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The heart of every home is the kitchen, and the kitchen sink is one of the most utilized features. While it’s important for your new sink to complement your design plans, it’s also crucial that its functionality meets your everyday needs. Shopping for a new one doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There’s a perfect sink for every space, and this guide will help you find the one for yours.
With a multitude of kitchen sink sizes, knowing the purpose of the sink and how it will be used can help guide your decision. For example, if you're looking for a sink to install into your kitchen island to help with food preparation, you likely only need a small prep sink which will be 24" long or smaller.
Replacing your main kitchen sink? You'll want to go larger. The most common sizes for a kitchen sink are 30" or 33", however a standard size could measure anywhere between 24" and 36" in length. Generally, sinks up to 30" will contain one large single bowl. These sinks are fantastic for washing larger pots and pans, so they're ideal for bigger families that do a lot of stovetop cooking. Sinks that measure more than 30" in length usually contain two or more bowls. If you prefer keeping your food prep area separated from your dirty dishes, then opt for a double or triple bowl sink.
Kitchen sinks that are larger than 36" in length are considered oversized sinks. These fit very well into large kitchens, where a small or standard-sized kitchen sink may get lost in the design.
In addition to the length of the sink, pay close attention to the depth of the basins and the width from front to back. Someone who prefers to hand wash their dishes may appreciate a deeper sink for soaking, or a wider sink which provides a bit more room to work.
How Do I Measure for a New Kitchen Sink?
You may now have an idea of the size you want your new kitchen sink to be, but before you decide, you will need to know what will fit.
If you plan to replace an existing sink, measure the length and width of the opening where your current sink rests. To do this, you will likely need to remove the sink. Also measure the depth of the bowls, as a significantly deeper bowl than what you currently have may require alterations to the in-wall plumbing.
If you're planning to jump from a shallow sink to something with a deeper basin, take measurements from the existing plumbing. If the basin hangs too low, the sink will not drain properly and modifications may need to be made behind the wall of your kitchen sink cabinet, e.g. lowering the pipe that feeds into the wall. To know how much deeper you can go without modification, measure the length of the pipe that connects the sink drain to the tee below the sink. This pipe is called the tailpiece. If the tailpiece is 2" in length, then you should be able to install a new sink that is 2" deeper than what you currently have with no issues.
After you have determined a size for your new kitchen sink, it's time to explore the style options available.
Designed to have large, deep bowls to hold ample amount of water, farmhouse sinks have been around since before indoor plumbing existed. These sinks feature an exposed front that either sits flush with or hangs over the cabinets that it rests between. This style of sink can be found in a wide range of materials, sizes, colors, and designs to fit well into any modern or traditional kitchen. Learn more with our farmhouse sink buying guide.
Drop-in kitchen sinks are designed to drop into a pre-cut opening in the countertop. These sinks will feature an exposed rim that rests on the countertop and often contain one or more mounting holes for faucet installation. Drop-in sinks are a great option for those who are looking for something easy to install and remove (if ever necessary), and can be used with any countertop material.
Undermount kitchen sinks are mounted to the underside of the countertop, fastened using clips or brackets and adhesive. This allows the sink's rim to be concealed, providing a sleek appearance and making cleanup around the sink much simpler. Due to the way that these sinks are supported, they typically require a solid surface countertop such as granite or quartz.
Wall mount kitchen sinks are exactly that—they bolt directly onto the kitchen wall. These types of sinks are typically made of cast iron, porcelain, or stainless steel and require additional support behind the wall to bear their weight. However, once installed, their urban or vintage appeal make them a unique centerpiece in both industrial or farmhouse-themed kitchens.
To create more versatile counterspace, corner kitchen sinks mount into the corner of your countertop, and are usually L-shaped. Many corner kitchen sinks are made of stainless steel, however other material options do exist. Corner sinks will always require a drop-in or undermount installation.
Prep sinks, also referred to as bar sinks, are small single-bowl sinks that are typically installed in addition to the main kitchen sink. They are generally reserved for small tasks such as washing hands or rinsing fruits and vegetables. However, in a very small kitchen, a prep sink can fulfill the duties of a kitchen sink while saving precious space.
When exploring the options for your new kitchen sink, you’ll see a wide variety of materials. While durability is critical, it's also important that the sink material that you select fits well aesthetically into the theme of your space.
Similar to stainless steel, copper sinks are made in various thicknesses from 20 gauge up to 14 gauge (the lower the number, the thicker the metal). An authentic copper sink is made with 99.9% pure copper, which make them naturally antimicrobial to kill harmful bacteria. Since copper contains a living finish, some extra maintenance is recommended to keep it looking new such as monthly waxing, and washing with a cleaner formulated specifically for copper to prevent corrosion and discoloration. However, with less cleaning and waxing, you can allow your copper sink to develop a beautiful natural patina to make it truly one-of-a-kind.
These kitchen sinks are made of heavy, solid cast iron and their core is near indestructible. Known for their durability, cast iron sinks contain a porcelain enamel coating which also make them very low maintenance and a breeze to clean. Many cast iron sinks are offered in a white finish, however there are other color options to choose from such as biscuit, black, shades of tan, and even vintage blues or greens.
Fireclay kitchen sinks are made of dense clay which is fired at very high temperatures, which fuses the clay to its porcelain enamel coating. Another durable material, fireclay sinks are resistant to rust, discoloration, and fading. The smooth, glossy finish makes them easy to clean and maintain. Kitchen sinks made of fireclay are available in shades of white, black, gray, beige, biscuit, and blue, among many others.
Arguably the most popular kitchen sink material, stainless steel sinks are constructed of 14 (thicker), 16, or 18 (thinner) gauge, 304-grade stainless steel. They typically feature a coating of sound-deadening material on their underside, and they're resistant to chipping and cracking. Stainless steel also has the benefit of naturally resisting stains from acidic foods and beverages, and is rust proof. This material is a common choice due to its compatibility with any kitchen design.
Natural stone sinks are made of various types of marble, granite, or travertine, which come in a wide variety of unique colors. Since they are carved from a natural piece of stone, no two sinks are identical, so you'll never have to worry about having the same sink as your neighbor. Like copper, natural stone sinks require a bit more maintenance than sinks of a traditional material. The sink will need to be sealed using a stone sealer every few months, depending on its frequent of use.
Granite composite is a material that is made up of a blend of granite stone and acrylic resins. The result is a high-quality, low-maintenance, extremely durable material designed specifically for daily use. Granite composite sinks are available in a wide range of neutral colors to match with surrounding decor, and often feature integrated drainboards and faucet drillings.
Choosing between one, two, or three bowls for your new kitchen sink is about personal preference, and how you plan to use the sink. Consider the amount of cooking you do, the size of your family, and how you wash your dishes.
Single-bowl sinks contain one large basin. These sinks work great for those who cook with large pots and pans, trays, and baking sheets. You can easily fit more of these larger items into a single bowl sink, and still have room for hand-cleaning without a bowl divider getting in the way.
Double-bowl sinks are great if your family hand washes all, or most of, your dishes. Having bowls separated allows you to fill one side of the sink with water for soaking and washing, while the other side is reserved for rinsing and drying. It can be nice to have that separation, regardless of how you plan to use the bowls.
Some larger kitchen sinks possess three bowls, providing even more separation. In triple-bowl sinks, there are typically two large bowls and one small bowl. This design allows you to have your prep sink completely isolated from the basins where dishes are stored and washed, or a bowl for small cooking utensils and silverware.
Other Factors to Consider
Most drop-in kitchen sinks and granite composite sinks feature faucet holes pre-drilled into the back rim. This allows you to mount your kitchen faucet to the sink instead of having to mount it to the countertop behind the faucet or on the wall. You can also utilize these holes to add stylish under-counter hand or dish soap dispensers.
Drain location on kitchen sinks varies. While many homeowners have no preference of drain placement, some do prefer an offset drain hole (meaning on the left side, right side, or towards the back of the sink) instead of having it centered in the basin. Make sure that the sink you choose has the drain location that you want or your existing plumbing dictates.
An often-overlooked factor when shopping for a new kitchen sink is the size of the actual kitchen that it's going into. Many people desire a big, stunning sink in their redesigned kitchen, but if your kitchen is a little bit tight you may not be happy with an overpowering sink. On the other hand, if you have an exceptionally large kitchen, you don't want an undersized sink to get lost in the layout.
An integrated drain board is another feature that is sometimes offered on kitchen sinks. Drainboards are great to use as a platform for drying dishes and cookware, as water drains down the sloped and grooved surface and into the sink.
These pieces are essential for every sink, it's just a matter of knowing which configuration you need. Strainer baskets are mini strainers that fit into the drain hole of a kitchen sink that does not contain a garbage disposal. The strainer basket prevents large scraps of food from falling into the drain, thus preventing clogs. If your sink contains a garbage disposal, you'll need a garbage disposal flange. Disposal flanges do not contain a strainer, which allows food to wash into the disposer easily. Included with a disposal flange is a stopper that can be used to plug the drain if the sink ever needs to be filled.
Inserting a wire grid into the sink basin will help prevent your sink from being scuffed or damaged by heavy pots, pans or baking dishes. In addition to protecting the look of your sink, wire grids also keep items off the bottom of the bowl that restrict water from efficiently flowing to the drain.
Adding an undermount soap and lotion dispenser to your sink is a great way to get those bulky bottles off your countertop. Dispensers are available in a variety of styles and finishes to fit in seamlessly alongside your new or existing kitchen faucet.
In plumbing, an air gap kit is a fixture that prevents backflow from the sink into the dishwasher, which can contaminate the dishes being cleaned. An air gap kit will need its own mounting hole aside from the faucet, and has an exposed cylindrical piece that will sit above the counter. These kits can be purchased in several finishes to match well with the kitchen faucet.