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Kitchen Sink Buying Guide

What is a Kitchen Sink?

Kitchen sinks are bowl-shaped fixtures that are used for washing hands or small objects such as food and dishes. Sinks generally have faucets (taps) that supply hot and cold water and may include a spray feature to be used for faster rinsing. Sinks generally include a drain to remove used water; this drain may itself include a strainer and/or shut-off device and an overflow-prevention device. When designing a kitchen, the sink may not be the first design consideration. However, the kitchen sink is one of the most used fixtures in a home and with so many design options it’s important to consider the form and function that the sink will provide. There is really no standard sink size. You will want to measure your sink carefully to make sure the one you are selecting will fit.

Selecting a Kitchen Sink

There are three important considerations when selecting a kitchen sink. These include Mounting, Material, and Form.


There are three types of mounting for kitchen sinks:
Top-mount Kitchen Sinks      
Undermount Kitchen Sinks     
Apron Kitchen Sinks    
      Top-mount Kitchen Sink       Under-mount Kitchen Sink       Apron Kitchen Sink

Top-mount (self-rimming) sinks sit in appropriately-shaped holes roughly cut in the countertop (or substrate material) using a jigsaw or other cutter appropriate to the material at hand and are suspended by their rim. The rim then inherently forms a fairly close seal with the top surface of the countertop, especially when the sink is clamped into the hole from below.

Under-mount or bottom-mount sinks are installed below the countertop surface. The edge of the countertop material is exposed at the hole created for the sink (and so must be a carefully finished edge rather than a rough cut). The sink is then clamped to the bottom of the material from below. Especially for under-mount sinks, silicone-based sealants are usually used to assure a waterproof joint between the sink and the countertop material. The advantage of an "under-mount" sink is that it gives a contemporary look to the kitchen.

Apron Sinks, sometimes called a farmer's sink or farm-style sink because they cater to the popularity of country decor in the kitchen, are deep sinks that have a finished front apron. Set onto a countertop, the finished front apron of the sink remains exposed. This style of sink requires very little "reach-over" to access the sink.


Kitchen sinks are made of many different materials. These include:

Stainless Steel    
Porcelain or Enamel
over Cast Iron    
     Granite and Composite    
      Granite and Fireclay    
    Stainless Steel       Porcelain or Enamel over Cast Iron       Granite Composite       Fireclay

Stainless steel is commonly used in kitchens and commercial applications because it represents a good trade-off between cost, usability, durability, and ease of cleaning. Most stainless steel sinks are made by drawing a sheet of stainless steel over a die. Some very deep sinks are fabricated by welding. Stainless steel sinks will not be damaged by hot or cold objects and resist damage from impacts. One disadvantage of stainless steel is that, being made of thin metal, they tend to be noisier than most other sink materials, although better sinks apply a heavy coating of vibration-damping material to the underside of the sink.

Porcelain over cast iron is a popular material for kitchen sinks. Heavy and durable, these sinks can also be manufactured in a very wide range of shapes and colors. Like stainless steel, they are very resistant to hot or cold objects, but because the porcelain is glass, they can be damaged by sharp impacts. Aggressive cleaning will dull the surface, leading to more dirt accumulation. Enamel over cast iron is a similar-appearing but far less rugged and less costly alternative.

Solid granite and fireclay sinks have many of the same characteristics as porcelain over cast iron, but without the risk of surface damage leading to cast iron corrosion. Composite sinks usually made to look like or feel like granite are durable, stain resistant, easy-to-clean and are usually much lighter than their granite counter parts. Lines such as MoenStone, Blanco Diamond - Silgranit, Americast and Swanstone are composite sinks that offer many unique advantages over sinks made of other materials.


The different considerations for the form of a kitchen sink include size, number of bowls, bowl orientation, and tappings.

  1. Size: The standard kitchen sink is 22 by 30 inches, with two equal-sized bowls that are 8 inches deep. However, this standard format may not fit with your individual design needs. There are sinks with deeper bowls if you frequently use large pots, high-set shallow bowls that go between the two basins for peeling and washing vegetables, oversize single basins, unequally sized basins, and basins that fit into tight corners. The size of the sink you select will depend on available counter space (for sink length and width) and under-counter space (for sink bowl depth).

  2. Number of Bowls: Single bowl, double bowl, and triple bowl sinks are available. Double bowl sinks are the most common. Double and triple bowl sinks are available with equal sized bowls or bowls of unequal size. The inclusion of an integrated drain board is another consideration.

  3. Single Bowl Kitchen Sink     Double Bowl Kitchen Sink     Triple Bowl Kitchen Sink    
               Single Bowl Kitchen Sink       Double Bowl Kitchen Sink       Triple Bowl Kitchen Sink

  4. Bowl Orientation: Most sinks are most functional in a side-by-side configuration. However, certain design circumstances may call for a sink bowls that are not side-by-side. These special sinks can be convenient where counter space is limited on one side, but additional bowls are desirable.

    One must also consider the position of the sink drains. One side of a double bowl kitchen sink may feature a sink strainer, while the other side may need to accomodate a disposal. When selecting a sink, be sure to leave enough space under the sink for the disposal and other plumbing. You may even need to get a sink with a shallow bowl on one side.

  5. Large Basin on the Left    
    Large Basin on the Right    
    Corner Orientation    
    Large Basin on the Left Large Basin on the Right Corner Orientation

  6. Tappings: Depending on the sink accessories that will be used, you will want to determine what tapping configuration is most appropriate. Tappings are needed for a number of sink accessories including the faucet, sprayer, air gap, soap dispenser, hot & cold water dispenser, etc. Pictured below are a few examples of different tapping configurations.

  7. Single Tapping              
    Two Tapping
    One Center One Right            
    Three Tappings Center
    One Tapping Left            
    Four Tappings Center
    One Tapping Right            
             Single Tapping          Two Tappings One Center One Right          Three Tappings Center One Tapping Left          Four Tappings Center One Tapping Right

Check out other products for your kitchen such as kitchen faucets, garbage disposals and range hoods. Also browse PlumberSurplus.com coupons for a great deal!