Choosing the right installation style for your kitchen sink depends on what’s important to you in its day-to-day use and maintenance. The next part is making your decision on material. This is what determines how the kitchen sink holds up to your standards and design preference.
If you’ve decided on an integral sink installation style, this part’s easy because your sink material will of course be the same as your countertop. For all other installation styles, here are some kitchen sink materials you can weigh against one another:
Cast iron (enamel-coated)
This option is great if you want that retro-classic look in your kitchen. The enamel coating allows you to customise it with a wide selection of glossy solid colours. Its heavy cast iron core though requires professional installation and a strong base support, especially if you’re going with the undermount style. You can clean it by wiping it down regularly – just don’t use abrasive cleaners as that can damage the glossy finish. You can get many years of life out of it if used with care. But the wear and tear will eventually build up to the point where the enamel chips away to expose the cast iron core to rust. This major issue is why it’s recommended only if you rarely do any heavy washing in the kitchen.
A good choice if you’re looking for an unusual design look, concrete sinks are mold-able in any size and shape. You can even customise your concrete sink with built-in features like drain boards. Due to its weight, a concrete sink also requires professional installation and a sturdy base support. It should be sealed often because it’s not naturally resistant to moisture or stains. You also have to keep checking it for cracks because if they’re not repaired right away, they’ll eventually grow wider and damage the sink.
Copper sinks bring a rich elegance to the kitchen because ornamental designs can be wrought directly on the metal. Copper is typically a soft metal so you may find that most of them strengthened with about 1% of zinc. The major benefits of copper are that it’s resistant to rust and microbes. The beauty of copper is that it’ll develop a lustrous sheen as it ages, though you do need to keep polishing it to maintain its shine. Cleaning is easy as long as you use soap water and no harsh chemicals. When choosing a copper sink, ask how it’s made because some cheap models may include traces of mercury and lead that are detrimental to health. Although a copper sink is not as durable and is much more expensive than most sink materials, it’ll give your kitchen a luxurious look like no other.
This is a type of ceramic clay baked in fires at intense heat and finished with glossy or matte surfaces. Durable and non-porous, fireclay sinks usually come in white; other colour options can range from blue-grey to black. The finished product of fireclay looks like enamel-coated cast iron, but it’s actually much more sturdy because it is hard-baked ceramic through and through without any applied coating. The surface is easy to clean and you can even scrub it to take out tougher stains. Having said that, the surface can chip over time, but you can fix it with chip repair kits.
Granite composite consists of 80% crushed granite plus 20% of a resin-and-colourant mix. It’s highly durable with a surface that’s almost impervious to chips, scratches, or even heat as high as 280 degrees Celsius. Because it’s an engineered material, it comes in a broad range of colours and shapes to better set off your countertop. In fact, granite composite sinks complement stone countertops very well and are often paired together. Granite’s the most expensive composite material, but it’s actually cheaper than heavy-duty stainless steel sinks. Just take care to inspect them upon arrival because granite composite sinks can get damaged during transport.
Stainless steel is always a popular choice for its durability and easy maintenance. You may think it’s nothing special since you can find them everywhere in big box stores, but you’d be surprised if you seek out the thick heavy-duty ones. Stainless steel quality is dependent on its thickness gauge. Since 18 gauge is the standard for stainless steel sinks, choose gauges that are lower than that if you want high quality. Stainless steel sinks should also come with sound insulation pads installed on the underside. These pads help to dampen the noise from water and dishes. Keep in mind too that although stainless steel is very durable, scratches can show up on its surface. You can mitigate this by opting for a satin finish on the stainless steel.
Finally, we can’t leave off here without mentioning natural stone sinks. Natural stone is an unusual but very durable sink option. It’s expensive though since it’s usually carved from large chunks of granite, soapstone, and even marble. The density of a stone sink makes up for it though by being a great natural noise dampener. Remember that it would also make for an extremely heavy sink so you’ll need to make sure it has a reinforced base support. And with the constant moisture and stains that sinks have to endure, you’ll have to seal it often.
So, what to choose? The most important consideration should be whether the sink material can withstand the labour you’ll put the sink through. Think about how often you cook and whether your cooking style generates a lot of dishes every time. You may even want to think about how many people are in your household and whether they’re careful with dishes. After finding the most durable material for your needs, getting the right look is a piece of cake.