As I begin my own kitchen remodel (the first in many, many years), I’ve been thinking quite a bit about kitchens. Selecting cabinets should come first, but I have chosen to focus on the thing I know best and use most: the kitchen sink.
The sink is the central appliance in the kitchen, but it is often the last item to be selected amongst the many decisions that have to be made when you are renovating or creating a kitchen from scratch. Sinks are as individual as the home in which they will live: oversized, industrial, multi-bowl, drainboards or backsplash. Your choice of materials helps define the room: stainless steel, copper, fine fireclay, marble or cast iron. One is not better than the other but we all have personal preferences, and some are better partners with different kitchen designs.
In terms of maintenance, stainless is probably the easiest. It is considered a functional choice since the sink can be custom designed, or we can deliver many stock options from size of the bowl to the depth of the individual sink. One measure of quality is the gauge. The lower the number (16), the higher the quality and the quieter the sink. The big difference is the way a stainless steel sink is made. The usual manufacturing process is to stretch the material over a mold. As the material stretches the side walls get thinner than the bottom. In the case of the Waterworks sinks, the material is wrapped, bent and welded, which gives the sink a consistent thickness.
Over the past 20 years or so, the white fireclay farmhouse sink has certainly become popular. Its retro look and clean lines add a decorative element to the sink area. Fireclay itself is a dense material fired at a very high temperature. It has a thicker glaze than a cast iron sink, thus it is more durable.
Occasionally, I see a marble sink installed in a kitchen. It looks great but is aways subject to staining. Periodically, it will have to be lightly sanded and resealed and it will eventually have stains. However, I think that they blend and the sink takes on a patina.
Copper, of course, will take on a patina and look better as it ages. It is the natural beauty of the material that is always in style. I have had a copper sink in my bar for many years and it only improves with age.
Yes, there is a variety of new synthetics on the market, but there is nothing like a tried and true material for the most important appliance in your kitchen, perhaps in line with your choice of a fitting.