There are many types of kitchen sink materials, despite what you may think. But, of course, the prevalence of stainless steel sinks is relatively high compared to other kitchen sink materials, and for a good reason.
However, in truth, there are countless types of kitchen sink materials that each offer unique benefits. When buying, replacing or renovating your kitchen sink, you should consider these.
What are kitchen sink materials?
Kitchen sink materials refer to the various materials used for building and constructing a kitchen sink. This includes the basin itself and may also have the tap, the handles, and the spray nozzle. In the same way, you should consider what type of cookware material is best. You should ensure your kitchen sink is the right material to suit your lifestyle and preferences.
Why you should consider your sink’s material
The materials that make up your kitchen sink directly impact the ease of cleaning and how durable they are in the long run. The commonly used stainless steel kitchen sink is a popular choice among homeowners in the same way stainless steel cookware is.
They provide long-lasting durability and resistance to extremely high temperatures, so you are unlikely to see them get damaged over a long period.
Another reason to consider the type of material for your kitchen sink is the price. All kitchen sink materials are priced differently depending on the specific features that customers demand. However, given the popularity of stainless steel sinks, they are often quite affordable as brands compete to bring the best prices.
Types of kitchen sink materials
As one of the most popular kitchen sink materials today, stainless steel is among the most affordable and long-lasting sinks you’ll find. In addition, the surface provides a quick release of food scraps, making it exceptionally easy to clean and maintain. The steel material is strong enough to resist dents and cracks in the surface.
Stainless steel sink material also offers a modern and contemporary aesthetic, making it one of the most preferred kitchen sink materials in today’s age. Regarding cost, stainless steel sinks are available in low to mid-price ranges and seldom come at a high cost.
On the downside, they can be prone to scratches from metal utensils, and covering up any chips and cracks can be difficult. Furthermore, stainless steel kitchen sinks are noisier than other materials, typically giving off a “clunk” sound as soon as the water makes contact with the basin, followed by the echoing sound of the water gushing.
- Highly durable sink material is built with sturdy steel that lasts a lifetime of use.
- It offers a stunning contemporary look that is popular in modern-day home kitchens.
- It provides effective food release properties to clean and maintain without any leftover stains easily.
- Very affordable compared to other sink material options.
- Resistant to rust and corrosion and can tolerate very high temperatures without sustaining damage or scars to the surface.
- It can be quite noisy as the water hits the sink’s surface, and the material causes the water-gushing sound to be amplified by an echo.
- Metal utensils and other sharp items could scratch the surface and leave a permanent scar.
Copper sinks, otherwise known as copper-coated kitchen sinks, offer a premium look suitable to a high-end kitchen design. While not quite as popular as stainless steel kitchen sinks, the copper sink has become one of the most loved types of material for farmhouse sinks, a deep sink with an exposed front-facing side.
The copper sink is one of the best choices for anti-bacterial benefits as the material comes with natural anti-microbial properties.
What makes copper one of the best kitchen sink materials is its aesthetic and appearance which offers an in-demand rustic look for a vintage design finish. Due to its natural properties, copper sinks are also very easy to clean without needing strong detergents and harsh chemicals.
Additionally, they are quite resistant to high temperatures, rust, and corrosion, provided they are looked after and maintained without applying strong cleaning products.
This brings us to the downside of copper sinks. They are more sensitive to the chemicals in strong detergents. This means if you were to apply harsh chemicals to the copper sink, it would compromise the sink’s resistance to rust and corrosion over time.
As a final setback, copper sinks are also more prone to dents and scratches than stainless steel kitchen sinks. So, take extra care when washing sharp and heavy items.
- Modern contemporary look that gives off a vintage rustic appearance.
- Natural anti-bacterial properties reduce the need for harsh chemicals when cleaning the copper sink.
- Highly resistant to extreme temperatures.
- Resistant to rust and corrosion.
- The number one option for farmhouse-style kitchen sinks.
- Rust and corrosion resistance properties will wear off if heavy detergents are used.
- The surface is more susceptible to denting than stainless steel sinks.
Standard ceramic clay sinks are made with a smooth, hard surface that is highly resistant to harsh chemicals in detergents and soaps. These sinks are considered high-class as they provide natural beauty and are the most sought-after material for butler sinks.
The best part about ceramic sinks is that they are environmentally friendly as the material is made from non-toxic elements and practices.
Unfortunately, the eco-friendly benefits of ceramic sinks are often overshadowed by the coating’s fragility and lack of durability. In addition, ceramic sinks are susceptible to cracking and chipping due to a softer coating and, once compromised, can become distorted in appearance and discolored in aesthetics.
While the coating is not the strongest, ceramic is still a tough material. As a result, many homeowners have experienced the shattering of their dishes and glassware upon impact with a ceramic sink.
- Strong and durable material that can withstand significant impacts without denting.
- The gorgeous design makes it a popular material for butler sinks.
- Highly heat resistant, able to withstand extremely high temperatures.
- Environmentally-friendly material provides non-toxic benefits for you and the environment.
- Resistant to harsh chemicals, meaning you can use as many detergents as you like, and the surface will remain unharmed.
- Prone to chipping and cracking of the glazed surface.
- One of the most expensive types of sink materials on the market.
As one of the strongest sink materials, porcelain sinks are popular for their long-lasting durability and resistance to dents. They are also a flexible material in drop-in, apron-front, and undermount sink designs.
Porcelain sinks are also available in various color schemes and designs. This means you have more choices as a customer than most other sink materials.
Due to the heavy nature of porcelain sinks, they can be quite challenging to install. This makes them one of the more costly options on the market. Like ceramic, porcelain is also susceptible to chipping and cracking, and dropping something heavy in the basin could damage your dishware and the sink’s surface.
Unlike stainless steel, solid surface sinks like porcelain are also more prone to staining, so it’s essential to regularly clean the surface after each use.
- Super strong material that resists dents to the surface.
- Flexible material that is offered in a wide variety of color schemes and design choices.
- It is easy to maintain its glossy appearance for long periods with little effort.
- Easy to redecorate or change color schemes.
- Shallow water absorption features make porcelain highly resistant to rust and corrosion when exposed to large amounts of moisture.
- Prone to chipping and cracking despite resistance to denting.
- Ultra-strong porcelain core can put your dishware at risk of shattering if not careful.
Alongside stainless steel as one of the more affordable kitchen sink materials is cast iron. Known for their high durability and resistance to rust and corrosion, cast iron sinks can easily last a lifetime with proper care, cleaning, and maintenance.
This material is also somewhat flexible in working well with other materials, often coming in with a layer of enamel coating for added benefits.
Enameled cast iron sinks to provide a smooth non-stick texture to the surface that supports quick food release, making it easy to clean and scrape off the dirt. The material is also softer and quieter, so you won’t hear as much loud echoing from the water gushing as you do with stainless steel kitchen sinks.
As one of the heavier sinks on the market, the cast iron sink may require additional bottom support upon installation. This results in a longer duration and additional fees. This is because heavyweight sinks require extra supportive structures to ensure it does not crush on the platform on which it rests.
Cast iron is also one of the most robust materials in the world. So, the material could compromise your glass plates and cups and shatter them if dropped carelessly into the basin.
- Highly durable and tough material that is unlikely to receive any irreversible damage to its core structure.
- Quite easy to clean without using harmful or abrasive cleaners and chemicals.
- Cast iron kitchen sinks can last a lifetime if treated well, cleaned, and maintained regularly.
- Non-porous enamel coating provides resistance to staining and cracking.
- Strong kitchen sink material with enamel coating resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Enamel coating may be subject to chipping under high pressure from large, heavyweight dishes and pottery.
- Not the best kitchen sink material for corrosion resistance, it requires a layer of enamel to prevent rust.
As its name suggests, the fireclay kitchen sink material results from clay and glaze being fused using extremely high temperatures. This temperature is even higher than what is used to make porcelain enamel coating. This means the exterior surface of fireclay sinks is even harder and more durable than enamel.
The fireclay coating is non-porous and resistant to harmful chemicals such as acid and alkali. It is also scratch, chip, and crack-resistant.
Like cast iron sinks, fireclay sinks also require a hefty installation process due to the heavyweight nature of the sink material. In addition, it requires additional structural support to the base.
Similarly, fireclay kitchen sinks share the same issue as cast iron sinks being too strong for their own good. Again, often posing a threat to your dishware if you drop them into the basin from a short distance.
Fireclay can also be quite expensive. There’s the professional installation and the material itself, which undergoes a costly manufacturing process that marks its retail price tag.
Another concern with this type of sink material is its lack of color choices and design options, as there are little to no choices outside its default white scheme. The typical fireclay sink comes with a glazed coating which, once compromised, can have a detrimental effect on the aesthetic of the sink due to discoloring.
While they are primarily chip, crack, and stain resistant, it becomes a significant issue on the off chance they sustain any damage or distortion to the color.
- One of the best sink material options for durability and long-lasting results.
- The non-reactive surface resists acids and alkali.
- Stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, and chip-resistant.
- Low water absorption characteristics make it highly resistant to moisture-related issues such as rusting and corrosion.
- The in-demand choice for farmhouse-style sinks.
- Not available as undermount sinks.
- Damage to the surface is often very expensive to repair or irreversible.
As one of the most popular solid surface sinks, granite is a natural stone material that provides a strong, non-porous, durable basin surface. They are built to withstand extreme pressure and are unlikely to dent, chip, or crack over time.
In addition to looking luxurious and professional, the granite sink can deliver high-temperature resistance and non-reactivity to acid and alkali (1).
Crushed granite often makes up about 80% of granite sink material. The rest is made of additional materials such as different stones, metals, or plastics for added benefits. One of the fantastic things about granite is its ability to work well with other materials, making composite granite sinks one of the preferred options for granite sinks.
Unlike fireclay kitchen sink materials, pure granite or granite composite sinks are available in many design choices, color schemes, and finish types.
Sadly, granite is one of the more expensive kitchen sink materials. This is for its unit price and the added installation requirements. Like cast iron and fireclay, granite is also among the heavyweight kitchen sink material types. It often necessitates installing an additional support structure to keep the sink stable.
Granite sinks are also known to be a threat to your dishes. So, place them carefully into the sink and avoid dropping them from a distance.
- Easy to clean and maintain using mild soap, no chemicals or abrasive cleaners are needed.
- Able to withstand high temperatures without warping or receiving structural damage.
- Super strong and durable material is resistant to cracks, chips, and dents, allowing you to use it for a lifetime with proper care and occasional deep cleaning.
- A smooth, non-reactive surface prevents bacteria growth and promotes safe and healthy cooking.
- The adaptive and flexible material is often combined with other materials for added benefits.
- Quite expensive compared to other kitchen sink types.
- Requires additional support for most kitchen counters, resulting in extra installation cost and time.
Stone composite sinks
As mentioned, granite works best when combined with other materials that offer additional benefits and advantages which pure granite alone cannot offer. This is where the concept of stone composite kitchen sinks comes into play.
These sinks are made with natural stone materials, including granite, marble, and slate. These can bring durability, heat resistance, fade resistance, and anti-bacterial growth.
A popular type of stone composite kitchen sink is quartz composite because of the wide availability of the mineral. This makes it a little more affordable than, say, fireclay sinks. The great thing about natural stone sinks is their incredible color options and design choices.
In addition to having the option of choosing just about any color on the spectrum, composite kitchen sinks come as undermount sinks, farmhouse sinks, double bowl sinks with drainers, and more!
Of course, as with most sinks that aren’t stainless steel, a solid stone sink is priced significantly higher. Although not quite as high as fireclay or copper kitchen sinks. They can also be quite unforgiving to glass cups and plates dropped into the sink, even from a short height.
Composite kitchen sinks made of stone can also become quite unsightly. In addition, it can develop a worn-out patina appearance if not properly cared for and maintained.
- It can easily be maintained and cleaned using light dish soap with no abrasive chemical cleaners or detergents.
- A stone composite sink brings more durability than stainless sinks, likely to last longer.
- Able to withstand very high temperatures, you can place hot pans and pots in the sink without risking damage to the surface.
- Typically provides good food and dirt release properties, making it an easy sink to clean as food scraps usually do not stick to the surface.
- Huge selection of color and design options covering the full-color spectrum and installation varieties e.g., farmhouse, undermount, and double bowl sinks.
- Quite expensive compared to stainless steel kitchen sinks.
- It may cause cracks or shattering to your plates and cups if dropped in at specific heights.
Once an overlooked type of sink material, the concrete sink is now growing in popularity for modern home kitchens and bathrooms. This type of sink is made with a flexible concrete mix that can bend and shape into any design structure you choose.
Hence, if you want a sink to be made in a specific size or to include a waterfall effect in the inner basin, this can be done at little to no cost using the adaptability of concrete.
Unlike natural stone sink materials and ceramic types, concrete sinks are immensely affordable and can even be compared to stainless steel kitchen sinks. The main benefit of concrete sinks, however, is their strength and durability they can take abuse without sustaining damage. Properly caring for and maintaining your concrete sink can last an entire lifetime.
While it’s relatively easy to maintain a concrete sink when cleaning, you may also need to re-wax it now and then to maintain its aesthetic. This helps the sink keep its beautiful shiny glow and provides a layer of protection to shield the actual surface from chips, cracks, and stains.
Unfortunately, concrete is a porous material. It will react to acids and alkali and can even be stained if not coated in some wax, so coating should be highly important.
- Incredible strength and durability that can last a lifetime with regular maintenance.
- It provides a modern look and a fresh vibe for a new kitchen remodel project.
- A solid surface sink is quite affordable compared to most other materials.
- Highly adaptable material allows you to achieve any sink design and additional in-built feature.
- Unlike ceramic sinks, concrete sinks are quite easy to repair and reinstall if needed.
- Requires regular waxing to maintain appearance and protective layers.
- Difficult to replicate the exact color you want due to the natural shade variants of concrete mixtures.
Often referred to as “plastic,” acrylic kitchen sinks have been a popular choice of material for centuries due to their incredible flexibility and ability to shape-shift and mold into just about anything. In addition, these types of sinks are straightforward to maintain as any chips or cracks can easily be covered up with joint compound or white paint.
Acrylic sinks are also known for their soft surface, providing an excellent quiet impact as the water hits the basin.
Unlike stone or their cast iron counterpart, acrylic kitchen sinks are super easy to install and don’t require any additional time or costs for new support structures. As such, the homeowner often installs acrylic sinks as a DIY project, allowing one to save even more on professional installation costs.
The flexibility of acrylic kitchen sinks also means a wide range of color and design options, and you can typically customize an acrylic sink any way you like.
Acrylic resin sinks are typically reinforced with fiberglass for durability and sturdiness (2). In this regard, they are still not at the level of natural stone sinks and cast iron sinks. Unfortunately, acrylic sinks are also prone to scratching and chipping, which is somewhat of a trade-off for its easy repair and re-installation process.
Furthermore, extra care should be taken when cleaning this type of sink, as steel wool or other abrasive cleaners can cause surface scratches.
- Super easy to maintain due to its soft surface that can easily be painted over or have joint compound applied to cover up chips and cracks.
- Plenty of customizable design choices due to the material’s flexibility and ability to warp, mold, and shape into anything.
- Fairly durable when reinforced with resin and fiberglass.
- Quite affordable compared to stone and ceramic sink materials.
- Easy to install and quite commonly done as a DIY project among homeowners.
- Susceptible to chipping and cracking of the surface.
- Abrasive cleaners such as steel wool can scratch the exterior.
Which sink material is best for you?
As you can see, there are many types of kitchen sink materials with unique benefits to offer with each. For an affordable kitchen sink that does a solid job at lasting a distance, the ever-popular stainless steel kitchen sinks are a great choice. Natural stone sinks are among the best kitchen sink materials for superior durability and anti-bacterial properties.
Types of kitchen sink materials FAQ
What type of material kitchen sink is best?
One of the best kitchen sink materials in terms of durability and strength is fireclay for its immense resistance to high temperatures, dents, and cracks.
What kind of material are kitchen sinks made of?
Kitchen sinks are made in all kinds of materials, from natural stone composites to plastic acrylics and stainless steel.
What type of kitchen sink is easiest to keep clean?
Granite kitchen sinks are among the easiest materials to clean as they are non-reactive and highly resistant to scratches from abrasive cleaners. You can also use chemical detergents without the surface sustaining any serious damage.