Choosing a Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink

First Step in Choosing Your Sink

Stainless steel is by far the sink of choice for many modern kitchens in Lacey and Olympia. There does however seem to be some confusion as to what makes for a quality stainless steel sink.

The first decision regarding your choice of sink is what is your personal preference i.e. would you like a large single basin sink, or maybe a double bowl with both basins being the same size and so on?  I would recommend that you also consider the sink depth of the basin and choose one that is at least 7” or deeper. Remember that if you are going to have your sink installed as an under the counter you will also gain around a 1” in depth depending on the thickness of your countertop material (such as granite).

What Does Sink Gauge Mean?

O.K. let’s talk “gauge” stainless steel sinks are most commonly referred to based on what gauge they are. What we are referring to here is the thickness of the steel. The higher the gauge the thinner the steel. Two of the most common gauges are 16 and 18. The 16 gauge stainless steel sink being thicker than 18 gauge. I would stay away from any sink that is thinner than 18.

What Not to Buy

It is not uncommon for companies to offer a free sink with your countertop installation. In most cases these free sinks are cheap, and of low quality. To give you an example I am able to purchase some of these promotional sinks for a little as $19.99 each. What you won’t be told is that your new free sink contains little or no Chromium or Nickel, two of the key components of a quality stainless steel sink. So it will likely start to discolor within a few months leaving a brownish grey patina that is impossible to remove. Because this promotional sink was free or cheap it will more than likely come with a few more surprises. They are usually so thin i.e. 20 gauge or greater that it will not support a garbage disposal or large faucet without buckling. Another added feature to your free sink is that it is so thin that when you run your faucet it sounds like a bag of cat’s fighting.

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Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steel is ranked commercially to reflect its content. 300 series stainless steel for example will have a chromium content of at least 18% and a nickel content of at least 8%. This will give the stainless steel excellent stain and corrosion resistance. Tip: If your sink holds a good quality magnet it is not 300 series stainless.

Other Qualities to Look For Before You Buy

Also check for any unseemly welds on the corners or edges that have not been properly finished. Make sure that the exterior of the sink has been sprayed with a sound deadening material and or has sound deadening pads attached. The exception to this would be if you were using a commercial grade sink that is 14 or 12 gauge. The steel is already thick enough and sound deadening is usually not necessary. Another thing to look for is the grain of the stainless steel. The grain on the sides and the bottom of the basin should be in different directions. This is done in order to prolong the longevity of the sink as you will most likely wipe sides of your sink in a circular motion and the bottom of the basin in a front to back motion. The exception to this would be in highly polished stainless sinks. You will easily recognize these sinks by their price.

Sink Strainers

In most cases strainers do not come with the purchase of your sink. This is not a way for your plumbing supply firm or fabricator to add onto the sale. Most stainless steel sink manufacturers do not make strainers. If a particular sink manufacturers does offer strainers they are in most cases not produced at the same facility as the sinks. If you are installing a garbage disposal it will come with the proper attachments for your sink and you will only need one strainer for your other waste line. This is provided you are going with a double bowl sink.  Your sinks should comply with standard U.S. plumbing codes and be universal as to what ever type of strainer you purchase. If you are purchasing any sink from an overseas e-commerce site I would be sure that the drains comply with U.S. standards prior to purchase. I have seen this headache in Lacey and Olympia home kitchens too many times.


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