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'.
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.
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 choices.
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.
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 is a natural mineral substance, easy to care for, available in several color ranges (no two are alike) and it is in some of the most 'now' styles like extra deep farm sinks with wide apron fronts.
Copper and Brass is usually associated with bars or 'veggie' sinks, as these metals are sometimes chosen for kitchens planned in the Old World mode or for a 'gourmet' appearance.