A self-rimmed or flush-mount sink is the most common type of installation. The sink is simply dropped into a hole cut into the counter, with the rolled, rimmed edge of the sink sitting atop the countertop.
Pro: Self-rimmed sinks can be used with almost any type of countertop material. Since no special installation is required, a DIY-er with some plumbing knowledge usually can install a self-rimmed sink.
Con: The caulked edges where the rim and countertop meet require regular cleaning.
An undermount sink is attached underneath the countertop, with the countertop material forming the top edge of the sink. This type of sink requires the countertop to be cut to exact measurements to accommodate the sink.
Pro: With no visible edges, the look is smooth, and cleanup is easy.
Con: Only countertop materials impervious to water can be used with an undermount sink. The joint between the sink and countertop also requires regular cleaning
A farm-style or apron-front sink ups the decorating quotient in your kitchen. A centuries-old design, this style has enjoyed new popularity in recent years.
Pro: Farm-style sinks exude a classic, clean look. Most feature a deep basin that makes it easier to clean oversize pots and pans. As with other styles, this sink can be crafted from a number of materials, though enameled cast iron is probably the most common.
Con: As trends change, its distinctive styling may become dated.
Integral means the sink and countertop are fabricated from the same material. This sink is crafted from stainless steel, but composites and stones are also great materials for integral sinks.
Pro: Because there are no visible seams or joints, integral sinks have a clean, modern look.
Con: While the materials used for fashioning an integral sink are durable, if the sink becomes damaged, the entire piece—both the sink and the countertop—must be replaced.
Divided sinks with double and even triple bowls offer double (or triple) the space for kitchen cleanup. This type of sink is available in all materials and is a good choice for kitchens with one sink.
Pro: Multitasking is easy because the two bowls separate various jobs.
Con: The bowls of a divided sink are typically smaller than that of a one-bowl sink, which means cleaning oversize pots and pans can be awkward.
You can't go wrong with a stainless steel sink. An 18- to 20-gauge steel sink is the most often used because of its durability and strength, but the newer 16-gauge steel sink, which is thicker, is less noisy.
Pro: Affordable, easy to maintain, and long-lasting -- these are the reasons so many homeowners opt for a stainless-steel sink. It should be cleaned with a nonabrasive cleanser, and a satin finish disguises most water spots and scratches.
Con: Stainless steel can scratch; if you prefer a shiny finish, you will need to clean and buff out scratches occasionally.
Cast iron is a timeless, sturdy material made by firing enamel onto an iron bowl.
Pro: The longevity and durability of cast iron means that your sink will probably outlive your kitchen decor. Cast iron is also available in a variety of colors.
Con: Cast-iron sinks are heavy, so a sink should be mounted by an experienced installer and have proper support underneath. Cast iron can also scratch, and the enamel can discolor or wear off in spots that endure heavy use.
Composite sinks are made of quartz, granite, or other materials mixed with a durable acrylic- or polyester-resin base. These engineered materials are extremely hardworking and resistant to stains and scratches. Composite sinks are usually speckled in color.
Pro: Because the material is engineered, composite sinks can be shaped as desired, as well as be carved and beveled. Available in a variety of colors, these sinks do not fade. Composite is easy to care for and offers the look of stone at a lower price.
Con: Though not as pricey as stone, composite sinks can still be expensive. If you choose a composite sink that is integral to the counter, damage to the sink will require replacement of the entire countertop.
Solid-surfacing sinks are prized for their uniformity in color. Often this type of sink is integral with the counter, meaning the entire countertop and sink are one piece.
Pro: Homeowners are attracted to this type of sink for its easy care; smooth, solid finish; and affordability.
Con: Solid-surfacing can mar with heat, but if the blemish is not too severe, it can usually be buffed out or repaired.
It's hard to beat the beauty of a solid-stone sink. Extremely durable, these sinks are usually undermount style.
Pro: The look says it all: classic and tasteful. Durability is a key characteristic, along with a long life span.
Con: The bottom line: Stone is expensive. Lighter colors of stone can also stain. And stone is hard, which means that a slip of a glass will most likely cause it to break.
Copper and Metal Sinks
Make a statement by installing a copper or metal sink. These sinks can be self-rimmed, undermount, or farm-style.
Pro: Metal shows little wear, and after continued use, it can develop a rich patina of age. Choose a dimpled or brushed finish if you like the uneven look.
Con: Cost is a major factor when choosing a metal sink. These sinks require continued treatment to maintain their shiny finish, and depending on the type of metal, they can dent relatively easily.
Costly but indestructible, soapstone sinks exude quality and classic design. Whether they are undermount or farm-style, these sinks are made to be an attractive focal point in your kitchen.
Pro: A soapstone sink looks gorgeous whether it matches or contrasts the countertops. The stone can be carved and beveled with smooth edges and curves.
Con: The cost. These sinks are also very heavy, so an experienced installer and proper support underneath are required.
Until you use a deep-bowl sink, it's hard to imagine the difference an extra few inches makes. An 8-inch sink is standard; deep-bowl sinks are 10 inches or deeper.
Pro: Oversize pots and pans are a cinch to clean. Dishes also hide from general view in the deep bottom of this sink.
Con: Make sure you have adequate room inside your cabinets to accommodate the deeper bowls.
In addition to deep-bowl sinks, you can opt for an oversize industrial-style sink. Most standard single sinks are 22x24 inches; oversize sinks can be several inches larger in both width and depth.
Pro: No more having to spot-clean and rinse oversize pots and pans. These large items fit easily both inside an oversize sink. Industrial supply stores carry these sinks at an affordable price point.
Con: Proportion is key if you are considering an oversize sink. Make sure your countertops are long enough to keep an oversize sink from looking out of place.
Prep or Vegetable Sinks
If there are two cooks in your kitchen, you may consider installing a prep sink, also known as a vegetable sink. These sinks are generally smaller than the primary sink and often installed in an island or countertop away from the kitchen's main work triangle.
Pro: Installing a second sink makes it easy for one person to prep food while the other cleans up.
Con: Make sure you have enough room to accommodate a second sink, both physically and visually. Also consider your work areas, as this sink takes up precious countertop space.