You may have heard the expression “everything but the kitchen sink” as it refers to a collection of items. In this article we will discuss the most common kitchen sink materials. The options have a similar degree of variety, making for a fairly wide scope in pricing and strength.
Sink materials are as varied as their design. In this regard they're able to reflect the unique style of their owners and come with their own set of pros and cons, which we'll get into later.
Some of the most common materials used are the following:
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel mixed with a bit of nickel,
- Fire lay
- Vitreous China
- Enameled steel
- Acrylic and composite sinks
We'll talk a little bit about each type of kitchen sink material, starting with one of the most historically common options, cast iron.
Cast Iron Sinks
Cast Iron, a classic choice, is strong and heavy (although not as heavy as fire clay) and covered in porcelain. The porcelain gives it a beautiful glossy look but is obviously vulnerable to chipping and cracking. The porcelain on these sinks is also not heat resistant so if you are a cook that tends to utilize the edge of your sink (or even an empty sink) to place a hot pan or pot, this is something to keep in mind.
Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel sinks are also quite common but they are not all created equal. In order to resist rust and not sound like a tin can in an echo chamber, these sinks should contain 10% nickel and have a thickness gauge of 18. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case so proceed with caution.
Fireclay or vitreous China are sinks made from refractory clays sometimes containing silica. In the case of Fireclay sinks they are incredibly time and labor intensive, often hand made and thus uniquely crafted. This is why fireclay is a common material used in the best farmhouse sinks. The process of acquiring the materials, forming and firing makes these sinks some of the most beautiful and most expensive options. For those interested in this option on a budget, vitreous China sinks basically refers to a mass produced version of fire clay.
Copper is another artful design choice which comes with the added bonus of being naturally antimicrobial. An especially interesting fact given the studies of impressive amounts of bacteria that like to live in most kitchen sinks (gross)! However, keep in mind that that new shiny penny look doesn’t last and these sinks will develop a patina and change their look so if you really want the gorgeous shine of a brand new copper farmhouse sink but don’t enjoy spending copious time polishing you may be frustrated with the result.
Other Kitchen Sink Materials
There are a few additional, though less common, types of kitchen sink materials. These are usually cheaper but don't meet the same quality standards achieved by copper, fireclay, and even stainless steel. Still, it's worth a quick look so you know your options.
ENAMELED STEEL SINKS
Enameled steel sinks look a lot like their cast iron cousins but come with a cheaper price tag and a lot less durability.
Acrylic sinks are made from one sheet of material that is sucked into shape by a machine. They're cheap, but not often sought after by home builders.
Composite sinks made of a mixture of resin, dust and stone, can look like porcelain or natural stone depending on the finish. These can also come prebuilt into a single countertop unit.
As you can see there are a lot of different kitchen sink materials out there that each come with their own set of pros and cons. Hopefully this helps with laying out some of the options on the market and will give you an idea of what you can expect when you go looking for your ideal kitchen sink. If you're in the market now, checkout our roundup of the best farmhouse sinks, which curates modern sinks from several different material sources.
Molly is a mom of two, DIY enthusiast, real estate investor, and a fan of modern kitchen decor.