Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (2023)

Kitchen sinks are among the most commonly used appliances in a kitchen. There's plenty to choose from, but knowing what you want before you buy can save you time and money. There are many types of sinks, classified into these four categories:

  1. installation type,
  2. kitchen sink accessories,
  3. number of shells
  4. enrollment

In this article, we're going to delve a little deeper into these categories so you can find the one that best suits your kitchen.

Types of kitchen sinks by installation

When buying a kitchen sink, your first decision will likely have to do with the type of installation. Whether you're renovating your kitchen or building a new home, your new sink needs to be compatible with the countertop you plan to install it on. That is why it is so important to know which one to choose. The vast majority of sinks will fit in these buckets.

built-in kitchen sinks

A built-in kitchen sink is a type of sink designed to be installed under the countertop. It is mounted from below and is secured by "floor mounting clips". As a result, once installed, you only see the inside of the sink while the outside edge is hidden.

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Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (2)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (3)

The idea is that you have a seamless transition from the countertop to the sink. Not only is it for aesthetics, but it also makes cleaning and maintaining the sink area easier.

The main disadvantage of the inset sink is that the holes must be drilled in the countertop and cannot be undone unless you replace the countertop. This disadvantage can be mitigated by choosing your faucet early in the project and confirming your decision with your installer and manufacturer.

Otherwise, the built-in sink is by far the kitchen sink of choice when installing or renovating a new kitchen. This perfect look is not only visually appealing, but also functional and trendy.

built-in dishwasher

A drop-in collector is the opposite of a substructure. It is a type of kitchen sink that has an outer edge that rests on the countertop. This rim is usually pre-drilled with a specific number of holes designed to be compatible with a kitchen faucet of the same configuration. Fall flushes are also referred to as "automatic flushes".

The built-in sink is easy to replace as no worktop modifications are required. If you decide to go from a 3 hole faucet to a single hole faucet in 5 years, just buy the same size kitchen sink perforated with a single hole instead of 3 holes.

Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (4)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (5)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (6)

The main disadvantage of sink drop is that it is not that aesthetically pleasing. You'll have a shocking piece of stainless steel (or any other kitchen sink material) on your counter. Also, it's harder to keep it clean because your kitchen has seams in a prominent place. The stainless steel material will easily dominate your countertop area. For this reason, automatic sinks are installed in cheaper kitchens with cheaper countertops.

Dishwasher with two brackets

A dual mount sink is a type of sink designed to be undermount or built-in, depending on how you want to install it. they offer no advantage to the end user, who has to make a choice anyway.

Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (7)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (8)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (9)

However, they can save manufacturers and wholesalers additional costs for their inventory as they only need to stock 1 SKU that can be sold for multiple applications.

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Kitchen sink in front with apron

An apron sink is a type of kitchen sink that has an exposed apron in front. It offers a departure from most kitchen sinks, which tend to be tucked away in a cabinet. It is sometimes referred to as a farmhouse sink because the apron is a throwback to 18th-century farmhouse kitchens.

An apron sink should fit in a custom built cabinet to accommodate its unique design and size. The carpenter will request the specifications of the sink beforehand. Once the cabinet is crafted, you cannot switch to a different sink.

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Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (11)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (12)

A major disadvantage of the apron fascia is that the front fascia is subject to a lot of damage, chipping and wear and tear. It is important to choose a material that is durable and still shows a lot of character even when worn.

Types of kitchen sinks by materials

At some point in the selection process, you must decide which material to use. While most people end up opting for standard stainless steel sinks, there are compelling reasons to consider other materials as well. This simple guide will help you determine the right material for your project.

stainless steel dishwasher

Stainless steel sinks are by far the most popular types of kitchen sinks, and with good reason. In contrast to other materials, stainless steel is almost indestructible. It withstands everything from acidic substances to extreme temperatures without scratching or cracking. Stainless steel also looks good with a variety of colors and designs, making it the best choice for anyone looking to maintain a modern, sleek look in their kitchen.

In addition, stainless steel sinks are available for a wide variety of applications. Whether substructure, drop-in or even front apron, the choice is yours. They also have the most options for single, double, and even triple sinks.

Cast iron sink

Cast iron sinks are typically made from solid cast iron and finished with porcelain enamel. They are very durable and will withstand heavy use over the years. To date, there is a very active market for used cast iron sinks.

Although most cast iron sinks are sold in white today, other colors are available by special order. Kohler, the largest manufacturer of cast iron sinks in the US, currently offers the following colors: Biscuit (beige), Black, Thunder Gray (dark grey), Indigo Blue etc.

Cast iron sinks are available in all types of installation. There are many undermount and drop-in options. However, they stand out in the Apron Front Farmhouse category. Cast iron is a throwback to the farmhouse era, and it's only fitting that this material is one of the most popular for apron sinks.

fireproof sinks

A fireproof sink is a type of clay kitchen sink. A clay mold is completed and glazed with a ceramic finish. It is then fired at high temperatures to complete the process, hence the name Fireclay.

They compete directly with cast iron sinks and are considered high-end kitchen sinks. Unlike cast iron, there is no additional metal support. This makes them easier to repair and harder to shatter.

They are the ideal material for country style sinks as this style of sink was popularized in England by Shaws Fireclay sinks. In the US, this sink is sold under the Rohl brand but still bears the Shaws stamp.

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Although Fireclay sinks are available as built-in and freestanding sinks, they are by far best known for their farmhouse apron style sinks. While built-in sinks tend to be cheaper, farmhouse sinks are arguably the most popular type of fireproof sink.

Composite quartz sinks

Quartz sinks are a type of kitchen sink that uses a combination of quartz composite and other resins. They are scratch-resistant, very durable and available in all sorts of colors. However, they are not as heat resistant as other higher quality materials.

There are two major manufacturers in the US that offer this type of sink. They have different names, but they are all more or less the same idea.

The first company and pioneer of this material is Blanco. Their quartz sink is known as SilGranit. They offer a variety of installation styles and colors that appear to mimic kitchen sink countertops.

Elkay offers many iterations of quartz sinks. Its brands are Quartz Classic, E-Granite and Quartz Luxe. Elkay offers more vibrant colors to choose from than the Blanco brand, which has fewer color options.

copper goes down

Copper sinks have grown in popularity over the past decade. They are often used as secondary sinks in the kitchen or bar area. They're more of a fashion play as they can be difficult to maintain as real copper sinks tend to patina over time.

Apart from that, there are several manufacturers that offer apron style copper sinks. While these sinks might catch your eye in a showroom, they're reserved for a niche market.

Types of kitchen sinks by number of bowls

Kitchen sinks can also be identified by their types. This can be determined by the number of bowls or the overall size of the bowl. The shell number is self-explanatory, while the shell sizes are named after the intended use case.

Kitchen sinks with a bowl

Single basin sinks are equipped with a large compartment and a single drain. They are by far the most common type of sink as they offer the most space. A 36-inch single-bowl sink accommodates a pair of large pots or trays.

The main disadvantage of a single bowl sink is that there is no way to separate your dishes into two different buckets. However, most homeowners prefer a larger sink surface area over a more versatile one.

Kitchen dishwasher with double bowl

A double bowl kitchen sink has two compartments. Each compartment has its own drain and can function as its own sink. They are ideal for people who like to have two different use cases for each bowl. For example, a bowl for washing dishes and a separate bowl for soaking and rinsing.

Due to their size, dual bowl kitchen sinks will only fit in a 33″ or wider cabinet

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The main disadvantage of a double bowl sink is that it takes up much less space than a single bowl of the same size or even slightly smaller. If you have two medium bowls, you do NOT have large bowls. As dishwashers have grown in popularity over the years, the use case for dual bowls has diminished.

Some double bowls try to get the best of both worlds by having a large bowl and a small, smaller sink next to it to dispose of the waste. This is particularly common in double-D bowl sinks.

Sink with three basins

Triple bowl sinks are a type of kitchen sink with three separate compartments. It's unusual to find three sinks in an eat-in kitchen. These sinks are reserved for commercial spaces or restaurants.

When you find this type of sink in a residential application, the third compartment is typically a small bowl that is 8 inches wide or smaller.

Types of sinks by type of bowl

Another commonly used category to describe kitchen sinks is bowl type. This differs from the number of trays in that it focuses on the shape or design of the tray rather than the number of compartments.

D bowl kitchen sink

The D-Bowl sink is a very special type of kitchen sink. It is designed to be best suited for small kitchens and service areas. As the name suggests, it is shaped like the letter “D”. The curved back allows the sink to take full advantage of the standard 24-inch cabinet depth. The downside is that a kitchen faucet cannot be installed directly in the center of the sink. The faucet must be installed on the left or right side of this arch.

Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (13)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (14)

This type of kitchen sink is best suited for small kitchens that lack countertop space or have limited cabinet space. It is designed to fit in a standard 24″ cabinet and comes in a standard dimension: 21″x18.5″ for the inner shell. Note that the 18.5″ depth is about 2″ longer than the vast majority of kitchen sinks. This is due to the extra space the D-shape offers.

D basins are also available in double and triple sinks. The second and third sinks can be another D-Bowl sink or a Mini-Bar sink.

Bar or prep basin

Bar sinks are a smaller version of the standard kitchen sink. While your main sink is primarily used for cleaning tasks, prep sinks are used for niche tasks like meal prep, chilling, and washing vegetables.

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Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (16)
Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (17)

If you're looking to buy one of these sinks, it's important to keep their size in mind. Most bar sinks are designed to fit a 21-inch or smaller cabinet. They come in more unique shapes than your standard kitchen, like round and square. Additionally, prep sinks are popular with specialty brands like Thompson Traders and Native Trails that focus on copper and nickel materials.

Offset Scaling

A staggered bowl sink is usually a two bowl sink, where one bowl takes up the full depth of the counter, while the second bowl is shallower to allow a faucet to be installed behind it. Although most people prefer a deeper sink, this is not possible as you need to leave some space for the faucet. Staggered bowls allow you to have the best of both worlds with a full depth bowl and a shallow bowl.

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Types of kitchen sinks explained (by installation, materials and type of tub) | Gym Lights (19)

As shown above, the staggered shell can also be supplied as a single shell. This is a niche product that has grown in popularity over the past decade. The Franke Orca pioneered this category, but there have been a few imitators since then.

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The most popular types of kitchen sinks

What are people really buying?

It's one thing to have information about all the available kitchen sinks, but it's another to know what the trends are. After all, your kitchen is one of the main drivers of your home's value, you don't want to install what nobody else is doing. So we want to give you a taste of what people are buying right now and why.

Single bowl stainless steel kitchen sink

You can't go wrong with this choice. The vast majority of new kitchens are equipped with a stainless steel sink with a basin. The kitchen sink is the most commonly used appliance in their kitchen and homeowners are looking for something that is easy to use and goes with it.

  • Undermount sinks get out of the way and are easy to keep clean.
  • The single bowl allows for a large bowl for large pots and pans.
  • While the main disadvantage of stainless steel material is that it will scratch. These scratches usually even out after a few months of use.

Fireclay and cast iron apron front kitchen sinks

This has been the fashion choice for quite a few high-end kitchen sinks. They're a little pricey, but that's for the homeowner who wants that farmhouse look in their kitchen. As long as this particular look is all the rage, the apron sink will continue to fly off the shelves.

Note that we mentioned chamotte and cast iron. This is really a throw to see which is the most popular. We think the Shaws fireclay sink is the crème de la crème of this style of sink, but cast iron is particularly popular in the US and gives that rustic, retro feel that many designers are looking for.

The sink apron trend has also spread to stainless steel sinks, but we advise against a stainless steel front apron, as this does not give the desired look and can easily scratch the front apron. Unlike built-in sinks, these scratches are visible in a prominent place in your kitchen.

Floor mounted stainless steel sink

Stainless steel is the ideal material for bar sinks. Most homeowners opt for a smaller version of the same family rather than their kitchen sink. For example, Franke “Peak” sinks come in different sizes from 10″ wide to 36″ wide. Since this type of washbasin has an unmistakable design, it only makes sense to opt for the variant of the preparatory washbasin in the bar area.

Type D dishwasher made of stainless steel

The D sink is the ideal sink for kitchens with limited space. They're all about maximizing the 24-27 inch closet space. The vast majority of D-Bowl sinks are fairly deep in terms of both length and height, which makes up for the lack of width.

If you live in an area with small kitchens, chances are you've come across a large number of them. Here in the Northeast, they're a staple in apartment buildings in the heart of the city. Because these apartments are smaller, the size and accessibility of the D sinks are a perfect match.

Standard built-in sink: more accessible

Simply put, standard stainless steel automatic sinks are a staple for new affordable kitchens. Simply put, it's a lot cheaper than the alternative, and for that reason alone it might be the most popular in terms of units sold.

Honestly, whenever this sink is purchased, it is rarely owner-made. These are usually large affordable residential and commercial projects. The most popular SKU of this type is the standard 25×22 4 hole sink. This sink is available online for just $70.

Copper prep sinks: undermount and built-in

In high-end kitchens, homeowners tend to opt for something more eccentric in prep sinks. Copper sinks are often right for them as they are trendy and offer something more exciting than boring stainless steel.

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Native Trails, Thompson Traders and Stone Forest stock a wide selection of copper sinks. Being bar cymbals, most of their catalog consists of cymbals 20″ or smaller.


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