How to Buy a Kitchen Sink

Kitchen sinks serve as the gateway to your garbage disposal. While garbage disposals are hidden inside the cabinet, kitchen sinks are exposed and will play a role in the overall look of your kitchen.

That means that when you purchase a garbage disposal, you may consider the appearance to be less important than the power and function of the garbage disposal. Yet on the other hand, the design of your kitchen sink may be an important factor that you would want to consider when making your purchase.

But what are the other important factors that you should think about when purchasing a kitchen sink? What are your options when it comes to kitchen sinks? And how do you go about choosing the right sink for you?

Don’t worry. Buying a kitchen sink is not as complicated as it seems. They come in standard sizes made out of the most advanced and durable materials. As long as you’re not looking for anything to fit a non-standard, custom-made kitchen cabinet, you’ll be able to find a sink that will suit your needs right out of the box.

Choose the Material

One of the things you would want to spend some time doing is picking the material of your sink. The material directly influences how your sink looks, how durable it is, and how much it costs.

Needless to say the material is quite important and probably one of the first things you should think about.

Sinks are made from a variety of materials. Here we list all the different materials and go over some of their properties.

Stainless Steel: By far the most popular material. Stainless steel kitchen sinks are durable, lightweight, easy to install, easy to clean, easy to match with any kitchen decor, and inexpensive. They are the standard choice in professional kitchens too. They can withstand heat, scratches, and rust.

When purchasing a stainless steel sink you will hear the term “gauge” being thrown around. Gauge is a number that refers to the thickness of the steel. Generally speaking, the lower the number, the thicker the steel and the better it is at preventing dents, scratches, and reducing noise. Therefore, 18 gauge is better than 20 gauge, and 16 gauge is better than 18 gauge.

High quality stainless steel sinks have 16 or 18 gauge. A 16 gauge stainless steel sink is 1.5 mm thick. An 18 gauge stainless steel sink is 1.2 mm thick. Generally speaking, 18 gauge is considered a good thickness for a kitchen sinks. See best stainless steel kitchen sinks here.

Stainless steel kitchen sink

Cast Iron: Cast iron kitchen sinks are made by melting metals at high temperatures and then pouring the mixture into molds. They are coated in a porcelain enamel which makes them virtually indestructible, protects them from rust, and gives them different color finishes. The finish is smooth and glass-like.

Cast iron sinks are not suitable for heavy cookware and one must be careful not to throw things into the sink or else the coating will chip. Cast iron sinks are sound-dampening and heavy, and require a bit of work – and muscle – to install as they easily weigh over 100 pounds. See best cast iron kitchen sinks here.

Cast iron kitchen sink

Fireclay: Fireclay sinks are made by molding clay into the desired shape, applying a glaze mixture, and heating it at extreme temperatures (temperatures higher than cast iron). The clay and glaze essentially become “one” during this process, instead of having the glaze simply coat the sink. This makes the sinks ultra tough.

Fireclay sinks are more durable than cast iron sinks because they are fired at higher temperatures and the glaze and clay strengthen each other. However they tend to be more expensive than cast iron sinks and come in fewer color options. They are heavy like cast iron sinks. See best fireclay kitchen sinks here.

Fireclay kitchen sink

Composite (Quartz/Granite): Composite kitchen sinks are made out of a mixture of materials, which typically consists of quartz and granite combined with acrylic or polyester resins. They are tough and lightweight like stainless steel. They can resist heat, scratches, and stains and even have sound-dampening properties. They are functional, beautiful and one of the more inexpensive options. You can find them in a variety of colors. See best composite kitchen sinks here.

Composite kitchen sink

Copper: Unlike cast iron, which requires an enamel coating to prevent rusting, copper is a metal that won’t rust. Copper sinks are durable and will develop a one-of-a-kind patina. Their “rustic” look can match your kitchen décor or add a beautiful contrast. Copper has natural antibacterial properties that inhibit bacteria growth.

Like stainless steel sinks, copper sinks are lightweight. Copper is also measured in gauge. A quality copper kitchen sink should be made of no thinner than 18 gauge copper (roughly .050″ thick). See best copper kitchen sinks here.

Copper kitchen sink

Acrylic: While not many kitchen sinks are made out of acrylic, the material is an option nonetheless. Acrylic sinks are made by heat-molding acrylic plastic into the desired shape and then supporting it by fiberglass. They have the most “elasticity” among all the materials for kitchen sinks so dishes that drop into the sink will break less.

Acrylic sinks are lightweight so they will install on any countertop. They resist scratches, chips, and stains too, but are less heat resistant than the other materials. Acrylic sinks are available in a variety of color options and are inexpensive. See best acrylic kitchen sinks here.

Acrylic kitchen sink

Choose the Mount Type

There are four types of mounts available when it comes to kitchen sinks: drop-in, undermount, apron front (farmhouse), and tile-in.

If you’re replacing an old drop-in sink, the easiest (and cheapest) thing to do is to replace it with another drop-in sink.

But if you’re replacing a sink with any other type of mount, you would likely have adjust your countertop and cabinet to make the sink fit nicely. It might even mean replacing them completely.

If you’re doing a kitchen renovation or a completely new build, your options are virtually endless.

Drop-In: As the name suggests, a drop-in sink mount installs by “dropping” the sink into a cutout. The rim extends and hangs above the countertop surface. Because the rim extends above the countertop surface, it’s not as pleasant to sweep debris into the sink. You have to sweep them over the rim and into the sink. Drop-in sinks are the easiest to install and can be used with any type of countertop, even laminate. See best drop-in kitchen sinks here.

Drop-in kitchen sink

Undermount: Undermount kitchen sinks install below the countertop and provides clean lines. The rim is hidden underneath the sink so you don’t see it and won’t have any problems with food being trapped along the rim. You can easily wipe your countertop and debris can be easily swept into the sink.

Undermount sinks are recommended for hard countertops such as marble, stone, granite. To install you have to cut out the countertop precisely (using a template) and attach the sink to the countertop. They require a little more precision than drop-in sinks to install.

A new undermount sink may not fit your existing opening. And undermount sinks are difficult to attach to existing countertops.  So undermount sinks are generally recommended for new installations with new countertops. See best undermount kitchen sinks here.

Undermount kitchen sink

Apron Front (Farmhouse): Apron front sinks, also known as farmhouse sinks, are sinks in which the front of the sink is exposed. Besides intending to have an attractive design, apron front sinks feature a wide bowl that provides a functional space to work with because the exposed front extends beyond the counters. And because the front sits beyond the counters, it requires little leaning over to use the sink, which can be great for your back. Apron front sinks would appeal to those looking to use their sinks as a focal point in the kitchen. See best farmhouse kitchen sinks here.

Apron front or Farmhouse kitchen sink

Tile-In: A tile-in sink is meant to be installed with kitchens that have a tiled countertop. These sinks have squared corners that fit tightly against the tile, providing a seamless connection between sink and countertop. Because not many people opt for tile counters, tile-in sinks are rare.

Choose the Number of Bowls

Do you want a sink with one, two, or three bowls? The number of bowls you want will depend on how you plan to use your sink.

Single Bowl: This setup is ideal for those who want a large surface to work with. Single bowl kitchen sinks are great for washing large pots and pans. Because they don’t require any dividers they can be made smaller than double or triple bowl sinks, saving space in the kitchen without sacrificing work space. Single bowl sinks can be as wide as 33 inches. See best single bowl kitchen sinks here.

Single bowl kitchen sink

Double Bowl: A double bowl setup is ideal for those who want some separation for washing and rinsing dishes. Double bowls also give you the option of using one bowl for one task and the other bowl for another task. Double bowls can be divided equally (50/50), or they can be offset (60/40, 70/30, 80/20) where one bowl is bigger than the other. Double bowl sinks can be as wide as 48 inches. See best double bowl kitchen sinks here.

Double bowl kitchen sink

Triple Bowl: While more common for commercial kitchens, triple bowl sinks may appeal to those who cook a lot. Triple bowls typically feature two large bowls and a third smaller bowl in between them. The smaller bowl is used as a prep sink. Triple bowl sinks can be as wide as 60 inches. See best triple bowl kitchen sinks here.

Triple bowl kitchen sink

If you buy a double bowl or triple bowl sink, it is ideal to install your garbage disposal under the bowl that is closest to your dishwasher from a configuration standpoint.

Choose the Size

When it comes to kitchen sink size, the main thing you have to worry about is the width of the sink from left to right. That’s because the front to back and depth measurement for all kitchen sinks are roughly the same.

The most common width for sinks is 33 inches. In fact, the standard size for kitchen sinks is 33 inches (left to right) by 22 inches (front to back). And the depth of the bowl will be between 8 to 10 inches.

When you shop around for kitchen sinks, you may only see one number (the width of the sink) in the description. It would be something like “33 inch single bowl drop-in stainless steel sink”.

You can measure the dimensions of your existing kitchen sink to see how wide you can go. Generally speaking, a 33 inch kitchen sink will work with most kitchen cabinets.

For undermount or apron front/farmhouse sinks, you will need to cut the cabinets and countertops precisely to make the sink fit, and add wooden support rails inside the wall of the cabinet. Keep in mind that your base cabinets need to be the same width (or wider) than the sink. So a 33 inch sink should fit a 33 inch (or wider) base cabinet. In some cases, a 33 inch sink will require, say, a minimum cabinet size of 36 inch. So double check the product description for the minimum cabinet size when shopping around.

Choose the Color

Choosing the color is the fun part. Other than stainless steel and copper sinks, most sinks made out of other materials come in a variety of colors. When choosing the color, think about whether you want the sink to complement your kitchen décor, or stand out as the centerpiece to your kitchen.

Other Considerations

One last thing to consider is the number of holes you want in your sink for faucets, soap dispensers, or spray hoses. Sinks can have anywhere from one to six holes.

The standard configuration is four holes for the faucet and soap dispenser.

If you end up with more holes than you need, your sink should come with decorative covers that you can use to conceal them. Or you can buy covers at your local home improvement store.