Comprehensive Stainless Steel Sinks Reviews
It would be irrational for anyone to overlook quality when it comes to buying kitchen sinks. Undeniably, a kitchen sink is not only an essential but a constantly in use component of any kitchen. There was a time when stainless steel, as a newly introduced material, was considered special for kitchen sinks, regardless of the size, shape, and type. It was a royal choice!
Although many materials are available to make kitchen sinks, stainless steel is still a wise material to choose. Even today, several home owners prefer stainless kitchen sinks because such a construction material is easy to maintain, gels with any décor, has a non-porous surface for keeping germs away, and is almost rust-free (as per the included chromium and nickel quantities). However today, the choices are abundant, as they have evolved significantly since the 20th century.
Despite the variety of choices, they boast lasting qualities due to which they are better for just about any kind of kitchen. Their appearance is matchless and changeless as well as complements other appliances in steel due to neutral touch.
These sinks are rugged and durable but it is the construction’s quality that decides the longevity and gratifying performance. Living up to its name, stainless steel remains resistant to stains and corrosion for several years. Another quality is that it is stronger and lighter in weight than other metals.
While these are common benefits, each sink has something uniquely appealing. While some have a cool design and shape, a few are available at discounted price. So, it is the assortment of choices that can lead to confusion when it comes to finding the best stainless steel sinks. However, it is important to bear in mind that the cheap models are not always the best.
For choosing the best stainless steel kitchen sinks, it is vital to take some time and think calmly by considering the major factors, such as sink type, steel type, thickness, size, and finish. Such factors tend to affect your buying decision such that you select the most suitable sink for your kitchen. This is exactly what this guide will help you in!
This buying guide dedicated to stainless sinks introduces you with all the buying factors that you require for comparing different sinks of steel. Obviously, you should consider the frequency of using the sink and the manner in which it will be used. These two factors are the foundation of comparing other factors, which make you choose a sink that can withstand any usage style. Another important factor to consider is care and maintenance, especially if you are conscious about how the sink is going appear over time.
Here is a comparison table for sinks in the market:
Best Stainless Steel Sinks 2017
33 x 22 x 10 inches
35.9 x 20.8 x 10 inches
36 x 21 x 10 inches
32.8 x 19 x 10 inches
35 x 24 x 10.5 inches
Exploring Stainless Steel from Inside Out
Composition: Stainless steel is a type of steel that is mixed with other elements to form an alloy, for obtaining more beneficial qualities than what it would have without mixing. In clear terms, it is alloyed with two important elements namely, nickel and chromium, which improve the overall quality of steel, for ensuring corrosion resistance as well as strength.
Technically, stainless steel has low amount of carbon and is enhanced with at least 10% chromium in terms of weight. Due to chromium, this steel gains the property of resistance against stains and corrosion. This is because a layer of chromium oxide is formed on its steel surface, which if scratched, triggers oxidation of metal below for replacing the layer. On steel, oxidation retains the pretty metallic looks. Moreover, chromium is also responsible for the sparkle.
Stainless sinks come with a label that states the amount of nickel and chromium in the steel. Usually, this ratio is 18:8, 18/8, or something similar, which indicates 18% chromium and 8% nickel in steel. Similarly, you will find many such steel compositions. The higher this ratio or percentage, the better is the steel’s grade. Generally, good quality steel has a composition ratio ranging from 18:8 to 20:10.
The grade is usually mentioned in the form of a series number. This aforementioned 18:8 composition has a series number of 304 whose sinks are finest ones, while most steel sinks belong to the 300 series. Considering the grade, the most commonly used stainless steel sinks grades are T-201 and T-304.
The T-201 grade has 16% to 18% chromium along with nickel being 3.5% to 5.5%. Kitchen sinks made up of this quality of steel are less durable but cheaper in terms of price. On such metal, the household detergents are quite aggressive.
On the other hand, T-304 grade is composed of 18% to 20% chromium along with nickel being 8% to 11%. Such a steel is more durable and is less prone to stain or discoloration, provided it does not come under extreme heat. This steel also does not rust and is irresponsive to a majority of household chemicals.
In short, the point to note here is that by comprehending the key characteristics of this steel, it becomes easier to judge the quality of kitchen sinks at the time of comparing their specifications as well as brands.
Gauge (Thickness): Gauge is the metal’s thickness. The thicker the metal, the sturdier and costlier is the sink. Similarly, the smaller the gauge number, the thicker is the material. This seems to be counter-intuitive but it is established in this way.
Several gauges are considered for making sinks, starting with the thinnest 23-gauge material to the thickest 16-gauge option. This means that the 16 gauge stainless steel sink is perhaps the sturdiest one but good quality sinks can even have 16 to 18 gauge range. That is a point to consider while looking for sinks.
The advantage of thicker steel is that it is more resistant to dents as well as dings. At the same time, it is less noisy than a thinner equivalent as well as more robust for handling stuff such as vibration coupled with disposing garbage.
According to the guide from Consumer Reports, gauge thickness does not contribute to resistance to scratches and dents or sound attenuation, which was as per the findings of their tests. However, this might not be applicable to all sinks, as it also depends on what you finally want for the price you pay.
Just a quick search online will show you that a 22 gauge bowl sink and an 18 gauge sink of the same size has a price difference of almost 80 dollars, with the latter being costlier. This might be significant for those on a tight budget.
However, it is fair to state that this price difference is not big for gaining more thickness. If quality matters, having more thickness is important, as it is an indicator of quality despite what the other findings say. Here is a brief description of different gauges to consider:
- 16 Gauge (Approx 0.0625 Inches): Is the thickest one, probably reflecting the best finish as well as sound deadening.
- 18 Gauge (Approx 0.05 Inches): Is most famous for lavatory and high end kitchen sinks and reflects nice satin finish with good sound deadening ability. Sinks of this gauge are available in almost every size and shape. Most sinks with fine finishes belong to this gauge, usually.
- 20 Gauge (Approx 0.0375 Inches): Is most commonly seen in home centers with okay finish. However, these sinks are a bit rougher and tend to have coarser grains. Furthermore, the assortment of sizes and shapes is limited as compared to 18 gauge sinks.
- 23 Gauge (Approx 0.028 Inches): Is the thinnest gauge and usually seen in cheaper sinks. The range of shapes and sizes available for such sinks is also limited.
Insulation and Coatings: An inherent con of any stainless steel is its profound ability to send out sound. If you have ever experienced the sound while dropping a glass or mug in a cheap steel sink, you can recall that it sounds much as a gong. However, not all modern steel sinks are equal in transmitting sound.
Most modern sinks in kitchen can be installed with sound insulation and coatings for dampening sound. These coatings also help in lessening condensation buildup at the sink’s bottom, which can otherwise result in moisture issues in the base cabinet. While not all sinks have this feature, it is worth having it for lessening the tinny sound that is common to hear if a thinner gauge sink is used.
Proprietary sound deadening becomes better with higher price point. For example, a sink having an entry price point has an undercoating sprinkled at its bottom, while the one with a mid price point has the same undercoating even at the sides and under the whole bowl. The latter option is quite popular to start with among homeowners.
You also get sinks at high end price, with a thicker undercoating in all three places. The rest of the sinks are available at a premium price, for which you also get vibration isolation pads in tactical areas under the sink for maximizing the deadening property.
It is worthy to keep in mind that these different undercoating levels are by no means a standard amongst the manufacturers. Thus, it is better to ask your supplier or plumbing expert.
Finish: This aspect indicates the smoothness of surface that the stainless steel possesses. You will mostly find mirror finish, which features a very smooth surface and high polish. There is also another option of brushed finish, which has a more frosted and duller look. Leaving mirror polish aside; most finishes showcase a uniform grain orientation cropping up due to the process of brushing or finishing.
Care & Maintenance: Although cleaning the sink is easy, it is essential to know how to clean it so that you can retain its beauty as well as luster with time while preventing probable issues with regards to finish. For this, you should consider many factors. First is the cleaning and care instructions from the manufacturer, following which ensures you do not take a wrong step to damage the sink or void the valid warranty. These instructions among most manufacturers are pretty much the same.
Second is type of cleaners. You should be cautious while choosing more aggressive scrubbing techniques as well as cleaners or otherwise you will be facing marring or scratching on the surface. Moreover, you have to scrub in the direction of steel’s grain so that there are no resulting smudges and scratches.
It is vital to know that stainless steel does not like chloride compounds, most of which are included in several cleaners, soaps, and detergents. These cleansers can easily ruin the surface of the metal. However, on the positive side, these chlorides are soluble in water, so rinsing them thoroughly out the sink should keep all such issues at bay. You should also not use steel wool for scrubbing, as tiny bits from the rubbing pad might get added to the steel surface and result in rust stains.
Lastly, you might have to face the common problem of water spotting as well as dullness, which is mostly unavoidable with this sink. This is the main reason why you will find people who do not like stainless steel sinks. Such sinks appear quite messy within short of use, if you fail to you wipe it after every use, which is actually irritating.
In absence of such cleaning, it takes no time for the sink to show soap scrum as well as water spots. This does not matter to those who are fine with it. In short, one thing is clear – for having a showroom-clean sink for long time, some daily maintenance is indispensable.
Also, this video shows the weaknesses of different materials of kitchen sinks:
Now that you know the basics of the metal, here are some pros and cons to remember before you make your buying decisions.
- Widest selection of sizes, designs, styles, and gauges for matching to any kitchen style, ranging from conventional to modern
- Resistant to stain, corrosion, heat (from hot and boiling stuff), and even to acidic content to retain pretty looks and durability
- Healthy, as it does not invite bacteria due to its non-porous surface
- Eco-friendly, as recycled sinks contain up to 80% recycled steel
- Affordable, although costlier and stylish options are available
- A bit dull as compared to granite or copper
- Noisier than composite or porcelain although the higher end steel sinks are padded or coated for noise reduction
- Possibility of denting easily, if the gauge is thinner
- No gleam maintenance despite having a mirror finish option that sparkles matchlessly (although satin or brushes finish ensures gleaming)
Influencing Factors: Buying Guide
A stainless steel sink kitchen is the best choice for anyone who needs a sturdy, well designed, and long lasting sink capable of serving for several years without being damaged. As usual and just like any buyer, most of us tend to consider style and design, and give them topmost priority.
However, it is wise to understand that when it comes to selecting any kitchen accessory such as a sink or faucet, nothing else can gauge the overall quality, except for the material. This is perhaps because it is the material that has a distinct strength of withstanding abuses, especially when we are habituated to throw utensils severely into the sink.
As a fact, it is an important although a time consuming task to purchase the best sink. Anybody who wishes to remodel, refurbish, reorganize an existing kitchen or build a new one from scratch does have a few questions regarding how to choose a sink and which one is really the best. Well, for that, it is essential to consider the different buying factors. Let’s check each of them!
Well, believe it or not, it is essential to choose the right brand that is famous for its both quality and price. Above all, it should be specialized in offering the type of steel sink you need for your kitchen or lavatory.
The good news is that almost all best brands make steel sinks, unless it is specialized in specialty materials such as fireclay or copper. Some of the top rated brands to consider are Kraus, Houzer, Moen, Kohler, Franke, Blanco, Elkay, Zuhne, Menards, Revere, Vigo, and Ticor.
Structure and Design
Once the brand is fixed, the next step is to conduct a preliminary inspection about the structural elements and configuration. Before buying any lavatory or kitchen sink, you should be initially aware about the structural design and how it has been set up to work along with the included feature for ensuring efficiency as well as ease.
It is essential to concentrate on the various aspects and find out how the promising sink will be an easy fit and simple for use. This will also give you an idea of how much time you will take to get used to the different features.
Consider looking at the physical features such as depth, size, and width. You will come across different kitchen sink sizes such as small, medium, or large; but you should choose the exact size. This size is the one that will best fit in the designated area or shelf where sink will be installed.
It is necessary to, therefore, know the dimensions of the place of installation and choose the sink’s size for ensuring a perfect fit accordingly. In case the sink is not a perfect fit, you will unnecessarily face the trouble of making it fit as per the place’s dimensions.
Usually, most cabinets and shelves in kitchen possess a width of around 25″ to 26″ as well as a height of around 32″ to 42″. Considering this, you can select a sink with variable depth as well as length as per the usage. For instance, if a sink is required for heavy usage, a larger sink is a more suitable option than a medium-sized one. On the other hand, if you need a sink just for washing veggies or hands, a small stainless steel sink is suitable. Most sinks have a width ranging from 15″ to 40″+, while the depth is from 6″ to 12″. The rule here is that the more the capacity, the costlier the sink.
In short, you should choose the size and design as per your usage requirements. Moreover, do also consider the garbage basket setup as well as the configuration of tap holes. You also need to look out the configuration choices such as single, double, and triple sinks, which are also known as single-bowl, double-bowl, and triple-bowl, respectively.
This is the third item to consider once the above factors are analyzed. It has been already discussed that the gauge is a critical aspect that helps in gauging the sturdiness as well as durability of the sink under review. Just consider choosing a low gauge value for better sturdiness, thickness, as well as durability.
If you are on tight budget, it is essential for you to know that the size, configuration, mounting style or type of sink, and gauge affect the final price of a sink. Therefore, you need to prioritize these factors and choose accordingly. Let’s now explore the style and mounting style factors.
Sink Type or Mounting Style
Regardless of whether you are building a new kitchen or revamping the existing sink in the kitchen, it is desirable for you to consider the type of installation or mounting style that can work with the chosen place of installation. Mounting style refers to the sink’s capability to get mounted or fixed on the counter top or shelf. Usually, there are three types of installations due to which you find three types of kitchen sinks, described below.
Top Mount/Drop-in: In this style, you can see the sink’s lips on the counter top. You get a solid, secure looking sink through a really easy installation procedure. Just as the name indicates, you simply need to put the sink on the rightly cut shelf. Such sinks are available in two variations namely, self-rimming and rimmed. The former sinks are installed by just placing it on the shelf and fixing with the help of screws and clips beneath the shelf. On the other hand, the rimmed sinks boast a joint with a rim cover to hide the joint as well as appropriately fix the sink. While the installation of top mount sinks is easy, you need to consider a few things.
First, you need to check out the counter’s size before buying the sink. This is because if the depth is not big enough, installing the clips will be problematic. Top mount sinks come with a special channel on each side of the underside. The clips glide into this channel. By tightening the clips, you are actually fixing the sink to the counter top as well as spreading a silicone sealant evenly under the lip.
You can even feel like using a sealant instead of clips. However, an effective seal can withstand against additional moisture from the counter top leaking below into the cabinet or cupboard, and there are two drawbacks. First is chance of movement if the sink is not tightened fittingly, especially if there is a garbage disposal unit. The movement occurs due to the vibrations of, say pipes, if the clips are not used.
Second, the appearance can be affected. The sink corners may appear to be lifted or one side can appear higher. This is because it is difficult to ensure even spread of sealant. This calls for the clips pressure. Thus, it is more efficient to use clips than any sealant.
You may not use the clips if you are mounting the stainless steel countertop with sink. This is because you are bound to have a tighter fit but you will need to replace the top in case of changing the sink.
Undermount: The undermount stainless sink comes with a more sophisticated appearance because of the rim being below the counter. The sight is of a non-stop flow from the countertop falling into the steel bowl.
However, installation of stainless steel undermount sink is a bit tricky and that this mounting style is available only for a few counter top surfaces. The countertop has to be made up of a solid material such as quartz or granite, and not laminated tops, for holding kitchen sinks stainless steel undermount. This is because the top’s edge is the steel bowl’s top rim. A counter top material such as laminate finally soaks up moisture for resulting in damage.
Even for stainless steel sinks undermount, installation clips are indispensable. There is no possibility to depend on a sealant or adhesive for maintenance of stainless steel undermount kitchen sinks. You need to use both clips and epoxy for holding the stainless undermount sink tightly in place and keeping gravity away from leading to shifts and possible tragedy. Obviously, you should ensure adequate clearance for proper installation of clips. This is easier in case the countertop is new but a reinstall of countertop requires you to give some efforts.
In terms of sight or view, there are three options for you to consider, each being different as to how far is the countertop with respect to the sink. First, the sink side and countertop looks even, which gives an appearance of incessant drop. A small silicone bead prevents water from getting in between where the undermount stainless steel sink and countertop meet. This view has a sleek appearance as well.
Second, you have a slightly recessing countertop from the steel’s edge. This is a choice for those who are also investing in a cutting board fitting over a bowl by sitting on the steel’s edge, for ensuring a secure place for cutting veggies. This gives you an extra, functional space although the appearance is not that sleek.
Lastly, you can have the countertop hanging over the sink’s side. This look is also a bit different from the sleek appearance. Consider undermount stainless steel kitchen sink as ideal for aesthetic reasons.
Apron / Farmhouse: With an apron sink stainless steel or farmhouse sink stainless steel, all old look converts into a new one again with its open front. Herein, the basin’s front replaces the counter’s front edge, while the remaining part of the stainless steel farmers sink can be a top mount or an undermount, which depends on your preference and the chosen counter’s surface. Usually, stainless steel apron sink is large and deep but is extremely functional, as it can manage to hold even tall vessels or containers.
The look of farmhouse stainless steel sink is also elegant. However, additional maintenance is required if you wish to retain the best look of the stainless steel apron front sink. Because apron front stainless steel sink is usually the centerpiece, it is essential to keep it dry after each use for ensuring the good look of the whole kitchen.
The installation of a stainless apron sink or stainless farmhouse sink is a bit dissimilar from the rest of the types. It might involve reconstruction of the counter or cabinet in which it is to be installed. However, not much space is lost in the cabinets below the counter. When holding water, stainless steel farmhouse sink can become so heavy such that clips may prove to be inadequate to hold it in place.
There are some more mounting styles to consider.
Tile in Sink: This style is ideal for those who possess a pre-made tiled surface for fitting a sink of the matching size. Such a mounting style delivers a superb finish as well as good looking sink interior. It is easy to install and clean such sinks that ensure a highly sophisticated look.
Specialty Sink: Such sinks come with special features and functions and include two main types: Bar and Corner. A bar sink is installable where no special settings are required for cleaning heavy duty containers or utensils. In fact, such a sink is designed to help small washing tasks in places that are away from the kitchen. On the other hand, a corner sink is ideal for an area where an L-shaped shelf is required to wash things or where you need to use the sink from different sides of the shelf.
Stainless steel sinks gel with different kitchen styles such as traditional, retro, modern, contemporary, and European. These are the styles that most designers agree to. However, they might not gel with the Mediterranean and Old World kitchens.
There are three finishes to choose from namely, hammered, brushed (satin), and high gloss (metallic or mirror).
Hammered: Hammered stainless steel sink comes with an amazing appearance that uniquely stands out. Thus, it is vital to know how and where it should be positioned, especially if you wish to show off without overpowering the room. Usually, hammered finish is a custom one due to which you pay significantly. At times, such finish is best for bar sink or bathroom sink. The bowl herein is small but decorative.
High Gloss (Metallic or Mirror): This one is perhaps the most beautiful and bright. However, it is tough to be retained and taken care of. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to restore it if scratched. Because of these care-based challenges, the mirror finished sinks are fewer.
Brushed (Satin): This one is a bit duller but is easier to take care as well as to maintain. Such finish comes with some type of grain, which means it is intentionally scratched in one direction. This pattern of scratches is actually pleasing, instead of irritating and is most common for kitchen steel sinks. A few brushed appearances are glossier than others due to which this finish is also known as satin or matte finish.
It is also possible that the maker may give a proprietary name to depict the look and the process for their version of finish. As per the grit size utilized on steel, different looks can be accomplished. Any brushed sink has scratches that you can finally brush away for making it look new again. Therefore, the brushed finish ensures a tough surface for daily use, which makes it so popular.
This is another important aspect to consider. It involves considering the number of bowls, their orientation, and their depth.
Number of Bowls: It is possible that you might need only a single bowl sink instead of a double bowl or triple bowl sink. However, this preference of yours shall depend upon the place of installation, accessories required to install, and the types of objects you will be putting inside for washing. Usually, a sink with greater bowls is going to be larger in size, which you need to consider before finalizing any of these bowl numbers.
Consider buying a single bowl sink if you need to wash big pots and dishes as well as prefer a wider and more spacious washing place for holding such stuff. Similarly, if you need wash objects by separating them into categories, a two bowl sink is a better choice. In case you are habituated to prepare your containers before washing and rinsing, a third bowl sink is the way to go.
Bowl Orientation: Apart from the number of bowls, you need to find out the orientation of bowl a sink has. The way the bowl is positioned is important with respect to the dishwasher placement as well as your handling technique. For example, if the bowl is on the side where the dishwasher exists and that you feel easy to handle stuff with the same side of your hand, it indicates that you can handle all washing tasks more easily as well as efficiently.
Bowl Depth: This is equally important aspect to consider just like the above two at the time of choosing a kitchen stainless sink. A deeper sink is essential for holding and washing larger pots and dishes. Generally, an average-sized sink possessing a depth that is medium will have a gamut of depth from 8″ to 10″. Of this range, 8 inches is an apt depth value for a sink having a medium size.
Anyways, for choosing the right depth of the bowl, you need to consider three aspects namely, your own height or that of the sink user, the height of the cabinet, and the type as well as height of containers to be washed. Taking these factors into consideration, a shallow sink is ideal for those having a short height, short cabinet, and small utensils.
You also need to consider holes for taps and accessories that will be installed on the sink. There can be 1, 2, 3, or even 4 holes for this purpose. You can often find uses for extra kitchen sink holes. Just look for the number before investing in that particular sink.
Other Features to Consider
- Drain position, which can be at the sink’s back or on the rear side so that you can easily keep the garbage basket below the sink
- Plumbing depth, which if more needs more space to allow you to keep a garbage basket below
- Sound proofing layer on the posterior surface for least noise when coming in contact with metal utensils
You will be able to make the right decision after analyzing all the aforementioned features of the stainless steel kitchen sinks. Our above guide is comprehensive enough in that matter, which is regardless of the type of sink you like or mounting style you prefer. Just ensure that your decision is based on your own requirements, not on those of what others want. Similarly, the decision should not be based on appealing aspects such as glossy look, discounted price, and shape. You need to consider all of them but only after considering your requirements such as usage purpose, place of installation, and type of sink. And yes, you should never leave out quality of material and durability of construction.