Stainless Steel vs. Granite vs. Composite Sinks: Your Ultimate Kitchen Sink Buying Guide
Whether you’re replacing an old damaged sink or refreshing your kitchen, the sink is one of the most used commodities in the room and needs careful consideration before buying. Your choice will stay with you for years to come so style, shape, and material all need to be accounted for.
Your needs and personal tastes will determine what kind of sink you should choose, and trust us, there are a lot of different types and style to choose from. There is no one size fits all sink, so doing a little research before you buy will ensure that your kitchen sink will not only last for many years to come but that it will help complete your kitchen aesthetic.
As well as coming in a huge range of styles, kitchen sinks can be made of a variety of materials that each offer their own unique advantages.
Things to consider when buying a new sink
When you’re purchasing a new sink for your kitchen, you need to take a number of considerations into account. A sink is going to be a permanent fixture in your kitchen so you need to get the initial purchase right.
The first factor most people consider is the cost of the sink. When it comes to the price there is a huge variety on every part of the scale.
The cost of both composite and stainless steel sinks can run into the hundreds of pounds, especially when you increase the size of the sink and the intricacy of its design. For instance, a graphite composite sink is at the higher end of the market.
However, at the lower end of the market you could pay as little as £70 for a composite sink or £50 for a stainless steel sink.
Material and Style
Depending on your budget, preference and the aesthetic of your kitchen, you have a huge variety of kitchen sinks to choose from when it comes to what material it’s made from.
Composite sinks offer a far greater variety than their stainless steel counterparts. By adding dye to the plastic resin when the sink is cast a whole slew of different colours can be achieved.
Whilst we’d never want to put the stainless steel sink down, when it comes to colours, your choices are limited to one.
Although you can choose from a number of different finishes, stainless steel sinks come in, well, stainless steel. If you’re looking for a bold colour for your kitchen sink, they will therefore be unsuitable. That said, the characteristic shine of stainless steel is pleasantly neutral and will sit nicely within a range of kitchen colour schemes – indeed, many colour schemes are designed with stainless steel in mind.
We’ve already seen that some sinks can be produced more cheaply than others. In the case of stainless steel, this economy evidenced itself by producing an almighty racket whenever you turn on the tap.
In order to minimise material costs cheaper stainless steel sinks are made from very thin sheets of steel. This thinness makes the material much easier to move and vibrate. The basin can therefore act like a drum, amplifying the impact of water (or any dropped object) on the bottom of the sink. This effect might be particularly noticeable at night when a dripping tap in the kitchen downstairs might be audible even when you’re upstairs lying in bed!
Thankfully, this is one respect in which newer stainless steel sinks have made considerable improvements over their predecessors, with 16 and 18-gauge sinks becoming commonplace. Composite sinks are much harder and less flexible, so the vibrations caused by a dripping tap are deadened. But whilst this hardness might eliminate the problem of noise pollution, it has its own problems.
Hardness & durability
If you do a lot of washing up in your kitchen sink, then you’ll at some point have had a mishap. Most of us (barring a ninja-like few) have occasionally had a moment of clumsiness and dropped a plate or a cup into the sink. In such instances, our choice of material can make the difference between shattered and intact crockery.
Being made largely from granite, composite sinks are harder than their steel counterparts. Therefore, they’re much less forgiving than steel ones when accidents happen, which even at heavier gauges, will flex enough to preserve your plates whenever you drop them.
Of course, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to use your sink. If you wash your delicate dishes and glasses using a dishwasher this consideration won’t be quite so weighty.
Composite granite sinks are formed using enormous heat and pressure. They’re able to resist stains, scratches and heat – but they’re not invulnerable to such things. Hot pans risk warping the surface of the sink and knives being dragged across it might leave marks.
By contrast, stainless steel sinks are able to withstand high temperatures and they’re obviously far less prone to stains. Despite this, they’re not impervious to damage. A stainless steel sink will pick up fine scratches over its lifetime. Though these scratches will likely not be visible unless you’re looking for them, the shining nature of stainless steel will make any blemishes all the more apparent. Similarly, allowing droplets of water to stand inside the sink might cause water spots to form.
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We’ve looked at some of the ways that stainless steel might suffer damage over time. But just how can this damage be reversed? Fortunately, it is possible for the damage to be undone.
Going over the sink with a very fine wire-wool brush can help eliminate those fine hairline scratches. Once this is done, you can polish the surface using baby oil. If water stains have formed, they can be removed with vinegar, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, depending on the severity of the staining.
Cleaning a composite sink requires a little more finesse and delicacy. You’ll want to avoid harsh, abrasive substances. Bleach, for example, might discolour the sink, as might ammonia, food colouring and drain cleaner. Frequent, gentle cleaning is almost always preferable to occasional ‘deep’ cleaning – use a micro-fibre cloth and hot soapy water, and dry thoroughly once you’re done.
Each of the sinks we’ve discussed here has their strengths and weaknesses but with the right care and attention either can serve fantastically well for many years.
Types of Kitchen Sink
Granite is one of the most durable and hard-wearing materials that you can choose for your kitchen sink. While most kitchen appliance brands boast similar benefits of their granite sinks, each one has spent years perfecting its own granite materials.
Since granite kitchen sinks are resistant to staining and germs, they are quite easy to clean and care for. After every use, you should do a quick rinse and dry of the surface to prevent any build-up of grease or dirt. If you happen upon any tougher stains, all you need is a gentle cleaner. In many cases, dishwasher soap, a bleach/water solution or vinegar/water solution should be enough.
Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel is one of the most popular choices for the kitchen sink. They’re classic, hard-wearing and look great in all styles of kitchen.
They’re also very affordable, but don’t let that worry you: we’ve come a long way in terms of design and today’s stainless steel sinks look sleek and are tougher than ever.
Stainless steel kitchen sinks won’t crack or chip, like ceramic might, but the bowl can get scratched so a little care needs to be taken when placing items in.
Ceramic sinks are not only functional, but incredibly stylish. Their glossy finish and clean lines make them very popular in both modern and traditional kitchen settings. They are easy to clean, hard-wearing and although traditionally available in cream and white, can now be found in a range of colours and hues.
Ceramic sinks are often made from materials such as clay, quartz and feldspar, giving them a solid and durable finish. This is why they are a little more expensive than other types of sink.
They make an ideal choice for family homes as they won’t dent like a stainless steel sink might, if something heavy is dropped into it (however, this also means that any plates or glasses that might slip through soapy fingers don’t stand much chance of surviving in one piece). They can withstand hot pans and dishes being placed directly onto their surface without warping or discolouring, too.
Whilst they are hardy, they can chip or crack if treated particularly badly, and a small blemish can result in a larger discolouration around the damaged area.
Ceramic sinks look beautiful in country-style kitchens, especially when fitted farmhouse-style (with the front exposed).
Composite sinks strike the perfect balance between hard-wearing durability and good looks. As the name suggests, composite sinks are made from a combination of two different materials; quartz and granite are popular choices though acrylic blends are also available.
The combination of materials makes composite sinks incredibly heat-resistant so hot plates, pots, and pans won’t leave a mark behind. Their compact construction also makes them highly resistant to scratches and dents from wayward silverware or dropped dishes.
Composite sinks are a very popular choice for many homeowners because they look the part without costing the earth. Whilst still more expensive than stainless steel sinks they are long-lasting and hard-wearing and can complement any style of kitchen.
Waste Disposal Units and Spare Parts
Some sinks come with a smaller secondary basin where inside there is a waste disposal unit. The waste disposal unit is similar to a blender, in that it uses sharp rotating blades to chop up food into smaller pieces to make it easier to wash away down the drain.
This unit isn’t as durable as the rest of your sink, it can break, jam and become faulty, so you need to make sure that you are able to find replacement waste disposal units that you can easily install in your sink.
We have a huge range of kitchen sinks in a variety of materials and styles available at Ship It Appliances. No matter how your kitchen is set up, we have a sink that will fit seamlessly into your kitchen and complete the room’s aesthetic for many years.