Sooner or later, most of us will be faced with choosing a new kitchen sink. Whether it’s out of a dire need to replace that flamingo-pink decorator’s nightmare or because the old one is just worn out, there’s the likelihood that a new sink is in your future.

The thought of choosing a new sink might not sound difficult, but there are a few things you should know, particularly given the fact that kitchen sinks have come a long way since the simple cast iron basins of yesteryear. Aesthetics certainly come into play, since you’ll want something that looks nice. But there are a few technical details you’ll need to get right as well.

So how do you make the right choice? Let’s take a closer look.

Understand The Basics

The first step toward making a good choice is understanding the different ways kitchen sinks can be installed in your counter top, since this impacts how they look and function. After that you’ll need to consider the type of material you prefer as well as the sink’s configuration.

Kitchen sinks are installed in 3 different ways:

• Self-Rimming
• Undermount
• Flush Mount

Self-rimming sinks (also known as drop-in sinks) have a rim or lip that sits on top of the counter top. They’re typically the easiest to install since there are no special requirements for fixing it in place. The only drawback with this type of sink is that the lip of the sink prevents you from sweeping debris from the counter top directly into the sink.

Undermount sinks hang from the underside of the counter top. They require clips that attach to the underside of the counter top to affix the rim of the sink in place. Heavy sinks like cast iron basins usually need special bracing to support their weight in an undermount installation.

Flush mount sinks are most often used with tiled counter tops. The rim of the sink is flush with the surface of the counter top. Both the flush mount and undermount sink installations are convenient for cleaning off the counter top, since food stuffs and liquids can be easily swept into the sink bowl.

Once you’ve established the type of installation you want, you should think about the configuration you desire. In other words, what shape and style of sink do you prefer: single or double bowl, square or round basins and curved, or square corners? Large single bowl sinks are great for washing large pans whereas double bowl sinks provide the versatility of a multipurpose sink. With double bowl sinks you can perform two different duties like washing and food prep, each in a different basin.

Finally, there’s the material choice to think about. Kitchen sinks come in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, cast iron, fireclay, stone, solid surface, composite, concrete and copper. Which material to choose depends on your aesthetic preferences as well as the kind of maintenance you’re willing to sign up for. Some materials require more care than others in order to keep them clean and looking good.

Key Considerations Once You’ve Mastered The Basics

Once you have an idea of what type of sink you’re most interested in, there are some technical details you’ll have to consider to get the right sink for your kitchen.

How you live and work in your kitchen is an important factor in choosing a sink. Perhaps you have a very lived-in kitchen with teenagers who typically “drop” there ice cream bowls in the sink. In this case, stainless steel might be a good choice because of its durability. If your sink will see a bit more tender loving care, the gloss and shine of a cast iron or fireclay sink might be the right accent for your kitchen.

Think about the size of your kitchen when you choose your sink. There are some very large sinks on the market but if you have a small galley kitchen, a behemoth sink might be out of place (not to mention gobbling up some valuable counter top real estate, too). Choose a sink that will complement the size of your kitchen.

A final, and perhaps most important, consideration is to know what your faucet arrangement is or will be before you choose your sink. For example, you’ll need a three-hole sink for a faucet configuration that includes a spout and individual hot and cold handles.

Learn What’s Available

Finally, do a little browsing to learn what special features and options are available with today’s kitchen sinks. Integral cutting boards and low-rise bowl dividers are some of the features that make today’s sinks more efficient.

The Internet affords a great place to easily and conveniently browse both sink manufacturer websites as well as shopping sites. They offer a quick way to gain visibility on the kind of features and options that will make your next kitchen sink the perfect choice.

Robert Levesque is publisher of, a home design resource for helping you choose products and services when remodeling or building a new home.

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