By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Designing your kitchen is most definitely the time to include the kitchen sink. In your “kitchen triangle” — the stove, refrigerator and sink — you will spend the most time at the sink. So it is important to choose wisely for this very functional aspect of your kitchen.
Sinks come in a wide array of styles, sizes, and prices. You should select a sink based on the function you want it to perform, the space you have available, the style of your kitchen and the size of your budget.
Sinks come in several configurations. A large single-basin sink is convenient for oversized pans and cutting boards. A one-and-a-half bowl or a double bowl is good for washing and rinsing at the same time. There are even triple sinks—two bowls with a smaller third in the middle for the garbage disposal.
A sink can connect with the counter in two ways. One option is a self-rimmed sink where the edge overlaps the counter. The other choice is an undermount sink that allows the counter material to continue over the edge of the sink. This type is more hygienic since there is not an edge to accumulate bacteria and more convenient since crumbs can be wiped directly into the sink.
The style and material of your sink should complement your kitchen’s overall design. There are several materials to choose from. Here are some of the most common:
Stainless steel: Stainless steel is generally manufactured in “gauges” — or thicknesses. The smaller the gauge, the thicker and better the steel. Better steels contain more nickel, giving the sink a warmer color and better resistance to water spots. Stainless steel can have a polished finish or a matte finish. Stainless steel can be noisy, but an undercoating will minimize sound.
Enameled cast iron steel: In this option, a heavy layer of enamel is baked on a cast iron sink. This provides for the best selection of colors, but the enamel is subject to chipping.
Integral solid surface: Produced by manufacturers of solid surface counters, these sinks become a continuous part of the whole countertop. You can use the same material as the countertop or a complementary color. Although not indestructible, solid surfacing can usually be repaired if nicked or scratched.
Vitreous china: Vitreous china sinks have been used in bathrooms for years and are now being found in the kitchen. This material is clay poured into molds, fired in a kiln, and glazed. These sinks are easy to clean and very decorative. But they are expensive and can chip.
Composite sinks: These are relatively new. With either a smooth or textured finish, these sinks are lighter than cast iron. Composites with a higher content of quartz are the most durable. These resemble enamel in look and feel but are less porous and therefore easier to maintain.
Remember, choosing the right sink may seem like a tiny step in the overall remodeling process, but since you spend more time at the sink than any other spot in the kitchen, you want a sink that does its job efficiently and beautifully. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.