- Stainless steel continues to be improved and upgraded. The newer 16- and 18-gauge sinks are thicker and less noisy than their less-expensive predecessors. Stainless-steel sinks contain a percentage of chromium and nickel, which is indicated by numbers such as 18/10 (18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel). The metal imparts a rich glow and adds corrosion resistance. Finishes range from a mirrorlike shine to a satin luster.
- Cast iron is a sturdy material that is enamel fired on an iron form. These durable sinks lessen noise and vibration more than other materials but can be heavy for installation. An added advantage is that cast iron sinks are available in a wide range of colors.
- Composite sinks can be made of quartz, granite, or other materials mixed with an acrylic- or polyester-resin base. They usually feature speckled color, resistance to stains and scratches, and easy care. They also can be expensive.
- Vitreous china, originally made for bathrooms, is now also used for kitchen sinks. The glazed clay material is hard and nonporous with a glasslike shine. Similar to fireclay in construction, durability, and cost, vitreous china is less porous because of the nature of the construction process. It is easier to mold double bowl sinks from vitreous china than from fireclay.
- Solid surfacing, made from a polyester or acrylic base, is chosen for its stonelike appearance and easy care.
- Do your homework. Browse Web sites and magazines that compare current models and features. Consumer Reports is an excellent source for unbiased information and recommendations. Visit: www.consumerreports.org/
- Single-bowl sinks can be small and efficient or large and spacious. One sink may be easier to clean and offer a streamlined look. However, if you are used to double-bowl sinks when doing dishes or preparing food, then a single sink may not be for you.
- Double-bowl sinks offer many options in size, depth, and bowl placement. Study your kitchen needs to determine what works for you. Standard 33-inch twin double-bowl sinks provide 13-inch-wide basins and don't accommodate large cookware, yet there are many other options that feature small side sinks for food prep and disposal usage.
- Triple-bowl sinks usually have two large bowls with a smaller bowl centered between for food preparation.
- A smaller salad or bar sink is also sometimes placed at a different location such as a center island for salad preparation. These small sinks are also used in bars and butler's pantries.
- Depth: Standard depth is 8 inches; budget-model sinks often measure only 6 or 7 inches deep, while high end models can be as deep as 10 or 11 inches. If you use large or awkward cookware, select a sink to fit your needs. For ergonomic reasons, you may also wish to consider the height of the person using the sink when considering the depth of the sink bowl.
- Width: Bar sinks may be as narrow as 12 inches while full-size sinks can stretch to 40 inches and more. Do consider that large sinks require a sacrifice of counter space.
- Sink mounting affects the appearance of the sink as much as sink configuration does. Easy-to-install top-mount sinks have a ridge that fits over the countertop. Flush-mount sinks, which are level with the countertop, provide a neat look but don't catch splashes as well as the top-mount.
- Under-mount sinks are recessed below the countertop surface and work especially well with solid-surface countertop materials. Integral sinks where the sink and countertop is fused as one, are made of solid-surface material or stainless steel.
- Trends: Two-sink kitchens are a trend with a purpose. They allow multiple cooks in a kitchen to prep, cook, and clean up with less interference, and are also a boon for anyone who entertains frequently.
- Do your homework. Browse Web sites and magazines that compare various kitchen elements and their features. Consumer Reports is an excellent source for unbiased information and recommendations. Visit: www.consumerreports.org/
Learn more about kitchen sinks on these Web sites:
- The right kitchen faucet makes cooking and cleaning easier while enhancing the room with an attractive but practical fixture.
- Finish: Chrome, easy-care brass, colors, and other decorative finishes are options to consider. Special features allow versatility.
- Height: Look for styles with tall gooseneck faucets that swivel out of the way, detachable hose-type faucets, and traditional-looking faucets that appear to be set flush but pull upward for additional height. Account for such tasks as filling and cleaning tall stockpots, as well as the style, depth, and finish of the sink and surrounding hardware.
- Spray: Do you prefer using a sprayer that's separate from the faucet? If not, does the sprayer fit securely into the faucet or is it heavy enough that it may "droop" over time?
- Preferences: What faucet features are most important? For example, do you like single handles or separate hot and cold controls? Keep in mind that many sinks are sold with predrilled holes for faucets and handles, which can affect either the sink or the faucet selection.
- Comparison shop: Visit several plumbing supply stores or home centers to compare styles, installation methods, faucets, and prices.
- Think about life span and maintenance. Faucets have an average life span of eight to 12 years with proper maintenance. Chrome faucets, most commonly used in kitchens, are the easiest to maintain.
Learn more about kitchen faucets on these Web sites:
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