You and the members of your household will most likely use the kitchen sink every day, whether for washing hands, prepping food, cleaning up, making drinks, or even washing the family dog! This means it needs to be durable, stain-resistant and the right size for all your needs, as well, of course, as complementing your kitchen’s look.
With this in mind, here’s a breakdown of some of the popular sink options available and important points to consider to help you work out what’s right for you and your home.
Think about how you’ll use it
Whether you’re starting a kitchen from scratch or just replacing your existing sink, you need to ensure the right size and shape for your needs. Don’t forget you want a sink that will make life easier, not harder. If you’re starting a design from scratch, it pays to think about your previous kitchen sinks and whether they met your needs or fell short.
Some things to consider include: was one bowl enough for your different needs? Was it big enough, both for you and for multiple users? Do you have a dishwasher you will use as well as the sink for washing-up? Did you like the look of it? Did you have drainer grooves and, if so, were these positioned on the right or left, according to your dominant hand? What are all the ways in which you think you might want to use the sink?
It would be a great idea to make a list of the answers to all of these questions, so your designer can advise accordingly. Find out the insider tips you need to design the perfect family kitchen.
Leave enough space
The space you have available for your sink will be determined by the size of your cabinetry and worktop, but it’s usually (though not always) best to keep the size of the sink in proportion with the rest of the kitchen.
A professional kitchen designer can suggest the options for your space, but in general, there should be 90cm on one side of the sink and at least 45cm on the other.
These are the minimum proportions for leaving sufficient worktop space. This aside, a lot of homeowners aim for a sink big enough that they can lay pans or oven trays flat at the bottom. For this, you need a bowl of approximately 50cm wide. Check out 10 ways to save energy (and money) in the kitchen
Get the right size and shape
Smaller sink sizes work well in smaller kitchens, as they are functional, can maximise the space and remain in proportion with the room. Single bowls are available in different sizes and shapes, including round, square, square with rounded corners, or corner sinks, which are often useful for odd-shaped layouts.
Alternatively, you might choose a one-and-a-half bowl, comprised of one full-size sink and a half size next to it. Separate sinks are handy for multi-tasking, such as washing hands in one while veggies soak in the other.
A further option is a double sink, consisting of two sinks side by side, or even a triple sink with three. With multiple sinks, the size and depth of each bowl can vary, depending on preference and needs. For example, wider sinks are good – if you have the space – as they are easier for multiple users to work at simultaneously. Bear in mind, though, that the bigger the sink, the greater the cost, and the less working space you’ll have elsewhere in the kitchen.
Decide whether to top-mount or under-mount
Traditionally, sinks are fitted so they sit on top of the worktop; this is called a top-mount or inset sink. These sinks have a rim or lip that protrudes above the height of the work surface and are beneficial as they usually come with a drainer. Alternatively, the sink can be recessed or mounted below the worktop for a seamless fit without a visible rim, as seen in this space. This style is called an under-mount sink.
While not suitable for every worktop material (such as laminate, where only the surface of the worktop is watertight and designed to be on view), under-mounts are beneficial, as they free up more worktop space and can be easier to keep clean – there’s no exposed rim, so you can wipe any crumbs or spills straight into the sink. Under-mount sinks, such as the Silgranit design pictured, complement the popular minimalist kitchen look.
You can take this one step further by choosing a moulded sink in a solid surface material such as Corian. This option lets you create an uninterrupted flow of worktop and sink for a stylish, elegant and contemporary look.
Sink Materials and Styles Stainless steel
Any child of the 1980s, like me, will be all too familiar with the stainless-steel sink, but modern versions have evolved and now make a striking statement. They work with just about every kitchen style and look especially good in an industrial-themed space.
Less expensive than other materials, stainless steel is practical for sinks; it makes for a hard-wearing design that’s resistant to cracking or chipping (although the thinner grades of steel can scratch, so be sure to opt for a good-quality stainless steel of 0.7mm or greater). Stainless steel is also beneficial as it doesn’t harbour bacteria and is easy to clean, although it’s worth noting that stainless steel sinks can show up water marks, discolouration from limescale, drip marks and smears. This is easily avoidable if you’re prepared to take the time to dry it after every use.
Composite sinks are engineered by combining crushed granite or quartz with a resin filler. Silgranit sinks are a composite sink consisting of 80% quartz sand, the hardest element of granite.
This makes them scratch, stain and heat resistant or, in other words, very easy to maintain – and you don’t get the smears of stainless steel after use.
These sinks are available in a wide range of different sizes, shapes and colours. They share many of the same aesthetic qualities as real quartz or granite, and one of the beauties of the many colours is you can create a deliberate contrast with your worktop, as seen here, or else blend your colours for a flowing look.
Ceramic butler and Belfast
Although with this style of sink there are fewer colours to choose from, there are lots of styles available for ceramic sinks and they can be either top-mounted or under-mounted, depending on your preference.
Ceramic and porcelain sinks remain a classic kitchen choice and include the popular Belfast and butler sinks. These are typically (but not always) large, single-bowl sinks and both are usually 600mm wide and 460mm front to back.
As its name implies, the butler sink (sometimes called a London sink) was traditionally used by household butlers. It differs from the Belfast sink because the original design had no overflow to prevent water wastage. Butler sinks were traditionally shallower than Belfast sinks, although both styles are deeper than standard sinks, which makes them practical for tasks such as handwashing clothes and dishes – and traditionally they were also used for bathing babies!
These sinks have a hard, smooth glazed surface, which makes them easy to clean. They are also heat and scratch resistant, but they can chip or crack. They might also break your glassware, should you accidentally drop it into your sink.
Ceramic farmhouse and apron
A similar style to the butler and Belfast is the French farmhouse sink. Again, these sinks have greater depth than other styles, and the main difference here is French farmhouse sinks are made from a different type of clay, so have thinner “walls”. Some say this contributes to a less chunky, more elegant look. They’re beautiful as well as robust, and are well placed in both modern and traditional homes.
This is also true of the apron sink. This version is slightly different from the farmhouse as it’s finished only on the front, rather than on all four sides. With these ceramics, the sink tends to sit further away from the back of the worktop, which makes it a particularly good choice for shorter users, including children. These styles are all considerably more expensive and so a great investment if you plan to keep your sink long-term, but not so much if you’re someone who regularly likes to update and change their kitchen.
Generally made from a mix of minerals and resin, solid surface, such as Corian and Hi-Macs, is extremely hygienic due to its non-porous surface, which is resistant to bacteria and mould. It’s available in a choice of colours and, as mentioned earlier, can also be used to create a moulded sink that flows with the worktop, as here – ideal in a minimalist scheme.
If you’re considering solid surface, however, bear in mind it’s one of the more expensive sink options. It’s also not as heat-resistant as materials such as granite, so remember not to place any hot pans directly on it.
Of course, if you want to make an eye-catching feature of your kitchen sink, there are alternative materials you can choose, such as copper (as pictured), cast iron, concrete, granite or toughened glass.
If you’re opting for an extra-large sink (see the earlier points about proportion), then it’s usually best to make a deliberate feature of this, since an oversized sink won’t go unnoticed. Another statement sink option is the linear sink trough; beautiful for kitchen islands, these can be filled with ice to cool bottles to impress all your guests at a party (a great way to encourage people to help themselves to drinks).
Don’t forget the taps
Of course, no sink is complete without taps and most people choose these to complement their sink. Not all sinks come with cut-outs for taps, so it’s worth checking what is and isn’t included with the cost of your preferred model in order to avoid any unwelcome surprises in relation to the cost.
Finally, you might also consider a sink with integrated waste disposal. These aren’t for everyone, but can prove a great way of disposing of food waste to prevent any lingering food smells in your kitchen.