With so many different sinks on the market it can look like a daunting task to choose what best suits you. Although we cannot tell you which would be the best one for you without knowing all your requirements, we can tell you all the types that are available and what the features of each can provide, so you have as much information as possible to help you choose which is right for you, as choosing the right kitchen sink is absolutely vital, after all, it’s not something that you replace every year like you might a towel or the cushions on your sofa. If you get the wrong sink, it can be a costly and time-consuming mistake to put right.
The worktop you have or you would like can affect the sink you can use, so firstly we will discuss what type of worktop you can use for the different types of sinks.
1. Insert Sinks
These are also called Drop in or Sit on sinks as they are installed from above into a pre-prepared hole in your worktop. The most popular ones are either 1 bowl or 1.5 bowl. The main advantage is that they can be used in any type of Worktop, as they sit on a purpose built-in ledge enabling it to sit on top of your worktop. Always make sure that they are fully sealed to prevent any water damaging your worktop.
2. Undermount Sinks
An undermount sink can be fitted beneath granite, wood or solid surface worktops only, allowing for a smooth uninterrupted surface. An undermount sink gives an edgeless finish that is perfectly integrated into your kitchen whilst being easy to clean. If you opt for an under-mount sink your kitchen tap is usually installed on the worktop surface. The sink is usually glued in place but sometimes has clips. These sinks are NOT suitable for Laminate worktops.
3. Belfast Sinks
A Belfast sink sits on top of a base unit, with a solid surface worktop. They are usually made of ceramic but you can get Stainless Steel ones. They can fit in beautifully with any classic kitchen design that you choose, but again it is NOT suitable with Laminate worktops.
4. Butler Sinks
A Butler sink is like a Belfast sink but is shallower than the traditional Belfast, and the same requirements have to be adhered too.
5. Flush-mounted Sinks
A flush mounted sink is a fitting method where a rebate is cut out into the worktop to allow the sink to be finished flush to the worktop. Some inset and undermount sinks can be flush fitted but increasingly, sink manufacturers are including purpose built, flush fitting sinks into their ranges. The most obvious advantage to fitting a flush fitting sink is that there is no lip between the sink and the work surface. These are more difficult to fit and it is advisable to have a qualified fitter to install them. Despite some advice to the contrary, flush fitting sinks can be fitted to any worktop, including laminate worktops.
Those are the different styles of sinks available and the majority come in different Configurations.
But before choosing a configuration option you need to think about how you plan to use your kitchen sink and choose a configuration that most suits your needs.
- Single Bowl
- Single Bowl with Drainer (Inset Only)
- 1.5 Bowl
- 1.5 Bowl with drainer (Inset Only)
- Double Bowl
Things that you can consider is that if you own a dishwasher and only plan to use your sink to wash the odd item maybe a single bowl will suffice. For greater functionality opt for a 1.5 bowl or double bowl so you have extra space for food preparation and cleaning as you go. A deeper bowl is a great option too, it’s ideal if you’ll be washing large pots and pans on a regular basis.
We then come to the different materials that you can buy them in. The options are
- Stainless Steel
- Granite Composite
- Tectonite, SMC or Synthetic
In this section we will explore the pros and cons of each material.
1. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel kitchen sinks are still the most popular sinks in the UK, and they are a great all-rounder. Hard wearing, reliable and excellent value for money. They come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and even finishes, there is more often than not a Stainless Steel sink to suit everyone’s needs. Stainless steel sinks are very low maintenance; they are corrosion and rust resistant, and as long as they are cared for properly and wiped down after every use, they should not stain. As Stainless Steel sinks are lighter than other options, the way that they can be fitted is also more flexible.
- Affordable; Whatever your budget you’ll find a sink to suit.
- Stainless steel will not rust, resists cracking or chipping.
- Brushed and satin finishes are easy to maintain and will develop a lovely patina over time. A brushed or satin finish also naturally helps to hide water marks and scratches.
- Very easy to clean.
- Blends well with many types of work top.
- To keep the sink looking its best it will require a wash and buff every few weeks.
- Lack of colour choice.
- Noisy – the thinner the steel the noisier the sink
- Sinks with thin stainless steel are more likely to scratch
- Can get dented easily if something heavy is dropped in it
A Ceramic Sink is harder than metal, scratch-resistant and super hygienic. Available as an inset, undermount or Belfast/Butler sink. They still remain the traditionalists choice. Go into almost any traditional-style kitchen and you’ll find a ceramic sink, and thanks to their durability, there’s a chance that it’s been there for as long as the kitchen. A well-maintained ceramic sink can last a lifetime, and as they are easy to clean as well as heat resistant, it can look just as good as the day you bought it. Ceramic kitchen sinks aren’t suitable for everyone though. Because of their weight, you must first make sure that your cabinet can handle one. This is important if you are planning on an inset sink, and it is even more necessary if you are planning on buying a ceramic undermount sink or a Belfast sink.
- Easiest to maintain and keep clean
- Extremely durable – heat and stain resistant
- Withstands most household chemicals
- A more expensive option
- Can chip and crack (although can be repaired)
- Very heavy and less choice available
3. Granite Composite
Engineered using a mix of granite particles and acrylic resin granite sinks are available in many styles, colours and forms so you’ll have no problem finding a composite granite sink to suits your needs, unfortunately they haven’t made a Belfast yet.
Granite sinks are incredibly strong, and you can quite safely take hot pans and trays straight from the oven and place them on the sink. They are also tough enough that if you accidentally drop something on the sink, you’re more likely going to break what you’ve dropped than the sink itself.
They are also scratch-resistant and stain resistant, although this doesn’t mean that you can just leave your sink covered in dirt and grime and expect to be able to wipe it off in a few days with no marks left. We recommend cleaning it after every use (even if it’s just with a damp cloth) and then giving it a proper clean once a week.
- Extremely durable – most granite sinks are heat, stain and scratch-resistant
- Anti-bacterial surface which is also easy to clean
- Lengthy guarantees
- Huge range of colours, sizes and styles available
- Rather unforgiving as the very hard surface can damage things that are dropped on it
- Requires careful maintenance. Always refer to the manufacturer’s handbook, avoid cleaning with harsh chemicals to prevent damage.
- Heavier than stainless steel so you need quite a strong worktop.
Acrylic sinks are available in a number of different colours and styles, and are lightweight and easier to install than stainless steel or ceramic sinks, but they tend not to last as long. Being a plastic, they do not readily transfer heat, reducing the time it takes for dishwater to cool, and are relatively good at absorbing shock, so there is less chance of damaging your crockery.
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Uniform in colour
- Minor scratches can be removed with some car-buffing compound.
- The sink is reinforced with fiberglass and resin and the stain-resistant surface is soft enough to muffle noise.
- Acrylic is durable (with careful use) but not as long-lasting as Ceramic or Stainless Steel.
- It scratches and gouges easily. Steel wool and other abrasive materials might scratch the sink’s surface.
- Vulnerable to heat so can easily be damaged by hot pans.
- They can be damaged by petroleum-based products.
- Some foods such as acidic food, hot natural oils and fats can cause staining which is difficult to clean.
- A risk of leaking when attached to a garbage disposal.
5. Tectonite, SMC or Synthetic
These Sinks are made from an exciting and unique material. Perfect for a minimalist look and available in a range of designs and colours. Available as an inset sink or undermount sink.
Tectonite is a name exclusive to Franke, it’s a name given to represent their synthetic material range of sinks. This type of sinks is commonly named by other sink manufacturers using similar material as Synthetic or SMC, which means, sheet moulding compound or sheet moulding composite. The material used to manufacture a synthetic sink is glass-fibre reinforced polyester. The sink visually appears like granite.
- Synthetic kitchen sinks are heat resistant up to around 300°C (dependant on brand) for a short period of time, but it is not recommended you place pots or pans directly from the hob on to the sink itself.
- They are very light in weight making it easier and safer for transportation and installing.
- Supplied without tap holes, meaning it is easier to accommodate a left or right-handed drainer without the need for a blanking plate.
- Available in a large range of colours
- Resistant to fading.
- Synthetic sinks need to be maintained to keep its original appearance, a quick rinse of the sink is required after each use and wiping down the drainer and bowls will help maintain its original appearance, and if your household suffers from hard water, where lime scale build up may be a problem, you may need to deep clean your sink once or twice a month.
- Synthetic sinks will withstand day to day knocks and scrapes from pots, pans and crockery but it can be scratched or chipped on hard or extreme impact so care will be needed to keep up its original appearance.
- Bleach or other cleaning agents containing bleach should not be left in contact with your sink as discolouration or pitting of the surface could result.
- Avoid the use of plastic washing up bowls.
So, there we have it, a look at the pros and cons of the different kitchen sink materials. There are no bad materials, it all depends on what your requirements are and what your style preferences are. Even the cheapest stainless steel sink can be right for you, and as long as it’s looked after properly, it can last just as long as any other sink. Our advice is to have your sink fitted by a professional wherever possible. Always make sure if you are putting your sink in a laminate worktop that your sink is fully sealed to prevent damage to your worktop as if not it will damage the worktop and can prove very costly.
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