With the large range of sink options now available in New Zealand you could be forgiven for beginning a little perplexed when making a choice about which sink will suit your new kitchen.
So let's start with the basic facts:
Sinks can come in several types of materials:
Ceramic (Fire clay)
Porcelain enamel (cast iron)
Acrylic (type of plastic)
Copper or Bronze look
Sinks are also divided into the way they are installed and this is often dependent on the benchtop material chosen.
Sinks come in different sizes and configurations and this is dependent on the position & space where the sink is to be mounted and what benchtop room exists around the sink area.
Also the bowls or bowls must be able to fit inside the cabinet below and if you have a small cabinet it may mean you have no option but to go with a single bowl. Also in restricted spaces, if your benchtop is not full depth, again you may be restricted to the bowl configuration and size.
Sink options for Kitchens:
Stainless steel sinks
By far the most popular and enduring of all the sink options.
Brushed or polished finish, they come in the most numerous configurations.
The most durable and forgiving of all the sinks are stainless steel. They can scratch but this becomes part of the patina and look of stainless steel.
The quality of the sink is usually defined by the gauge of the steel and the thicker the steel the most hard wearing and dent resistant they become and more costly, however stainless steel sinks are generally the most cost effective option.
Down side is cheaper thinner sinks with a thinner gauge steel may flex , dent or even be punctured by sharp knives, so beware of very thin steel sinks. It is expensive to replace a sink and may not be easily possible, so it pays to buy a decent sink with a good strong steel gauge as sinks do a lot of constant work in a kitchen and so need to be robust as possible.
Robust and durable formed out of a stone slab. These sinks should have a drop in the base of the bowl so water does not sit on the surface.
These sinks are heavy and require substantial support. Depending on the stone used they may require regular sealing. Some food spills ie lemon juice or wine left on the surface may damage these bowls over time. Great looking for a special visual impact.But an expensive option.
Solid surface sinks
These are sinks honed out of the same material as the benchtop.This is a great option for a seamless look in a solid surface benchtop, with no ridges or seams. Its is durable and most scratches or chips can be repaired. Down side is cost as the fabrication is more costly and these sink can crack under high heat or break from impact of a heavy object. But certainly one of the most aesthetically pleasing sink types.
Eco granite or crushed stone in a emulsion/resin. These sinks are very heavy and a hard durable surface. They come in different colours and are scratch resistant.Darker colours can get a soap type scum build up around the edge that requires regular cleaning off and the white composite sinks can stain with red wine and beetroot if not rinsed immediately.
A very popular sink due to the colour range and luxurious look of these sinks.
Similar to vitreous china these sinks are baked in a special oven at high heat, these sinks are very durable and easy to maintain. They look spectacular in a farm house or traditional type styled kitchen.
Generally all individually made, they are all slightly different and may have some imperfections which forms part of their charm. The large bowl size means they require special cabinetry made to hold & support them and extra attention to waterproofing around the bowl to prevent damage to the cabinetry. More suited to a solid surface benchtop and generally a more expensive option.
Porcelain enamel Sinks
Porcelain enamel sinks provide a luxurious glossy look. A Durable sink available in different colors, it is easy to clean and maintain. Due to the steel base of these sinks they hold the heat for longer. It is a weighty sink and so needs custom cabinetry below to accommodate.
Older styled Porcelain sinks did chip more easily. But an old favorite for the purists
Acrylic is a type of plastic that is moulded to form a sink. It is a lighter weighted sink that scratches can be easily sanded out of. It is a smooth non porous surface that is stain resistant. You must be careful with objects or fluids that a very hot as this can affect the surface and shape.
Copper or Bronze sinks
Copper or Copper look sinks taps and handles are very popular currently and give an unmatched aesthetic.
If you're looking for something that gives the wow factor or industrial edge, go no further than a copper look sink with a matching tap. Real Copper sinks are individually made of a soft metal and are being replaced with Copper colored stainless steel, giving a more regular finish and hard wearing surface with very long warranties.
Which mount is best? Top mounted, under mounted or flush fit.
Top mounted sinks
Are dropped in from the top with the sink sitting on the top of the laminate by the flange around the perimeter.
Generally speaking Top mounted sinks are best for Laminate or Formica benchtops. The steel flange around the sink sits on top of the laminate giving a protective edge for the sink, where the sink meets the laminate.This prevents chips around the perimeter of the sink by heavy pots or trays. It also affords some protection to the laminate from hot water spills and heavy items being dropped near the edges. Most Kitchen companies will only top mount sinks in laminate benchtops.The only downside to this is a small ridge where around the sink where food and water can get caught and an extra wipe is often required to clear the surface in this area.
These are attached under the counter top and are more suited to solid surface and stone benchtops. Giving a smooth edge to wipe water and food spills into the sink. This type of mounting is almost universal with stone bench tops however some people still like to top mount their sink into solid surface and stone to give protection to the edge around the sink.
Flush mounted sinks
These sinks are flush fitted into the benchtop on the same level as the laminate or stone.
Giving a more smooth appearance compared to top mount sinks they allow crumbs and water to be swept back off the benchtop into the sink. Attractive finish flush fit can be used with solid surface stone or laminate.
Choosing A Sink - Some Additional Points To Consider
Beyond materials, mounting and size and shape of the bowls and drainer tray required, here are some additional points to ponder when choosing a kitchen sink.
Size of sink relates to size of kitchen:
The size of your kitchen usually dictates the size of sink you should install. Small galley kitchens may not have the room for a large sink & general guidelines are for single bowl sinks with small kitchens and double bowls for larger kitchens.
Remember the bigger the bowls the more counter space that is sacrificed.
Larger sinks may require custom cabinetry to fit & support them.
Make sure the sink that you want, will fit in the base cabinet that will support it.
Be very careful if you are planning to use a large sink in an off the shelf type flat pack cabinet, as you may find out too late, that the cabinet under the sink is not suitable for a variety of reasons.
Some sinks will require special base cabinets to accommodate them, ask your designer or builder before you purchase a sink whether it will actually fit or be suitable for the cabinetry you have chosen.
Plan you type of tap-before you choose your sink
Make sure your tap can fit either in the sink material surround or if there is room behind the sink to place it.
This is a classic mistake made when choosing a sink and tap that are not compatible.
If you are having a water filter again this will affect the type of sink you purchase and the configuration of the trays and sink material. For example if taps need to be drilled out of stone tops and solid sinks, this maybe an added cost you were not expecting.
How your sink will be used
Think about how you'll use the sink on a daily basis to determine what configuration will work best for you. If you hand wash a lot of your dishes you may want a double bowl, one for washing and the other for rinsing/draining.
However if you primarily use the dishwasher and only wash large pots and biscuit trays you may just want a large single bowl or a more standard sized 1 1 ¼ bowl configuration.
Deeper Bowls Have advantages and disadvantages
Deep bowls allow you to more easily fill and clean deep pots and other large items. But depending on your height, they can cause fatigue if your hands don't naturally reach the bottom. Having to bend slightly to reach down to the bottom of the bowl can be an annoyance, depending on how much time you spend at the sink. It's a minor issue but one to think about if you do a lot of dish washing.
Larger bowls take a lot more water including hot water,and the heat evaporates more quickly and so larger bowls can turn out to be more costly over the longer term.
Choose a material that will stand up to your lifestyle
Some sink materials are tougher than others. Will your sink get hard daily use in a family environment or light use from a retired couple? Do you use heavy cookware that could more easily chip a stone sink?
If your sink use will be hard, stainless steel is probably your best choice.
Square , oval or semi rectangular
Square-corner and zero-radius sinks look modern but they're harder to clean in the corners than sinks with a more generous corner radius. It's easier to swipe-clean rounded corners than it is to get into tight corners.
Don't place a sink near a benchtop join, water and detergent sitting on a join will damage the join. Keep the sink away from the corners.
Don't put a sink in a corner where you will have to lean forward to reach the taps and wash the dishes. A sore back is not what we want for your new kitchen.
Think about where you place your sink if in a breakfast bar, you may find there is a lot of water splash that annoys people sitting around, so consider maybe locating your sink at one end or the other.
If mounting your sink under a window remember the tap must fit as well and if a window is low it may effect the tap fitting or there maybe not enough clearances to seal th benchtop properly.
Remember if your benchtop is stone or composite stone there will be certain safety margins for the stone surrounding the sink for strength to prevent cracking. If you choose too deep/Large a sink it may void the stone bench tops warranty.
The sink you choose could make or break the look of your new kitchen and the range to choose from in New Zealand is actually huge. Your kitchen designer can quote and source the right sink for your new kitchen at better prices than you can.
Use an experienced knowledgeable Kitchen designer to recommend and guide you with your sink choices to avoid an unexpected problem during your kitchen installation.