The sink might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it’s time for a kitchen renovation, but it’s a vital part of any upgrade. When you’re sorting through the myriad of options available in cabinetry and appliances, the sink might seem like an afterthought. But if you’re going to the effort and expense to remodel, don’t overlook the one thing in the kitchen you’ll probably use the most.
Things to consider when choosing a sink for the kitchen include material, shape and colour, as well as how the sink will be mounted. The material and colour of the sink often are coordinated with or determined by the countertops, although it’s not a requirement that they be exactly the same. Make your choice of sink shape based on the way you use your kitchen and the most common tasks you perform. Finally, mounting style usually will be determined by the material of the countertops
The most common sink materials available today are stainless steel, porcelain, acrylic and solid-surface materials (also called composites). Each material has its own particular benefits, so you’ll have to think about which qualities are most important to you.
Stainless steel sinks - probably the most common - are easy to clean and install and come in a wide price range. But stainless steel can scratch easily and intensify the sound of running water and the garbage disposal, and it can dent if a very heavy object (such as a cast-iron pot) is dropped on it. If you choose stainless steel, ask about the gauge, or thickness of the material, for the model you are considering. A lower gauge number indicates thicker material, which should be sturdier and quieter. Also, look for an undercoating that further muffles sound.
A stainless steel sink is easy to clean and install.
Porcelain sinks usually feature a porcelain coating over a base of cast iron or other metal. They are common in older homes. Porcelain sinks can be buffed to a shine, but they can chip if you drop heavy items the wrong way, and some stains can be hard to remove.
Acrylic is another common material for sinks. It resists stains, and some models actually come with germ-fighting properties “built in” to the material. Acrylic sinks aren’t as resistant to heat as other materials, though.
Solid-surface materials, which have become wildly popular in recent years, are available in a variety of colors to coordinate with countertops. They also can mimic granite and other high-end stones. The material is not completely scratch-proof, but most scratches buff out easily. In addition, it is heat- and stain-resistant.
Double-bowl sinks are common these days, but many renovated kitchens now feature sinks with three bowls: often two large ones for everyday use and a smaller one for the garbage disposal. The third bowl doesn’t have to be in the middle; some models place it in the corner or on the side, making the main bowls easier to reach.
A deep sink with a high-arc faucet makes cleaning big pots easier.
Another popular option is an extra-deep bowl on one or both sides – perfect for washing large pots or giving a baby a bath. A high-arc faucet that swings out of the way gives you even more space in the area.
Specially shaped sinks are available for corner placement, and small models are perfect for use on wet bars or side counters in the kitchen. Some homeowners choose a small sink with a built-in filter for drinking and cooking water, and a separate, larger one for cleaning and other everyday uses.
A small sink on a wet bar makes a trip to the kitchen unnecessary.
Sinks can be attached above the countertop (top-mounted), below it (under-mounted), or level with it (flush-mounted).
A top-mounted sink has a lip that rests on the surface of the countertop.
Top-mounted sinks (also called over-mounted, self-rimming or drop-in) have a lip that rests on the surface of the countertop, and they are usually held in place by clips and screws. They are easier and faster to install than under-mounted sinks, but the raised lip that sits between the counter surface and the sink makes it more difficult to clean up spills and crumbs. Stainless-steel sinks are often installed this way.
Top-mounted sinks are used with laminate countertops, because the lip can mask the seam where two parts of the laminate are joined.
Under-mounted sinks (also called sub-mounted) are usually more difficult and time-consuming to install, but they offer a more integrated look, particularly when the sink and countertop are made of the same material. There is no barrier between countertop and sink, so cleaning up is easier. In many cases, grooves can be routed in the countertop near the sink, creating a built-in drain board.
Under-mounting is used most often with stone or solid-surface countertops. Because the edge of the countertop is exposed, it cannot be used with laminate countertops.
An under-mounted sink sits blow the surface of the countertop.
Flush-mounted sinks sit even with the countertop. The same look can be achieved with an integrated sink - a countertop and sink unit all in one piece.
Farmhouse sinks (also called apron sinks) feature an exposed front that sometimes juts past the front of the cabinetry that surrounds it. They are commonly used in kitchens with a rustic or country-style décor, and the sinks themselves often are deeper than average. Farmhouse sinks can be integrated with furniture pieces that serve to replace the traditional cabinet sink base, creating a custom look for the kitchen. They often have no deck, so the faucet and other accessories are mounted directly into the countertop behind the bowl.
When you buy a new sink, you must decide how many holes you will need in the “deck” – the flat part behind the bowls. Depending on the style of faucet you choose, you will need one to three holes to accommodate the taps and spigot. More holes will be needed for a hot-water dispenser, a spray accessory (if it’s not integrated into the faucet) or a built-in soap dispenser. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to add holes once the sink is in place, so get as many as you think you’ll ever need. Special accessories are available to camouflage un-used holes.
An offset drain hole frees up space underneath the sink for storage.
A sink with the drain hole placed farther back than the usual centre position frees up space underneath by pushing the pipes closer to the back of the cabinet. Look for this feature if you need to keep garbage or recycling containers under the sink.