A good sink is still an important centerpiece for any kitchen. It’s where we rinse vegetables, soak grimy dishes, and most importantly – wash our hands as we prepare meals for ourselves and our families.
If you’re on the lookout for a new sink for your kitchen, here are some great tips to help you choose the right one that fits your budget, lifestyle, and décor.
What is the best material to choose for a new kitchen sink?
Kitchen sinks come in all shapes, sizes – and even materials. Four of the most common materials are:
- Stainless Steel
- Composite Quartz
Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons to help you decide which one may work best for you and your family.
- Extremely durable and long-lasting
- Easy to match with existing appliances and countertops
- Not considered a ‘luxury’ option
- Can be loud and noisy while hand washing dishes
- Not scratch-resistant when exposed to certain cleaners and hard water
- Stain resistant
- Reasonably priced and affordable
- Available in many different colors to match countertops and appliances
- Quieter than stainless steel sinks while in use
- Not as elegant as a natural stone option
- Darker color options are not as scratch resistant as lighter colors
- More likely to break dishes if dropped compared to stainless steel
- Classic, elegant and long-lasting
- Scratch and stain resistant
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Prone to cracking and chipping over time
- Heavy and require extra support
- On trend
- Naturally antibacterial
- Extremely durable and rust resistant
- Can turn green over time if not properly cleaned and maintained
- May require regular waxing to preserve shine
If you’re still undecided, here are some further considerations to make when choosing which material to go with.
- If you’re on a budget, a stainless-steel sink is likely your best option. As one of the cheapest, most durable, and long-lasting materials, it’s great for families and those looking for something simple.
- If you’re in the mood for something super trendy, copper and fireclay are both growing in popularity. Although expensive, both materials will add a sense of sophistication, refinement, and luxury to your kitchen.
- If you need something extra durable, stainless steel sinks are your best bet. Stainless steel sinks are heat, scratch, and stain-resistant – making them a great investment that will last a long time.
- If you want lots of color or style options, a composite quartz sink is a great choice. Often ranging in a number of different colors and patterns, you can easily make your sink blend in – or stand out.
Undermount or Drop-in, Which Should I Choose?
Drop-in sinks used to be the standard sink available for home builders and renovators. However, with undermount sinks growing in popularity and accessibility, it’s worth understanding the difference between the two.
”Drop-in” sinks are installed from above by placing the sink into a hole in the countertop. While these sinks are easy to install and available in a ton of materials, many people complain about the annoying “lip” that rests on top of the countertop after installation.
- Very easy to install
- Options for drop-ins are relatively cheap
- Wide variety of materials available
- Sink’s “rim” or “lip” rests on top of the countertop, making it impossible to have a completely flat surface
- Susceptible to grime and dirt collecting in between lip and countertop
Unlike “drop-in” sinks, undermount sinks are installed from underneath the countertop. Many people prefer this type of sink because it allows for a completely flat countertop space around the sink.
- Allows for streamlined and smooth look around sink
- Dirt or grime does not collect around rim
- Sophisticated and on trend
- More difficult to install compared to drop-in sinks
- Tend to be more expensive
- Not compatible with all countertop materials. Laminate countertops, for example, are not intended to be used with an undermount sink.
How large should a kitchen sink be?
How large you choose your kitchen sink to be will depend on two things:
- How much space you have for it and
- How you plan to use it
If you’re not quite sure how much you or others in your household use the kitchen sink, here are some things you can ask yourself:
- How many dishes per week you physically wash in the sink?
- Do you often leave several dirty dishes in the sink at one time to soak?
- Will you primarily be using a dishwasher instead of a sink to wash dishes?
- Do your children often use the kitchen sink to either wash-up or help with dishes?
- Are you willing to sacrifice counter space for a larger sink?
Once you do have an idea of what exactly you need your sink to do for you, it’s much easier to decide how large it needs to be.
- If you do not have a dishwasher, a double-bowl sink or a very large, farmhouse style sink are great options.
- If you do have a dishwasher and only use your sink for basic handwashing or meal prep, a single bowl will likely suffice.
- If you have limited counter space, consider going with a single bowl sink in order to save on space.
Other considerations should be made depending on if you are building a new kitchen from scratch, or if you are just replacing the sink.
- If you are either building a house or undergoing a total renovation, remember that once you choose a sink size and style, it’s important that you stick with it. Because your cabinets will be designed around the sink, it will be very difficult to retrofit a new one if you change your mind.
- If you are just replacing your old sink with a new sink, you are much more limited in the size options for your sink. Unless you want to undergo a more extensive renovation, you will have to choose a new sink that matches your existing sink’s dimensions.
How can different sink configurations help with cooking and washing up?
If you are just replacing your existing sink, you likely don’t have many options when it comes to the style of its replacement.
However, if you are designing your kitchen from the ground up, there are a number of different sink configurations and styles to choose from.
The most common configurations include:
- Single basin
- Double basin
- Triple basin
If you’re unsure which style best matches your needs, here’s a closer look at how each option helps with cooking and washing up.
A single basin (or single bowl) sink is one of the most basic and common styles of sinks. This style of sink keeps things simple by having one drain and no dividers in the middle.
Single basic sinks can range from very small to very large. In fact, they are coming back in style – especially with the rise in popularity of very large, farm-house style sinks.
Single basin sinks are great for those who:
- Only use the sink to soak and wash dishes
- Often wash a lot of very large pots and pans
- Have limited counter space
- Do not use the sink to prep food
Common drawbacks of single basin sinks are:
- Not being able to separate clean dishes from the dirty ones
- Not having the ability to separate food prep from dishwashing
- Potential for breaking delicate glassware and dishes (more of a problem for very large, farm-house style sinks)
Double basin style sinks are also extremely popular and super practical.
Typically, they are either separated exactly in half or they can have a ‘small side’ and a ‘big side’. Both sides have their own separate drains, however, only one side usually has a garbage disposal.
Double basin sinks are great for those who:
- Like to wash dishes by having a side for soaking and another side for washing/rinsing
- Prefer to thaw meat in the sink on one side, while still using the other side
- Use the sink to prep different kinds of foods
- Wash a lot of glassware and smaller items
Common drawbacks of double basin sinks include:
- Very difficult to wash large pots or pans, due to limited space
- Takes up a lot of counter space that could be used for cutting, chopping, or other food prepl
Triple basin sinks are not as common as double or single basin sinks; however they are still very common in modern kitchens.
Triple basin sinks typically feature a small, and sometimes raised, middle basin situated in between two standard-sized basins.
The middle basin usually has the garbage disposal, while the other two basins have standard drains.
Triple basin sinks are great for those who:
- Prefer keeping the garbage disposal separate from the dishwashing area
- Do not mind the loss in countertop space due to the large sink
- Like to have separated spaces for soaking, washing, and food prep
Common drawbacks of triple basin sinks include:
- Oversized pots and pans are very difficult to wash with the extra dividers
- It is difficult to keep all food scraps contained to just the middle basin
How could a new sink replacement affect the resale value of a home?
Even if you are not planning on moving anytime soon, it still doesn’t hurt to consider how the style of your kitchen sink may affect the resale value of your home.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can still get your dream kitchen while also protecting yourself in the long run.
Things to avoid:
- Placing the sink in an inconvenient location, such as away from the dishwasher
- Choosing an out of the ordinary color, such as bright pink or green
- Choosing an uncommon material, such as glass or porcelain
- Choosing a very large sink that takes up an excessive amount of counter space
What other accessories should I consider when purchasing a new sink?
You might think that your job is over once you’ve settled on the perfect style, material, and location of your sink. However, you may want to consider the additional accessories you need, as they may have an impact on plumbing or your renovation costs.
The most common types of kitchen sink accessories that you should take into consideration include:
Faucet: A good faucet and sprayer can really enhance how you use your kitchen sink. The most common types of faucet/sprayer combos include:
- Single-handle faucets – Simple, easy to install, but difficult to adjust temperature compared to two-handle faucets.
- Two-handle faucets – Feature separate hot and cold handles, however, they can be more difficult to install and often take up more counter space.
- Hands-free faucets – Motion-sensor activated and more hygienic, however, some find them difficult and frustrating to use.
Garbage disposal: Especially in American households, garbage disposals are a must-have in the kitchen. The two most common types of garbage disposals include:
- Continuous feed disposal – The most common type of garbage disposal. Both easy to use and easy to find, this type of disposal is what most people have in their homes, and what most plumbers will be used to fitting.
- Batch feed disposal – Much less common, more expensive, and often difficult to find. However, they are the preferred options for some families with small children due to their safety features.
Drying tray: Especially if you do not have a dishwasher, a drying space will be crucial in helping you stay organized and hygienic while washing your dishes. For this, you have a few options:
- Built-in tray with sink – this is the ideal type of tray, as it is built-in directly with your sink. Typically only found with stainless steel sinks, this is a great option if do not have a dishwasher and you want to guarantee drying space.
- Separate rack on countertop – if you do not have room in your budget for a built-in drying tray, or if your chosen sink material does not come with a drying space, you can always purchase a separate rack that can easily sit on top of the counter next to your sink.
- Separate rack above sink – if counter space is very limited in your kitchen, consider purchasing or building a drying rack to go directly above your sink.
What is the most important thing to consider when looking for a new kitchen sink?
Whether you live alone or with your family, the most important thing to consider when purchasing a new kitchen sink is how it will be used.
To answer this question, consider:
- Your dishwashing habits
- Your food preparation habits and
- The age of family members, i.e. if you have younger children, you may want something very durable and easy to clean
Once you have the answers to these points, you will be well-prepared for your first visit with a contractor or trip to the hardware store.