Stainless Steel is the most popular material for kitchen sinks due to the strength and corrosion resistance created by adding chromium and nickel to the steel alloy. Look for a ratio of 18:8 chromium to nickel or 20:10 — the higher the number the better quality of the stainless steel. Stainless steel is pore-free, recyclable, and durable. Manufactured in a variety of gauges— the lower the number the thicker the metal—to reduce dents and dings. An undercoating will deaden noise and reduce condensation. The thicker the gauge and the thicker the undercoating, the more expensive. Add sound deadening pads and the price increases.
• 16-gauge is the highest quality regularly manufactured sinks. Available in a range of sizes and styles, sinks will include a high-end sound deadening system.
• 18-gauge is the most popular thickness for high-quality sinks. A broad range of sizes and styles are available from a variety of manufacturers. Look for a fine finish and a very good sound deadening system.
• 20-gauge and 22-gauge sinks are lower quality and may not resist dings and dents.
• Mirror finishes will show water stains and mars from cleaning.
• Brushed finishes are less likely to show water spots and scratches.
Cast Iron sinks are created by baking an enamel top-coat on an iron mold that often contains up to 80 percent recycled material to produce the iron alloy. This results in a non-porous, durable finish that accepts heat well and is stain resistant. The enamel finish may chip if heavy items are dropped inside, causing the iron below to rust. Easy to clean, the finish does not show water spots or streaks and requires little maintenance. Cast iron sinks are available in a wide range of styles and colors to complement any kitchen design.
Composite sinks are produced by mixing crushed granite or quartz with resin and molding the mixture under high pressure into a variety of sizes and styles for use in the kitchen. Nonporous, composite sinks resist stains, scratches and dents, but they are so strong they make cause glasses to break if dropped into them. The color is found throughout the material. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed for care and cleaning as some chemicals can damage composite sinks. Also, some may be affected by high heat from pots placed on the surface.
Fireclay is produced by firing porcelain enamel onto a molded ceramic clay shape. The process takes a long period and high temperatures to create the sink, which then is strong and durable. Most often used for apron sinks due to the beauty and strength of the front edge of the sink. Easy to maintain and clean since the enamel surface is non-porous.
Acrylic sinks are molded polycarbonate plastic reinforced with fiberglass to create a variety of sizes and styles. With the color throughout, minor scratches can be scrubbed or sanded out. Non-porous, acrylic is stain resistant. Since it is plastic, heat will damage it and deep scratches will show up and reduce the life of the sink.Natural Stone sinks of soapstone, granite, and marble are made for use in the kitchen. These may be carved out of the stone and created most frequently as apron sinks so the beauty of the stone is visible or as prep sinks.
Soapstone is non-porous and strong so it is stain and even acid resistant. Hot pots will not damage the stone. Soapstone is available in shades of black and gray for use in classic or even modern homes. Easy to clean, soapstone sinks are created in a variety of shapes and styles, although most frequently in apron front designs.
Granite sinks will be heavy and require additional supports in the base cabinet. If granite is used as the countertop, a sink can be fabricated from the same material. Seal the stone for maintenance.
Marble also produces a beautiful sink that when sealed will last a long time. Wipe stains right away and use a scrubbing pad on acids for cleaning. Regular sealing will maintain the beauty of the marble.
Copper kitchen sinks produce a look like no other metal or material. The nature of the copper eliminates bacteria from the surface. Created in several finishes, such as polished, hammered, antique, copper sinks are available in a variety of styles, most often apron or prep sinks.