Sinks come in many materials and colors. Each material has its pros and cons, and some materials withstand the rigors of the kitchen where others fit better in a bathroom or bar. The best way to choose the right material is to think of your habits within your kitchen, bathroom, laundry, or bar area to decide what works best for your lifestyle and budget.
Most people are familiar with stainless steel, it’s one of the most popular materials to use for kitchen and bar sinks. It’s resistant to rust and antimicrobial, so you can thaw a frozen chicken without problem. It’s durable enough to withstand the heavy drops inherent with pots and pans. It’s resistant to heat and stains, making it easy to clean. And the neutral sheen matches most interior designs.
Stainless steel’s main drawback is noise, though many come with noise-dampening pads attached to the exterior of the sink to minimize vibrations when running water hits the sink or silverware is dropped in unceremoniously. You can also install these dampeners yourself. Stainless steel is also prone to scratches and dents. It’s also limited as far as color choices go – your options are basically the standard stainless steel or a dark stainless-steel tone.
Cast iron sinks are heavy duty, with an emphasis on heavy. Since these are heavy sinks, we recommend a professional installation, as additional reinforcement may be needed for your sink cabinet.
Cast iron sinks are known for their durability and their beauty because of a non-porous enamel coating. The porcelain like surface is made by fusing an enamel fused to the iron through high heat. The enamel coating means this type of sink is available in many colors, but white is the classic choice because it’s easy to match most interior designs.
While the enamel is beautiful and easy to clean, it requires more frequent cleanings with mild detergent since it’s less durable than stainless steel. While non-porous and stain-resistant, abrasive cleaners and harsh chemicals can cause the surface to stain. In addition, the enamel is susceptible to chipping or scratching from sharp objects or heavy pots and pans, which could expose the underlying iron to rust. Add a grid to the bottom of the sink to prevent damage from heavy or sharp objects and regularly clean the sink to prevent stains using mild cleaners or detergents such as baking soda.
Granite composite sinks combine granite with acrylic resins to create one of the strongest sink materials available. It’s robust yet easy to clean, featuring a smooth matte finish available in multiple colors.
Granite composite is resistant to heat, scratches, and chips, and staining, making it a kitchen workhorse. Unlike metal sinks and ceramic sinks, granite composite make for a quieter sink with less clanging.
Much like cast iron, granite composite sinks are heavy and may require additional strengthening for the cabinets. Granite composite sinks should also receive regular cleanings to keep the surface clean and beautiful.
Solid granite is like granite composite in many ways, though more expensive and more unique. It’s durable but made completely of natural stone with no resins. Each sink is unique because it’s made from a distinctive slab of stone, whereas granite composite is mixed and uniform-looking. But their properties are still very similar – resistant to heat, scratching, and stains.
Solid granite does have some issues to consider, however. Natural stones are porous, which makes them susceptible to stains if not sealed. As such, solid granite sinks need to be resealed every few months because of how much water they’re exposed to.
Much like granite composite, engineered in that quartz is mixed with other materials to create a durable material that’s more affordable than solid natural stone. Since it’s wonderfully durable and non-porous, germs and odors don’t seep into its surface – they’re washed right down the drain instead. In addition, it’s not as susceptible to damage from dropped pots and pans because it doesn’t chip or crack like porcelain.
The main drawback with engineered quartz is it’s so tough, you can actually break fragile items, like fine china, if dropped into the sink. Take care when washing or placing items in the sink to make sure they don’t get damaged – the sink will be fine, though.
Copper sinks are a unique high-end material. Thanks to the natural properties of copper, the metal develop a natural patina over time or when exposed to high heat. While some prefer a shiny copper sink, others highly value the patina look because it adds vintage character. For this reason, copper typically retains its value over time since they are handcrafted, which is a nice perk.
Another reason copper is a high-end material for sinks is the natural antimicrobial properties. This is excellent for thawing steaks in your sink. Since germs can’t grow in a copper sink, there is less chance for contamination when preparing food.
Maintenance is a consideration with copper sinks. Hot utensils, as well as acids, can affect color or stain the copper. Acids includes food or beverages that are acidic in nature (we’re looking at you, orange juice).
Brass sinks are like copper ones. In fact, it’s simply an alloy of copper and zinc. Much like copper, brass has natural antimicrobial properties, and each develops a unique patina over time. Brass carries a beautiful, timeless look to it, adding an almost-gold tone to the room.
While brass is beautiful and durable, it is susceptible to dents, dings, and scratches. It is definitely more decorative than functional, requiring more maintenance than other metals. So, keep that in mind if you’re looking at brass.
Fireclay is pretty much what it sounds like – Clay is shaped and fired at high temperatures to forge a durable, hardy material. Fireclay is a popular choice for sinks because it’s strong against stains, scrubbing, and high temperatures from pots and pans fresh off the stove. It’s also resistant to rust, acid, and fading. And maintenance is easy. Simply clean with standard dish soap and water or use baking soda for tougher dirt spots.
Fireclay’s biggest weakness is from dropped objects, whether they’re heavy or sharp. Since there isn’t an iron core, they can crack the sink, which requires replacing the sink. The surface can also chip over time. We recommend using a grid on the bottom of the sink as well as regular cleaning.
Porcelain is the hardest ceramic available, and one of the more popular choices. Porcelain sinks are available as pure porcelain, porcelain coated steel or iron, and porcelain coated with Vitreous China (a protective coating for porcelain). It comes in a variety of colors, though white is a long-standing favorite thanks to its timeless appeal.
While porcelain is easy to clean, it is susceptible to cracking or chipping from dropping heavy or sharp objects. For bathrooms this isn’t as much of an issue, but with kitchen sinks we recommend using a grate on the bottom of the sink to prevent harsh drops.
Vitreous China is a porcelain ceramic fused with a protective enamel through a high-heat process. It’s stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, easy to clean, and provides a glossy surface that’s particularly popular in bathrooms. It’s also available in multiple colors, with white being the most popular.
The biggest weakness with Vitreous China is like to porcelain, heavy or sharp objects can chip or damage the pristine finish.
While more than durable enough for bathrooms and powder rooms, glass sinks are not quite up to the daily wear and tear of kitchens. Glass is excellent because it’s stain-resistant, easy to clean and maintain, and is durable enough to last for years when properly cared for.
Glass comes in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes. Colors range from clear to rich, opaque colors, to a combination of patterns and color mixing. It’s the perfect material when you want to feature a statement piece in your bathroom or powder room.
What’s glass’s biggest weakness? Well, it’s glass – it can shatter. Sharp and dropped objects damage glass easily, so take special care with glass. That said, since glass sinks are made of tempered glass, a process of heating and rapidly cooling glass, you don’t have to worry about your sink shattering into dangerous shards. Rather, it shatters similarly to a car window.
Specialty Materials – Marble, Lava Rocks, and Petrified Wood
Looking for something that’s eye-catching to make a statement? Then you may want to check out sinks made of specialty materials. Marble, lava rock, and petrified wood are all unique, natural materials. Not only do they add an organic touch to any washroom, no two pieces are the same.
With specialty materials, each sink is handcrafted by artisanal experts from one solid piece of marble, lava rock, or petrified wood. Even if you were to order two petrified wood sinks, they would each have their own distinctive shapes and features.
While stunning and luxurious, natural stone does require care and maintenance over time. Make sure to clean with a damp cloth and mild soap, resealing when needed.
What Color Choices Are There for Sinks?
While it depends on the material, sinks come in a variety of colors including beige, black, brown, cinder, clear, copper, cream, gray, metallic, nickel, off-white, stainless steel, taupe, and white – definitely enough options to find the right color for your aesthetic.
The most common colors are white and stainless steel. The two are so timeless that they tend to blend and match almost anything else in a room. Black is also gaining popularity, it’s a different aesthetic, and also doesn’t just as much dirt as lighter colors. Copper adds a unique look, especially as it ages, the patina continues to add character.
3. What Are the Different Types of Kitchen Sinks?