Selecting the Right Kitchen
By: Craig Rowe
The sink is the busiest spot in your kitchen.
Nearly every task begins or ends in its embrace, so choosing
the right one for the way you will use it and the way it will
look may be one of the most important decisions you will make
when planning your kitchen. You may not feel you really need
the new one that 'cooks', but you do want a sink that will
serve you well and look terrific, while not requiring too much
time to maintain.
The newest looks in sinks are those that
compliment the latest trends in kitchen design; namely the
'commercial' or 'professional' look and the traditional Old
World styling, two design trends that continue to run parallel
to one another, closely followed by the nostalgia of 'country'
After you choose the look you want to enhance
your kitchen's personality, there is still plenty to decide.
Will you use stainless steel, porcelain, enamel or solid
surface material? How about copper or brass? For more on sinks,
go to Estimating Costs.
Stainless Steel - More popular than ever, the
stainless steel sink is the perfect compliment to the
'professional' kitchen that boasts stainless steel appliances.
Easy care is a big plus. The quality of a stainless steel sink
is measured by its gauge (the higher the number, the lower the
quality), the amount of chromium and nickel it contains (the
more, the better) and the sound control employed ( the more
padding or coating the quieter. Tile and solid surface counters
allow undermount installation for easy clean up - just push the
wet and the mess right in with no lip or edge to collect debris
or dampness. Laser embossing is available from some
manufacturers to relieve the 'too commercial' look for use in
more traditional settings, too.
Solid Surface - First used for easier care
custom counter tops, sinks of solid surface materials have
attained a close second in preference among consumers for
upscale kitchens. These wonderful man-made composite materials
present a quiet, easy to clean surface that is stain and
scratch resistant. Solid surface sinks also allow for either
surface or undermount applications and can be fabricated to
create a completely smooth transition from a solid surface top
with no discernable ridge or line where they are joined.
Computerized cutting allows fabricators to create custom
designs for both decorative and functional
Porcelain - Still the number one choice for
many consumers, there is nothing to compare with the gleaming
surface of a quality porcelain sink. Surprisingly durable,
porcelain on cast iron sinks are available in bolder colors and
more shades than any other material. Available in either
undermount or surface mount styles, porcelain sinks are
available in every imaginable style and with a wide variety of
functional options and features.
Enamel - A less expensive alternative than
others, except the most inexpensive stainless steel, enamel
sinks are also less durable. Available in several colors and
configurations enamel sinks do require more careful
maintenance. But, top mounted models may be changed out with
relatively little trouble, so enamel sink may be a better way
to cut costs than with some more permanent choices for your
kitchen like the cabinets. A good quality enamel sink may be
expected to last for several years with a little loving care.
Be sure not to scour with abrasive cleaners.
Other materials seen on today's sink scene
are Soapstone - a natural mineral substance, it is easy to care
for, available in several color ranges (no two are alike) and
in some of the most 'now' styles like extra deep farm sinks
with wide apron fronts.
Copper or Brass - usually familiar as bar or
'veggie' sinks, these metals are sometimes chosen for kitchens
planned in the Old World mode or for a 'gourmet'