Ultimate Guide to Buying a Kitchen Sink

If you love cooking like me, you know that cleaning up is the absolute worst part of cooking. I’m the kind of guy that can’t stand the sight of having dirty dishes pile in the kitchen sink overnight, so it’s something I’ll definitely do but having the perfect workspace is important. Here’s my guide to choosing the perfect kitchen sink to make cleaning the dishes as painless as possible.

Types of Kitchen Sinks

There are 4 main types of kitchen sinks that homeowners choose from, depending on whether the sink is above, inline or hidden beneath the countertop.

Top Mount / Inset / Drop-In Kitchen Sink

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Stainless Steel Top-mount Kitchen Sink

The most common type of sink is the drop-in sink, sometimes known as inset or top mount kitchen sink. Inset sinks are installed into a prepared hole in your worktop with almost no extra work that has to be done. This makes the sink easily replaceable and can give you the widest options of sink shapes, sizes and styles to choose from. To top it all off (no pun intended), the drop-in sink is usually priced the cheapest due to its easy installation and compatibility with almost all materials.

In this installation, the rims of the sink are clearly visible , with usually silicon adhesive used to glue the sink and worktop together. This means that the silicon adhesive is exposed to water when cooking so it’s common to find mould around the edge of your sink.

In countries of high humidity like Singapore, this problem is very common but the solution is a quick fix from a visit to your local store like Home-fix to get some Silicon Sealant and masking tapes.

If you’re looking for a simple kitchen sink that is functional, affordable and easily to D-I-Y, the inset sink is a good option for you.

Undermount Kitchen Sink

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Undermount Kitchen Sink

The Under Mount sink is a popular choice for many modern homes, with the sink being mounted beneath the worktop. There is no visible rim so the edge of the counter drops off directly to the sink. This design is popular amongst new homeowners as food residues can be swept directly into the sink without being accumulated in the rims of the sink. Aesthetically, the exposed countertop gives the kitchen a clean and minimalist look, perfect for young couples looking to declutter their lives.

While the undermount sink has many advantages, one of its biggest drawbacks is the cost. Being only partially supported by the counter, the weight of the sink becomes a key consideration. Lighter weight options such as stainless sinks can be supported with just glue, but heavier materials (discussed later in this guide) could require additional support being built in, increasing the price. Worktops may also have to be custom cut based on the size of the sink as well as to accommodate room for the faucet.

Undermount sinks also suffer from collection of algae and mould, except that it is on the underside of the counter. Over time, water can accumulate within the small gaps despite silicon caulk being used, causing mould and bacteria to grow.

If aesthetics and cleanliness in the kitchen are a key consideration for you, the under mount sink is a great option for you.

Farmhouse/ Apron Kitchen Sink

Farmhouse kitchen sinks is a classic design where the sink distinctively protrudes over the cabinetry. According to the NKBA Design trend report in 2018, farmhouse sinks are the second most popular and trendy style just behind undermount sinks. 

In deciding whether or get a farmhouse sink, it is important to make sure that the kitchen sink look aligns with your design vision. Heather Jach of the Swiss-based Franke Kitchen Systems agrees. “White and black are most popular choices, and farmhouse sinks of all materials are rising in popularity – with a strong spike in fireclay.

Beyond the timeless design and aesthetics, the functionality of farmhouse kitchen sinks have improved tremendously in recent years. The shapes of kitchen sinks are becoming more geometric with and cleaner cuts, while features such as built-in drying racks and chopping boards are common. Furthermore, the popularity of this design has driven prices down, making it much more affordable for the average household to install.

While farmhouse designs are good options for new homeowners, users looking to refinish their kitchen may have to think twice. Farmhouse sinks are often larger and heavier than other sinks, so the surrounding countertop and cabinetry has to be redone to install the sink.The heavy weight also means that reinforcement may have to be done on existing cabinetry the sink currently sits on.

If you’re looking for a classic design piece that truly makes your kitchen stand out from the crowd, a farmhouse sink is a great way to do it.

Flush Mount Kitchen Sink

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Flush Mount sinks with rims level with countertop

A relatively new design in kitchen sink is the Flush Mount sink, which aims to combine the aesthetics of the under mount sink with the practicalities of the top mount sink. By mounting the lip of the sink completely to the countertop, debris and food residue are less likely to get stuck to the edge of the sink thus reducing risk of bacteria accumulation.

Flush mount sinks are also commonly used if the material of the countertop is the same as the sink, allowing the use of a single material all around. This provides a unique look that is difficult to achieve through the other mounts.

Among the 3 types of mounts, flush mount sinks are the most pricey as they have to be custom-made with the counter top and cannot be purchased through most distributors. Additionally, they tend to be more difficult to find and troubleshoot if there are problems, driving up costs and can be hard to replace.

The flush mount sink is ideal for homeowners who are willing to spend on customising their kitchen to achieve the perfect look. This sink is offered at a premium but can be the right investment if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Choosing the Material

Sinks come in many different types of materials, and the sheer number of choices and variations available can seem daunting. Fret not, I’ve come up with a simple table to help make your choice easier.

Stainless Steel

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Undermount stainless steel sink with drainage

Stainless steel sinks make up about 70% of all sinks, and there is a good reason why. Stainless steel is light in weight, making it a popular option as an undermount sink as it does not require built-in support in the counter. The ease of cleaning and maintenance has made it a natural choice in many homes and commercial setting. Stainless steel however, is more prone to scratches and dents, especially if you’re looking for a cheaper, thin gauge sink.

Gauges are used in the measurement of the thickness of stainless steel and copper sinks. Thicker stainless steel usually has a lower gauge number, and provide greater durability against wear and tear, though they are more expensive.

For the home sinks, it is generally recommended to get between a 16-18 gauge (0.0500 inches – 0.0625 inches) sink. If you’re looking at a commercial sink with repeated and hard use, I’d recommended getting between a 14-16 gauge. Sinks within this range tend to be very deep and squarish that don’t fit well aesthetically in the home kitchen but perfect for businesses.

An uncommon consideration is that stainless steel sinks can noisier than other sink options as it’s thinner, which can disturb your family with the sound of running water and clanging dishes. While some bigger manufacturers have sprayed layers of sound-proofing to their stainless steel sinks, this isn’t always the case. For those of you who looking to DIY your kitchen sink sound-proofing, Soundproofcentral has a great guide here.

Composite Granite Sink

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Undermount Composite Granite Kitchen Sink

Composite Granite sinks are made up of 80% rock (granite or quartz) and 20% acrylic resin and the second most popular sink for home owners. This mixture allows the material to be more durable, less expensive and keep the beauty of natural granite. Composite granite sinks have a distinct matte finish and have a grainy look which looks exceptional when paired with a marble or wooden tabletops.

The thickness and density of composite granite sinks allow it to be great at minimising sound and excellent resistance to scratching and impact. The granite sink also has great heat resistance, withstanding temperatures over 276 degrees.

Compared to stainless steel and copper sinks, composite granite sinks are also less susceptible to getting water stains. The non-porous nature of composite granite makes the composite granite sink easy to maintain, though stains and mineral buildup can occur if the sink is not taken care of.

The weight of composite granite sinks are usually heavier than stainless steel and since they are often built as an undermount sink, you can expect some additional cost to build the interior sink support.

Copper

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Top Mount Hammered Copper Kitchen Sink

Copper is a natural candidate for the kitchen sink given it’s antimicrobactial properties, and is effective in killing microorganisms such as E.coli.

Copper sinks can come in two main variants – either a smooth or hammered finish. Aesthetically, smooth finishes are great for portraying a modern and contemporary style, while a hammered finish can fit a more traditional and rustic outlook.

In terms of maintenance, smooth finishes are more difficult to maintain as they can scratch and show signs of fingerprints easily. In contrast, the hammered finish is harder and helps withstand the impact of frequent use better. Furthermore, the texture helps to conceal cosmetic flaws while reducing scratches as less flat sink surface area is exposed.

As a result, smooth copper sinks are more commonly used in bathroom situations as opposed to a kitchen sink as a more delicate option.

The darkening of copper sinks due to a natural process called Patina, which should be expected over time, giving your sink a “living finish”. If you have a copper sink of a lighter tone, the patina growing process tends to be faster as opposed to a darker the initial Patina. You can mitigated and stall the darkening process through the use of copper cleaners and regular waxing, but the process will still continue naturally.

Similar to stainless steel, the thickness of copper sinks is graded based on gauge. For a high quality copper sink of home use, a 14-16 gauge copper sink is recommended. 

Single Bowl vs Double Bowl

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Single Bowl Stainless Steel

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Double Bowl Stainless Steel

In the past, double-bowl sinks was very popular in most households as it allows you to have an efficient dish washing system. With one section with filled with soapy water and your dirty dishes, and the other filled with clean water, many household owners loved this function which a single bowl does not provide.

These days, homeowners have a shifting preference towards single bowl sinks, particularly in Asian households as kitchens become smaller due to the rising cost of housing. The larger single sink allows bigger cooking equipment like woks and large pots to be placed easily with other dishes, while still giving you some room to soap and do your dishes.

Double-bowls come in different variations, with the most common being a 50/50 split or 70/30 split, which combines some of the benefits of the single bowl and double bowl sink.

Here’s a great rule of thumb you can use if you’re thinking about which bowl to get.

If you plan for your sink to have a base cabinet (length of the fitted hole) of 60cm or less, go for the single bowl option. This is perfect if you have a small kitchen in a small family of 3 people as you won’t have as many dishes to do and they should all be able to fit comfortably inside.

If you have a larger base cabinet of around 75cm, get a double-bowl with a larger bowl and a smaller bowl. With an additional small sink area, you’ll be able to put some of your cups and dishes that do not require soaping there, not mixing with the greasy dishes used for cooking. If you’re like me with limited cooking space, the small sink area is a great place to do place your chopping board over for any chopping you need to do.

Kitchen Sink Drainers

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Foldable Stainless Steel Sink Drainer

Sink drainers are some variations to your kitchen sink, and is available with both single and double sinks. These drainers allow you to place your wet dishes so the water drains into the sink without having risk of stagnant water and moulds forming.

Older households used to have a sink drainer with a single bowl, but most new households choose to invest in a dish rack instead. This allows you have more countertop space, keeping your kitchen looking clean and decluttered.

An option that I personally love is the inbuilt dish rack, where you convert one of your cupboards (usually right above your sink) into an easily accessible place to dry your dishes. These can be purchased either online through sites like Qoo10 or Lazada or any local store that deals with interior design.

Choosing the Perfect Kitchen Sink

Ultimately, the best kitchen sink is one that compliments your current kitchen layout and best suits your household needs. Choosing a kitchen sink can seem tedious but trust me, it’s worth it. Hopefully with all this information, you’ll know all the options you have available for your new home and start your kitchen right.

image sources: aj madison, mrdirectint, iquartz, costco, wayfair, overstock, hoekee