With so many sales papers advertising kitchen and lavatory sinks we thought we would put together a comprehensive list of the different materials used in manufacturing these sinks along with their benefits and drawbacks.

VITREOUS CHINA – Basically this is china that has been glazed so the surface is nonporous as to ward against bacteria growth. This the most common material used in lavatory sinks, it’s actually the most common material used to make all plumbing fixtures but for the sake of this article we’ll stop at lavatories. China is relatively cheap to manufacture, the technology is mature and the finished product is relatively durable. Manufacturers can make product in a wide variety of colors and china can be molded into any shape so it is very versatile. Here are some pictures of the various sizes, shapes, colors and mounting options for vitreous china fixtures.

Kitchen and Lavatory Sink Materials

DROP IN LAVATORY

Kitchen and Lavatory Sink Materials

UNDERCOUNTER MOUNT LAVATORY

Kitchen and Lavatory Sink Materials

WALL HUNG LAVATORY

Kitchen and Lavatory Sink Materials

PEDESTAL LAVATORY

  • BENEFITS OF VITREOUS CHINA
  1. Fairly durable
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. Fairly cheap to manufacture
  4. Comes in a variety of shapes and colors
  • DRAWBACKS OF VITREOUS CHINA
  1. Can crack fairly easily, if heavy object or a blunt object is dropped in a china sink it is pretty likely to crack. Not a sensible material for kitchen sinks.
  2. No sound deadening properties.

ENAMELED CAST IRON – This product is made from cast iron that is glazed with vitreous enamel. It is extremely durable, naturally acid resistant; because of its thickness it is very resistant to denting or chipping. Cast iron is also very dense which lends to very good heat retention properties. Water in cast iron fixtures stays warmer longer. Cast iron has excellent sound deadening properties. Enameled cast is considered a premium plumbing fixture and tends to be expensive to manufacture. Fixtures made of cast iron have decreased over the years because of the inherent costs. Enameled cast iron fixtures can be made in a full spectrum of colors.

  • BENEFITS OF ENAMELED CAST IRON
  1. Extremely durable
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. Can be made in a full line of colors
  4. Has fantastic heat retention.
  5. Naturally sound deadened
  6. If the enamel chips it can be repaired.
  • DRAWBACKS OF ENAMELED CAST IRON
  1. It’s expensive and the manufacturers that produce it are limited.
  2. The product is very heavy so proper installation is important. If a kitchen sink is under-mount it’s a good idea to brace from below.
  3. When enameled cast iron is used for a kitchen sink people tend to use some pretty strong chemicals to clean. Over time the enamel will pit and be susceptible to staining especially from coffee.

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS– Although stainless steel has been used as a material for kitchen sinks in the home and the food service industry for decades its popularity has exploded over the last 10 to 12 years. Stainless steel is very durable, acid, corrosion and stain resistant, easy to manufacture, fairly affordable and relatively easy to maintain. We’ll go into a little more detail with stainless because when we say fairly affordable those words are very relative to the quality of the product. Here are the different gauges of stainless the lower the gauge the thicker the material:

  • 16 gauge – this the thickest stainless steel offered “off the shelf” for lavatories and kitchen sinks. When buying a sink of this gauge you can expect the best finish and the sink typically has very good sound deadening. This is achieved by undercoating the steel. Sinks manufactured in this gauge are very expensive, figure around $1,100.00 for a typical under-mount. We hesitate to put any pricing here but think it necessary to put affordability into perspective.
  • 18 gauge – this is the most popular gauge for high end kitchen and lavatory sinks. Very nice satin finish very good sound deadening qualities. Manufacturers produce sinks in this gauge in every size and shape you can imagine.
  • 20 gauge – this gauge of sink is what you typically see in the home centers. Its finish is usually OK but it tends to be a little rougher, the grains coarser. Manufacturers can up sell this gauge of sink by offering thicker sound deadening undercoat. Your range of sizes and shapes begins to get limited in this gauge but there is still a wide variety to choose from.
  • 22 gauge – this is the thinnest gauge of metal offered and the thinnest we would recommend you buy. It has little or no undercoating and its finish is what you would expect in a very cheap sink. It is typically manufactured in a very limited range of sizes and shapes. This a “builders special” sink.
  • BENEFITS OF STAINLESS STEEL
  1. Extremely durable, almost stain proof, acid resistant.
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. If the finish gets marred stainless can be pretty easily be repaired. Please see drawbacks of stainless steel.
  4. Is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
  • DRAWBACKS OF STAINLESS STEEL
  1. Although durable the satin finish will always get damaged over time. If you desire to keep the finish you’ll either pay someone to refinish or get real good at using fine grain sand paper.
  2. If you want a nice sink that doesn’t ring like a bell when something is dropped in it you’ll pay the price. Expect to pay between $300.00 and $500.00 for a nice stainless steel kitchen sink.
  3. Although attractive it only comes in one color.

FIRECLAYFireclay ceramic is a relatively new material being used to manufacture kitchen and lavatory sinks. It is very durable and

Kitchen and lavatory sink materials

Fireclay Ceramic Sinks

can withstand extreme heat.  It can be made in a glossy or matte finish. This is a premium material so it tends to be very expensive.

  • BENEFITS OF FIRECLAY
  1. Extremely durable, it is a very hard substance so it is very difficult to break under normal conditions.
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. Can be ordered in matte or glossy.
  • DRAWBACKS OF FIRECLAY
  1. It is expensive
  2. Although you can order fireclay in different colors its palate is limited mostly due to its expense.
  3. Fireclay does not come in a variety of shapes and sizes; you are more likely to design your kitchen or bath around the sink than the other way around.  We’re not sure this is really a drawback because this is more of a custom plumbing fixture but it does limit your choices.

 

SOLID SURFACE– OK we’ll attempt to be as brief and to the point as possible. Solid surface sinks cover a wide range of products butthey all have one thing in common plastics. The brand name Corian™ is one of the most popular solid surface products. It comes in a ton of colors and is usually integrated into the countertop. Translation, the countertop is made and the lavatory or kitchen sink is fused to the counter, the bowl is usually a different color to add contrast. The long and short of things is that Corian™ is molded plastic. It’s pretty tough stuff; naturally sound deadened but fairly expensive because you usually buy it in conjunction with a countertop.

  • BENEFITS OF SOLID SURFACE
  1. Pretty durable, it is the same color through the entire depth of the sink material so scratches are nearly invisible.
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. The color palate you have to choose from is extensive.
  • DRAWBACKS OF SOLID SURFACE
  1. Can be discolored by heat. You shouldn’t set a pan just used to boil water in a Corian sink.
  2. There is not much of a selection when it come to styles and textures, round, oval, square, double bowl, single bowl.
  3. It can be expensive.

SOLID SURFACE QUARTZ/GRANITE SINKS – Most of the sink/molded stone manufacturers make this type of sink. For the most

Kitchen and lavatory sink

Beautiful and Almost Indestructible

part it is acrylic mixed with some type of aggregate whether it is granite silica or quartz. They are virtually indestructible, and are naturally sound deadened. The quartz/granite really gives the sink character as you can see the fleck in different light. They can be under-mount or drop-in and are extremely competitively priced.

  • BENEFITS OF SOLID SURFACE QUARTZ/GRANITE
  1. As mentioned above this is really tough stuff, heat doesn’t affect it, it doesn’t chip or crack and it is also the same color throughout so if it does scratch you won’t notice.
  2. Naturally resistant to bacterial and mold growth.
  3. Quartz/Granite sinks are very competitively priced.  Please note, we feel it’s our duty to inform the consumer, if these products are offered in a new home do some research right here on the list prices. Sometimes an upgrade in product doesn’t equal an additional cost.
  • DRAWBACKS OF SOLID SURFACE QUARTZ/GRANITE
  1. Very limited color palate. We are aware of only four at this time. Black/Nero, White/Bianca, Granite (Gray) and Bisque (Very Light Beige). Not all manufacturers have all these colors some have only three.
  2. Limited sizes and shapes, however the selection is improving.

OTHERS – There are other materials used to make kitchen and lavatories like copper, bronze and even titanium however they are extremely expensive usually fairly custom made, meaning Kohler/American Standard/Franke doesn’t have a hundred of these sitting in a warehouse and these are sinks that you once again design a room around.

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