Your kitchen sink sees a lot of action -- from washing hands and dishes to filling pots and pitchers. Use this guide to help you find the sink and faucet style that best suits your needs
Drop-in-style sinks do just what their name suggests -- they drop into a hole cut out of the countertop. In addition to ease of installation, drop-in-style sinks are the most affordable options on the market today. While they offer many benefits, drop-in styles do feature hard-to-clean countertop edges and limited design options.
Undermount sinks are installed below the countertop surface. Because they're installed from below, undermount sinks create a seamless look in a kitchen work space. And unlike drop-in-style sinks, they're much easier to clean and often offer a deeper basin. Though they offer many benefits, undermount sinks can be expensive because they must be professionally installed.
Apron-front-style sinks, often called farmhouse sinks, feature an exposed, finished front. The sinks are offered in many materials and finishes to blend with any kitchen style, and the exposed front creates a bold style statement. Apron-front sinks feature deep basins that limit available cabinet space below. They also require professional installation.
One of the most popular sink finishes today is stainless steel. Gauge is a measure of the thickness of stainless steel. The lower the gauge, the thicker the metal -- and the more durable and quieter the sink. The most popular steel for sinks is 18 gauge.
The kitchen sink is where you wash and rinse dishes every day -- so you'll want a faucet that offers you the most convenience for the task. High-arc faucets afford more room to work. They're also great for filling large pots or cleaning oversize platters.
Pullout faucets feature a head that pulls out toward the user. Pull-down faucets, on the other hand, feature a faucet head that pulls straight down toward the bottom of the sink. Both options ease cleaning, but some people prefer the ergonomically designed pull-down faucets over pullout models.
Single-handle faucets feature one knob that controls both water pressure and temperature. Single-handle models are easy to operate with one hand, which is an advantage if you're up to your elbows in flour and eggs. Because these faucets feature a single handle to control temperature, make sure you watch little ones closely while they wash their hands.
Two-handle faucets feature two knobs that control temperature and water pressure. Two-handle models offer a balanced look that works well in kitchens and makes a strong style statement. Single-handle options are commonly found in kitchens, while two-handle faucets are less commonly found in kitchens and more often seen in bathrooms.
As with other hands-free technologies today, touch faucets are becoming increasingly popular. These handy models turn on and off with just the light touch of a hand or arm to any part of the faucet or lever. Besides their ease of use, touch faucets also limit cross-contamination and conserve water -- and money.
Many kitchen faucets come in a limited number of metals, so narrow your options by first choosing the finish you want. When you've decided on a finish, choose the overall style and look. After you've made those decisions, you'll need to rely on your experience with various brands. Or you can rely on testimonials from professionals, friends, and family members. Just be wary of online forums, because most people only speak up in those if they have an issue with the product.
To increase the usefulness of your kitchen island, consider installing a sink. Moving the sink to your island creates an unexpected style statement and frees up counter space elsewhere in your kitchen. Undermount options offer a deep basin that provides more room to work. This design also features a high-arc, pull-down faucet that creates a stunning, timeless look.