The oft-overlooked workhorse of a kitchen, your sink deserves as much thought and consideration as the rest of the components in the heart of your home.
Jarred Dooley, owner of Kitchen Fashions by Home Fashions based in Fredericton, N.B., says picking the right sink for your space comes down to one thing and one thing only, lifestyle.
There are three main sink styles to consider.
A farmhouse, or apron sink, extends past the edge of your counter and offers a deep basin perfect for big families and large pots. While space is the benefit, smaller kitchens and counter spaces can feel dwarfed by a massive sink.
An undermount, as the name suggests fits in under the counter top, and is generally held in place with strong glue. Stainless steel sinks are your best option here, because the glue can’t hold heavier materials like fire-clay or cast-iron.
Top mount sinks are the most common sink type, and usually made of light stainless steel. While they’re the most affordable option and easiest to replace, budget versions can dent or scratch easily in the first few years of use.
Your next choice is the number of bowls, the space that holds water and dishes.
“Our kitchen is designed and suited to us,” says Dooley of his own home. “We chose a single bowl over all other types of configurations because we utilize our dishwasher daily.” With his wide, single-bowl sink, cleaning big pots is a breeze and dishes can stay out of sight until he’s ready to wash. “The ability to lay that pan flat and allow it to soak is also great, that’s why a single bowl is becoming more popular.”
Double sinks remain the most common, and are handy for those who want to wash in one sink and keep a drying rack in the other.
Kitchen design plays a role in dictating which sink offers the best fit for your space. “So many more people are installing stone surface tops now,” says kitchen designer Shelley Jackson, who has more than 20 years experience in the industry with Prestige Kitchens in Charlottetown. “When you have that option, you can go with an undermount sink.” A notable benefit of this style’s placement under the counter is that it makes clean up a breeze. You can sweep crumbs and wet spills directly into the bowl.
Jackson says new cabinet-design trends are changing the sinks that homeowners choose too. As square cabinet doors and drawers grow in popularity, designers gravitate to matching sinks with squared off edges, she says.
Your sink should last the lifetime of your kitchen, so consider quality over price before buying. “We’re doing kitchens that are there for 30 years,” said Karl DeCoste, owner of DeCoste Kitchens Ltd. based in Kingston, N.S. “You don’t want a sink that’s not going to stand up. It’s going to be there forever.” Dooley agrees, “The old adage goes that you often time get what you paid for.”
Stainless steel remains one of the most popular materials, but Dooley reminds his clients that not all steel is made equal. Look for 304 grade which offers a heavy stainless, often called machine finish, that’s resistant to scratches and denting. “Some sinks have polished finishes and some have a machine finish,” he says. “When you start with a polish finish, it starts polished but what happens over the years? It scratches. You’re not able to re-polish a stainless-steel sink the same way you could the [chrome] bumper of a car.”
For those seeking a coloured sink, fired-clay and acrylic are the most popular materials. Jackson suggests considering how you use your kitchen before choosing these. If you do a lot of cooking and baking, foods like beets and curry can stain a light coloured sink. “If you have and use a dishwasher, you want to keep your sink for just soaking objects,” says Dooley.
If you’re renovating your kitchen, existing space will determine your sink size. “A standard sink-base cabinet in most kitchens is 36 inches and anytime someone has a 36-inch cabinet, they’re going to put a double sink,” says Jackson.
Avoid overpowering small cupboards with a large sink, and instead consider adding a bar or prep sink nearby. This style features a smaller, more shallow bowl than your typical kitchen sink. You can use it to rinse hands and vegetables, or fill pots in a pinch.
“It’s about the zone, what are you doing and where are you doing it? It’s a task type of model. The prep or bar sink fits a need where you find yourself preparing food in an area of your kitchen that’s far away from your kitchen clean-up sink.”
Find your faucet
If a sink is akin to the classic little black dress, then consider the faucet your accessories.
Add personality to your kitchen with modern or decorative faucet designs. Most kitchen designers are moving away from the traditional two handle faucet in favour of a single lever that adjusts both temperature and water pressure. This style is user friendly because it’s easy to engage with dirty hands in the middle of food prep and accessible for people of all abilities.
Touch and smart faucets are growing in popularity, but their convenience comes with a much higher price tag than their traditional counterparts, starting at about $275.
Thinking about your future mobility? Consider a pulldown or pot-filler faucet. As the name suggests, a pulldown faucets head is mounted on a retractable hose inside the faucet and can be pulled down and out. A pot filler faucet is attached to an articulated arm that can be extended out over your counter top so you can avoid lifting heavy pots of water out of the sink.