How to Choose the Right Kitchen Sink Material

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Sink Material - VIGO Fireclay Matte Stone Farmhouse Apron Front Kitchen Sink How to Choose the Right Kitchen Sink Material - VIGO Fireclay Matte Stone Farmhouse Apron Front Kitchen Sink

When it comes to designing your new kitchen, there is perhaps no material more essential than what you choose for your sink.

Your sink will take the brunt of use in the kitchen, right alongside the countertops. In there, you’ll do everything from cooking, cleaning, and hoarding those leftover dishes from a few nights ago (we don’t judge!) 

Kitchen sink material matters. In fact, there are quite a few popular options from which you can choose. While the aesthetics will obviously play a big role in your ultimate decision (as one of the most prominent accessories in the room, the sink will stand out for certain) but durability, price, and wear are also important factors to consider.

This is your debriefer on kitchen sink materials: what they are, which are the strongest, cheapest, and the pros and cons to each.

What Kitchen Sink Materials Are There?

Though you may have otherwise classified sinks by their color or shape, there are actually a variety of different materials to choose from. These are the most popular:

Stainless Steel

By far the most commonly used kitchen sink material, stainless steel has a reputation for longevity, one that it’s earned. Stainless steel is an alloy of Iron, with a percentage of Chromium. That Chromium is actually a thin layer of oxide on the surface, known as the “passive layer,” which prevents corrosion. Hence the name: stainless. On top of being both generally considered the most cost-effective and durable, stainless steel is also one of the more common materials used for kitchen appliances in general, making it easier to coordinate.


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Fire Clay

Fire clay is often the hard, ceramic material that you commonly see with a white finish, such as what you’d find in a farm sink. The material looks nearly identical to enameled cast iron, while still non-porous and resistant to acid, alkali, and scratches. As it’s chip-resistant, especially compared to other sink materials, these are often considered one of the more durable options out there, as well as one of the more stylish (particularly in recent years).

Granite

While granite sinks are often more expensive — particularly if they are pure stone, rather than a composite — they offer an aesthetic appeal that is second-to-none, as well as comparable durability to other common materials. Granite sinks are often found in higher-end homes, and more often than not, are made of a blend of granite stone and acrylic resins, creating a composite material that’s more suited for daily use. Because of the finishing, granite sinks are typically scratch, stain and chip resistant. 


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Porcelain

Porcelain sinks are typically the most common, next to stainless steel. These are the standard, white and shiny sinks you see in most bathrooms. While porcelain is typically known for being quite fragile, these sinks are actually very durable and tend to stand the test of time. While naturally beautiful, these sinks also easily coordinate with other designs. Though they are typically found in bathrooms more than kitchens, porcelain is a great option for a sink nonetheless.


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Enamel

Enamel sinks are actually an alternative material (such as cast iron, or steel) that has been coated with enamel. The foundation of the sink itself will not be made of enamel, rather, the base will be a material such as cast iron, or stone. It is not common to see an enamel finish over stainless steel, as that finish is most durable (and often attractive to many people, aesthetically speaking). Instead, an enamel sink gives you the opportunity to incorporate different colors into your kitchen, as you can customize or purchase sinks in any shade you choose.

Composite

Composite sinks are made from two or more materials put together to create a manufactured finish. It is common to see composites of more expensive materials, such as granite, though it can be used with virtually any material.


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Natural Stone

While stone stinks are undoubtedly some of the most expensive to purchase, they are also the most durable and long-lasting. In fact, a well-sealed stone sink can likely last you for your entire life. Stone sinks are often found in high-end or luxury homes and are often in natural colors, such as slate grey. Stone sinks can have a rough finish around the edges or a smooth finish. They can also come in blacks or other colors that make it look as authentic as possible.


What Kitchen Sink Material Is Most Durable?

Though almost any sink you purchase from a professional company will undoubtedly offer you a degree of durability, there are a few that are more long-lasting than others. According to Hunker.com, these are some of the sturdiest, in order from most to least.

  • Stainless Steel
  • Fireclay   
  • Granite or Quartz   
  • Composite   
  • Solid Surface   
  • Copper 
  • Enameled Cast Iron 

While it makes sense that the stainless steel option would come in first (it does have ‘stainless’ in the title, and is most common in households) fireclay is another great option if you’re looking for a finish that isn’t silver. Granite, or composite, is next, offering a bit more luxury with the same great quality, and then copper or cast iron comes in last.

What Kitchen Sink Material Is The Cheapest In Price?

Of course, when it comes to any renovation, cost always has to be a top consideration. Though durability should be the main priority, expensive materials can exponentially increase the total cost of your project, and that has to be considered, too.

What Is The Most Expensive Kitchen Sink Material?

For all intents and purposes, the pure stone will most likely be the most expensive material you can choose. Though it might be aesthetically ideal, it’s not necessary for a long-term, durable kitchen counter. However, if you are interested in the look but not the price tag, a composite would be a great alternative. You’ll get the appearance of pure stone but without the cost.


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Are Composite Sinks Better Than Stainless Steel?

It depends. While composite and stainless steel are both considered the two most budget-friendly options, both can potentially incur more damage than other options. This is true even though stainless steel is known for being one of the more durable options — it is not completely impenetrable. 

According to Ship It Appliances, it’s about how the materials are made. “Composite granite sinks are formed using enormous heat and pressure. They’re able to resist stains, scratches, and heat – but they’re not invulnerable to such things. Hot pans risk warping the surface of the sink and knives being dragged across it might leave marks,” they explained.

They continue: “By contrast, stainless steel sinks are able to withstand high temperatures and they’re obviously far less prone to stains. Despite this, they’re not impervious to damage. A stainless steel sink will pick up fine scratches over its lifetime. Though these scratches will likely not be visible unless you’re looking for them, the shining nature of stainless steel will make any blemishes all the more apparent. Similarly, allowing droplets of water to stand inside the sink might cause water spots to form.”

How Should I Decide Which Kitchen Sink Material Is Best For Me?

Ultimately, it’s about determining how you want your kitchen to look, and how you think your space will be used.

If you have a large family that will be utilizing the sink space very often, a stainless steel option might be right for you. If you are a married couple that doesn’t cook often but desires a high-end design, stone or wood might be best. If you’re a single person looking for a budget option that doesn’t quite look like you scrimped on the cost, a composite could be a great idea, too.

Really, all the options on the market are available because they are beneficial in some way or another. It’s less about figuring out what the “best” material is, and more about what is the best option for you. 


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What Should I Know About Sink Installation?

Of course, acquiring your sink is only the first part of the process. 

Whether you’re going to be hiring someone to install the sink for you, or you’re doing it yourself, there are a number of factors you need to consider for your installation. According to The Family Handyman, these are the most important:

  • Measure the tailpiece for buying a new kitchen sink -- this is important because you need to ensure that your new sink can actually fit into your pre-existing cabinet. If you’re replacing a cabinet, you can potentially purchase one specifically fitted to your sink of choice. “You can choose a new sink with a deeper basin than the existing sink has, but if it hangs down too low, it won’t drain properly and you’ll have to lower the sanitary tee connection in the drain line inside the wall,” he explains. 
  • Check out the cutout size before installing a new kitchen sink — this is the process of ensuring that the cutouts are the same size so that there are no gaps. “A sink that’s too small for the countertop opening will leave ugly gaps along the sides (or even fall right through the hole!)” he explains.

Check for water stains — whether you’re installing it or someone else is, ensure you don’t have any significant water damage prior to installation. Leaks around a sink rim can soak the particle board under a plastic laminate countertop. A little water damage is normal and won’t interfere with your new sink. But severe swelling will prevent the new sink from sitting flat on the countertop. And crumbling particle board won’t provide a solid base for the clips that fasten the sink to the countertop,” he explains.


There are a lot of factors that go into deciding on what works best for your home--including material, size, durability, and of course, style preference. Your kitchen sink should fit your style. It reflects the rest of the room and how it all comes together. In terms of pricing, sizing, and material preference, you just have to figure out what works.