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Last week my post was about kitchen faucets, so it seems logical that this week I should finish the thought with kitchen sinks.
The main terms you should know are:
- Top mount: This is a self-rimming sink that sits on top of the counter. Typically used with a laminate or wood counter.
- Undermount: This sink is mounted under the counter top so the rim is hidden. Typically used with a stone or solid surface counter top.
- Double bowl: This sink has two bowls, not necessarily the same size. Could be a 60/40 size split or even 80/20.
- Single bowl: As the term suggests, this sink has no separation so has only one drain.
- Farm house: Also known as an apron front, this sink is typically associated with a rustic or old-fashioned style interior, where the front of the sink is visible.
Top Mount Sinks
Top mount, or self-rimming sinks are usually at the lowest end of the price spectrum, since they’re usually used in kitchens with a laminate counter top, which is normally a lower priced kitchen overall.
They’re not necessarily stainless steel, some are acrylic, ceramic, cast iron or like the Swanstone sink above, it’s a man-made, solid surface material. Swanstone also has slabs of counter top material, so when an undermount version of their sink is used, there are no rims to get goopy and grimy. Generally the solid surface material sinks are hard-wearing, but to my eye, they have a dated look, having been popular in the 80’s.
Stainless steel kitchen sinks are by far the most popular choice, and for good reason, since they last for a long time, don’t rust or chip, are non-porous so very sanitary and won’t look disgusting the first time you drop a tea bag in it or rinse out the spaghetti sauce pot. However, be aware, than not all stainless steel sinks are created equal.
It’s counter intuitive, but the lower the gauge of stainless steel, like 16 — or the sink above is 18 — is a better quality and has higher corrosion resistance than a higher gauge like 22 or above, which is thinner and can dent more easily. Non-stainless metals (like a tin can, for example) that rust can leave a rust spot in your sink if left unattended, but a light scrub with a Scotchbrite pad will get rid of the spot.
Beware of the dark-colored kitchen sinks with a high-gloss finish. They may seem like they would be lower maintenance, but the opposite is true. The glossy finish will show scratches and the dark color will show water spots badly unless the sink is dried after each use. YUCK! Who needs to baby sit their kitchen sink?! Plus, a black sink just suggests to me a bachelor in his pad wearing a shirt unbuttoned to the navel with multiple gold chains….not the visual I’d like in a kitchen I’ve designed…
One of the best reasons to buy an undermount sink, is there’s no rim sitting on the counter which tends to collect goopy goo (a technical term) and grunge (a scientific fact). The idea with an undermount is that you can wipe the counter top and sweep all the crumbs and spills straight into the sink without it getting caught on a rim. However, as with most things, not all undermounts are the same. This sink above from Kohler has a little edge below the counter top line, so that’s another rim that needs to be cleaned. And the way an undermount is installed, is to silicone it to the underside of the counter top and sealing the seam where the sink and counter top meet with a bead of clear silicone. But silicone eventually breaks down and peels away, leaving a gap where, if water is allowed to sit, can grow mould.
A farm house sink is a charming looking piece in a country, rustic or old-fashioned kitchen which has the front apron exposed. But as with everything else, it has its advantages and disadvantages. A farmhouse sink has several different installation types and all require a specially fabricated cabinet, so overall can make a more expensive installation. You also have to be careful of the faucet you buy to go with it. See the article on faucets to see which ones will work with a farmhouse sink.
A farmhouse sink can not be used with a laminate counter top, so your choices are stone, man-made quartz, man-made solid surface or wood. Wood?! Teak is a great choice….think of boats…but it does need regular maintenance with a food-safe oil, and should not have liquids pooling on it for long periods of time. You should also never cut directly on your wood counter top, unless you don’t mind the look of an old, worn cutting board. But the minute you start seeing a black coloration around the sink, that’s an indication mould has taken hold and you should use a very fine grit sandpaper to sand it away, and then reapply several coats of oil to seal the wood.
For the same reason that a regular undermount sink is desireable, so an undermount farmhouse sink is too. Notice in the photos above how the cabinet front gets cut out to accomodate the sink.
The sink above has a rim that sits on the teak counter. A great look, but not so easy to keep clean.
The nice thing about farmhouse sinks is that you can have a decorative front for interest like the fluted front from Alfi below:
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Have you had a kitchen sink that you particularly loved or hated? Why or why not? Please share your comments below so that other people thinking of buying a sink can hear about real-life experiences.