View All Resources

Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks

Shopping for a kitchen sink can be complicated. There is a fountain of choices involving materials, installation methods, size, cost, color, and bowl configuration. But don’t despair. Here’s what you need to know about your kitchen sink.

While a standard sink is traditionally 6 to 8 inches deep, 10 to 12-inch deep sinks are gaining in popularity thanks to their ability to handle big pots and lots of dishes, and to keep water from splashing out. Whatever you choose, rest assured that there’s a material out there to suit your kitchen décor, size requirements, maintenance concerns, and budget.


Cast Iron

To make a cast-iron sink, molten iron is poured into a mold. An enamel coating is fired on for color, shine, and durability.

Pros: These sinks lessen noise and vibration more than many other materials, and hold water temperature longer than nearly any material.

Cons: Cast iron sinks can be extremely heavy, and the enamel coating can scratch and discolor over time. If you are interested in one of the bigger models, make sure ahead of time that your contractor is comfortable working with cast iron.


Every company seems to have its own secret recipe for composite material. Whether a sink is made of quartz, granite, or other materials mixed with an acrylic- or polyester-resin base, these sinks usually feature beautiful speckled color.

Pros: They’re resistant to stains, dents, and scratches and are very easy to care for; just don’t use an abrasive cleanser.

Cons: Composite sinks are relatively new, so their long-term track records is not yet established; they also can be more expensive.


As its name suggests, a fireclay sink consists of a clay base, which is fired at intense heat to produce a durable, glossy finish. Some manufacturers offer fireclay sinks with painted designs that are fired onto the surface; these add considerably to the cost.

Pros: The glazed surface resists scratches and abrasions, and it won’t rust or fade.

Cons: Fireclay is somewhat porous and can stain over time.

Vitreous China

Popular for bathroom sinks and fixtures, vitreous china has made its way into the kitchen. This material is clay coated with a fired-on glaze. It is similar to fireclay in construction, durability, and cost but is less porous than fireclay.

Pros: Hard and nonporous, vitreous china boasts a glasslike shine.

Cons: The nature of the construction process makes it easier to mold larger objects, such as double-bowl kitchen sinks, out of very-similar fireclay.


Consists of a polyester or acrylic base with different ingredients used by each manufacturer. Although many manufacturers now offer ready-made models, solid-surfacing is known for its custom applications.

Pros: solid-surfacing is known for its easy care and stonelike beauty. Available in almost every color of the rainbow- from vibrant primaries to subdued pastels, plus patterns that mimic stone—it also resists scratches and chips. Because the color runs through the entire material, minor burns or scrapes can be sanded out with relative ease.

Solid-surface sinks are usually integrated with a solid-surface countertop, which makes for a seamless and easy-to-clean set-up with no sink lip to catch crumbs.

Cons: Solid-surfacing can be nearly as expensive as granite, and though it is resistant to burns and chips, it’s not completely damage-proof.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel has come a long way from its humble roots as an inexpensive builder-grade sink. There’s a new generation of 16- and 18- gauge sinks that are thicker and less noisy than their less expensive predecessors.

Stainless-steel sinks contain a percentage of chromium and nickel, which is indicated by numbers such as 18/10 (18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel.) You also can choose a stainless-steel sink in any number of finishes, from a mirror like shine to a satiny luster.

Pros: The metals are corrosion resistant and add impart a rich glow to kitchen decor.

Cons: Stainless-steel does scratch, and the thinner, less durable grades (such as a 21- gauge sink, for instance) can be noisy with running water and clattering dishes.


Once you’ve chosen your material, it’s time for another decision: How should you install your sink? There are four ways:


The easiest and most common method is self-rimming, so that the edge of the sink sits on top of the countertop, the plumbing hooked up, and the edge sealed. The main drawback is that the edge of the raised sink acts as a barrier when you try to sweep crumbs into the basin, and food particles can get stuck in the seam and be difficult to clean out.


This method is only an option when your countertop is ceramic tile. The tiles climb right up to the edge of the sink and there is no 9 or very little) step-down or step-up. Apron-front sinks, which have exposed fronts, work well with this method because of their wide walls.


Popular with solid-surfacing or stone countertops, undermount installation creates a sleek, unbroken line from counter to basin. The edge of the sink rests underneath the counter, making it look right at home in a contemporary kitchen. Brushing scraps into the sink is a cinch. This installation method can increase labor costs because your installer must customize the countertop to suit your sink’s size and shape.


Integral sinks offer an even smoother line between the countertop and sink than undermount installation. An integral sink and countertop are one piece; there’s no differentiation between the two. In the past, integral sinks have been made only of solid-surfacing. However, some manufacturers now feature stainless steel as an integral option. Natural stone also is available, but with a weighty price tag.