Kitchen sinks have come a long way from the basic stainless steel basins of yesteryear. Today’s sinks offer innovative designs, materials, features and technology that take kitchen functionality and style to a whole new level. From stunning handcrafted stone sinks to hi-tech smart sinks, there is an almost endless array of options for the modern kitchen.
Unique Materials and Finishes
One of the biggest trends in kitchen sinks is the use of unique materials and finishes that add drama, durability and luxury. Here are some of the most popular options:
Stone and Concrete
Sinks handcrafted from natural stone like granite, marble or soapstone make a stunning design statement. Concrete is another material that is growing in popularity for its smooth finish and modern vibe. Stone and concrete sinks have unparalleled visual impact, but require special care to prevent staining, etching and cracks.
Copper is prized for itswarm glow and antibacterial properties. Copper sinks are available in smooth polished or hammered finishes. They will patina over time, adding richness and character. Copper requires regular cleaning and polishing to maintain its luster.
Made from clay fired at extremely high temperatures, fireclay is handsome, sturdy and resistant to chipping. It is also very heat-tolerant. Fireclay comes in contemporary colors like black, white and gray.
A classic that never goes out of style, stainless steel is hygienic, durable, and easy to clean. New high-end stainless steel sinks feature thicker gauges and special finishes like satin, to minimize scratches and water spots.
Composite sinks blend natural materials like crushed stone or quartz with acrylic resins to create unique, durable and low-maintenance sinks. Popular composite sink brands include Blanco, Swanstone and Silgranit.
Today’s sinks come in stylish designs that make a statement. Here are some of the most popular looks:
Inspired by vintage farmhouse designs, these sinks have a large, deep single basin and exposed front. They work well with rustic, country or modern decor. Farmhouse sinks are often made of fireclay or composite materials.
The apron-front sink features a flat front face that allows the sink to be installed directly against the wall like a cabinet. The front “apron” overhangs the cabinetry, creating a built-in look. Stainless steel and fireclay are common apron-front sink materials.
Undermount sinks are installed below the countertop for a seamless, contemporary look. Materials like stainless steel and composite are especially popular for undermount installation.
Double basin sinks have two bowls side-by-side, allowing you to multitask on kitchen tasks, keep clean and dirty dishes separate, or even create a stylish wet bar area.
Inset sinks sit flush within a counter hole, creating minimal overhang. This streamlined look works well for modern and contemporary kitchens. Stainless steel and composite materials are commonly used.
Vessel sinks sit on top of the counter like a decorative bowl. Their free-standing design makes a modern sculptural statement. Vessel sinks require custom countertops with a cut-out hole.
Specialty Kitchen Sinks
Beyond the basic kitchen sink, there are specialty sinks made for specific tasks:
With their compact size, prep sinks are perfect for food preparation tasks. Located near or at the island or peninsula, they keep messy onion chopping and vegetable cleaning away from the main sink.
Long and narrow, the bar sink is designed to fit in front of a kitchen window or narrow countertop space. The elongated design provides room for washing dishes and prepping foods.
Originally designed for servant’s duties like washing fine china, butler’s sinks are compact and secondary to the main sink. placement near a kitchen entrance makes them handy for quick tasks.
With deep basins, high backsplashes and utility style faucets, laundry sinks are ideal for hand washing bulky items. They’re often made of durable materials like stainless steel.
Innovative Features and Technology
Today’s kitchen sinks integrate useful features and high-tech options into their design:
Sinks with drainboards provide convenient space to the side to air dry dishes, brush crumbs directly into the sink, prep ingredients and more. Drainboards are common on farmhouse style sinks.
Some sinks incorporate a cutting board made of wood or plastic into the sink basin. When not in use, the cutting board seals over the sink opening to hide messy dishes.
Many sinks now come with multifunction colanders that fit right into the basin. The colander can be used for draining pasta or rinsing produce, then stored out of sight when not needed.
Removable rinsing baskets that sit right in the sink basin provide space to load dishes or rinse produce. The basket can be easily lifted out to empty water and food particles.
Grids and Racks
Grids or racks that sit at the bottom of the sink prevent delicate glassware from contacting the basin. This helps reduce breakage and noise.
Touchless faucets turn water on and off with just a tap of your wrist or fingertips. They reduce the spread of germs and make it easy to turn water on when hands are full.
Motion Sensor Technology
Some sinks have advanced motion sensors that detect when your hands enter the sink zone. The water turns on automatically, then shuts off when hands are removed.
Integrated filtration systems remove impurities from water before it flows from the faucet. Filtering sink faucets reduce contaminants and improve water taste and smell.
Soap dispensers built right into the sink or countertop provide one touch access to dish soap. Look for units with replaceable soap cartridges for easy refills.
Task lighting built into the sink illuminates the basin for clear visibility when washing dishes and prepping food. LED lighting offers bright, energy efficient illumination.
Innovations in drain placement, like drains to the rear, further divide the sink bowl to make washing large pots easier. Multiple drains speed emptying.
Choosing the Right Sink
With so many sink options available, it can be tricky to choose the right model for your kitchen. Here are some tips:
- Consider the sink’s primary function in your kitchen. Will it be used mainly for washing dishes, food prep, entertaining?
- Think about your design style. Sinks come in design styles from modern to rustic to suit your kitchen decor.
- Select a durable sink material that fits your lifestyle. Materials require varying degrees of maintenance.
- Make sure the sink dimensions fit the existing cutout space or your new countertop.
- Opt for a sink color that complements your cabinetry and countertops.
- Include special features that match your needs, like drainage boards for prep space.
- Choose a sink style that fits your installation – undermount, apron-front, etc.
- Read sink reviews and only buy from reputable brands. Look for good warranties.
Caring for your Kitchen Sink
Once you’ve invested in a quality kitchen sink, you’ll want to keep it looking like new. Here are some sink care tips:
- Always use the sink strainer or drain cover when washing produce, dishes etc. This keeps food particles from clogging drains.
- Rinse the sink after each use to prevent stains and buildup. For extra shine, dry with a soft cloth.
- Occasionally scrub the sink with a paste of baking soda and water. This cleans and polishes without damaging sink materials.
- For stainless steel sinks, clean gently in the direction of the grain to avoid scratches.
- Composite sinks can be cleaned with washcloths and sponges. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
- Many materials like copper and concrete require re-sealing over time to prevent stains.
- Disinfect sinks periodically by cleaning with a non-abrasive cleaner, rinsing, then spraying lightly with a 1:1 vinegar and water mixture.
- Use sink grids and rinsing baskets to protect sink surfaces from damage when washing dishes. Remove after each use.
- Install sink-specific water filtration to filter out mineral deposits that can stain sinks over time.
Notable Kitchen Sink Brands
Some of the most prestigious and innovative sink brands include:
Known for sleek designs and excellent craftsmanship, Kohler offers sinks in a huge range of styles from industrial to vintage. Top choices include the Whitehaven apron-front farmhouse sink and Column custom undermount sinks.
This popular brand offers stainless steel and fireclay sinks known for durability, functionality and affordability. Top picks are the Roma double bowl stainless steel sink and Verona fireclay farmhouse apron-front sink.
Blanco is famous for its stylish Silgranit composite sinks available in on-trend colors like biscuit, truffle and cinder. The Diamond and Precis models are top sellers.
Franke is a leader in stainless steel sinks, with options like the chef-friendly Franke Chef Center sink with integrated accessories. The Arena stainless steel apron front sink is another noteworthy model.
Elkay offers a versatile range of stainless steel, quartz composite, fireclay and copper sinks. Popular choices include the Harmony stainless steel undermount sink and Dayton double bowl topmount sink.
Kitchen Sink Innovations
Kitchen sink technology continues advancing with new innovations:
- Smart sinks: Kohler’s Sensate kitchen sink has sensors that detect hands and motion. It dispenses water, soap and light automatically.
- Outdoor/indoor sinks: Sinkology’s Virgo series features outdoor kitchen sinks that can also be installed inside.
- Black stainless steel: Sinkology, Kraus and others now offer stylish black stainless steel sinks.
- Improved materials: Brands like Kohler continue developing new sink materials that offer enhanced durability, sound absorption and stain resistance.
- Ergonomic designs: Ruvati, Kohler and others offer designs like angled bottom grids and easy-to-reach rear drains that improve sink ergonomics.
- Embedded LED lighting: Kraus, KEY and Nantucket Sinks offer sinks with built-in LED task lighting for visibility when washing dishes.
- Drying racks: Elkay’s Dayton sink has an attachable plastic drying rack that fits right over the basin.
- Antimicrobial properties: Brands like KOHLER are engineering sinks with antimicrobial properties built directly into materials to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about kitchen sinks:
What is the most popular kitchen sink material?
Stainless steel is the most popular sink material due to its durability, longevity, stain resistance and affordable cost.
What’s the difference between undermount and topmount sinks?
Undermount sinks mount below the counter for a smooth, contemporary look. Topmount sinks drop into a pre-cut hole in the counter and have an exposed rim around the countertop hole.
How do you clean a stainless steel sink?
Use a paste of baking soda and water and scrub gently in the direction of the finish to clean stainless steel sinks. Rinse and dry well. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
How can you remove stains from a porcelain sink?
For porcelain sinks, make a paste with baking soda and water and use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub stains away. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scouring pads which can damage the finish.
Should you put hot or cold water into a sink with garbage disposal?
Always run cold water when using a garbage disposal. Cold water hardens any fats or greases going through the disposal allowing them to shred easier. Hot water liquifies fats and greases which can lead to clogged drains.
What is the standard kitchen sink size?
The most common kitchen sink size is a 30-inch wide single bowl sink, which fits well into standard 36-inch counters and cabinets. Double bowl sinks are often 60-inches wide. Standard sink depths range from 8 to 10 inches.
How can you remove hard water stains from a sink?
To remove hard water stains, scrub the sink with a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Rinse well and dry. For stubborn stains, allow the paste to sit on the stains for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing.
What is the best way to clean a copper sink?
Clean copper sinks regularly using a copper cleaner or a paste of lemon juice, salt and flour. Use a soft sponge or cloth in gentle circular motions. Rinse and dry well. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
How can you fix a scratched enamel sink?
For scratched enamel sinks, use ultra-fine grit sandpaper to smooth scratches, then buff the area with car wax to restore shine. Touch-up enamel paint kits are also available to fix chips and scratches.
The days of boring stainless steel basins are gone. Today’s kitchen sinks offer so many possibilities to complement your decor and kitchen work flow. From sleek apron-front fireclay sinks to high-tech smart sinks, exciting designs and innovations make the kitchen sink anything but mundane. Just take care when choosing to consider your needs, style and proper maintenance for the type you select. With good care over time, your not-so-everyday kitchen sink will remain striking and totally functional.