How to Choose A Kitchen Sink
From drains to basins, finding the best kitchen sink just got easier with this quick guide to the basics.
Available in a variety of colors and materials, there’s a kitchen sink to fit every lifestyle and decor. We've put together some tips for finding the perfect style, size, and configuration to match the best kitchen sink for your space.
Find the Best Kitchen Sink Size
Checking the size of the kitchen sink is necessary for more than just finding out if the sink will fit. Keep in mind both the size of the countertop and the primary use for the sink. If you do a lot of cooking and need the space to wash larger pots and pans, a bigger sink with deeper basins will be helpful and may be worth the effort of an upgrade. However, a large sink in a small countertop space can result in problems both during installation and in general, from keeping a clean kitchen sink to maintenance.
Start with the size of the sink currently installed. It may help to remove the sink before taking measurements. Measure the size of the sink for both the width and length, from edge to edge, and the depth of the basin. Take note of the location of the plumbing under the sink, specifically the kitchen sink drain placement.
Another necessary measurement is the countertop depth, which is measured from the back edge to the front of the countertop. The sink width should fit securely and centered within the cabinet, including space for the overhang of the sink lip. Be aware of these details, because different sink styles take up extra area on the countertop, more than just the basin size.
For instance, most drop-in kitchen sinks have a ½ inch lip, so a backsplash built onto the back edge of a laminate countertop can interfere with the lip overhang of a drop-in kitchen sink. A farmhouse kitchen sink requires a customized cabinet to accommodate the apron front panel, which will also change the sink’s placement along the countertop. It’s important to make sure there is space for the sink and a few inches extra.
Additional tips on how to choose the right kitchen sink size include:
- Position the sink closer to the front edge of the counter for comfort and access.
- Basin depth and drain location can influence the amount of space available under the sink for things like garbage disposals and filtered water systems.
- Make sure you have enough counter space on either side of the sink for food preparation, especially in a corner location.
When considering how to replace a kitchen sink, the new sink will need to fit into the existing cabinetry and match the plumbing placement. If you choose a different drain placement with the new sink, the plumbing will need adjusted to accommodate it and that may require the help of a plumber. It’s always possible to choose a sink with different dimensions than the cabinet or countertop currently allow for, just plan ahead to adjust the counter cabinet and plumbing as needed.
Kitchen Sink Installation Types
The first consideration when looking for a new kitchen sink should be the look or style, which is easier to think of in terms of the installation type. It narrows the field of choices and makes the process less overwhelming.
Drop-in kitchen sinks (or top-mount, self-rimming sinks) are set into a hole cut into the countertop and are the easiest to install. Drop-in sinks sit on top of the counter cabinet and have a raised, rounded edge to help keep water and debris inside the sink.
Also known as apron-front sinks, the deep, wide, basins of the farmhouse kitchen sink are perfect for washing large pots and pans. The front of the sink replaces the front edge of the countertop cabinetry, creating a decorative panel out of the sink design itself. Adding a touch of chic country charm, farmhouse sinks are available in a variety of sizes and materials. Some models are available in stainless steel for a more contemporary look.
Flush mount sink
These are drop-in kitchen sinks that are installed slightly inset, into the counter, to be level with the countertop surface. Rather than a rounded lip, they have a straight edge and flat top to allow them to be installed flush against the counter edge. These are a common style for kitchenette sinks as well because they blend into the countertop design.
Integrated sinks are shaped into the countertop, creating a continuous look to the design of the kitchen. The sink is molded from the same material as the solid countertop, creating a divot or pocket for the sink, and disappears into the style of the rest of the counter.
Undermount sinks are attached below the countertop and create a flat surface, making work-area cleanup easy. The sink wall should be installed to line up against the finished edge of the countertop to provide a seamless drop from the counter into the sink.
Another unique type of sink is the bar sink or prep sink. These can be drop-in, undermount, or farmhouse kitchen sink installation styles, but they stand out as their own installation type because of their differences in purpose.
The bar sink is often used complementary to the kitchen sink, for drinks and entertaining, rather than for the regular wear and tear of a sink full of dirty dishes needing soaked and washed. The prep sink is smaller, usually running narrower and shallower than the kitchen sink, and will usually be found on the kitchen island or a prep area like a wet bar or as a kitchenette sink.
Kitchen Sink Material Options
The right material determines the durability and the look of your sink. The material of the sink becomes especially important when it comes time to clean a kitchen sink, as you want a finish that can stand up to the scrubbing and the potentially abrasive chemicals used in keeping the kitchen clean. Consider both the aesthetics and maintenance requirements when choosing the material your sink is constructed of.
A stainless steel sink provides a modern look and is one of the most popular styles. Stainless steel requires regular cleaning to eliminate water spots, but it is a durable, scratch-resistant material that stands up to the test of time. Look for a lower gauge stainless steel for a higher strength sink with better dent- and scratch resistance and sound-absorption.
Copper sinks have natural anti-microbial qualities that help reduce the spread of germs and grime in your sink. It is a 100% recyclable material and develops a copper patina that changes over time for a unique look. This living finish requires more care and attention than many materials to keep it looking clean and prevent damage from wear and tear.
A granite composite sink provides a nonporous surface that is easy to keep clean. The durable stone composite resists scratches, chipping, and discoloration, making it a quality alternative to granite.
The classic look of cast iron is also available to your kitchen sink. They can be found in multiple colors, with a glossy finish that makes clean up easy. Cast iron sinks withstand high heat and are quite durable, however the enamel may scratch over time and dropping sharp objects can cause chipping.
Fireclay is a non-porous and glossy material that resists scratches, stains, and chips. Like porcelain, it is fired at very high temperatures for extra durability. With the firing and finish process, fireclay is available in different colors that do not fade.
Handmade by artisans using a strong blend of cement and jute fiber, NativeStone sinks are an eco-friendly and heavy-duty option. Innovative and remarkably lightweight for cement, these sinks are stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, and crack-resistant while offering a rough, matte-like stone aesthetic.
Number of Basins
Kitchen sinks are available in single, double and triple basin kitchen sink configurations. As you look over the options, you’ll find measurements for the basin split, which refers to the percentage of space each basin takes up for a double bowl sink. The most common options are 50/50, where the sink bowls are the same size, and 60/40, where one basin is larger for larger pots and pans. Another common kitchen sink configuration is to install the garbage disposal in the smaller basin of a double basin sink, to use the smaller side as a prep sink.
Some split basins have different depths between the sides of the sink, while other features may include interior racks to help keep the drain clear of dishware. There are also multiple kitchen accessories available to customize your sink.
Here are a few advantages of each to help you choose which basin configuration is right for the way you work.
Single Basin Sink
- Wide-open soaking area.
- Great for large pots and pans.
- Typically offers a much deeper basin than double or triple sinks.
- The drains may be placed off to one side, with the sink floor sloped to one side to help move liquids more quickly and keep the sink cleaner.
Double Basin Sink
- Double basin sinks are great for working on separate tasks, such as washing and rinsing.
- You can choose between equal sized basins or one small and one large basin.
- Basins may be different widths and lengths to create different shapes or angled to fit in countertop corners.
- Consider one basin that is larger than the other to hold pots and pans.
Triple Basin Sinks
- Triple basin sinks are typically wider than standard sized sinks and take up a larger amount of countertop space.
- Choose different arrangements based on the look of your kitchen, such as placing two large basins with one small basin, three equal sized basins, or three basins of different sizes.
- The third basin is often smaller and used as a kitchen prep sink.
Consider the location of existing plumbing and the type of work you do in the kitchen when choosing the drain placement of your new sink. Here are a few advantages (and disadvantages) to the different drain placement options.
Pro: Off-center drains allow for more space under the cabinet for taller supplies or filtration systems.
Pro: The sink has plenty of space to set big pots and pans while allowing water to drain freely.
Pro: There’s extra room to prepare food without having it slip down the drain.
Con: These can be difficult for repairs because the plumbing is pushed to the far back or corners of the under-sink cabinet.
Pro: The water drains faster than an off centered drain because there is less distance to travel.
Pro: Better access for maintenance or repairs under the sink.
Pro: Aligns with a centered faucet.
Con: Large pots and pans may block the water flow to the drain.
Pro: Rear drains allow for plenty of room to include an under-the-sink garbage disposal or even pullout shelves for trash and recycling cans.
Pro: Dishes and pans in the sink won’t block the water flow.
Pro: More space at the bottom of the basin for food prep or dishes when cleaning, without losing things down the drain.
Con: These installations can be tricky, and with the plumbing at the back of the cabinet, they are more taxing for maintenance.
Number of Faucet Holes
The number of holes built into the sink will narrow your kitchen sink faucet style choices. Look for a sink that can accommodate the type of kitchen faucet you prefer, whether a single hole faucet or a bridge faucet. Some sinks can have additional faucet holes added in if necessary. Extra openings can be covered by escutcheon plates, special hole covers, or filled with accessories like built-in soap dispensers.
Single Hole Sink
These sinks accommodate a single kitchen faucet. They encourage a streamlined, simple, compact design.
Two Hole Sink
A two hole sink can fit a bridge faucet with hot and cold inlets, or a single faucet and an accessory, such as a spray wand or a soap dispenser.
Three Hole Sink
With a three hole sink, there is room for either a bridge faucet and a sink accessory, or for a single-hole faucet and two accessories, like a soap dispenser alongside a filtered hot water dispenser.
Four Hole Sink
Four hole sinks can accommodate any combination, from two hole bridge faucets to spray wands, soap dispensers, or filtered water dispensers. Just make sure to use an escutcheon or hole cover over any holes that aren’t utilized.