Choosing Your Sink: A Complete Guide

Just like every other kitchen component, there is so much choice available when deciding on which kitchen sink is best for you. Size, material, installation type, colour, brands and price, it is easy to become blinded by choice.

Ultimately, you will have to narrow down these options first, but how do you do that, where do you start? Hopefully, this guide will give you a better understanding of what options are available, pros and cons of different materials and which solution may work best in your kitchen.

Where do you start? – You may not have a design in place yet and you may not know what will fit but you can still make a provisional choice, add it to your ‘wish list’ and discuss with your designer.

 

Application / Installation type

There are three basic installation types for kitchen sinks: Inset, Flush Frame and Undermount

Image of an inset stainless steel sink
Inset sinks

Also referred to as a sit-on, lay-on or top mounted. These sinks are set on top of the worktop. Lowered into a pre-cut hole and sealed around the edges with a rubber gasket and silicone. This sink type can be used on any material, although it is the only option that can be used with laminate worktops. These normally have a drainer / draining board integral to the sink.

Example of a flush frame sink
Flush frame sinks

Also referred to as flush inset or recessed. Like an inset sink but the cut out for the sink is rebated around the edge so that the lip / frame of the sink sits flush to the worktop. The lip of the sink is sealed with a rubber gasket and silicone. Flush frame sinks are available in stainless steel or composite (with stainless steel frame) and can be fitted into any worktop material (note:laminate worktops can't be rebated). Available with or without draining board.

Image of an undermount sink
Undermount sinks

Also referred to as integrated or submerged. As the name suggests, this is a sink that sits under the worksurface. Depending on the materials used, the cut out in the worktop can be flush to the sides of the sink or there may be a small lip. The sink is clamped tight to the underside of the worktop and sealed. This type of installation is best suited to solid surface, stone and quartz worktops and is not compatible with laminate worktops. These sinks do not have draining boards but draining grooves can be cut into the worktop.

Purpose

This may seem like a silly question but what will you use your sink for? It is important that you consider this before making any further decisions as it may influence the size, number of bowls, configuration and material of the sink you choose. 

It could be for preparation on an island, cleaning boots or hand-washing clothes in the utility room or it could be your only sink that needs to be multi-purpose. It is important to tell your designer what you plan to use the sink for so that they can advise on what size and configuration to use.

 

Materials

Here we will cover materials and the pros and cons for each. This list is not exhaustive, we will concentrate on those commonly used. Other specialist materials are available and may be offered by your retailer, ask your designer for more information.

Stainless steel

Image glasses washed and dryingBy far the most popular material used for sinks and the go to choice for professional kitchens. Stainless is tough, hygienic, heat resistant and very easy to maintain. Stainless is strong yet soft enough to absorb impact, have you ever dropped a plate in the sink whilst washing up? Of course you have, accidents happen. With stainless, chances are the plate would remain unbroken.

There are different types of stainless steel. 18/10 grade stainless is the best quality steel to use for kitchen sinks, it has a high nickel and chromium content and can be made in a brushed or satin finish as well as polished. Some manufacturers offer a super tough shot-blast Inox finish which is scratch resistant and will not show fingerprints – See Durinox by Blanco

Guide price: £150 – £800

Pros:

– Range of size and configuration
– Hygienic
– Easy to clean
– Easy to maintain
– Long life
– Resilience to impact
– Stain Free
– UV resistant
– Heat Resistant

Cons:

– Scratching

Ceramic/Fireclay

Image of a Belfast style sink A material synonymous with Belfast sinks, these glazed sinks are beautiful and offer a classic look to your kitchen.

The smooth glazed surface of ceramic ensures that dirt and germs are easily washed away making them very hygienic. A heavyweight rigid material, these sinks will not move or flex, but the glaze can chip or craze if knocked.

Guide price: £200 – £700

Pros:

– Hygienic
– Easy to clean
– Attractive
– Depth of bowl

Cons:

– Resilience to impact
– Limited size and configurations

Composite

Image of a grey 1,5 bowl sink in Silgranit There are many different brands of composite sink, all made from different materials so a difficult one to cover as properties may vary between manufacturers. Usually made from granite or quartz, resin and heavy plastics for pigmentation these sinks are very durable. They are non-porous and scratch resistant.

Available in a huge range of shapes and colours, they are a good solution if you are looking to closely match or compliment the colour of your worktop.

Guide price: £400 – £800

Pros:

– Range of colour options
– Range of size and configurations
– Hygienic
– Easy to clean
– Easy to maintain
– Long life
– Resilience to impact
– Stain free
– Heat resistant
– Scratch resistant

Cons:

– Possible UV colour fade in direct light
– Cost (however, the benefit is value for money)

Corian/Resin

Corian moulded sink For resin worktops like Corian, your sink can be made of the same material and be moulded or joined to create a seamless transition from countertop to bowl. This non-porous material is very hygienic and easy to maintain but does have a low heat threshold. A stainless-steel base can be used to protect from heat.

Guide price: £400 – £1200

Pros:

– Hygienic
– Easy to clean
– Easy to maintain
– Stain free

Cons:

– Scratching
– Cost 
– Heat resistance

Cast Iron

Cast iron Butler sink A dense heavyweight material, these iron sinks are finished with a tough enamel layer that protects them from rust and provides a hygienic, easy to clean surface.

These sinks are great for fans of white glazed sinks and are harder wearing than ceramic. They can be made in different colours although expect to pay a premium. Despite the density and rigidity of these sinks, the enamel can chip if knocked hard enough, exposing the dark grey cast iron and leaving it prone to rust.

Guide price: £400 – £1100

Pros:

– Hygienic
– Easy to clean
– Easy to maintain
– Stain free

Cons:

– Scratching
– Cost 
– Heat resistance

Which sink will be right for your new kitchen?

Useful Downloads

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