How to Choose Kitchen Appliances

How to Choose a Sink

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. A corner sink is a great way to make  use of space that might otherwise be wasted.

You can expect to spend an average of eight percent of your budget on kitchen fixtures and fittings, predominantly on sinks and faucets. Sink shape and size are important, and when checking out a sink's size, pay attention to its depth, too: Bargain sinks may be six or seven inches deep, where eight inches is the standard and ten inches is preferable if you wash a lot of stockpots, pasta pots, and roasters.

Popular kitchen sink configurations include the typical single, large rectangular basin; the double-bowled sink with both sinks the same size for hand-washing and rinsing; or the double-bowled sink with one side considerably smaller, housing the garbage disposer. Three-bowl sinks are also available, in which two larger bowls flank a small, center bowl with the garbage disposer installed; this bowl is often topped with a removable cutting board.

In space-challenged kitchens, a pair of matching "corner-square" sinks can make use of an awkward corner and free up straight runs of counter for work space. "Corner circle" sinks serve the same function but have a more avant-garde look. A small square or round sink may be used as a vegetable sink in an island or as a bar sink for a wet bar in the great room. Some kitchens also feature a small, shallow, kidney-shaped sink as a second, accessory sink.

Once you choose the shape and size of your sink based on function, your next decision lies in the wide array of available materials. You may opt for a sink in shiny stainless steel, colorful enamel on cast iron, solid surfacing, or quartz composite.

  • Stainless steel, a material that has been popular since the 1950s, is sleek, contemporary, and stain resistant. The thickest and most durable steel is 18 gauge; thinner, 20- and 22-gauge steel is more prone to scratches, dents, and even punctures.
  • Enamel-on-cast-iron sinks resemble enamel on steel but are more durable and more popular, although the weight of a cast-iron sink requires hefty counters. Enamel sinks come in a wide assortment of colors, including white, the classic favorite, and colors that make a contemporary fashion statement. All have a glasslike surface that's easy to clean, but enamel can chip, revealing black cast iron beneath.
  • Solid-surfacing sinks are rimless and are seamlessly fused to the adjacent solid-surfacing counter. A handsome contemporary solution that's relatively easy to clean and repair, solid surfacing offers good color selection and color that goes all the way through. Solid-surfacing sinks cost more than metal ones and require professional installation.
  • Quartz composite sinks, a relatively new material, feature color all the way through, good color choices, and the option of a realistic granite look. Like solid surfacing, quartz composite is both stain- and scratch-resistant.

Garbage DisposalsFood waste disposers are considered basic in many kitchen remodelings. Choose either continuous feed, operated by an on/off switch under the sink cabinet or on the wall; or batch feed, activated once the stopper is securely closed and turned. Continuous-feed units are more readily available and less expensive than batch-feed models but are more costly to install. Neither one is "better" than the other; it's a matter of personal choice and preference.In our final section, we will learn how to choose a dishwasher.