As part of the process to replace or invest in a new countertop, another consideration to make is a sink. Sinks come in all shapes and sizes, and are composed of all kinds of materials, ranging widely in price. It is important to pick a sink which best fits your needs because once you pick a sink and have a custom sink cut out in your countertop, there is very little you can do to change your mind. So in this article, I will layout the most common choices for sinks in the bathroom and kitchen, what are some things to consider, and what you should expect to pay. And while we all dream of the most elegant and unique room designs, with unlimited options available to us, I will limit our imaginations to what’s realistic, practical, and most common.
Let’s start with your basic bathroom vanity top. Vanity bowls are meant for simple washing tasks so you have a larger selection of materials to choose from. A small glass sink could even be an option if you wanted. You could go with a textured sink base, or something relatively delicate since the abuse of a vanity is kept, generally speaking, at a minimum.
The most common bowl chosen for a vanity is white porcelain or china. A standard bowl size, 17” x 14”, is good for most cabinets and is a fine choice for a vanity bowl. When choosing a brand, there is very little difference in quality between a name brand and a knock off. As stated before, the amount of abuse a vanity bowl gets is not much. Furthermore, the cost of a standard bowl is under $150 so you aren’t risking much.
Another excellent option is going with a solid surface integrated bowl; another very popular choice. However, a solid surface bowl, like Corian, can only be integrated into a solid surface material. The benefit is worth considering since maintenance is much easier with no seams. As for cost, you are looking at a slightly higher price given the extra labor time required in the integration process. However, a standard sink shouldn’t run you more than $250.
For a more contemporary look with a stone material, you could consider a stainless steel bowl. And again, since damaging the bowl shouldn’t be an issue, going with a higher gauge steel to save a few bucks isn’t a bad idea; more on steel gauge later. Your price range will be comparable to porcelain or a solid surface bowl.
When deciding what type of sink to choose, there are four basic options: drop in, undermount, integrated, and vessel. For a very small counter, you could consider going with a vessel sink, where the whole bowl sits on top of the counter with only a drain hole cu out, and mount the faucet to the wall. But generally speaking, the recommended choice is a standard china undermount bowl or a seamless integrated bowl if applicable.
Now let us take a look at your standard kitchen. Unlike a bathroom vanity bowl, the kitchen bowl will take more of a beating. Therefore, the materials of choice will be limited. The bowl will also be larger and more expensive. And depending on how you use your kitchen sink, and your budget, there are several options to choose from.
The most common material used for a kitchen is a stainless steel bowl. Stainless steel is an excellent option for a sink because its durable and highly bacteria, heat, and stain repellant. Steel bowls come in different gauges determining the strength and quality; the lower the gauge, the stronger and thicker the steel. If your sink will take a beating from cleaning pots and pans, a 16 gauge sink would be suitable. Also, if you are picky about the sound of the sink, such as tinny and clanky sounds, go with a 16 gauge as well which is more sound proof. If you don’t use your sink as much, you can get by fine with an 18 gauge bowl. However, as a general rule, never go higher than an 18 gauge for a kitchen sink. Stainless Steel bowls can range anywhere from $150 to about $400 depending on the brand, size, and gauge of the sink.
Seamless integrated sinks work very well as kitchen sinks too. As previously stated, it cuts down on clean up. Solid surface sinks can also be buffed and re-finished if it gets scratched up. The only potential issue you could run into with these bowls would be that they are not very scorch resistant. If you are in the habit of throwing a frying pan immediately into the sink after cooking, this may not be the sink of choice for you. It is also recommended to run hot water over the sink before dumping boiling hot water into it. Besides the heat issue, which is easily avoidable, this is a great option for a kitchen sink. Integrated sink prices are a little higher than stainless steel, ranging anywhere from $300 to $900.
Other things to consider are the types of sinks, depth of sinks, and double bowl sinks. Undermount sinks are the preferred type of sink for a kitchen, along with an integrated bowl if applicable. You could also choose a farm sink which is simply an undermount sink with the front exposed. If you wash and handle pots and pans frequently, you would want a deeper bowl, somewhere between 8” and 9”. If you only wash smaller objects, like plates and silverware, and don’t want to have to reach down into the bowl as much, a 7” bowl is fine. If you wash dirty dishes and also do food prep in the same sink, go with an uneven double bowl, a large deep bowl for cleaning, and a smaller shallower bowl for food prep. If you wash a lot of dishes and host get-togethers frequently, consider an even double bowl for cleaning and a smaller bar sink for food prep somewhere else in the kitchen. And lastly, if you opt for a garbage disposal, go with a double bowl.
If you go with an undermount sink, you may be asked about what overhang you would like. When you have the choice, a flush or reveal cut out is best. A negative reveal, which is a smaller cutout hiding the edges of the sink, can look good, but you run into bacteria and chipping issues. Most fabricators do not offer this option. The standard would be a reveal, which keeps the counter protected from being hit by pots and pans.
There are many other sink materials not covered in this article, such as, copper, nickel, brass, fireclay, composite stones, etc. For these kinds of sinks, although they can be aesthetically pleasing, they generally are either impractical or very expensive. For the standard kitchen and bath, the materials covered in this article would be the most common and suitable.
Many dealers and fabricators often offer sink promotions with a potential countertop purchase. It’s always worth asking if there are any promotions for your particular job, especially if you are looking into a solid surface or quartz material. They can save you hundreds of dollars and save you the hassle of finding one yourself.