Kitchen Sink Buying Guide
One of the focal elements of any kitchen, the sink is used for food preparation, washing, rinsing and cleaning. Your kitchen sink should reflect your personal needs and style.
When it comes to buying a kitchen sink, there’s a lot to consider from the shape and size to whether you are purchasing just the sink. It can be a little confusing if you’ve never bought a fitting for your kitchen, but Plumbworld is here to help you out.
We’ll guide you through the types of kitchen sink, styles and what to consider when buying either just a basin or an entire kitchen suite. We’ll also discuss taps and the impact they have on the sink you choose for your kitchen.
Read on to find out all about kitchen sinks in our complete guide…
What is a kitchen sink?
A kitchen sink is simply a bowl-shaped component which is used with a tap and waste. It can be used to wash and rinse items either before, during or after the preparation of food. A kitchen sink can also be used for washing dishes or cleaning clothes.
How is it different from a basin?
Technically, a sink belongs only in a kitchen and basin in a bathroom. Kitchen sinks are often larger than bathroom basins and come with extra features because of their functionality.
These can include a draining board for drying dishes and cutlery or a second, smaller bowl, for rinsing items. Think of a kitchen sink as a multipurpose appliance and you see the difference - you can do a lot more with a sink than a basin, which is why they’re made differently.
What are kitchen sinks made from?
Kitchen sinks have to stand up to everything you can think of in a kitchen, from high temperatures to oils and dirt from your cooking - even chemicals from cleaning.
The most common kitchen sinks are made from stainless steel or ceramic but you will also find composite, glass or even copper sinks. They all have their own benefits when it comes to cleaning, durability and scratch resistance. We’ve detailed each one below.
One of the most popular and contemporary looking kitchen sink options. Easy to coordinate with other stainless steel appliances, these sinks benefit from durability, ease of cleaning, and being less scratch-resistant than other materials. The finish can dull from staining, but it can easily be removed by going over the surface with steel wool and cleaner.
Composite kitchen sinks are becoming more popular in the UK. Composite sinks add a real touch of personality to kitchens with a range of colour and versatility when it comes to bowl and drainer quantities and sizes. Extremely hard wearing and scratch-resistant, they are made from a mixture of materials, often including a resin, to replicate granite or another stone. Composite sinks can benefit from a hygienic coating to kill bacteria.
Ceramic sinks can provide a much more versatile and traditional look to the kitchen, especially where contrasting colours or classical fittings are used. Durability and ease of cleaning are similar to stainless steel sinks with the added bonus of being even more resistant to chemicals as well as heat, scratch and stain-resistant. Ceramic sinks look great in more traditional properties with Belfast sinks being a firm favourite in UK farmhouse kitchens.
Having a glass kitchen sink may sound like a risk but they’re a lot tougher than you’d think. Like ceramic sinks, they’re very resistant to chemicals and scratching but they’re also not affected by heavy bangs or heat damage. The glass is tempered for added safety and ensures the surface is always easy to wipe clean - ideal for a kitchen.
Copper is quite an unusual material to be used for kitchen sinks but they can be found in many homes. They’re normally manufactured from hammered copper which gives them a classical, timeless appearance. They’re sealed to stop any corrosion, otherwise, polishing with wax may be required, and they can come in a variety of different colour shades.
What are the types of kitchen sink?
When we say the ‘types of kitchen sink’ we actually mean how it’s mounted to or on your kitchen worktop. There are three types of kitchen sink, including inset, under-mounted and Belfast sinks. We’ve detailed each below.
Inset sinks are a straightforward and easy way to fit a kitchen sink - the sink slots into the gap in your worktop. The edges of the sink will sit on top of the surface creating a slight lip.
Inset sinks come in many different materials, sizes, colours and designs. The main benefit of an inset sink is you can use one with any kitchen worktop, so you don’t have to worry about choosing the wrong one. Most inset sinks have a built-in drainer board on the side, allowing for your dishes to easily dry, ready for use.
Under-mounted sinks are fantastic for saving space and creating a minimalist look in your kitchen with clean lines. Under-mount sinks don’t have a drainer, which makes them ideal for smaller kitchens.
With under-mounted sinks, you need a solid surface such as granite or stone, to support the sink. So, a laminate worktop won’t be strong enough to support the weight. Stainless steel under-mounted sinks should be fine to use with any worktop but always check with an installer before carrying out the work.
The main benefit with under-mounted sinks is the lack of a lip edge that can collect debris and dirt. This can be swept straight into the sink making for easy cleaning.
What is a Belfast Sink?
A Belfast sink looks like a large bathroom basin that sits directly on your kitchen cabinet. The traditional open-front design creates a country feel in your kitchen, especially with most made from white ceramic.
Ceramic Belfast sinks are extremely heavy, weighing anything up to 75kg without water. So, you need to make sure you have a solid surface worktop, such as granite, stone or solid wood to support the weight. Just like undermount sinks they are super easy to keep clean due to there being no edge.
What is a Butler sink?
You may have seen these sinks and thought they’re similar or a type of Belfast sink. Well, they are. A Butler sink is very similar to a Belfast sink, in that they’re both made from ceramic. However, the original Butler sink design didn’t allow for an overflow, to conserve fresh water. So, Butler sinks will often be shallower in design than a Belfast sink.
What are the kitchen sink sizes?
Again, this is a bit of a misleading question as kitchen sink sizes often refers to the number of bowls. You can buy kitchen sinks with either 1, 1.5 or 2 bowls. This allows you to choose whichever is best for your kitchen. A larger kitchen may benefit from two bowls, where one bowl may be more than enough for smaller kitchens.
This is the standard kitchen sink and is perfect for washing dishes and doesn’t take up too much space, making it a good choice for smaller kitchens.
If you need a little extra space, you can also get 1.5 bowl sinks. These feature one large bowl and a smaller bowl next to it. The smaller bowl is ideal for things such as peeling vegetables or pouring drinks away when the larger bowl is in use or full.
2 bowl sinks are exactly that, two large bowls. This allows you to multi-task which is particularly useful when you have a large group to cater for. One bowl can be used to soak dishes while the other can be used to wash and prepare food. An excellent choice for larger kitchens.
What to consider when buying a kitchen sink
When choosing a new kitchen sink, you want to make sure you pick one that will work well with the design of your room, as you don’t want to put an aesthetic clash. But there are other things to consider, questions to ask yourself.
How much will you use it?
If you regularly wash pots and pans or don’t have a dishwasher, it is worth buying a larger sink with a draining board or even a rinser bowl. A rinser bowl is what makes up the half of a 1.5 bowl. However, if you simply use your sink for rinsing, a smaller model may be best.
What style are you going for?
If you’re looking for a modern or contemporary style, a simple stainless steel sink or composite design will be best, especially when paired with a sleek tap. For traditional kitchens, a ceramic under-mount or a Belfast sink would be ideal.
Which taps are best with a kitchen sink?
This largely comes down to styling and the water system in your home. In terms of styling, there are modern and traditional options. Some come in stainless steel or colour options, such as black, copper and gold. Traditional kitchen taps feature levers or crosshead handles with porcelain-style touches.
Read more: Kitchen Tap Buying Guide
You will need to understand your home’s water pressure. There’s not much point buying the first tap see, only for it to be incompatible and fail to deliver the performance you need. The type of water system you have will determine your choice of kitchen tap, because you could end up with a very weak flow of hot water.
Is it a replacement sink or part of a new kitchen?
If you’re simply replacing an old kitchen sink, you’ll need to consider the size, shape and type of fitting before buying a sink - you don’t want it to be too big or small. If it’s part of a new kitchen suite, this will give you more freedom when it comes to choosing and buying.
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