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Kitchen Sink Buying Guide

Home renovations and improvements can be a tough and stressful experience; full of countless choices that often lead into a dozen other decisions you have to make before you can move forward. Kitchens are probably the most complex part of the home, and the sink sits at the top of the list for major kitchen purchases. To help you make a smart, informed decision, this guide covers everything you need to know about buying a new sink.

Measuring and Sizing

Before you even start thinking about the different features and styles of sinks, you absolutely have to get all of the measurements for your kitchen. If you don’t, you can end up buying a sink that’s too big or too small, which can cause more problems (and cost more money) than you can imagine. First, you need to check the size of the cabinet that will hold the sink; make sure it’s wide enough and deep enough to hold the sink and the connecting pipes.

Once you find a sink that fits in the cabinet, you’ll need to get its exact dimensions to make sure that it will fit into the countertop. If you’re using the countertop that’s already there, measure to the edges of your existing sink as well as the size of the hole by going into the cabinet itself. If the sink is too big, it just won’t fit into the hole. If it’s too small, it’ll pass right through and won’t have any way to actually stay in place.

Mounting Style

It’s also incredibly important to look at the mounting styles of sinks before you move into comparing any specific features, because certain kitchen setups can only support certain mounting setups. The traditional mounting method is called top mount, where the sink sits on top of the counter. The other style is called an undermount, which involves using a silicone glue to attach the sink to the bottom of the counter so there’s no visible seam. This mounting style only works with strong, single-piece countertop materials, such as granite or butcher block.

If you have a tiled, laminate, or hollow countertop you’re going to have to go with a drop-in mount sink. These types of counter materials are too weak to support an undermount – they have more seams and more weak points that could cause your whole kitchen counter to break and collapse if the sink gets too full. If you’re not quite sure what type of counter material you have, you might need to check with a plumber to find out if your kitchen can actually handle an undermount.

Number of Bowls

After you get all of the measuring and technical considerations out of the way, you can start looking at the different sink features (which is where the real fun starts). The first thing you should think about is the number of bowls, which you may also see referred to as basins, since it’s going to be the biggest personal preference aspect of the whole purchase. Most of the sinks you’re going to see will be a single bowl style, which means that there is only one large chamber. This style gives you more overall space for dishes, and is often available in extra deep dimensions to hold big pots and other awkwardly-shaped items.

If you want more flexibility in how you use your kitchen sink, you’re going to want to look into double bowl models. These sinks have two separate basins attached side-by-side, with each individual basin having its own drain and complete set of walls. Some models offer basins of the same size, while others have one a little bit bigger than the other. These sinks are great if you like to divide your dishes into groups, like clean on one side and dirty on the other.

Construction and Materials

These days, more and more sinks are being made out of stainless steel instead of the porcelain of the old days. Stainless steel is usually less expensive and also gives you a sink that is much easier to clean and doesn’t scratch or stain very easily. These sinks can be more hygienic and also come with other special features that can extend the life of the sink and help prevent long-term damage to the surrounding cabinet. Steel is measured in gauges, with 16 gauge being a commonly used type that is very strong and sturdy.

If you don’t like the look of stainless steel, or don’t like the extra loud sounds it can produce, then you’re probably going to be looking at composite models. These sinks are made out of special materials that blend stone and other components to give you a quality sink that is quieter and available in more colors. Just make sure to check for specifications about the model’s ability to resist stains, otherwise you could end up with a white sink that turns brown after a few uses. On the higher end of materials, there are also granite sinks and models made with brushed copper or other types of metals.

Sound Dampening

This is a new aspect of sinks that’s only started appearing in recent years with the rise in popularity of stainless steel sinks. I never knew that you could actually dampen the sound of water splashing into a metal sink, but some manufactures are doing it by coating the sinks with special compounds that muffle the sound. There’s no standard rating system for sound dampening, so there isn’t really a way to compare how well one sink reduces noise compared to another. You can check to see the methods a manufacturer uses, however, such as coating the bottom or installing rubber pads to catch noise in key areas.

Cleaning and Stain Resistance

If you hate cleaning your sink after each load of dishes, then you’re going to want to look for a model without the creased corners that can hold on to food debris. A lot of stainless steel sinks also have a brushed satin coating that helps keep food from sticking to them, making cleanup much easier. This coating can also be scratch and stain resistant, which helps prevent rusting and other discolorations that often make cleaning up much more difficult over time. If you don’t go with a stainless steel sink, look for one that is made out of a non-porous material.

Style Factor and Closing Thoughts

It’s also very important to think about the overall look of a kitchen sink to make sure that it fits in with the overall look of your kitchen. Some models have hard lines and are made to have a more modern look, while others have a traditional layout with rounded edges and softer profiles. Just remember that whatever features you want in a sink, you’re going to be looking at this sink every day and using it a lot. You’ll want to make sure you’re happy with its appearance and how cohesive it feels in your kitchen.