Choosing a kitchen sink is a major part of kitchen renovation. From traditional top-mount sinks to newer, trendier units like the low divider sink, consider which type of sink suits your kitchen and your personality the best.
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Top-Mount, Drop-In, or Self-Rimming Sink
The most common type of kitchen sink, the top-mount or drop-in, installs from above. Based on a template provided by the sink manufacturer, a hole is cut into the counter material and the sink is inserted from above. All of the sink's weight is carried by the rim. Then the rim of the sink is caulked to the counter with silicone. Because the sink edge creates a rim, these sinks are sometimes called rimmed or self-rimming sinks.
The sink's rim prevents you from sweeping water and debris from the counter straight into the sink.
The rim adds yet another part of the sink that needs to be cleaned.
Some homeowners dislike the look of separation between sink and rim.
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Undermount sinks are the opposite of top-mount sinks, as the sink is attached to the bottom of the counter with special clips.
Undermount sinks allow you to sweep countertop water and crumbs straight into the sink with a sponge. These sinks have no rim to get in the way, making clean up a charm.
Smoother look is attractive to many homeowners.
Undermount sinks are often of higher quality than overmount sinks.
Though gunk does not build up on top, it will collect under the counter, where the sink and counter meet.
Undermount sinks are usually more expensive to buy and install than overmount sinks.
Undermounting may limit the size of your sink.
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Double Basin/Bowl Sink
The most popular type of kitchen sink basin arrangement, the dual basins allow for washing on one side and rinsing or drying on the other side. Truly multi-purpose and highly flexible, double basin sinks have all sink operations covered: washing, rinsing, and draining. It is hard to go wrong with a good double basin sink.
Multi-purpose and highly flexible.
Useful in households without dishwashers.
Either side can be too small to accommodate large pots, baking pans, or casseroles.
Some homeowners dislike the utilitarian appearance of a double sink.
Contemporary trends favor single-basin sinks.
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Single Basin/Bowl Sink
Single basin is a general category of kitchen sinks, which can include both farmhouse (apron) sinks and in-counter sinks. This type of sink has no divided basin.
The single basin is large enough to wash big items such as casseroles and cookie sheets.
Single basins are ideal for large capacity houses with many people and busy cooking operations.
If you like the look of an apron sink, you're best off with a single basin.
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Be prepared to have a drying area on the side of the sink, as single basin sinks have no room for this.
Single basins are less popular due to their inflexibility and small size.
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Farmhouse or Apron Sink
Farmhouse, or apron, sinks are large single basin sinks distinguished by their front wall, which forms both the front of the sink and the front of the counter. The most popular type of installation is with the sink level and integrated in the counters. However, apron sinks are sometimes installed "country style": on top of a cabinet or on a freestanding table (fixed against the wall) and not surrounded by counters.
These generously sized sinks make it easier to wash big casserole and baking pans.
Because there is less room between the sink and the edge of the counter, the person using the sink can move in a little bit closer to the sink, avoiding fatigue.
Many people love the "farmhouse" look of an apron sink.
Apron sinks are prone to dripping, as there is only a narrow barrier between the sink and the floor.
Can be very expensive compared to other sink styles.
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Drainboard sinks combine a small basin on one side with a counter-level drainboard on the other side.
These smaller types of sinks are great in galley kitchens or any limited space.
Because the drainboard portion has a lip around it, it traps water and quickly drains it back to the sink.
Basins tend to be small in drainboard sinks. So if you love to cook and entertain lots of people, this sink may not be for you.
If you rarely wash dishes by hand you'll have little use for the drainboard.
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Low Divider Double Basin Sink
A low divider kitchen sink is a double basin sink, but instead of the divider rising to the level of the top of the sink, it is only half of that height.
What We Like
Low divider sinks are a perfect combination of single basin and double basin sinks. When you fill one side low with water, it works as a double basin sink. But if you need extra room for big pans, simply keep filling higher so that the water overflows the divider.
Most people find the low divider sink easier to use for food prep.
Since not many manufacturers offer low divider sinks, prices tend to be higher than for other types, such as single basin, double basin, and even farmhouse sinks.
While in theory, it can double for a single basin sink, the low divider sink has less room for large items such as casseroles or broiler pans.
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Island, Bar, or Prep Sink
Considerably smaller than primary kitchen sinks, bar (or prep) sinks are used either for bartending operations or for supplementary food preparation. Bar/prep sinks are always single basin and are usually no more than about 15 inches square or diameter (round).
If you have the space, a second sink is always welcome. Install this sink in your kitchen island or at the far end of your main countertop.
Secondary sinks make it easier for multiple people to prep food at the same time.
These sinks are a great addition if you entertain frequently and want easy access to a bar sink while also preparing or cleaning up from a meal.
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Some homeowners install these sinks with good intentions, yet rarely end up using them.
Depending on your kitchen layout, secondary sinks can take up valuable counter real estate.
Secondary sinks are a luxury that may break your budget unnecessarily.
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Integrated (or integral) sinks are produced by solid surface countertop manufacturers such as DuPont for its Corian line and Samsung for its Staron line. Integrated sinks are made of the same material as the counter and are fused in place at the fabricator's shop.
With integrated sinks, the obtrusive rim is eliminated. The counter flows seamlessly into the sink.
Integrated sinks eliminate the under counter seam (prone to collecting debris and mold) found on undermount sinks.
Many homeowners love the look of integrated sinks.
Integrated sinks, common in bathrooms, are more difficult to find in the kitchen realm.
These are custom order items and, as a result, are rather expensive.
If the sink is damaged, it cannot simply be removed and replaced: it must be repaired.
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A kitchen corner sink has double basins which are set at right angles to each other.
Some corner sinks are spaced wide enough to have a built-in drying area in the center section.
Corner sinks cleverly make use of notorious space-wasters: counter corners.
Corner sinks are rarely needed and are thus hard to find.
When you can find them, corner sinks are expensive.
Also, these sinks require custom cuts in the counters. Since most kitchen counters are seamed at the corners, these sinks are forced to bridge this seam, reducing the structural strength of the countertop in that area.