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  Thursday, October 23, 2014  
   
 

 
Jazz Up Your Kitchen
The Down and Dirty on Kitchen Sinks  

Has your outdated kitchen sink worn out its welcome? If you are looking to add some pizzazz to your kitchen, the solution could be as simple as the kitchen sink. A new sink and an updated faucet could change the entire look and feel in the heart of your home. Maybe your sink has just seen better days. In today’s market the choices are plenty.

Perhaps the most important choice will be the type of material, from stainless steal, porcelain, cast iron and more. Then you must consider the type of mounting: top mount, under mount and flush mount. Next there are single, double and triple basins to choose from. You must also consider your options for faucets, soap dispensers, water filters and spray nozzles which are all available with the new fangled faucets of today. Your budget, the way you work around your sink and your style of kitchen are the aspects to consider when deciding on what will work best for you.

A more compelling reason to update your sink could be to make it more functional. Your kitchen sink should work for you. Are you compensating for your sink’s inadequacy and haven’t even realized it? Maybe you would prefer a deep large single basin bowl that will handle your favorite large pot or skillet. Or one that your refrigerator bins will fit into easily to clean. Or perhaps you would prefer a double basin sink to make handwashing your dishes much easier. Or else you may be looking to ease your cleaning habits, in which an under mount sink may be just what you need. A replacement sink could not only save you time, effort and annoyance, it can add value to your home as well.

Stainless steel is by far the most popular choice in kitchen sinks. Especially now that sleek new stainless appliances are all the rage. Unless the sink is customized, stainless is reasonably priced. The key to buying a stainless steel sink is the gauge of the steel. The lower the gauge, the thicker and more durable the sink will be. Look for 18- or 19-gauge stainless which has extra chromium and is less susceptible to corrosion. The pros of stainless are many: easy to clean, sleek, durable, long lasting and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You also have a chance of not breaking that glass or bowl you drop into a stainless sink verses other types of materials. The life expectancy of stainless, depending on the gauge and manufacturer, is between 15–30 years. The biggest cons: stainless dents easily, scratches easily and is noisy. Some manufacturers have added sound absorption technologies to the underside of the sinks to absorb noise to battle this complaint.

Porcelain enamel over cast iron kitchen sinks are widely available and just about the most durable. There is a vast range in quality, color, shape and style. With a life expectancy of a high quality sink to be about 25–30 years, it is a great investment for your home. This type of sink has been in use for well over 100 years which has proved its durability many times over. The porcelain enamel on the surface is ground glass that has been melted and applied to the hot cast iron sink. There are a few drawbacks to this tougher than tough sink. A major issue is the durability being the cause for plenty of broken glass if you accidentally drop something, hence the reason a rubber sink mat is definitely a good idea with this type of sink. These sinks are extremely heavy and that must be taken into consideration during installation. The porcelain stains easily and must be cleaned frequently and it is prone to chip and is not easy to repair.

Steel isn’t the only metal used for sink material, various other metals are used also. Other popular metals include nickel, copper and brass. These are considered specialty sinks and may be beautiful but also carry a hefty price tag. These metals should also be wiped down after each use because sitting water may cause them to tarnish.

Nickel is stronger and harder than copper and brass and a hammered nickel finish is absolutely gorgeous.

Copper is fashionable in today’s modern and remodeled homes. Copper ages beautifully and develops a dark patina similar to an old penny. The copper should never be soldered in any way, this will turn black at the joints and not age very attractively. So beware of soldered joints and make sure the sink you are purchasing is pure copper and is welded, not soldered.

Brass makes a beautiful sink and requires a little more care than the copper. Both should be wiped dry after use to avoid tarnishing.

Solid surface sink materials have gained popularity with homeowners in a big way. They will give your kitchen a warm cozy feel and can be fused with the countertop to make cleaning practically effortless. Unless requested, there are no grooves or seams which leave no crevices for kitchen crumbs to collect.

Corian is nonporous and is resistant to germs and bacteria. Manufacturers don’t recommend placing hot pans directly on the surface because it can burn or leave marks. Under the right circumstances, corian be cut or scratched. This type of damage can be repaired by buffing with steel wool but may not be successful and can leave a slight “dip” in the surface. The biggest downside to replacing your previous sink with corian is the fact that it is fused to the countertop. This makes your new sink project turn into a new countertop project. A few manufacturers of corian finishes are DuPont, Swanstone, Gilbraltar, Avonite, Surell, Fountainhead, Eso and Wilsonart.

Composite stone sinks are hitting the market in big strides for attractiveness and durability. These are made out of various rock, not limited to quartz, slate or granite and are combined with acrylic. The final product is very hard, warm to the touch and has a natural matte finish which can be professionally buffed to a shine in most instances. These surfaces do not scratch easily, come in various shapes and sizes with a competitive price range. The largest drawback is color choices which are limited to neutrals such as gray, almond and white color palettes.
 
Types of Sink Mounts
A top mount sink has been the norm for ages because it can be used with a variety of countertop materials. It is the easiest for most homeowners to install and it can be replaced without damaging your existing countertop. A top mount is a self-rimming sink that merely needs to be dropped into the hole cut out in the countertop and caulked around the edges to secure the sink in place. Because of the outer edges, it is not the easiest to keep clean. You cannot sweep any crumbs or spills directly into the sink without passing over the rim first.

Becoming more the norm in new homes and remodeling projects are under mount sinks. They typically need to be installed by a professional and require a solid surface countertop or stone for mounting. An under mount sink can make cleaning time in the kitchen less burdensome because there is no outer sink rim.

A tile in sink has a flange and the tile/granite/marble, etc. of the countertop butts right up to the edge of the sink. Depending on the type of sink, it may have to have a sink rim installed.

When having a solid surface counter­top installed, it is possible to also have a flush mount sink fabricated. In this instance the sink and countertop are fused together and are one solid piece of the same material. Installation isn’t an issue because nothing needs to be sized or cut.
 
Basins for Various Needs
If you use a dishwasher the majority of the time, a single basin sink may be just the right fit for you. It is large and deep and can easily fit the large pots you need to wash that do not fit in the dishwasher. This is also a good option if you are tight on countertop space versus a double sink basin. If you handwash dishes then a double bowl sink is perfect for you. You can wash on one side and rinse on the other. This is also an advantageous set up for a garbage disposal while preparing for and multi-tasking with each side of the double bowls. The basins can be equal size or one smaller than the other. There are also three basin sinks available for large busy families that need extra basin room. The additional small sink is used for soaking or washing fruit/vegetables or has the garbage disposal installed there.

Most homeowners are looking for style, efficiency, easy maintenance and quality when shopping for a new kitchen sink. The materials and designs are endless. Before jumping right in, consult a professional to walk you through the process and to help you find just what you need. When you think about it, the kitchen sink is the activity center in the busiest room in your home. Day after day your sink is the focal point for cooking, food preparation and cleaning, so make sure it satisfies and withstands your everyday needs.

Thank you to Amy Peters, of Ferguson Enterprise, Inc. in Gloucester, for her input with this article.