How To Choose A Sink

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If you’re replacing a kitchen or bathroom sink, you’ll need to choose between thousands of sink materials, shapes, colors and mounts. Make sure you find the option that best fits your home’s style, needs and budget.

Choosing a Sink Material

What your sink is made of is one of the most important aspects not only of function, but also of appearance. You’ll likely choose between these popular materials:

  • Stainless steel: One of the most popular choices in the kitchen, stainless steel is very durable, doesn’t chip or scratch, isn’t affected by temperatures, and looks good with just about any decorating style.
  • Porcelain or enamel over cast iron: Another good choice for kitchen or bath, these sinks can be found in a range of colors to make a decorating statement. They can scratch, however, and become dull over time.
  • Solid surface: These sinks are part of a solid counter, usually a composite material. The lack of seams makes it easy to keep them clean, but they can scratch or become dull. This is a very popular choice in the bathroom.
  • Stone: Whether granite, quartz or soapstone, a stone sink is definitely a decorating statement. Stone stands up to heavy use, and is easy to clean. It can be expensive, though. Beautiful in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Copper: Beautiful and warm, copper is a spectacular choice for a focal point sink. Unless sealed, copper will need to be polished and waxed to maintain its appearance.
  • Glass: Used for some vessel sinks, glass can be quite artistic and special, but is generally reserved for a powder room or bathroom that doesn’t receive heavy use.

Choosing a Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen is the hardest working room of your home, and the sink gets more use than any other fixture. Washing dishes, rinsing food, housing a garbage disposal and providing a drink of cold water are daily functions of the average kitchen sink. Your choice needs to be functional, work with your countertop and complement your decorating style.

Most kitchen sinks are double basin: with two basins the same size, or one larger than the other. There are also triple basin sinks, with a small, center basin that houses the garbage disposal. Single basin sinks are not widely used in the kitchen.

Drop-in: This very common style of sink drops into an opening in the kitchen counter, and has a lip that holds it in place, and covers the edges of the opening. This style is also called “self-rimming” or “surface mounted”. Drop-in sinks are generally either stainless steel or porcelain over cast iron, and are a classic style.

Pros:

  • Wide range of styles, colors and price points available
  • Easy to install
  • Good with any decorating style

Cons:

  • The lip creates an edge that can be difficult to clean


Undermount: Another popular choice, an undermount sink is installed from under the counter, giving a seamless appearance with no lip. The countertop needs to be a solid surface, such as granite, wood or composite.

Pros:

  • Clean, sleek appearance
  • No lip to hold mildew or dirt

Cons:

  • More difficult to install
  • Must be exactly sized to the countertop opening
  • More potential for leaks around the sink rim

Farmhouse: Also called an apron sink, these bring to mind the kitchen from grandma’s house. Old-fashioned and suited to a country style, a farmhouse sink is made of heavy ceramic and has a front “apron” or panel that extends down in front. These sinks are large, and often have just one basin.

Pros:

  • Large size holds big pots and pans
  • Beautiful style for a country or retro kitchen

Cons:

  • Not complementary to all decorating styles

Choosing a Bathroom Sink

Your bathroom sink is used for shaving, washing up and brushing teeth. It doesn’t receive the rough treatment a kitchen sink is likely to endure, but you still want a fixture that is large enough for your purposes, is easy to clean and that improves the look of your bathroom. Bathroom sinks are normally single basin.

As in the kitchen, the two most common styles of sink are the drop-in and the undermount. Both of these are normally combined with a bathroom vanity that has storage cabinets underneath, which also serves to hide the sink pipes. There are also other styles of sink popular for bathroom use.

Pedestal: Also called a column sink, the pedestal sink's old-fashioned style looks great in a powder room or small bathroom. As the name suggests, it consists of a basin on top of a supporting column, and you can find a huge range of styles and colors.

Pros:

  • Good for a small bathroom
  • Many styles available

Cons:

  • No storage cabinet underneath


Vessel: These artistic sinks resemble a bowl sitting on top of the bathroom vanity. They are trendy and can be very elaborate and artistic. Often made of glass or other unusual materials, these sinks are best for bathrooms not used by children.

Pros:

  • Definite decorating statement
  • Great for a modern or Asian-styled bathroom
  • Good for a small bathroom

Cons:

  • Usually need special, high faucets
  • Delicate materials are easily damaged
  • Difficult to clean
  • Not compatible with all decorating styles

Wall-mount: As implied by the name, this is a sink basin attached directly to the wall, without a pedestal or vanity underneath. It’s a good choice for a very small bathroom, or a guest bath where storage is not an issue.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t take up much space

Cons:

  • Can look industrial
  • Not complementary to all decorating styles
  • No storage space underneath

Choosing a sink needs to be done with care. Once installed, it is not always easy to change your mind, and you see your kitchen and bathroom sinks every day. If it’s time to remodel, consider your decorating style, your countertop materials and the size of your room when deciding on the perfect sink for your home.

Last Updated: October 21, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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