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Kitchen Sinks: A Buying Guide

Types of Kitchen Sinks

Before you make a final decision on which type of kitchen sink is best for your space, read this helpful guide to learn about the different styles and features of kitchen sinks.

Allora USA Kitchen SinksWhether you’re remodeling a kitchen or building a new home, choosing the right type of  kitchen sink is a bigger decision than you may think. After all, the choice of sink has an impact on construction & materials: the kitchen sink will determine what type of faucets you’ll need, how the plumbing will need to be configured/modified, the depth of the cabinetry, and even what type of material the countertop needs to be. If you are remodeling or renovating a kitchen, you should also factor in your home’s age and architectural style before making the decision on a type of sink for the kitchen.

Since the kitchen sink is the “centerpiece” of the kitchen countertop, you may be inclined to make your choice based primarily on appearance. However, the right kitchen sink is about more than what’s aesthetically pleasing; it must be functional, flow with the space, and be the right size for the cabinet. More importantly, the sink should match your personal cooking style and sink usage habits.

How You Use a Sink Means a Lot

Generally speaking, a kitchen sink should be proportional to the number of people that live in the home. A typical kitchen sink is usually sufficient to handle the cooking mess in households with one or two people. Small families often make big messes, so households with 3 or 4 folks might need a large kitchen sink with a deeper basin. But big families almost always make really, really big messes. Feeding a bunch of people requires many large pots, frying pans, mixing bowls, serving dishes, and utensils just to prep & cook the food. Even if you’re lucky to have a team of hungry folks helping “clean-as-you-cook”, the sink is going to be a crowded space. And — after everyone eats — all those dirty dishes have to go somewhere, right? So, it is easy to imagine that a household of 5 or more people needs a pretty substantial sink to handle the extra load.

Other than having the capacity to hold dirty dishes, the functionality of a sink is very important. If your kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher, you will want to consider a sink with two side-by-side basins — one to soak, and the other to wash — which will also hold a push-down or pull-out faucet. You may also want a sink with a built-in soap dispenser for hand soap, dish soap, or both.

A standard garbage disposal can be attached to nearly any kitchen sink on the market today. For double bowl sinks, standard sink strainers are placed in both drains, and the garbage disposal is mounted to the drain of either side. If you’ll be installing a garbage disposal, be sure to accommodate its size with your sink’s height and plumbing layout.

Each Type of Kitchen Sinks

Consider the sink to be the centerpiece of the kitchen countertop. Naturally, you’ll want the centerpiece to be beautiful, but don’t forget to focus on it’s functionality and usefulness.

Apron Front/Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse sinks have been around for a very long time. An apron or farmhouse style is a type of kitchen sink that is deep, making it a good choice for people who often cook with large pots. They’re characterized by very large bowls and exposed fronts that often overhang the cabinet. The cabinet base underneath will be shorter in order to accommodate the deeper sink.

Farmhouse and Apron Front sinks are usually available in stainless steel, fireclay, porcelain, and granite composite.

apron front farmhouse kitchen sinks

Undermount Sinks

Undermount sinks have recently become the most popular kitchen sinks for homeowners because of their sleek, modern appearance. As the name implies, undermount sinks are installed under the kitchen counter so that it does not have an exposed rim. The countertop material goes all the way to the edge of the bowl which makes cleaning much easier.

Undermount sinks are made primarily from stainless steel, but are also available in granite composite and fireclay (sometimes referred to as porcelain). These sinks have one or two bowls in varying depths and may have other custom features, like a special corner radius or offset center bowl divider.

Undermount kitchen sinks

Top Mount/Drop-In Sinks

The most common type of kitchen sink is the drop-in, or top-mount sink. Just like the name implies, these sinks are dropped into the countertop from above and held in place with screws. The raised edges rest on the countertop, which provides stability regardless of what material the counter is made from.

Drop-in / Top Mount sinks may have one or two bowls – possibly even different sized bowls – and come in varying depths. In most cases, the sink will have multiple holes for a kitchen faucet, sprayer, and even accessories like a soap dispenser.

Drop in top mount kitchen sinks

What Type of Kitchen Sink is Considered a Specialty?

Many kitchen spaces require the special functionality and features found in a specialty sink. So, what type of sinks are considered specialty sinks? The short answer is any sink that has these characteristics:

  • Sinks that meet ADA Compliance standards
  • An offset divider between the 2 bowls / basins
  • Bowl depths that are less than nine inches or over 10 inches
  • Dual bowl sinks where 1 basin is more shallow than the other
  • Sinks with unique, non-standard dimensions

How Many Bowls is Enough?

One of the most critical factors in your kitchen sink purchase is the number of bowls offered by the new sink.

Single Bowl / Basin

Single bowl models can be very large, such as farmhouse sinks, providing lots of space for dirty dishes and other needs. However, they may not be right for you, particularly if you wash dishes by hand.

Double Bowls

A double bowl sink is usually preferred by those who want to keep separate spaces in the sink, either for washing and rinsing, for dirty dishes and produce, or another combination of needs.

Specialty kitchen sinks

Choosing a Bowl Configuration

In most instances, a dual bowl sink has two basins of equal size. However, there are a wide variety of possible bowl configurations to fit your needs. You may benefit from a sink with a larger bowl on the right and a smaller bowl on the left – or maybe having one basic more shallow than the other. Allora USA has several options available…click here and see for yourself!

Materials of Sink Bowls / Basins

Most kitchen sinks are stainless steel sinks. You can also choose granite, copper, cast iron, clay, porcelain, composite, or acrylic. When picking a sink, consider the number of bowls, or basins. Think about the type of faucet you like and whether or not you want a pull-out hand sprayer.

Sink Gauge: the Importance of Thickness

The right thickness is important for durability, weight, and other considerations. Common gauges for stainless-steel sink construction include 16, 18, 21, and 22 gauge. The lower the number, the thicker the steel and the heavier the sink will be.

Sink and Cabinet Size Considerations

In addition to choosing the right type, you also need to choose the right size kitchen sink. This will depend on the size of the cabinet and counter. To measure this space, you’ll need to remove the old sink. Here’s what you need to measure and why:

  • Length and Width of the Hole: You need to make sure that whatever sink you get will fit in the cabinet, and this requires measuring the length and width of the existing hole. Of course, you can enlarge this hole if you want to install a larger sink. Sink lengths can range from under 20 inches all the way to 36 inches and longer.
  • Depth of Bowl: In addition to the hole’s length and width, you should measure the depth of the bowl(s) in the old sink so you can match it.
  • Plumbing Height: If you intend to install a sink with a much deeper bowl than what was previously installed, you will need to measure the height of the plumbing in the cabinet to make sure you have enough space. In some cases, you may need to replumb the drain to accommodate a very deep bowl.
  • Cabinet Size: Today, cabinets usually measure 35 to 36 inches including the countertop, but may be as short as 34.5 inches without the cabinet. However, older cabinets may be shorter than this. You will also need to consider countertop depth. The average depth is 25 inches from front to back, but custom counters may be significantly deeper.

Making the Decision on a Type of Kitchen Sink

When deciding on the type of kitchen sink, you should research to get answers to these 4 questions:

  1. What type of sink is ideal for the style & décor of the home?
  2. What type of functionality you’ll need today AND in the future?
  3. How durable is the countertop in which the sink will be installed?
  4. Are there any plumbing or construction limitations that will affect my choice of sink?

Whether you’re interested in a classic farmhouse sink, an elegant undermount option, or something else, Allora USA is your source for high-quality, durable kitchen sinks. Call 571-291-3484 and speak with our customer service department if you need any assistance!