When fantasizing about your dream kitchen, it’s fun to think about cool appliances, gadgets, and everything but the kitchen sink … until you need to actually choose and buy one. Setting you back at least a couple hundred dollars (but often much more), a kitchen sink is a major investment — monetarily, functionally, and aesthetically.
This unsung workhorse of the home’s culinary center is used for a multitude of purposes, including washing hands, stashing (hopefully then stacking, soaking, rinsing, and even hand-washing) dirty dishes, holding and scrubbing pots and pans, cleaning vegetables and fruits, draining noodles, catching raw juices from thawing meat and fish, and much more.
Before jumping into the variety of sinks on the market, these are the specs to consider when selecting a sink for your kitchen:
- Size: Obviously the sink needs to fit into its intended counter and cabinet space, but you also want one that is large enough to fulfill your needs. Pay attention not only to width and length, but also to height for containing tall pots, piles of dishes, and splashing water.
- Number of basins/bowls: Single-basin (aka single-bowl) models are the simplest designs and offer the most “open” space for holding large pans and plates. Double-basin models have two smaller side-by-side bowls — both equal in size, or one large and one small — and are great for organizing and separating items and using for different purposes. I have a 70/30 two-bowl sink; the smaller (i.e., 30) basin drains over the garbage disposal and is used for cleaning ingredients while the larger (i.e., 70) tub holds dishes waiting to be washed. The downside to two-bowl models is that each basin may be too small to hold many (or large) items conveniently. There are even triple-bowl sinks, most often used in industrial or very large home kitchens.
- Construction material: Stainless steel is popular due to its durability, longevity, and cost-effectiveness. Downsides are that stainless steel can scratch and stain easily. Look for a sink with at 18-gauge or lower stainless steel; the lower the number, the thicker and higher quality it is. Stone sinks (e.g., granite, granite composite, and marble) may be more durable and sound-proof, but are costlier. Other materials — like fireclay, porcelain, acrylic, enameled cast iron, enameled steel, copper, and fiberglass — all have their pros, cons, and different price points.
- Mounting: A top-mount (aka drop-in) sink is inserted into a hole cut into the top of the counter. The sink’s edge extends around the hole to form a rim that is caulked to the counter and supports the sink’s weight. Although easy to install and great for DIYers, a drop-in sink creates more work later because the rim needs to be cleaned and creates a lip that blocks sweeping water and crumbs straight from the counter right into the sink. An undermount sink is fitted into the counter’s hole from below and attached to the counter with special clips. Although you can easily sweep water and crumbs straight from the countertop into the sink, you need to clean the seam where sink and counter meet. The elegant and less common integrated sink is constructed of the counter’s solid surface material and fused in place by the manufacturer. Integrated sinks are seamless — the counter flows right into the sink — but pricey and difficult to repair or remove and replace. Sometimes you need to replace the entire counter in which the sink sits.
- Style: Most kitchen sinks sit in a hole in a counter atop a cabinet space. The farmhouse/apron sink style is large and looks “built into” a cabinet designed for this type of sink; this sink’s front wall forms in front of the counter. Therefore, washing big items (pots, pans, a dog) for a long time in a farmhouse/apron sink may be easier on your back since you don’t have to learn forward over a countertop strip. On the other hand, water can drip onto the floor more easily without that countertop buffer.
- Brand: Several big names dominate the kitchen-sink market due to their high quality and fine reputation. These manufacturers (a few are included in our picks below) are worth investigating since a kitchen sink is a big-ticket item you want to stand up to your household’s wear and tear for years.
We studied websites specializing in and reviewing kitchen accessories’ construction and use. Feedback from owners of the models below helped confirm as well as refute reviewers’ reports.
Here are the best kitchen sinks you can buy: