Choosing the Right Kitchen Sink Material

Posted by Daniel Edelman on

With so many kitchen sink options from which to choose, finding the perfect one can be tricky. How do you know what’s best for you?  Here is a breakdown of the most common materials on the market.

Stainless Steel

From left to right: Franke Orca, Blanco Performa, and Julien Vintage[/caption]

Basics: Not all stainless steel is created equal.  Make sure you select a 304 surgical-grade stainless steel sink to ensure it is non-porous and hygienic.  The nickel and chromium content is another important factor as it makes the sink resistant to rust. The chromium gives the stainless steel its luster and durability, while the nickel provides the hardness and strength. An 18/10 sink, meaning 18% chromium and 10% nickel, is considered to be excellent quality. Gauge is another factor in determining stainless steel quality. Gauge refers to the thickness of the metal which ranges from 16-22. The smaller the number, the thicker the sheet is.  We recommend only selecting 16 or 18 gauge sinks for your kitchen.  A thicker gauge helps contribute to better sound proofing and noise reduction when installed with a garbage disposal.  Many companies also add sound-deadening pads to the underside of the sink to assist with noise reduction.

Pros:  Stainless steel sinks are classic and durable. They will have the most options in sizes, shapes and bowl configurations. They are easy to keep clean and require very little maintenance.

Cons: Stainless steel is prone to scratching.

Maintenance:   Wipe down the sink with a cloth or sponge and use nonabrasive cleaners.  Also, try using a stainless steel cleaner such as Franke’s Inox Cream.  Spread the cream on a damp cloth, rub lightly on the sink and allow it to set.  Rinse off with water and polish with a dry cloth.

Fireclay

From left to right: Rohl Casement Shaws apron sink, Franke Kubus sink, and Rohl Shaws original apron sink[/caption]

Basics: Fireclay sinks consist of a liquid mixture of quartz, china clay or chamotte that is injected into a mold and then left to dry for up to several days at room temperature.  During the final drying phase, the sink is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 hours.  Then, a thick glaze is applied and the sink is fired in a 2,200 degree Fahrenheit kiln for 20 hours.

Pros: Fireclay sinks are incredibly durable and heat, chip and stain resistant. The glaze finish makes it easier to clean and they often come in white, biscuit and black.

Cons:  With its polished finish, pots and pans can leave gray scuff marks which can be cleaned out. Using a bottom grid will help protect the sink and prevent the maintenance of cleaning the scuff marks.

Maintenance:  Wipe down the sink with a cloth or sponge and use nonabrasive cleaners.

Cast Iron

From left to right: Kohler Clarity, Kohler Lawnfield, and Kohler Woodfield[/caption]

Basics: Cast iron sinks consist of two layers. The first layer is a heavy, durable iron alloy that is coated with thick enamel and then fired.

Pros: Cast iron sinks come in over 20 colors so you can find the perfect complement to any countertop. Some cast iron brands, such as Kohler, are chip, crack and heat resistant and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

Cons: Pots and pans can leave gray scuff marks. Using a bottom grid will help protect the sink and reduce the cleaning frequency of scuff marks.  Avoid leaving acidic items such as red wine or spaghetti sauce on the cast iron as it can stain.

Maintenance:  Wipe down the sink with a soft cloth or sponge and use non-abrasive cleaners. Kohler’s Cast Iron cleaner will help remove scuff marks and restore its original shine.

Granite Composite

From left to right: Blanco Performa, Blanco Cascade, and Blanco Diamond[/caption]

Basics: Blanco’s Silgranit sinks are a composite material made up of 80% granite.

Pros:  Silgranit is an extremely durable product and resistant to scratches, stains, chips and heat.  It also comes in a variety of colors to enhance any kitchen décor.

Cons: If you select white, this will require a bit more cleaning than the darker color sink options.

Maintenance:  Any non-abrasive cleaner can be used on Silgranit.

Copper

From left to right: Native Trails Zuma, Native Trails Cocina Duet, and Native Trails Farmhouse[/caption]

Basics: Just like stainless steel, copper sinks range in thickness, typically 14 gauge-18 gauge.  Depending on the manufacturer, copper is offered in polished, brushed or hammered finishes. Copper is a natural, reactive material with an ever-changing finish that creates a unique patina over time.

Pros: Copper has antimicrobial properties which makes it a practical and hygienic choice for a kitchen sink. Bacteria can only live for a few hours on a copper sink compared to several days on other materials.

Cons: Because the look and color of the sink will change over time, this material is not for everyone.

Maintenance: Use hot, soapy water and wipe down the sink with a soft cloth. Be sure not to use any harsh chemicals. If you want to slow the patina, wax treatments can be applied several times a year.

Natural Stone

From left to right: Stone Forest polished farmhouse sink, Stone Forest farmhouse sink, and Stone Forest double basin farmhouse sink[/caption]

Basics: Natural stone sinks, such as granite, are craved from a natural block of stone and then polished.  Apron front style sinks are offered in a polished front or can have a rough natural front.

Pros: Consider a natural stone sink a piece of artwork for your kitchen.  Each sink is truly one-of-a-kind.

Cons: Stone sinks are more expensive on average than other materials and will most likely require additional support due to the weight.

Maintenance: Granite sinks should be sealed once or twice a year. Hot soapy water can be used for everyday cleaning and then wiped down with a dry cloth. Use granite & marble cleaner as well to keep it looking extra glossy.


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