by David Berens November 03, 2017
Here's the truth: If we are considering only how a sink looks and functions, brand doesn't matter much, material does. However, brand does matter when we consider how the sink was made. Some companies are better stewards of the planet than others. Check out Kohler and Franke (Sustainability or Environment) for examples of strong environmental leadership.
How to compare materials: Resistance to 1. Stain 2. Abrasion 3. Impact 4. Heat 5. Noise.
1. Stainless Steel – Overall the most durable and least expensive option. Opt for a brushed or matte finish to hide stains and scratches better. But be forewarned, stainless steel will eventually show at least a few beauty marks. Buy a sink rack to better protect the bottom of the basin. Last, make sure your sink has sound dampening pads on its underside (or add some). The typical spray coating does not mute sounds as well and stainless steel can be percussive otherwise.
2. Solid Surface – Resists stains, abrasion, and blunt impact very well. Does a good job in sharp impact testing. Does better than acrylic when exposed to heat, but don't leave a pot of boiling water on it for any length of time—it is plastic after all. A common example is DuPont's Corian® line.
3. Enameled Stainless Steel – Just like stainless steel only the enamel will show stains more and may chip or crack if you drop a large pot on it. The tradeoff may be worth it for a more dynamic color range.
4. Enameled Cast Iron – Tests well in abrasion and heat resistance, but as is the case with enameled stainless steel, stain resistance is only average. An additional drawback here is the material's propensity to chip if you drop an object, especially a pointed one, from more than 12-15 inches.
5. Acrylic – Performs admirably in abrasion, stain and impact tests. The major drawback is acrylic will melt under high heat (e.g. 350-400ºF). If you go this route, do not set hot pots or pans in the sink.
6. Fireclay – As one would expect from clay, there are no issues with stains, abrasions or heat. But, fireclay will crack under impact. Do not buy a clay sink if you are prone to dropping things.
Undermount – Sleek look, easier clean up than topmount
Topmount – Easy, drop-in installation, grime will gather along lip, not as sexy as an undermount
Farmhouse – Stylish traditional/country look when using an enameled, solid surface or acrylic sink, stainless steel works with modern styling, more expensive and requires special cabinet
Double (or triple) Bowl – Allows for a soak-then-scour or wash-then-rinse workflow, be sure you have enough space for large pots or pans, smaller apartments may do better having one large basin
Trough (Elliptical) – More fun than functional, pot one in your prep or bar areas
Count the Inches – If you cook with large pots and pans, make sure they will fit comfortably for washing.
Consider Depth – The deeper the bowl, the less splashing. But vertically challenged friends and family may struggle to reach the bottom.
D-Bowls – The curved back of these sinks offers more space front to back than a typical rectangular bowl. However, they tend not to fit as well aesthetically in linear, modern designs.
Feel free to leave questions or feedback in the comments section!
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by Carlos Ramirez September 15, 2019