Pros and Cons
Stainless steel sinks are a popular because they are affordable, durable, and easy to clean. The sinks complement professional-style appliances and are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. Both top-mount and undermount models are available; undermount models ease cleanup because there is no lip to catch food and debris, but are usually more expensive. Stainless steel sinks also resist chipping and cracking, however are likely to be scratched through everyday use and often show water spots. Although they are easy to clean, they require regular maintenance to look their best. If you don't wipe them out regularly, they can quickly look dingy. Some sinks -- particularly lower-quality models -- can be noisy when something is dropped in the sink. When you're comparing sinks, be sure to check the gauge of the stainless steel. Typical gauges range from 16 to 23; the lower the gauge, the thicker the material and the better it resists dents and scratches. A sink made of 16- or 18-gauge stainless steel is ideal. Also look for a sink with under-the-sink spray coatings and/or sound-absorbing pads to reduce noise. Compare sink finishes, as well. Polished or mirror finishes look great in the showroom but are harder to maintain at home. For easier maintenance, consider brushed or satin finishes, which will naturally help hide scratches and water spots.
How to Clean Stainless-Steel Sinks
Regularly wipe the sink down with a damp sponge and buff dry to keep a stainless steel sink looking good and help decrease water spots. Give the sink a thorough cleaning at least once a week to ensure it always looks its best. Special stainless steel cleaners are available, although you can also use a variety of common household products, including baking soda, all-purpose flour, or club soda. Cleaners that contain chloride are not recommended as they may cause corrosion; if you use these types of cleaners be sure to rinse the sink immediately after applying them. To avoid scratching the stainless steel, use a nonabrasive cloth or sponge and work with (not against) the grain. Do not use steel wool, wire brushes, or abrasive sponge pads.