Tuesday, February 7

6 Things to Know About Stainless Sinks

Stainless steel is one of the most popular sink materials across the U.S. So what do you need to know when purchasing your next kitchen sink? With so many different price points, how do you know your getting a good product and a good deal?

I have said in several previous posts, be sure to not cut corners on your sink, and I definitely stand by my previous posts. When getting a new sink, you are getting the hardest working product in your kitchen. Do not try to save on your sink. Why put a $200 sink under a $20,000 quartzite? I have seen it done. Once your under mount sink is cut in your new stone, there is no going back. 

So when you start shopping, how do you know what your getting? Why is a $2000 stainless sink any better than a $200 sink? They have the same guage, the same radius corners, they look the same. Well, I will tell you, they are different. When it comes to sinks, and ESPECIALLY stainless steel, you are definitely getting what you paid for. 

There are lots of things to consider. Gauge is definitely important, as well as grade of stainless. However none of that matters without a proper and quality construction. Then, once the sink is made, how is the underside? Does it have the proper insulation and sound pads? These are the things to look for, and I will teach you how to find them. 

Stainless comes in several thicknesses, which is called gauge. The gauge of stainless steel usually ranges from 22 gauge to 16 gauge. Gauge is also numbered opposite what most people think. With stainless steel, the smaller the number, the thicker the steel. 22 and 20 gauge is typically cheap sinks at the big box stores, that usually range from $100-$250.

18 gauge is the minimum recommended thickness for kitchen use, but 16 gauge is preferred. Typically, the thicker the steel, the less noise, vibration, and less likely for dents. Now, don't get me wrong, all stainless will scratch, so don't let someone tell you that 16 gauge steel is less likely to scratch, because that just isn't true.

Stainless sinks get their strength and rust resistant qualities from the chromium and nickel content. This ratio is often 18/8, which is 18% chromium and 8% nickel. 304 is the most common stainless, and is 18/8. This is the recommended stainless for use in kitchen sinks, and available in all the different gauges of steel.

Sound Pads
Sounds pads are, well, sound pads. They reduce vibration and absorb sound on Stainless sinks. Each manufacturer is different. Some have pads on the bottom, some the sides, and some a combination of bottom and sides. Most brands include sound pads, including Kohler, Blanco, and Elkay

Insulation is very important to me. Two of the biggest names in Stainless Sinks don't do insulation, and I have no clue why. Insulation is great for people who fill up a sink for hand washing. It does exactly what it says, insulated for temperature retention. Keep that hot soapy water hot. It also does something else. It insulates against noise and vibration also. It's not marketed for this, but after selling stainless for over 10 years, and banging around on more sinks than I dare to admit to. I can definitely tell the difference between a sink with only sound pads, and a sink with sound pads and insulation. If you don't believe me, then go bang on a few sinks and listen for yourself.

Gauge, insulation,and sound pads don't mean anything without proper construction. Most stainless steel sinks are pulled onto a machine in sheet form and punched. It may start out at 18 or 16 gauge, but because of this construction method, there are thinner spots, and inconsistencies. The other construction method is welding. This is where they take a sheet Andy fold it like a box and weld the corners and edges. A 16 gauge punched sink may cost you $500,but the same sink welded will be over twice the price. Some examples of welded sinks are Julien and Franke. Some examples of punched sinks include Dayton and Franke USA. Most manufacturers won't tell you their construction method, this is where price really tells you the full story.

How can corners be important? Well, they are something to consider. Stainless sinks have a wide variety of corner radius sizes. The smaller the radius, the more contemporary the look. The other proble, with this, is difficulty to clean. I never recommend a 0 radius sink. This ,exams the corners are a perfect right angle, and will be difficult to clean. A 10mm radius is still a very contemporary look, but just enough of a radius for ease of cleaning. It's about the same size as a finger.

So this is the skinny on Stainless. These sinks are great sinks, when you accept the, for their flaws. (And by flaws I mean scratching). They look great and when you do your research and invest properly, your Stainless sink will last you decades.