If you're undergoing a kitchen renovation or remodeling, then you know the kitchen sink is an item of much discussion. Along with shape, design, and function, construction material is one of the most important aspects to consider, a topic not everyone is familiar with.
Luckily, after years of building and remodeling kitchens, we are very familiar with the different kitchen sink materials and the pros and cons of each, a topic we will cover below.
Top 7 Kitchen Sink Materials
Throughout the years, kitchen sinks have been constructed out of variety materials, some of which have worked better than others. However, whether it be due to looks, functionality, or affordability, the seven listed below are by far the most popular.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks
Making up roughly 70% of all kitchen sinks in circulation, stainless steel is by far the most popular kitchen sink material. Although there are many reasons for this distinction, the most notable and important factor is affordability. While some designer stainless steel sinks may cost as much as $300, most come with a significantly lower price tag, making it one of the most affordable materials available.
Furthermore, stainless steel is also very versatile and can be easily fashioned to make customized top or undermount sinks. On top of all this, stainless steel is very durable, doesn't rust, and is highly sanitary.
However, like everything, stainless steel does have its share of drawbacks. It's prone to water spots, scratches, and lower gauge stainless is more susceptible to dents and damages compared to many other kitchen sink materials. However, when everything is taken into account, it's easy to see why stainless steel is considered one of the top kitchen sink materials.
Pros Of Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks
- Highly affordable
- Heat resistant
- Very durable material
- Easy to clean
- Thinner gauge models are lightweight and easy to install
- Come in a variety of different sizes and designs
- Highly sanitary material
Cons Of Stainless Steel Sinks
- Scratches easily
- Thicker gauge model can be heavy
- Thinner gauge models can dent easily
- Prone to water spots
- The sound of water hitting the stainless steel kitchen sink can be loud
Granite Composite Kitchen Sinks
Granite composite sinks are made by combining crushed granite and quartz with a special kind of acrylic binding resin, typically at a ratio of 80% crushed stone to 20% resin. Once set and dried, the final product is one of the more visually appealing kitchen sink options around , making it the second most popular kitchen sink material.
Another reason why composite kitchen sinks are popular is because they are significantly cheaper than pure granite or quartz sinks yet look nearly identical. Furthermore, when done correctly, the process produces a non-porous, highly hygienic material that is both durable and easy to clean.
One of the main drawbacks of a granite composite sink is they are prone to chipping and cracking, and routine repairs using a resin filler are often required.
Pros Of Composite Kitchen Sinks
- Much more affordable than straight granite or quartz sinks
- Very durable sink
- One of the best kitchen sink materials for a mix of luxury and affordability
- Easy to clean
- The acrylic resin makes the substance highly hygienic and sanitary
Cons Of Composite Kitchen Sink
- Not the most affordable option
- Lighter colors can stain more easily
- Not as durable as other materials, and the risk for chips or cracks is always present
- Bulky, heavy, and difficult to install
Natural Stone Kitchen Sinks
For some, the savings offered by composite sinks are not important, and the sense of style and luxury that comes with a solid stone sink is what they're after. Unlike composites, stone sinks are not formed but instead carved out of large blocks of marble or granite. The finished result is one of the most visually appealing and expensive types of kitchen sink available, and many feel it is well worth it.
Aside from the sophisticated aesthetics, stone sinks are also very versatile and work for a variety of sink types, including:
- Top mount sinks
- Apron front sinks
- Undermount sinks
- Farmhouse sinks
Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks to solid stone sinks, the main one being the price. Of all kitchen sink materials, natural rock is by far the most expensive. Moreover, installation can be costly because, depending on the size/weight of the sink, the entire area may need to be reinforced. Lastly, stone is prone to chipping, and thus more care must be taken during the cleaning process.
Pros of Natural Stone Kitchen Sinks
- The natural beauty is very visually appealing
- Very durable material
- Long-lasting when properly cared for
- Come in a variety of different designs
- Granite is naturally non-porous
Cons Of Natural Stone Kitchen Sinks
- Can be challenging to install
- Some kitchen counters may need to be reinforced to support the weight
- Must re-seal the entire sink regularly
- Are prone to chipping and cracking
- Very expensive compared to other kitchen sinks
- Occasional deep cleaning is required
Cast Iron Kitchen Sinks
Next up, we have another luxury kitchen sink material in cast iron. Like stone, cast iron is heavy and visually appealing but costs significantly more than most other types of kitchen sinks. While people are familiar with cast iron because of its role in cookware, mostly as pans and skillets, cast iron sinks are slightly different.
Instead of leaving the iron alloy exposed, almost all cast iron sinks are coated with a porcelain enamel that stops rusting and makes them easy to clean. This porcelain enamel is not simply painted on but is heat fused to the metal during the production process. The result is a smooth and durable surface that is highly resistant to stains or fading.
Perhaps the main drawback to a cast iron sink is the cost and weight. Not only do they weigh roughly four times as much as a thicker gauge stainless steel sink, but they can also be challenging to install, especially when used as an undermount sink.
That being said, cast iron still makes for an excellent material for those who don't mind the extra cost and are looking for something with more style and elegance than what stainless offers.
Pros Of Cast Iron Sinks
- Highly durable
- Porcelain enamel finish makes it easy to clean
- Cast iron sinks come in a variety of colors to match any kitchen
- Stain resistance
- Highly sanitary
- Undermount models are easy to find
- Make a good farmhouse sink
Cons Of Cast Iron Sinks
- Much more expensive than many other materials
- Difficult to install
- Some countertops may require reinforcement to support the sink
- The porcelain enamel coating is prone to chipping
- It can be challenging to match the color when repairing chipped or scratched enamel coating
Copper Kitchen Sinks
Of all kitchen sink materials, copper is undoubtedly the most unique. Not only are they highly functional, but they offer a warm elegance to their surroundings unmatched by any other material. Furthermore, copper sinks are nowhere near as expensive as cast iron or granite sinks, and the average copper sink usually comes with a price tag of somewhere around $150.
Moreover, cooper is not as heavy as other luxury materials, meaning they are easy to install and don't require extra reinforcement to support the weight. However, copper is naturally very reactive, and the deep rosy-pink color will inevitably change over time. To some, this dynamic nature is part of the charm of copper sinks, while for others, it's something of a turn-off. On top of this, copper is a soft metal, meaning it is more prone to dents and other damages than stainless.
Still, copper sinks (both in the kitchen and bathroom) are rising in popularity faster than any other type of sink because of the mix of luxury, affordability, and durability they provide.
Pros Of Copper Kitchen Sinks
- Highly aesthetically pleasing
- Very durable
- Not as heavy as other luxury materials
- Surprisingly affordable
- Color is dynamic, with the hue and tone changing over time
Cons Of Copper Kitchen Sinks
- Copper can tarnish if not properly cared for
- The change in color over time may not be to everyone's liking
- Prone to dents and scratching depending upon how it's finished
Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
Last but not least, we have fireclay sinks, an option that combines old-world materials with modern design. To produce a fireclay sink, manufacturers mold ceramic clay into the shape of a sink then leave it to dry under high heat for close to an hour. Once dried, the sink is then covered with an enamel coating, where it is once again subject to high temperatures, this time for a period of 20 hours. The final result is a highly durable kitchen sink that closely resembles its cast iron counterpart.
While fireclay kitchen sinks have many positive qualities, they are not without their drawbacks. For starters, although the clay material is very durable, it can crack or shatter if dropped. Furthermore, they are considerably more expensive than other options, and an average fireclay kitchen sink can cost as much as $500.
Pros Of Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
- Visually appealing
- Come in a wide array of designs
- Are an excellent choice for beach houses, since they cannot rust
- One of the better options for farmhouse style sinks
- Easy to clean
- Very hygienic surface
Cons Of Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
- Must be handled with care when installing as it can break if dropped
- Considerably more expensive than other kitchen sink options
- One of the heavier sinks around
Kitchen Sink FAQS
Now that we have covered the top 7 kitchen sink materials, it's worth taking a moment to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get on this topic.
What is the best kitchen sink material?
Because of the mix of style, affordability, and functionality, stainless steel will be the best choice for most people. However, there is no definite answer to this question, and it really comes down to taste and how much you're willing to spend.
How will I know which material will go best with my kitchen?
Kitchen design is a broad topic and there isn't always a clear write or wrong answer. Most of the time, the answer simply comes down to personal preference and which option you find most visually appealing. If you're still stuck, consider consulting with a design or renovation specialist.
What are solid surface sinks?
A solid surface sink is just another name for a composite sink.
What is the most long-lasting sink material?
When it comes to longevity, all the sink materials we have covered are long-lasting when adequately cared for. That being said, stainless sinks require the lowest level of maintenance.
What type of kitchen sink is easiest to clean?
Without a doubt, stainless and porcelain enameled kitchen sinks are the easiest to clean.