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Some of my readers requested a post about stainless steel kitchen sinks. Kitchen sinks can be made of stainless steel, copper, porcelain, cast iron, granite composite materials. Stainless steel is popular and widely used. It is non toxic, easy to clean and maintain. It doesn’t stain easily and get scratched or damaged easily. However, is there anything harmful in stainless steel kitchen sinks we should consider? How do we choose a stainless steel kitchen sink? Is there anything we should look for? Find out what to look for when getting a stainless steel kitchen sink and what stainless steel kitchen sinks are available.
What To Consider With Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Specs & Materials
Stainless Steel Material
There are different types of stainless grades available: 200 series, 300 series and 400 series. Kitchen sinks are commonly made of 300 series stainless steel. 300 series stainless steel is a food grade stainless steel with 18/10 or 18/8 chromium and nickel content. 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel and 18/8 means 18% chromium and 8% of nickel. Nickel content helps stainless steel be resistant to corrosion. The more the nickel amount, the more corrosion resistant the stainless steel is. 300 series stainless steel includes 304 or 316 (T304 or 316). 304 is the most common stainless steel and 316 is a more expensive stainless steel than 304. 316 contains more nickel content (10–14% nickel ) and it is more resistant to corrosion than 304. 400 series (430) does not contain nickel (18% chromium and 0% nickel, actually 0.75% of nickel to be exact). 200 series doesn’t use nickel but manganese is used instead. 200 series stainless steel is lower quality stainless steel and it will corrode faster. Most kitchen sinks are made of T304 (or also called 304) stainless steel.
The gauge is the thickness of the sheet of stainless steel. The lower number of the gauge, the thicker the stainless steel is. Therefore, 16 gauge is better than 18 gauge. Thicker gauge is more durable and can be less susceptible to denting. It can be also more sound resistant than thinner gauge. Gauge can range from 16 to 24. (16, 18, 20, 22, 24) If you could choose, 16 gauge would be the best, 18 being the next.
Sound Absorption Coating and Pads
I wanted to see if there is anything to look out for when purchasing a stainless steel kitchen sink. What materials are involved with stainless steel kitchen sinks? Stainless steel is a great material for a kitchen sink. However, it can be noisy when dishes, pots and pans are being washed in the bowl of the sink, water is running water and splashing in the sink bowl or the garburator is running. For this reason, many stainless sinks have a special coating on the bottom of the sink or often have sound absorption pads in the bottom and sides of the sink. Sound-absorbing coating and pads help the sink reduce the vibrations and noise from dishes, pots, pans, the garbage disposal and running water. Most stainless steel kitchen sinks have built-in acoustic pads to help quiet things down.
If your kitchen sink doesn’t have sound dampening coating or pads, you can also make the stainless steel sink quieter by applying coating or adding sound dampening pads. Sound dampening pads are typically made of a rubber compound or mass loaded vinyl. Sound absorption pads and their adhesive can off-gas VOC. Although the VOCs off-gas from the sound absorption pads and an adhesive used to attach those pads to the stainless steel kitchen sink, they may not be toxic to most people. However, they could still cause some people with chemical sensitivity to have headaches, itchy eyes, a sore throat and so on. During my research, although some websites mentioned that not all stainless steel sinks have a sound dampening coating or pads, most well-known kitchen sink brands all had some sort of sound dampening pads or coatings.
Caulk seals joints or seams of doors, pipes, windows and it is used to prevent water from entering or leaking. It is used to seal between the sink and the countertop. The caulk types can include an acrylic latex, vinyl latex, silicone, acrylic tile sealant or polyurethane. Caulk can contain and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Caulk, adhesive, sealants used for a kitchen sink can contain solvents or chemicals that smell and off-gas. Caulk may not bother most people but it could bother some people with a chemical sensitivity.
What To Consider With Kitchen Sink Styles
Sink Edge (Rim)
There are three styles of sinks: undermount sinks, drop-in sinks and farmhouse sinks. For undermount sinks the rim of the sink is covered under the counter top so you will not see the rim on the countertop. For drop-in sinks, the rim of the sink sits on top of the countertop so the rim is visible on the countertop. Drop in sinks are sealed with a waterproof caulk along the visible edges of the sink so water doesn’t get in under the edge. For farmhouse sinks, the front basin is visible and not covered by cabinets.
Size (Length, Width and Depth)
Most people prefer their sink to be roomy since the sink bowl can fill up pretty quick from dishes, pots and pans. However, sink size also depends on how much countertop space you require if you are remodelling your countertop. If you are replacing just a sink, not replacing the countertop or not modifying the cabinetry, you need to find out what the current sink dimensions are so that a new sink with the same dimensions can be replaced. The new kitchen sink should have the same bowl size (sink width and sink depth) of your current sink due to your your cabinet space. A deeper sink is not always the best. The sink depth is between 6″ and 12″ in general with a 7″ depth being the most common. If you are a short or tall person, a deeper sink may be uncomfortable, trying to reach the bottom of the sink or bending over too much to do dishes. You can read on how to measure a kitchen sink here.
Length: the sink’s measurement along the countertop
Width: the sink’s measurement from front to back
Depth : the depth of the sink bowl (how deep the sink bowl is)
Number of Bowls
There are three types of sink: single-bowl, double-bowl and triple-bowl. The bigger the number, the bigger size kitchen sink it can accommodate. Single-bowl sinks are typically 33 inches or less in length and ideal for small kitchens. Double-bowl sinks can be up to 48 inches long and triple-bowl can be up to 60 inches. If you wash dishes by hand, double-bowl sinks can be practical. The dividing wall between the sinks for the double-bowl or triple-bowl should be lower than the sink’s outside rims so that water doesn’t spill over to the countertop.
Stainless steel finishes include satin, brushed, polished or shiny finish. Brushed finish has a non-reflective, matte surface. It doesn’t show wear and tear easily. Polished or shiny finishes has a mirror-like look and a reflective surface so it doesn’t hide scratches well. However, it may be easier to clean since the surface is smooth unlike a brushed finish with a slight texture (wire brush strokes on the surface). A satin finish has very fine lines and some shine. Many satin finishes are polished to give some shine but they are not too shiny and reflective. A shiny finish is shiny, mirror-like finish and it is slightly more corrosion resistant since it has a smooth surface. Grooves (textures) are more susceptible to rust.
Some kitchen sinks include a matching faucet. However, if a kitchen sink does not come with a faucet, you would have to get a faucet separately. There are different types of faucets available. The faucets include the pulldown faucet, the pullout faucet, the single handle faucet, the dual handle faucet, the commercial style faucet, the separate spray faucet, the pot filler faucet and the motion detection faucet. They have different appearances, different ways to turn on or control hot and cold water, different ways or angles to spray water, motion sensors and so on. You can choose a type and style that fits to your needs. If you are purchasing a kitchen faucet separately from your sink, you have to ensure the number of the holes for installation matches between the sink and the faucet. There are faucets for 1, 2, 3, and 4 hole sinks. (check out kitchen faucets.)
Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Brands
Here are somethings to look for when getting a stainless steel kitchen sink.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 Stainless Steel (18/10 or 18/8 of chrome and nickel for resistance to corrosion)
Gauge: 16 or 18
Sound Dampening Coating or Pads: If you want your stainless steel sink to be soundproof, you may purchase one that has noise reduction technology. If you are chemically sensitive and do not mind stainless steel sinks to be noisy, you may purchase a stainless steel sink without noise dampening pads or coatings. However, it may not be easy to find one since most stainless steel sinks come with some sort of noise dampening pads or coatings. I wasn’t able to find a stainless steel kitchen sink without noise reduction technology.
Caulk and adhesives: If caulk and adhesives are used, low VOC caulk or adhesives are preferred. However, what type of caulk and adhesives used is often not mentioned by the installer. Therefore, you may have to inquire and request if they can use low VOC ones.
Drop in sinks needs to be sealed with a waterproof caulk along the visible edges of the sink. For undermount sinks, the rim of the sink is covered under the counter top so you don’t have to seal the edges with caulk. You may choose undermount sinks if you want to avoid caulk along the edge of the sink.
Kitchen Sink Style: You will have to decide on the sink’s size, edge, number of sink bowls, stainless steel finish, a faucet that fits your your kitchen, cabinet and needs.
Below are well-known kitchen sink brands. I didn’t list sinks individually here since everyone will have different needs, tastes and styles when it comes to their kitchen.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 and 301 stainless steel
Gauge:KOHLER® and STERLING® stainless steel sinks are made from 16- to 21-gauge . Premium KOHLER sinks are made from 18- and 19-gauge stainless steel.
Sound Dampening Coating and Pads: SilentShield sound-deadening pads are applied to all STERLING and all KOHLER kitchen sinks. There is no coating or chemicals used for the sound dampening for their stainless steel sinks.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 Stainless Steel
Gauge: 16 -18 gauge
Sound Dampening Coating and Pads: All of Kraus sinks have NoiseDefend™ technology. The NoiseDefend™ technology provides exceptional sound reduction when you’re using the sink, with extra-thick rubber dampening pads and a non-toxic undercoat to eliminate noise from dishwashing and waste disposal.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 stainless steel
Gauge: 18 -20 gauge
Sound Dampening Coating and Pads: All of Elkay sinks have SOUND GUARD® TECHNOLOGY.Sound-deadening pad(s) minimizes sound and vibration for a quieter time at the sink.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 Stainless steel
Gauge: Most BLANCO sinks are either 18 or 20 gauge.
Sound Dampening Coating and Pads: The same kind of sound deadening pads used by luxury automobile manufacturers are installed on many of their stainless steel sink models.
Stainless Steel Grade: 304 Stainless Steel
Gauge: 18 gauge
Sound Dampening Coating and Pads: All of their sinks include sound dampening pads and they are not lacquered or sealed.
There are many aspects of a kitchen sink you should consider when choosing a kitchen sink. Stainless steel sinks from the well known brands listed above are all made of 304 stainless steel (for one brand, their stainless steel includes 301), either have 16 or 18 gauge, and have sound dampening pads. Most kitchen sinks these days have sound reduction pads for noise dampening. These sound dampening pads are usually made of rubber compounds or mass loaded vinyl which could be made of harmful chemicals. Adhesives and caulk used can also emit harmful volatile organic compounds. (VOCs). They may not cause any harmful long-term ill effects for average people. However, for chemically sensitive individuals, sound dampening pads, caulk or adhesives can cause some headaches, itchy eyes, a sore throat and so on. The smell can also bother them although it may not be the case for others. Although some websites mentioned that you could choose sinks with no sound dampening pads or coatings (if you don’t mind the noise), all sinks from the well known brands have sound reduction pads or coatings. I couldn’t locate stainless sinks without sound reduction technology. (Please let me know if you know any brands that carries one without sound reduction technology). If you are installing a kitchen sink yourself, you can choose to use low-VOC adhesives, caulks and sealants. If you have an installer, you can request to use low VOC ones. You can eliminate caulk along the edge of the sink on the countertop if you choose a drop-in kitchen sink style. I think when it comes to a kitchen sink, you should find out what your needs are and find a kitchen sink that fits your needs. Other than the materials used, you should also consider the sink style, number of bowls, a faucet, size, a type of stainless steel finish, edges and so on. Hope this post helps you choose the best stainless steel kitchen sink that fits your needs!
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