Low-divide sinks are a simple solution to a long-standing kitchen sink question: Should you buy a single-basin sink or a double-basin sink?
Single-basin sinks are big, but you cannot separate activities, and there is no room for an in-sink dish drying rack. Double-basin sinks offer versatility but each basin can be too small for large cooking items.
A low-divide sink is a little of both. It has divided basins for washing and rinsing, plus it has a broad connected top section for washing large pieces like cookie sheets.
What a Low-Divide Sink Is
A low-divide sink, also called a dual-capacity sink, is a kitchen sink with a center divider that forms two basins. Unlike conventional kitchen sinks, the low-divide sink's center divider rises only partway to the top of the basins.
Conventional sinks' dividers rise to nearly 100-percent of the height of the rim. Low-divide sinks' dividers rise to 50- to 60-percent of the rim height.
Low-divide sinks allow you to have two basins for washing and rinsing or for adding a dish dryer, with a large top section that lets you wash large items. However, those large items cannot be more than a few inches high.
Cost of Low-Divide Sinks
Kohler low-divide kitchen sinks, under the brand name Smart Divide, begin at around $450 and range up to $1,500. The lower-cost Smart Divide sink is a 33-inch self-rimming or undermount double-basin kitchen sink with a 9-inch depth.
The higher-cost low-divide kitchen sinks are 35-1/2 inches wide. What sets the more expensive sinks apart from those in the lower price tier is the apron front. An apron front sink is sometimes known as a farmhouse sink.
Conventionally divided 33-inch kitchen sinks begin at around $350. Conventional apron-front 35-1/2 inch kitchen sinks cost around $1,200.
Low-Divide Kitchen Sinks Pros and Cons
Wash large items
Separate washing and drying sides
Have a dish drying rack
Cannot accommodate all large items
Shorter basin: less volume for washing
Single-Basin vs. Double-Basin Sinks
The merits and downsides of low-divide sinks are best seen against the backdrop of the two sinks they are meant to replace: single-basin and double-basin sinks.
Single-Basin Kitchen Sinks
With single-basin sinks, the lack of a second basin means that there is no reserve of fresh water to rinse items.
Also, many homeowners like to locate their dish-drying rack in the second basin to allow for water to drain right into the sink drain. So, the dryer must be located on the countertop, taking up precious countertop space and sometimes making a watery mess.
A single-basin sink's large basin is perfect for washing giant casserole pans, turkey pans, and baking sheets, as well as for smaller items.
Single-Basin Kitchen Sinks
With double-basin sinks, there is still the same large basin—it is not double-sized. This basin has a divider in the center that turns the basin into two basins.
The washing side of the sink is much smaller than the baking sheet, the drying side may be too small to rack the pan, and the pan may not even fit under the faucet for rinsing. If the sink has a hand-held sprayer kitchen faucet, you can spray it—but you may end up with water all over your kitchen countertop and the floor.
The other problem with full-rise sink dividers is that it's difficult to fit large pots underneath the faucet: the divider gets in the way.
Development of the Low-Divide Sink
Even though it's now called the Smart Divide Sink, Kohler initially patented the idea in 2006 for what they then called a dual-capacity sink, meaning that one capacity is double-basin (soapy water in one side, clean in the other, for example) and single-basin (water all throughout).
As with most inventions, there are precedents. One early solution was a convertible sink that had a removable divider. But the convertible sink inventors didn't recognize that kitchen sinks get dirty; the grooves on the convertible sinks constantly became clogged with gunk.
Kohler felt that it made more sense to create a solid product that had no moving parts and no grooves to cause cleaning problems. So Kohler inventors Tod Babick, William Gordon, and Richard Kuether came up with the Smart Divide.
Kohler's plans originally allowed for a divider that was anywhere from 20-percent to 70-percent of the height of the outside rim of the sink. In other words, if the basin was 10 inches deep, the divider might be as low as 2 inches or as high as 7 inches.
But this proved impractical, because a 2-inch high divider didn't allow for any room to fill up the separate basins, and 7 inches was nearly identical to a standard double-basin sink. When full, the single-basin (what Kohler calls The Third Zone) was nearly level with the outside rim of the sink. So Kohler designers settled on a divider that rises to 50 to 60 percent of the basin height.
Low-Divide Sink Manufacturers
- Blanco: Blanco's Performa Silgranit is that company's low-divide sink series. The material is composed of 80-percent granite.
- Elkay: U.S.-based brand Elkay makes a variety of low-divide sinks in stainless steel and quartz.
- Kohler: Kohler developed the low-divide sink carrying the brand-name Smart Divide. It's made of enameled cast iron and comes in four models. Kohler provides the most choices in low-divide sinks, though they are also the most expensive.
- Ruvati: Ruvati makes stainless steel low-divide sinks with a divider this is about 4 inches lower than the full height of the sink. There are both fifty-fifty sinks (both basins are of the same width), as well as sixty-forty sinks (with one basin occupying 60-percent, the other 40-percent, of the total sink width).
- Swanstone: Swanstone makes an under-mount sink with a low divider with its signature Swanstone material.
Smart Divide Kitchen Sinks. Kohler