Wednesday, October 14

Buying Guide: Kitchen Sink's

Since writing my Electronic Faucet Buying Guide, I have been asked to follow up with a Kitchen Sink Buying Guide to go along with it.  There are many kitchen sink option available in today's market.  Not only with size and design, but also materials of kitchen sinks.

I personally believe that the Faucet and Kitchen Sink are the two hardest working products in your entire home.  They need to be treated, and selected, as such.  Don't get a $99 sink/faucet set from Home Depot and then get mad when it's broken less than a year later.

When selecting a sink, your style of cooking and cleaning really need to be evaluated by you and your house hold.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Who does the dishes?  Don't get a sink too deep to cause back discomfort. Try them out.  
  • What's your dish washing style? Dishwashers use 1/6th the amount of water, and should be doing most if not all the washing.  Your dishwashing style will determine the number and configuration of bowls.
  • Is it for looks, or is it for function?  If you are an empty nester who eat out 5 times a week, your sink needs will be different than a family who always eats at home and has a house full of kids. 
  • What finishes are you looking for? Color, something that blends in with the counter?  The color you want will help determine the material.  
So, these are just a few questions to ask yourself.  When thinking about a kitchen sink, BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. You are just doing yourself an injustice if you can't be honest about your needs and wants. Also, your needs need to come before your wants.  I shouldn't have to state this, but if your need is for something as indestructible as possible, but you want stainless to match your appliances, ditch the stainless, you will be disappointed. 

Now for the materials. I will say, I am a little biased and opinionated on the matter, but after selling sinks for 11 years, and hearing the complaints, my opinions are more about experience than anything.  
Franke Peak PKX11028 

Stainless Steel. Yes, they look good, but I hate them. I absolutely hate them.  To get a good stainless steel sink you should expect to pay around $750 and up. If you decide to go this route there are a few things you need to know.
  • They Scratch. No matter how much you spend, is going to scratch.  (Unless your my mom!) 
  • Get grids. If the sink doesn't include protective grids, buy them. They are generally $100 per grid. They will help protect the bottom of the sink. 
  • Gauge. First of all, gauge is the actual thickness of the steel, and the smaller the number the thicker the steel. I recommend getting a 16 or 18 gauge sink. 
  • How is it made? In addition to the gauge, this is the most important thing.  There are stamped sinks, where they take a giant sheet of steel and press them into the shape of the sink.  Think about that Salt Water Taffy. What happens when you stretch it?  It get's thinner. Some sinks are folded and soldered. These are the ones you want.  
  • The next is the noise.  Sound deadening pads and under coating will make the sink quieter when the disposal is on, and when the water is on. 
Rohl Shaws Original Casement Edge Sink

Fireclay. Fireclay sinks are popular with the apron front style sinks.  These super durable sinks are great. Beautiful, as well as durable.  They are just as durable as a Cast Iron sink, yet feature thinner walls, often allowing for a larger basin.  Like Stainless, you get what you pay for. Because of the nature of this material, every sink is different. Don't ever cut a cabinet or countertop based on a template. Only use the actual sink. 1/8th of an inch can ruin your kitchen!  Here are some questions:
  • Is it hand made or machine made?  Generally the price will tell you. If it's under $1000 assume its made by a machine. If it's hand made, it will be more costly.
  • Hand made typically have more of a chance of size variations. Meaning it could be up to 1/4"smaller or larger than the display. 
  • Ask about pooling, and do your research.  Some fireclay sinks have unlevel bottom's, which can result in liquids pooling in the bottom of the sink. Some people, myself included, could careless, but if this will bug you, make sure there aren't a lot of complaints online and through the showroom. 

Blanco Diamond Super Single
Composite Granite. These are my own personal favorite. These sinks are a true work horse.  Scratch resistant, stain resistant, heat resistant, the whole deal. There are great shapes and designs available, and quite a few colors.  Most people opt for colors that blend in with their countertop, but contrasting the counter surface creates a great look as well. Like all sinks, you do get what you pay for. There are many brands of Composite Granite sinks, but in my opinion, Blanco's Silgranite is the one who has mastered the technology. 
  • First,when purchasing a composite granite (or any kitchen sink), be sure to inspect the sink for any cracks chips or damage before you even schedule your counter template. 
  • If you get a light color, I suggest getting a grid to protect the bottom of the sink.  Some pans, specifically cast iron, can transfer black marks.  They will come out, but why scrub if you don't have to. 
  • Some of the darker colors can also show water spots. If you have dark colors and hard water, simply dry out the sink after each use to avoid spots. It takes 2 seconds, it's easy, and good practice for any sink. 

Cast Iron. The traditional work horse. These sinks have been around for 50 years, and when taken care of, still look brand new.  Kohler is the major manufacturer of Cast Iron sinks.  There are many colors and shapes available. These sinks are cast iron, covered in an enamel.  They can chip, but the amount of force it takes to chip the enamel would ruin any sink on the market.  I typically warn people to be careful of the center divide if they get a double bowl. 
  • Like Composite Granite, if you get a lighter colored sink, get a grid to protect the bottom of the sink.  
  • Do Not Ever clean the sink with an abrasive cleaner like Ajax or Comet. It can scratch the glaze and you will never be able to keep the sink clean. (In fact, if you own some of these cleaners, throw them out for good!) 
  • Also, dark colors can get ruined by hard water, so be sure to wipe them dry when your done. 

So these are some of the major competitors for kitchen sinks.  Hopefully this gives you some criteria for a future sink and some ideas on what to look for when selecting your next sink.  Like a faucet, you get what you pay for, and you really need to invest in the best possible sink you can afford, which ever style you prefer.