Tom’s note: I found this article on the internet and I thought it was a nice impartial discussion on how to buy a stainless steel sink. At the end I will add a few comments. the original article is reprinted here with permission from HomeWorks, Chesterfield, MI. The italicized comments are mine.
Originally Posted on February 9, 2012 by john Click her for original article
I was recently approached with a question about stainless steel sinks. A customer of mine searched online for a 33” stainless steel sink. The results ranged from $98.00 to $1,700.00 so of course the question came up as to what the difference was. So was born the four things you must know before buying a stainless steel sink.
Start with the gauge of the sink. The gauge is the thickness of the steel, the smaller the number the thicker the steel. Most kitchen sink manufacturers produce stainless steel sinks from 22 gauge to 16 gauge. The thicker steel will cost you more all things being equal. The reason you might want a thicker steel sink is it is more resistant to dents.
Next you’ll want to know what type of sound insulation is installed on the sink. The sound insulation serves one purpose, to reduce or eliminate the ringing that follows after you toss something into the sink. Without any sound insulation your sink will sound like a bell. The most common type is a sprayed textured coating on the back side of the sink. You may also see a sound dampening pad under the spray coating; this is a very effective sound deadening combination. You can hit this type of sink with a hammer and hear little more than a thud. Both types are fine, just be sure you have some form of sound insulation.
One of the least considered aspects of a sink is the grade of stainless steel. Like most metals, stainless steel is broken up into many different grades with different properties. In my research I have found that most stainless steel sinks are one of four grades, 201, 301, 302, 304. A grade 201 sink is most often seen in the big home improvement stores on the lowest end of the price scale. As of this writing I have found them as low as $90.00 for a 33” undermount. Grade 302 is most often used for utensils. As you progress into the higher grades, the steel becomes more corrosion, oxidation, and rust resistant. The sinks ability to stay shiny and new is what this comes down to. I would suggest purchasing a sink made of 302 or 304 stainless steel.
Finally we come to design, of course, this is where most of us would start our search for a new sink, but I’ve left this for last because it will affect the price of the sink more than any other single aspect we’ve covered. Looking at sink design today you can’t help but be amazed at the creativity and innovation that exists. The only real advice I can give concerning design is to be sure your counter top fabricator can cut the shape of the sink and that your plumber is aware of the type of installation before the counter top is installed.
More from Tom:
- Sound pads are great but be careful. Too many sound pads can indicated thinner or lower quality steel. You need a pad on the bottom for sound and condensation but if there are pads on sides be careful. Normally the more sound pads the cheaper the sink.
- 304 stainless is the best stainless steel for sinks. It has 18% chromium and 6% nickel for a brighter longer lasting luster. Many sinks are advertised as 304 when they are made from less expensive 301 or even 201. Ask for certification that the sink is 304.
- If a sink goes bad it is likely another brand will not fit so you need to make the right choice the first time before the hole is cut in your expensive countertop.
- Make sure you buy a brand where the brand is identified on the sink. Who remembers where you bought the sink and if you have a problem you want to know where to go for a replacement. Manufacturers identification is also required by all major model codes.
- A heavier gauge sink will also be quieter than a thinner sink.
- Sink prices have increased since this article was written because in the summer of 2012 a tariff was placed on Chinese sinks – nearly all sinks were produced in China when the tariff was put in place – of between 60% and 80% depending on the factory that was producing the sink.