink and counter manufacturer. Integral sinks are made of the same material as the countertop and fused to it, presenting a seamless appearance that's also easy to keep clean.
Farmhouse Sinks: Another popular kitchen sink style is the farmhouse sink. Rather than referring to how the sink mounts, it's a design that features a front apron panel. It's a stylish look that highlights the sink itself. Farmhouse sinks may be under- or surface-mounted, and even tiled-in.
How Many Bowls Do You Need? Bigger isn't always better. When selecting your new kitchen sink, consider the size of your kitchen and your work habits before settling on a bowl size or number. Most sink styles are available in single and double bowls, and sometimes triple as well. One bowl may be smaller than the others, especially with triple bowls, which often sandwich a smaller bowl between two larger ones.
Single-bowl sinks work best for smaller kitchens (less than 150 square feet). Triple bowls are the ultimate luxury, allowing you to stack dishes to dry, have dishes soaking, and still peel vegetables in the third basin.
Sink Materials Stainless Steel - Stainless steel is easy to clean, reasonably priced, and strong. Look for the gauge (thickness) of the steel and the sound-deadening ability. The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel, making it more durable. Spray coatings and special pads on the bottom of the sink reduce noise. Choose a satin finish, rather than a mirror finish, to lessen scratching. Look for varying bowl shapes for added style.
Cast Iron - Cast iron sinks are coated with enamel and come in a variety of colors. Cast iron is heavy, but a bigger issue is that it chips and scratches easily. Exposed iron will rust, requiring replacement or repair. Also, cast iron doesn't keep water hot for very long. It's favored for the glossy finish and stain resistance. Use cast iron with farmhouse sink styles for authenticity.
Composite - Composite sinks encompass three specific types: quartz composite, polyester/acrylic composite and granite-based composite. Of these, the polyester/ acrylic composites are more budget-friendly and provide a shiny look. Quartz composite sinks are more durable. Composed of 70 percent quartz and 30 percent resin filler, they resist damage and also come in various colors and finishes. Granite-based sinks are a higher-end choice and offer the greatest scratch and chemical resistance of any sink material.
Take your time when shopping for your new kitchen sink. Look online and at various stores to get ideas and find the sink you'll love.