What is a stainless steel sink? Beginners Guide to Steel Sinks
Choosing the right sink can always be a bit overwhelming. How can you tell which has the higher quality? Which size is appropriate for your house and how much should you spend? Well, hopefully this guide can show you what to look for when choosing a sink for your home and better inform you of where you should spend your money.
What is a stainless-steel sink
A stainless steel sink is a sink that is made by bending or molding steel until it is seamless. The result is a sink that is highly durable and can easily withstand a great deal of punishment while still lasting several lifetimes. Since it is easily malleable compared to other materials, stainless steel sinks can be formed to fit into almost any shape profile or mold you desire, so long as you are willing to pay for it. Lastly, since the surface is polished steel, cleaning a stainless steel sink is quite a great deal easier when compared to other materials such as granite or porcelain.
Types of stainless steel sinks
As stainless steel is quite malleable or easy to manipulate, it comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit your lifestyle. If you have a more busy household, farmhouse style can easily suit your needs with it’s larger, more robust size-the size that many professional kitchens often use. On the opposite end, there are smaller, more delicate sizes for more simple tasks in your kitchen such as the single or drop in sinks.
One of the largest sink sizes on the market, Farmhouse style sinks were designed in a time where running water was less readily available. So the design was created with the idea of holding water on one side of the sink while the other is used for washing and cleaning-everything from dishes, food and sometimes small children. Today, it still fills a more practical use especially for large kitchens where you can easily wash large pots and pans in a comfortable area when compared to other sink sizes available, plus it adds a more rustic, country kitchen feel to your home. For those that have very busy kitchens, Farmhouse size should be something to consider.
Undermount sinks are designed to be installed from the bottom of your countertop. The result of this design is a contiguous or seamless flow from your counter to your sink without any lip or extrusions that may catch dirt or food particles along the way. Another benefit is that it saves space as it is installed underneath your countertop, having it flush with the rest of your counter and therefore, making it more attractive in a more minimalist appearance. The trade off is that undermount sinks are usually more expensive compared to your typical drop in sinks.
As the name specifies, drop in sinks are sinks that are literally “dropped in” an area of the countertop of a carved out recess. Since this method is very easy, the price of drop-in sinks are usually very affordable and many are DIY. The tradeoff for this is that drop-in sinks are more intrusive, space wise, since the lip rests on the countertop, allowing dirt and other food particles to slip into the cracks.
Single, Double and Triple Bowl
For those that have a busy kitchen and can’t afford the space for a farmhouse style or just want a unique look, there is the bowl design. Available in either drop in or undermount variants, this sink style allows you to separate your sink into different functions. A small bowl for washing up, and two larger ones on the side for more robust tasks such as dish washing or cook preparation. Alternatively, if you don’t need a large sink at all in your kitchen, even just a small bowl sink can be quite attractive and still suit your everyday needs.
The Different Gauges
A gauge refers to the thickness of the steel in your sink. The higher the number, the thinner the steel content in your sink is. For instance, a 16 gauge sink is almost twice as thick and durable as a 22 gauge sink. That being said, different gauges are generally for different sink sizes. Thinner gauges, while less durable, are more ideal for smaller sinks where as thicker gauges are meant for larger to medium sized sinks. For everyday use, 16 or 18 should be your target gauge, because 20 and above is when the metal is more prone to denting in addition to not being able to withstand the vibrations of a garbage compactor.
How much do stainless steel sinks cost?
Stainless steel sinks start around $70 and can climb upwards to $1,000 and beyond. Drop-in styles float around $150-300 while undermount sinks are priced anywhere from $200-500. The largest factor when comparing price will of course be the gauge of the steel itself. The thicker the steel is, or the lower the gauge number is, the more expensive the sink will be. After gauge, other factors such as the style, size, material quality and the name brand come into effect.
What are the most common sizes of stainless steel sinks?
An average kitchen sink measures anywhere between 17-30 inches with a depth anywhere between 8-10 inches. On the smaller end of the spectrum you have anywhere from 10-17 inches, which would make for a smaller sink-a useful size for bowl or basin sinks. Farmhouse sinks are much larger, starting at 24 inches and can grow to 50 inches and beyond. The largest would mostly be the double and triple bowl, coming in with 48 and 60 inches respectively. more useful for bowl or basin sized sinks. Larger sinks start at around 24 inches
Are their different grades of stainless steel?
Yes, there are different grades of stainless steel. Stainless steel is comprised of both chromium and nickel. The higher the percentage of each of these elements is present, the higher that particular grade of steel is. Typically this is in line with the gauge of the sink itself: lower gauges will give you thicker steel or higher quality steel whereas higher gauges will produce thinner steel or less durable steel.
What are common brands for stainless steel sinks?
For brands, the more well known would be American, Kohler, Blanco, Kraus and Frigidaire. This of course doesn’t mean there aren’t more noteworthy brands on the market such as Ruvati and Swanstone, but most importantly, understand the gauge of the sink you are purchasing and the grade of the steel before purchasing your sink.
Granite vs stainless steel sinks
Granite sinks are the much prettier and aesthetically pleasing of most sink materials on the market. Installing one in your home will generally draw a fair deal of compliments and attention whenever anyone enters your kitchen or home. That is about the only positive to Granite as a material however, as they tend to weigh more than other sinks-creating more complications in terms of installation and additional weight supports in your countertop are required. The material is durable, but it requires special maintenance and cleaning as normal cleaners will discolor and harm the material itself. It also cannot handle drops from heavy impacts, so please be careful with your granite sink. Lastly is the topic of price-Granite for its luster, requires a hefty asking price compared to stainless steel. Stainless steel on the other hand, is just as durable, more versatile in function-you can drop whatever you like and it will be fine, and is much more affordable. There are drawbacks to stainless steel however, as the primary is it’s lack of aesthetic value-it only has one appearance/color. Noise is another, as Granite is significantly quieter than Stainless steel which is quite loud-only made worse by constanting banging of pots and pans in addition to the friction of cleaning.
Benefits of Granite
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Comes in different styles and colors
Cons of Granite
- Heavier/Harder Installation
- Less Durable
- Harder to clean
Benefits of Stainless Steel
- Very Durable
- Ease of install
- Easier to clean
Cons of Stainless Steel
- Only one look/color
- Very loud/noisy
Do stainless steel sinks require a lot of care?
Upkeep on your stainless steel sink is relatively straightforward-you want to clean with water, vinegar and baking soda. Refrain from using abrasive cleaners and use a soft sponge to clean the surface of it. The material itself is easy to clean so long as soap, detergent or any less harsh chemicals are applied. Avoid leaving water deposits as it will discolor the material if not properly dried. After a hard wipe down of your cleaning agent, make sure to wipe your sink dry to avoid any lingering water deposits.
Do they scratch easily?
Stainless steel typically does not scratch from normal impacts or heavy objects made in contact with it. However, if the steel is thin, scratches may start to develop through general use. In addition, the thinner it is, steel cannot handle high vibrations, so something like a garbage compactor may dislodge or warp aspects of the material. Also, avoid using highly abrasive cleaners as it will undoubtedly scratch the surface of your steel.
How easy are they to install?
For drop-in styles, home installation is very straightforward. For farmhouse and undermount sinks however, you may want to look into a professional as these styles tend to be heavier and larger in size, requiring more support from your counter. While it may not be as heavy as Granite, Stainless steel sinks still tend to be quite heavy, so keep your safety in mind when attempting home installation.
When choosing a stainless steel sink for your home, always keep in mind the quality of the steel you are purchasing and the size that is the best fit for your home. Stainless steel sinks prioritize practicality over aesthetics, so keep that in mind when purchasing one. While it may not look the prettiest, it will provide you a sink that is highly durable, affordable and is an excellent addition to a busy kitchen.