Your Kitchen Sink Buying Guide

With so many styles, materials and configurations to choose from, it can be difficult to find the perfect sink for your kitchen. Admittedly, there are a series of decisions you’ll have to make before purchasing a kitchen sink, but making these decisions does not have to cause a headache. The following guide breaks down the many feature options available to you as a consumer so that you can make an informed decision about choosing the proper kitchen sink.

Choosing The Right Size

The first thing you’ll have to consider is the size of the kitchen sink you’ll be purchasing. This is going to depend upon the size of the base cabinet where the sink will be located. Sink base cabinets can range from approximately 30″ to 42″ wide, though some manufacturers offer cabinets with larger and smaller dimensions. The trick to choosing a sink is making sure that the width is at least 3″ smaller than the width of the cabinet to allow for proper fitting and installation. For example, a 33″ sink will be a perfect fit for a 36″ wide base cabinet.

Large Blanco Triple Bowl Sink

Large Blanco Triple Bowl Sink | Photo Source: Plumbing Parts Plus

If you haven’t yet purchased your base cabinet, you have more wiggle room for choosing your sink size. The sink base cabinet that you choose should depend upon the size of your kitchen. Ultimately, the larger the kitchen, the larger the sink base cabinet that can be accommodated. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, smaller kitchens that are less than 150 sq ft should use a 22×24 single bowl model sink. Homeowners with larger kitchens have the option of purchasing double or even triple bowl models.

Choosing The Right Mounting

Stainless Steel Undermount Sink

Stainless Steel Undermount Sink | Photo Source: Blanco Germany

There are a few different options for mounting the kitchen sink to your countertop. One of the most popular mounting options is the top-mount, self-rimming drop-in option, where the sink rim rests on top of the countertop. Stainless steel sinks and sinks of a similar, lighter material are usually secured to the countertop with clips and screws underneath. Heavier sinks, such as cast iron models, are held in place by their weight. This type of installation is easier, faster, and can be used with just about any countertop material. If the sink needs to be replaced, it can be done so easily without disturbing the countertop.

Another possibility is the undermount option, where the sink is actually attached to the underside of the countertop, creating a seamless, more sophisticated look. This mounting option is most popular with stone countertops such as granite and marble, and other engineered solid surfaces. It is not recommended for laminate countertops as the edge above the sink is exposed. This mounting option may be preferable to a top-mount as the hidden edges of the sink allow for an easier clean-up.

Another seamless and sophisticated (though more expensive) option, is an integral sink, where the sink is actually built into the countertop and made of the same exact material. The lack of edges and seams also allows for an easy cleanup and creates a visual interest that will surely wow your guests. You’ll have to seek out specialty manufacturers as the sink and countertop sizing and installation have to be precise.

Integrated granite farmhouse sink.

Custom-made integrated granite farmhouse sink. | Photo Source: Custom Marble & Granite

Farmhouse sinks, also known as apron front sinks have a deep single bowl and are installed atop a specialty cabinet that allows for the front face of the sink to remain open and exposed. Farmhouse sinks are a popular option for cottage, country and other traditional kitchen design styles. They are available in a variety of materials and tend to be more expensive.

In addition to choosing the mounting that works best with your kitchen style, you’ll have to decide how many holes will be needed on the deck behind the sink. These holes are meant to accomodate the faucet, soap dispenser, spray hoses, and other features. Sinks are available with as little as one and as many as five holes, but the average sink will come with three or four holes. If you happen to purchase a sink with one too many holes, decorative coverings are available.

Choosing The Right Material

There are a ton of materials to choose from, each with their own unique benefits or features. Choosing the right material will depend on your lifestyle, your personal preferences, and the overall design of your kitchen.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most common choices for kitchen sinks. They’re available in a number of different thicknesses, also known as gauges. Thicker 18-16 gauge stainless steel sinks are of higher quality as they are harder to dent and scratch, but they are also a bit more expensive. While it is often said that a higher gauge sink reduces noise, there are some people who believe there may not be much of a difference. However, no matter the gauge, if you are bothered by the noise, there are options for insulating the underside of the sink to reduce vibration. Overall, stainless steel sinks are attractive because they are affordable, durable, and easy to clean.

Cast Iron

Kohler two-bowl drop-in enameled cast iron sink.

Kohler two-bowl drop-in enameled cast iron sink.

Cast iron sinks are manufactured with a layer of enamel on top that not only gives it an attractive glass-like sheen, it also creates a durable, smooth finish that is easy to clean. Installation is a bit more complicated and more hands on deck may be necessary. Enamel surfaces can be chipped when sharp objects are dropped on them, and over time, the iron underneath will start to rust. However, the enamel can be repaired, and with proper treatment, cast iron sinks can last a generation.


Acrylic sinks are made of plastic that is molded into the shape of a sink and reinforced with fiberglass. It is a cheaper option that is stain resistant and easy to clean and maintain. While it can be prone to scratches, these scratches can be sanded and polished out. However, acrylic surfaces can be damaged by heat, so you’d have to be careful not to place hot pots and pans directly on the surface.


Composite sinks are made with a number of materials and are a durable, low-maintenance choice. Composite sinks with a high granite content are especially durable, though they may be more expensive. With composite sinks, you have a wide variety of colors and styles available to you, which makes them a good option for those with less traditional kitchen design styles. Unlike acrylic, composite materials are made to withstand heat, making them the perfect option for the avid chef.


Textured single bowl copper sink. | Photo Source: Canton Antiques

Textured single bowl copper sink. | Photo Source: Canton Antiques

Lately, copper is a material that has been making a major comeback in interior design, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Its warm tone, durability, and anti-microbial properties make it a popular choice for homeowners with a variety of kitchen styles. Your copper sink will not rust, but it can take on a patina as it ages. However, this feature is precisely why many homeowners are opting for copper materials; the aged patina gives a unique look that can take just about any kitchen aesthetic to a whole new level. Copper sinks tend to be more expensive as each sink is manufactured individually. Custom options are also available.

Hopefully, your kitchen sink options are a lot clearer and you now know exactly which style, material, and mounting style will work best for your kitchen. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!

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