Single bowl stainless steel sinks are appealing additions to kitchens, home bars and bathrooms. Their appearance, strength and smooth texture have long made steel sinks popular, with demand increasing incredibly over the last two decades as stainless steel appliances have become more and more in vogue. Manufacturers continually release new designs with improved features and innovative looks, increasing the selection of one bowl stainless sinks available on the market. This means you'll have no problem purchasing the perfect sink to fit into your home, but it can make actually identifying that ideal fixture difficult.
To simplify your shopping experience, the Single Bowl Stainless Steel Sinks Buyers' Guide highlights the most popular features found in today’s one bowl sinks. Our guide is a shopping companion intended to give you unbiased advice on the various options available today as well as to explain some commonly used terms to assist you with your search.
Types of Sink Styles
Manufacturers produce sinks in standard, primary styles. While personal preference and your existing decor will largely determine what type of sink you select, some styles are better suited to specific purposes than others. The types and their benefits and considerations include:
Topmount sinks - Also called drop-in sinks, topmount sinks are mounted into your cabinetry from the top. The sink sits in the existing hole in your countertop and features a lip or rim that covers the cabinetry immediately adjacent to the hole.
- Benefits: For replacing an existing sink, a topmount fixture gives you the ability to use your cabinet as-is without changing the shape of the hole or modifying your plumbing. Since topmount sinks cover the cabinetry, they can easily hide defects and worn spots in the countertop for a perfect appearance.
- Drawbacks: The rim around the edges of topmount sinks gives you an additional area to clean. As this piece rests directly atop the cabinet, the area is susceptible to fingerprinting and staining, particularly if you choose a sink with a highly reflective finish.
Undermount sinks - The opposite of the topmount, the undermount sink is added to your cabinetry from beneath. There is no rim to sit on top of your cabinetry; the sink simply opens up out of the countertop.
- Benefits: Undermount sinks are considered by many to be more modern-looking than topmounts, making them more suitable for some decors. Additionally, undermount sinks are easier to clean and make it simpler to remove debris from countertops by wiping the waste into the bowl.
- Drawbacks: Since they fit underneath the cabinet, undermount fixtures leave every imperfection in your countertop visible. In addition, undermount sinks are best used with solid countertops, such as those made with granite. They cannot be used with laminate.
- Apron sinks - Available in both undermount and topmount styles, apron sinks have exposed fronts and look like basins positioned inside of your countertop. Typically, apron sinks are used for country-style kitchens. For remodeling projects, your cabinets will need adjusted or replaced to accommodate apron sinks. Also, the apron sink style has an additional front surface that requires cleaning.
- Vessel sinks - Usually reserved for bathrooms, vessel sinks sit atop your counter like a bowl. Attractive and eye-catching, vessel sinks are available in numerous shapes. Families with small children often shy away from vessel sinks in shared bathroom areas as it is often difficult for kids to reach into their bowls for hand-washing and tooth-brushing.
- Covered sinks - A small number of undermount sinks have sliding covers that can be used as additional counterspace or a drying rack area. While this increases your available workspace, usually only half of a covered sink is accessible at a time.
Once you determine what style of sink is best for your countertop and cabinetry, you can turn your attention to the shapes available for single bowl stainless steel sinks. Like styles, the shapes of sinks each have distinct benefits and drawbacks.
- Round sinks are aesthetically pleasing and often preferred in bathrooms and bar-tops. Their shape is generally not ideal for kitchens.
- Oval sinks give a similar, symmetrical appearance like round sinks, but can offer a greater amount of room due to their elongated lengths. Like round sinks, oval bowls are generally used in bathrooms.
- Rectangular and square sinks are considered by some to be less aesthetically interesting than rounder models; however, they generally are preferable for soaking and washing items.
- D-Bowl sinks have rounded top edges and squared off surfaces on their sides and bottoms. The shape gives you an attractive alternative to rectangular and square models, while offering additional space over oval and round fixtures.
- Bar sinks are long, narrow sinks that can be curved or rectangular. Typically found only as hand-washing stations in bathrooms and as utensil cleaning stations on bar-tops, bar sinks are too small for most day-to-day uses.
- A number of uneven and geometric sinks are also available on the market today. These sinks may have a completely irregular shape or have a rectangular shape with an irregularly shaped bowl.
When discussing one bowl stainless steel sinks, you'll encounter some terms that relate to the dimensions of the fixtures. Understanding these terms will help you to compare between models and select only pieces that fit into your existing decor.
- Length is the horizontal distance across your sink or the distance from "left to right."
- Width is the horizontal distance across your sink or the distance from "front to back."
- Diameter is the measure across a perfectly round sink from any spot to the spot opposite it.
Tip: The length, width and diameter of your sink all depend on the size of the hole in your cabinetry. To determine what size of sink your space requires you can consult your building plans or measure your existing sink. Keep in mind that for oval sinks, you will always need to measure from the widest point of the sink to determine the length. Square and rectangular sinks are most easily measured from corner to corner. The diameter of round bowls can be taken from any point to its opposite point.
- Depth is the height from a spot on the bowl directly beside the drain to the top of the bowl.
- Taper is the measure of how steeply the sides of a bowl slope from the top to the bottom of the bowl or to the drain.
The bigger the depth and taper, the more space is available inside of your sink. Even two sinks with the exact same shape, length and width measurements can have drastically differently bowl sizes due to these dimensions.
is the indication of how much space there is from the curved corner of a sink until the metal becomes perfectly straight.
Unlike the other measurements, a smaller radius indicates more room in your sink as the measure actually tells you how much space is lost due to the curve. Some sinks are called "zero-radius" meaning that the bowl forms perfect right angles at the base with no lost space at the corners.
Manufacturers use a specific set of industry standard terms in specifications for single bowl stainless steel sinks. The following is a rundown of these important terms to help assist with your shopping:
While all stainless steel consists of iron mixed with carbon, other metals called alloys are often added to the mix, resulting in a variety of types of the metal. You'll most commonly find Type 304 austenitic steel in sink fixtures. Manufacturers add a blend of alloys that includes either manganese or nickel to Type 304 as well as enough chromium to take up 16 percent of the total volume of the steel. The end result is a non-corrosive, food-safe surface that is ideal for use in kitchens, bars and bathrooms.
Ferritic Type 430 steel has no other alloys besides chromium. The steel is often used for making equipment and parts that will be subjected to high heat and is not common in sinks. An even more rare variety of steel, Type 410 martensitic has 12 percent chromium and a small amount of nickel as its alloys. It is uncommon to find Type 410 outside of industrial settings.
Tip: For one bowl sinks in laboratories, specialty restaurants and other commercial settings where extremely hot liquids and equipment are used, Type 430 steel may be preferable to Type 304.
When sheet metal is made, manufacturers produce it in specific thicknesses known as "gauges." The thickest and strongest steel typically used in sinks is 14, which is 1.98mm in size. As thickness decreases, the gauge number increases. In sinks, the thinnest steel typically used is 20, measuring. 95mm.
Tip: For bathroom and bar sinks, the gauge of steel is not nearly as important as in kitchens and other locations where heavy pots, pans and equipment may require washing.
After stainless steel is produced, the metal is brushed, buffed and polished to create its appearance or finish. The various techniques used to create finishes each have a specific number assigned to them. No. 4 steel is what you'll most commonly encounter for single bowl steel sinks. The finish is considered "brushed," meaning that it does not reflect light across its surface.
Sometimes called satin, the No. 6 finish reflects light on some portions of the surface, but not on others. The No. 7 finish is considered "near-mirror," while the No. 8 finish reflects light across its entire area and is the true mirror finish.
Tip: The higher the finish number of your sink, the more fingerprints and splashes will show on its surface.