23 March / 2018
Choosing Your Sink Material: First Things First
When shopping for a new sink, you're probably focused on looks, not what it's made of. But picking out a sink material should be your first step in the process for reasons including cost, durability, and ease of installation. So before getting into style, first settle on a material.
The go-to material for almost everyone, ceramic sinks have a solid track record for ease of cleaning, smooth feel, and glossy finish plus you can get them in configurations that range from sinktop and vessel types on down to undermount, drop-in and sinks intergrated into the countertop. Not all of them include drain assembly though, and be sure they're UPC certified, so your average plumber can help you to install if needed.
Cast iron sinks are one of the oldest and most sought after sink materials.Because of their utilitarian roots, cast iron sinks are often double-basin to better separate tasks (i.e. one side for soaking, the other for washing). And while we're on the topic of soaking, cast iron's outstanding insulation properties make it a great choice for keeping the water hotter for longer.
Lately, cast iron sinks are being seen more and more in the farmhouse style -- or apron front sink (see top photo). Expect to see lots more companies breaking out the rustic design. Cast iron sinks' enameled surface makes them resistant to stains and scratching, but for the most part they're heavier and costlier than ceramic.
Think of fireclay as ceramic on steroids. After the clay is baked, a second step follows where the porcelain is added and then heated to 2,000+ degrees causing the two materials to fuse into an incredibly strong, durable material. Due to the involved process, fireclay sinks tend to be spendy but worth it.
Stone has been used for bowls and other types of water containers for centuries so it makes perfect sense to repurpose rock for the bathroom in the form of vessel sinks. Travertine, sandstone, marble and other mineral-rich rock are the preferred material for interior designers looking to make statement. For this type of sink, the unique colors, patterns, and texture are as prized as their durability and water resistance.
Granite and quartz are also coveted sink materials. Most sinks of this ilk are actually composite sinks meaning the quartz or granite is crushed with resin then added to it. This should be seen as a positive since composite still has that natural stone beauty but lowers cost and increases durability.
You don't have to attend a Zen retreat to wash from a bamboo sink. This material's benefits include aesthetics, practicality, and earth friendliness. Because it grows so fast and requires no pesticides, bamboo is sustainably harvested and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. It is also extremely lightweight, water-resistant, and durable. Plus designers who want a spa-like ambience in the bathroom love it.
Stainless steel sinks are probably the most popular material choice. Because steel can be forged into many shapes, customers have a lot of configuration choice for relatively low costs. Despite the name, stainless steel sinks often show water spots, unlike ceramic or fireclay. If you do go with stainless, go for a heavier guage. This makes them less noisy but more expensive. If cost is an issue thinner guage ones can have a noise dampening coating.
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