The famous American saying “Everything but the kitchen sink” doesn’t apply to every complete dream kitchen makeover.

Just like all household appliances and fixtures, the hardworking, humble, ultra-durable H2O engine of every kitchen has an expiration date. For instance, acrylic kitchen sinks are the reliable oak trees of the kitchen, strong performers for 50 years on average, according to Mr. Rooter.

But no one can deliver water on 24/7, 365 on call forever, not even Aquaman. On average, vessel sinks made from copper, porcelain, glass or stone last over 20 years, while enameled steel kitchen sinks have an average lifespan of just a decade. 

And if your kitchen sink isn’t firing on all cylinders, it can throw everything else in your house out of rhythm and into disaster. Hands go dirty, fresh vegetables are sacrificed for frozen pizza, dogs are drinking out of the toilet. A non-performing or dated kitchen sink working in a contemporary 21st century American kitchen is like a racecar trying to run without an engine.

It simply doesn’t work, especially in today’s uncertain COVID-19 climate. 

Warning Signs of a Dying Sink From Yesteryear

Here are Four Telling Signs It’s Time To Throw Out Your Kitchen Sink and Faucet and replace it with something more functional and stylish for your kitchen of today and tomorrow.

  1. There are visible mineral deposits.
  2. It’s really, really old.
  3. It’s gotten rusty.
  4. The most telling sign: It keeps leaking no matter how many times you try to fix it.

But what sink will work best for your new kitchen? 

Kitchen sinks come in a variety of materials, in fact, there are more different types of sinks than there are colors of the rainbow. As Better Homes & Gardens notes, “the best kitchen sink material for you depends on how much money you want to spend, your cleaning routine preferences, and what material goes best with your kitchen’s style.”

Here’s a rundown of America’s favorite kitchen sink materials:

  • Stainless Steel: Like fine wine, this American classic is getting better with age and today’s technological upgrades. Newer 16 and 18-gauge steel sinks are thicker and less noisy than their less-expensive predecessors. Stainless steel’s chromium and nickel makeup (indicated by its structural code, like 18/10) deliver a rich glow and corrosion resistance. Stainless-steel sinks are stylish, affordable, durable and easy to clean. Beware of their glaring weakness, though: They are susceptible to scratches and water spots.
  • Cast-Iron: Like Tony Stark’s Iron Man, they are almost indestructible, no matter what Thanos or your busy family put them through. Cast-iron sinks are born of enamel fired on an iron form and are Webster’s definition of durable. They lessen noise and vibration more than other materials and are available in a wide range of colors. One cautionary note: They can be extremely heavy for installation. 
  • Composite Sinks: A durable chameleon of sinks, composite sinks can be made of quartz, granite or other materials mixed with an acrylic or polyester-resin base. They are resistant to stains and scratches and are easy to care for. Alas, they carry a hefty price tag.
  • Vitreous China: This bathroom sink standard is now doing double duty in many American kitchens due to its glazed clay material, hard and non-porous nature and glasslike shine. The downside: It’s prone to chipping. 
  • Solid Surfacing: Made from polyester or acrylic base, solid surfaced sinks boast a stone-like appearance and are low maintenance on the care chart. But just like solid surfacing countertops, they can are susceptible to heat and dings from sharp objects. 

Style, Placement & Function

Let’s talk sink styles, placement and functionality. Some sinks are inherently more sink runway ready than others. The more modern a sink’s look, the more natural a fit it will be for today’s contemporary American kitchen. Here are today’s most popular kitchen installation and sink basin configurations:

  • Undermount Kitchen Sinks: No debris, no grime and ultra-convenient, these sinks are installed beneath the countertop and provide a non-barrier transition from countertop to sink. The caveat: Installation is costly. But undermount kitchen sinks work great, especially with granite and solid surfacing while keeping countertop edges waterproof. 
  • Drop-in Sinks: You’re get anything but a sinking feeling if you go with this route. Drop-in sinks are dropped into a hole in the countertop and the lip of the sink rests on the countertop. Drop-ins are more affordable than undermount sinks and easier to replace. On the minus side: They lack the sleek profile of undermount sinks. 
  • Double Basin: The classic one basin for scrubbing, one for rinsing has been getting the job done for centuries. It remains American remodelers’ go-to configuration.
  • Single Basin: A conceptual marvel that makes soaking and scrubbing large roasting pans and platters a breeze, they are a smart, functional and stylish alternative to the traditional kitchen sink. 

Don’t take sink functionality lightly. As Better Homes & Gardens stresses, “having the right (kitchen sink) can make all those minutes spent scrubbing and rinsing easier and more efficient.”

Where To Throw In The Kitchen Sink

The answer to the most important functional question of a kitchen sink is most often your kitchen’s existing sink spot. By keeping your new sink in its predecessor’s location, you don’t have to worry about moving plumbing lines. But if your kitchen’s current sink location is cumbersome, a sink relocation could be super smart money move.

Kitchen designs usually follow a triangle work core pattern: 1) the range/prep space at one point; 2) the refrigerator at a second point; 3) the cleanup zone (sink and dishwasher). This layout makes a kitchen’s traffic and meal preparation flow naturally.

Corner sink placements run counter to the traditional kitchen triangle work core patter, but offer more work space.

Meet the Best Kitchen Sinks of 2020

Here are The Spruce’s Top Kitchen Sinks for 2020 and their average prices:

Best Overall: KRAUS Loften Drop-In Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $360

Best Budget Kitchen Sink: KRAUS Topmount Double Bowl Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $130

Best Farmhouse: Kohler Whitehaven Farmhouse Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $470

Best Modern: KRAUS KHF200-30 Standart PRO Kitchen Stainless Steel Sink

  • Average Price: Prices vary.

Best Stainless Steel: Ruvati Drop-In Stainless Steel 33-Inch Workstation Edge Topmount Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $399

Best Porcelain: Kohler Whitehaven Smart Divide 36” Farmhouse Double-Bowl Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $1,125

Best Copper: SINKOLOGY Adams Farmhouse Pure Solid Copper 33” Single Bowl Kitchen Sink

  • Average Price: $590

Best Workstation: Kraus Kore 33” Stainless Steel Single Bowl Kitchen Sink All-In-One Kit

  • Average Price: Prices vary.

A stylish, functional and practical kitchen sink is something that should be included in every comprehensive kitchen makeover. Don’t attempt any major kitchen makeover without throwing in the kitchen sink. 

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