Kitchen sinks are the heart of a kitchen. You wash dishes here, rinse produce, fill pots with water (unless you have a fancy pot filler), etc. Whether you have a busy kitchen or not, the kitchen sink usually undergoes quite a bit of use.
So, finding a kitchen sink that is robust enough to hold up under regular use effortlessly is essential. While some materials are attractive, they simply don’t last, as they can’t withstand frequent uses. This article examines the most durable kitchen sink materials to help you decide which option is best for your kitchen.
In This Article
If durability is the name of the game, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel sink. These sinks regularly rank at the top of the list and appear in millions of kitchens worldwide. Although they’re not the fanciest or most expensive material out there, they get the job done and have the durability and longevity to prove it.
Stainless steel tends to be considerably more affordable than several options on our list. These sinks come in varying gauges, ranging from 14 gauge to 22 gauge. The lower the gauge, the thicker the material. Higher gauge sinks are usually found in residential settings, while lower gauges are found in commercial settings.
Pros And Cons
While stainless steel sinks excel in some areas, they fall short in others. Here are a few benefits and drawbacks to keep in mind.
- Affordable: These sinks tend to be on the more affordable end of the spectrum, although there are cheaper materials. The cost varies depending on the gauge of the steel, but they usually fall somewhere in mid-range cost-wise.
- Durable: Stainless steel sinks are tough enough to withstand heavy use for many years. They don’t dent easily, pigmented liquids won’t stain the surface, and tarnish and rust aren’t issues.
- Sanitary: Unlike some sink materials, stainless steel isn’t porous, so bacteria can’t easily accumulate on its surface. Plus, this makes it easy to clean.
- Versatile: Stainless steel sinks come in various shapes and sizes, so you can find something for almost any kitchen. While they usually only come in silvery steel color, it matches most kitchen styles, whether it’s traditional or more contemporary.
- Noisy: Stainless steel sinks aren’t quiet at all, especially when you drop dishes or other items in the sink. Even with the sound-dampening pads that some manufacturers include, these sinks are still pretty noisy.
- Limited variety: If you have a specific sink color in mind, stainless steel isn’t your best bet. Or, if you want a high-end sink that looks expensive and luxurious, you probably won’t find it in stainless steel.
- Susceptible to scratching: Despite the durability of stainless steel sinks, they’re prone to scratching. If you use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers, you may damage the surface, leaving tiny scratches. However, if you avoid these cleaners, you should be in the clear. *
Copper is another excellent option (albeit expensive) for a durable kitchen sink. Like stainless steel, copper sinks are sold in a few gauges, determining the thickness. Oftentimes, copper sinks are made by hand, giving them a unique, attractive look.
Since they’re made by hand, you can find copper sinks of varying quality and looks copper sinks. Copper isn’t the best option if you’re looking for a sink that will blend inconspicuously with the rest of your kitchen. These sinks are a bright, warm, amber-rosy color that is the center of attention in any kitchen. So, opt for a different material if you don’t want the sink to steal the show.
Pros And Cons
With its unique, eye-catching beauty, copper offers a few advantages and disadvantages. A few notable considerations include the following:
- Exceptional style and quality: These sinks are available in various finishes, including polished, matte, and rustic finishes. On top of that, you can find different textures, like hand-hammered and smooth.
- Long-lasting: With the proper care, copper sinks will last decades. So, while you’ll pay a pretty penny (no pun intended) for the sink, it’ll last a long time.
- Sanitary: Copper is naturally antibacterial, as it boasts antimicrobial properties. Although it sounds far-fetched, it has been proven!
- Pricey: For the most part, copper anything is expensive. Sinks made of it are no different. Add in the fact that they’re often handmade, which tacks on even more. You might pay anywhere from $400 to $2,000 for your sink.
- Can be tricky to maintain: Over time, copper will develop a patina, which is the result of a natural chemical reaction. To prevent this development, careful maintenance is required.
- Tough to install: Copper sinks tend to be incredibly heavy, which makes installation complicated. Usually, you need to install support in the base cabinet for its excessive weight and special tools to ensure you don’t damage its delicate surface.
Natural and composite stone sinks are an excellent choice for almost any kitchen. These materials are exceptionally durable and add a touch of refined elegance to the space. Natural or solid stone sinks tend to be pricier than composite stone sinks, but both are great choices.
You can find stone sinks in marble, granite, onyx, travertine, sandstone, soapstone, and several others. Marble and granite tend to be the most common picks, but they’re not your only options.
Pros And Cons
Specific pros and cons vary based on the particular material you choose, but stone sinks share a few. Here are some of the most notable benefits and drawbacks:
- Durable: Natural stone is incredibly durable due to years spent under immense pressure (thanks, Earth!). Composite stones hold up strikingly well, too, but isn’t solid stone.
- Easy to maintain: If natural stone is naturally sealed, it holds up well against staining, cracking, and chipping. Composite sinks hold up fine against these same things but don’t require extra sealing.
- Heat resistant: Stone isn’t a great conductor of heat, meaning its high temperatures have little effect on it. Of course, you shouldn’t set scorching pots on it since it isn’t heatproof.
- Versatile: Stone sinks come in various shapes, although composite stones tend to be slightly more versatile. The color combinations in natural stone range from one to the next, while composite stone tends to be more consistent.
- Heavy: Natural and composite stones are hefty, which makes installation tricky. For example, a natural granite sink can weigh around 300 pounds. So, you’ll need extra support and a few helping hands for assistance.
- Prone to discoloration: If you use caustic chemicals on the sink or leave pigmented food and drink on the surface, they may cause discoloration. Following the proper care instructions are essential to avoid staining and damage issues.
- Requires regular maintenance: Natural and composite stones aren’t maintenance-free. Natural stones require resealing every now and again to avoid damage, and regular cleaning is necessary for both.
Cast iron sinks feature a bright, smooth, glossy surface that beautifully matches almost any kitchen aesthetic. These sinks are a favorite among many homeowners due to their long-lasting durability and look.
The sink is made by fusing melted glass onto the iron to create the finished product. The enameled surface helps protect the iron from water, which can cause rust. The enamel hides water spots well as they blend into the milky white, glossy surface.
Pros And Cons
As you narrow down your options, it’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Here are a few pros and cons of cast iron sinks:
- Easy to maintain: Maintaining a cast iron sink is simple since the surface is smooth and even. Daily care is easy, and tackling tougher spots (like mineral deposits or stains) isn’t too hard.
- Wide variety of options: These sinks come in various colors, styles, and designs. You shouldn’t have any issues finding a sink to match your kitchen’s aesthetic.
- Durable: Cast iron is highly durable and will last for many years. If the enamel coating chips or cracks, you can easily (usually) fix it with an enamel repair kit.
- Susceptible to chips and cracks: As we mentioned, the enamel coating may crack or chip. This can expose the cast iron underneath, allowing rust to take hold. Usually, you can repair the damage with a repair kit, but it depends on the severity of the chip or crack.
- Heavy: Like several other materials on our list, cast iron is heavy. These sinks usually require extra support to handle the excess weight. Additionally, you’ll probably need help maneuvering the sink into place.
- Prone to staining: The glossy enamel surface is prone to staining, especially if you leave pigmented foods or drinks on the surface.
- Pricey: These sinks are some of the most expensive sinks on the market today, up there with natural stones and copper. These sinks aren’t a good choice if you’re looking for a budget option.
Fireclay is a popular material for kitchen sinks, especially farmhouse sinks. The material is highly durable due to the manufacturing process, where ceramic materials and glaze are fired at exceptionally high temperatures.
The final product mimics the appearance of enameled cast iron sinks yet offers superior resistance to staining and scratching. With proper care, these sinks will last for many years, although they might require re-glazing after a while.
Fireclay is most commonly used for farmhouse or apron-front kitchen sinks. These sinks feature a large, deep, single-bowl design with an exposed front. Generally, fireclay comes in white and off-white shades, but you can find a few in rich black and blue hues.
Pros And Cons
Fireclay, like every other material on our list, comes with a few benefits and drawbacks. A few major pros and cons include:
- Sanitary: The surface of fireclay is non-porous, so bacteria have nowhere to hide in the sink.
- Durable: Fireclay is resistant to acid, alkali, and scratches. Compared to other sink materials, fireclay is highly durable.
- Long-lasting: Like anything else, fireclay requires regular care and maintenance. Your efforts are rewarded, though, as these sinks will last for decades.
- Limited options: Fireclay sinks aren’t available in very many colors or configurations. The most common colors are white and off-white hues, and the most common configuration is a farmhouse-style sink.
- Not “nice” to dropped dishes: The hard surface of fireclay is unforgiving to dropped dishes, especially fine china and glass.
- Prone to staining: Bright, pigmented foods and drinks (like tomatoes, wine, etc.) can leave stains on the surface of your fireclay sink. It’s vital to rinse any brightly colored materials down the drain.
- Pricey: These sinks aren’t the cheapest option out there and aren’t particularly budget-friendly. Fireclay isn’t your best bet if you’re looking for an inexpensive option.
- Heavy: Fireclay is pretty heavy, which makes installation more complicated. Often, extra support is required, so many folks outsource the installation.
Which Sink Material Is The Best?
Sinks come in a wide range of materials, from light, durable stainless steel to hefty, hardy fireclay. Each option features unique pros and cons, so ultimately, the choice is up to you. Many of the more durable materials, like natural stones, fireclay, and copper, are on the expensive end of the spectrum.
Stainless steel might be your best bet if you’re looking for a durable, relatively inexpensive kitchen sink. Or, if you’re looking for a durable kitchen sink that will add a touch of class to your kitchen, copper, fireclay, or natural stone sinks are excellent choices.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is The Strongest Material For A Kitchen Sink?
Each of the materials we mentioned above is strong, but every option has its weak points. For example, cast iron is extremely strong, but its enamel coating may chip, allowing rust to take hold. Or, copper is a great choice, but oxidation might be your enemy (unless you like the patina).
So, you need to choose the best option for your particular needs.
What Kind Of Kitchen Sink Lasts The Longest?
Every sink material we mentioned earlier is known for its longevity. However, copper is arguably one of the longest-lasting materials. Copper is known to have a lifespan between 70 and 80 years, which is impressive.
However, stone, fireclay, stainless steel, and cast iron also have impressive lifetimes.