As the material for utility sinks, stainless steel offers unparalleled advantages for your commercial space, workroom, or garage at home. The strength and durability of the metal makes it able to support the heavy weight of equipment and to withstand corrosive chemicals used as cleaning agents or that are on the surface of your tools. The hygienic surface of the metal discourages the growth of bacteria and suits it to use in sterile settings.
Among the numerous options available for stainless steel sinks on the market today, one bowl styles are ideal for areas with a limited amount of space. If you are replacing your current fixture, these sinks allow you to make the most of your current plumbing without having to invest in upgrades. Their styles also allow for the addition of unique optional features that increase their mobility and overall utility.
You'll likely encounter many questions as you start to explore the options available in work sinks. We created our Buyers' Guide to One Bowl Utility Sinks to provide you with quick answers to these common queries and help you select the best sink for your needs.
What Are the Basic Styles Available?
Due to their wide variety of uses, sinks with a single bowl are available in numerous styles. Each one has its own set of advantages, both to their setting and their users. The styles that you will encounter most frequently are:
- Freestanding sinks stand on four legs, which extend downward from the sink bowl. If you will be washing heavy equipment in the fixture, legs offer extra support to help the sink withstand the burden. Traditional freestanding work sinks have deep bowls to accommodate large items.
- Wall-mounted sinks are attached to one wall in your business or home, typically using a triangular plate that extends downward from the base of the fixture. The sinks have a cleaner, sleeker appearance than freestanding models, but usually cannot accommodate the same weight as freestanding stainless sinks with identical specifications.
- Counter-mounted sinks fit into pre-cuts hole in countertops. Two primary styles of counter-mounted sinks are available: topmount, where the sink is dropped into the cabinetry, and undermount, where the sink is added to the cabinetry from underneath. Topmount one bowl work sinks have a lip that rests on the counter that hides flaws in the countertop. Undermount work sinks have no lip and fewer surfaces to clean, but are only usable with solid countertops, like those made from stainless steel or granite.
- Mobile sinks are ideal for medical settings or in any area where faucets are mounted onto the wall for hose attachments or other purposes. The sinks stand on four legs mounted with metal casters, allowing them to be rolled up for use and then rolled away. The drain inside of the sink can hold a specific amount of water without leaking, allowing you to work and then empty it after use. Chutes are also available on some models to facilitate draining.
What Is a Hand Sink?
A hand sink is a type of stainless steel sink with a shallower bowl than traditional models and is designed specifically for hand sanitation. You'll find hand sinks primarily in freestanding and wall-mounted styles. Sometimes, hand sinks are also called "wash sinks," "hand stations," "wash stations" or "hand-washing sinks."
What Is a Drainboard?
Typically found on freestanding sinks, the drainboard is a metal surface used for air-drying items. The surface has a raised lip on one end to keep water contained on the drainboard with no leakage onto the floor. It also has a gentle slope that allows water to run back into the sink compartment or bowl.
One bowl sinks may come with one or two drainboards. The surfaces are often customizable for length with 18, 24, 30 and 36 inches being the most common sizes. Keep in mind that the length of the drainboard can affect the balance of a freestanding sink; if you have very heavy items to drain, select the shortest style possible to avoid wobbling and leaning.
What Is a Backsplash?
With the exception of mobile styles, nearly all single bowl stainless steel utility sinks feature a backsplash. The term describes the metal plate that extends upward from the top of the sink. The name of the plate comes from its purpose--to prevent splashes from hitting your walls as you work.
What Is the Difference Between a Bowl and a Compartment?
The answer to this question is a bit tricky because some manufacturers use the words interchangeably. Typically, a compartment is just an open frame and its entire interior used for washing, while a bowl has sloped sides that fit inside of the frame. Bowls typically result in at least a small degree of lost space, but make it easier to retrieve smaller objects from their bottoms.
What Is a Gusset?
A gusset is a thick piece of steel used to connect two separate pieces of metal. They bind the legs to the body on a freestanding sink or the mounting hardware to a wall-mounted variety. When comparing sinks, look for models that are "fully welded," which offer the greatest amount of strength and durability for heavy loads.
What Do the Different Dimensions for Single Bowl Fixtures Mean?
One of the most important parts of selecting the right stainless steel utility sink for your space is knowing what size the area can accommodate. Specifications for sinks are often lengthy, which can make it difficult for you to figure out precisely what each dimension means for your space. Here is a rundown on some of the basic dimensional terms that you'll encounter:
Compartment and Bowl Sizes:
- he length of the fixture is the measurement across its front or from left to right. For drainboard models, you will usually see a length with and without the drainboard.
- The width of a fixture corresponds to its measurement across its sides or from front to back.
- The height of a sink refers to the distance from its top to its bottom. For freestanding and mobile models, you'll see measurements for the entire fixture from the floor to the top. The height of wall-mounted and counter-mounted styles are not measured from the floor; how high your sink will stand depends on where you place the mounting hardware or the height of your cabinetry.
Drainboard and Backsplash Sizes:
- The depth of the compartments and bowls in sinks tells you the most about how much water they can hold and the sizes of items that they can accommodate. The dimension represents the distance from the lowest point in the sink immediately adjacent to the drain to the top.
- Typically, not used for true compartment skinks, the taper describes how steeply the sides of the bowl slope from the top to the drain. Greater tapers mean greater volume or space in a sink bowl.
- In most sinks, some space is lost at the corners, and the amount of lost space is referred to as the radius. The smaller the radius, the more room you will have in your sink.
In addition to the length of the drainboard, specifications will also discuss its pitch. The pitch refers to the slope or steepness of the flat metal surface. Backsplashes are described by three measurements, the first of which is the size or the distance from the bottom of the vertical backsplash face to its top. The return size of the backsplash refers to the distance from the top of the vertical plate to the wall, while the return angle describes the slope that the backsplash forms as it travels to the wall.
How Can I Recognize High Quality Stainless Steel?
Once you have determined the style and size of your sink, you're ready to look at the more subtle differences between models, including the steel quality.
One of the easiest points of comparison is in the gauge of the steel, which tells you how strong the piece is. The gauge of steel is a unit that corresponds to an industry-standard thickness. The lowest gauge typically found in utility sinks is 14 and represents the thickest and strongest steel. 20 gauge is typically the highest gauge, the thinnest and weakest found in utility fixtures. For all gauges of steel sinks, only select models that are full gauge throughout the piece, even at the corners.
Stainless steel is also categorized by its type. More often than not, the one bowl sinks that you'll encounter will be of Type 304 austenitic steel, which consists of 16 percent chromium and either manganese or nickel. Type 304 is safe for food, but still highly resistant to corrosion, making it perfect for most uses. If your sink will be used in a highly industrial setting where it will be subjected to very high temperatures, you may need to select a sink that is either Type 430 ferritic or Type 410 martensitic steel. Type 430 steel contains no alloys beyond chromium and is the most common alternative to Type 304 in sinks. A small number of manufacturers produce Type 410 sinks, which contain 12 percent chromium and a small amount of nickel.
If you intend to use your sink in a commercial kitchen or food processing facility, you will need to look for models that are approved by the National Sanitation Foundation. This independent organization evaluates the sinks for all manufacturers and approves only those that meet their rigorous standards for food safety. Many state and local health departments require NSF-approved fixtures in all commercial settings that handle food and beverages.