It’s often an afterthought, yet it’s the one place where everyone in the family interacts and is central to family life. What’s this object? The kitchen sink. If you have the notion that all sinks are more or less the same, you may want to reconsider how selecting the right kind of sink for you and your family could make your time in the kitchen easier and more productive.

Form and function

There’s a lot to consider when selecting a new kitchen sink. The first is configuration. Determine whether you prefer the traditional two-sink bowls of equal size, a two-bowl sink with a small and large bowl, or a single large bowl sink, like the farmhouse sink. The two-bowl sink is the standard, but it was designed for washing and rinsing; that may not be necessary if you have a dishwasher.

There’s also the question of the disposal, and whether you want one. Sinks come with many specialty features, such as small bowls designed just for cleaning off food into the disposal, or for washing hands in. If you frequently wash dishes by hand, you may also want a sink with an integrated drain board. Once your configuration decision is made, the next choice is your preferred sink material.

Stainless vs. porcelain

Many current kitchens are filled with stainless steel right down to the kitchen sink. Stainless steel sinks can be purchased in a virtually limitless array of styles with different features and configurations of bowls, and some come in matte black. Stainless can also be purchased in a range of prices, making it both design- and budget-friendly.

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Stainless is durable and can fit in any style kitchen. It’s prone to scratching, making a metal grid that most manufacturers offer, a good idea to add to the sink bottom. Otherwise, rubber mats in the bottom can help protect the surface. Stainless can often be noisy, but sound-dampening kits can be easily purchased online.

The other most common material for sinks is porcelain. Heavy, sound deadening and durable, porcelain is beautiful and timeless. Its biggest drawback would be its tendency to chip and stain. As with the stainless variety, care should be taken when washing pots and pans, which can scratch the bowl. A grid or rubber mats at the bottom are all it takes to protect your sink and keep it looking good.

The newcomers

Composite is another sink material that’s catching on. This material can be made by combining resin with quartz or granite. These sinks are quiet and very sturdy and are hard to stain or scratch.

Granite composite sinks are harder and considered to be superior to quartz sinks, although both are durable and heat resistant. Both have color uniformity and are harder to dent, scratch or chip. They also don’t show hard water spots the way a stainless sink does, making them a good option if you live in a hard-water area.

Perhaps the least resilient and durable, and also the least expensive, are acrylic sinks. These sinks are lightweight and make a good option for a home that’s not used frequently, such as a vacation home.