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Stainless steel kitchen sinks: choosing the best materials

If you’re looking to buy a stainless steel kitchen sink, there are some boring but very important considerations to look into. Regardless of whether you’re looking for an undermount sink (one that drops into your work surface) or an undermount sink (or under the counter sink), you want to make sure your time and money are well spent.

In this article, you’ll find out (quickly) what to look for when it comes to steel thickness (measured in gauge). The more you discover the more about the composition of steel. This is usually measured by the chromium and nickel content, the key ‘ingredients’ that make your stainless steel kitchen sink stainless.

Kitchen sinks and gauge (steel thickness)

There are many reasons to buy stainless steel sinks instead of granite or ceramic. First is cost because you can get a lot of value for just a couple of hundred dollars with a well-built kitchen sink. And second, they are less likely to chip and crack with everyday use.

Sinks are typically made from 18/10 steel (that’s the ratio of chrome to nickel) and come in a variety of thicknesses. While many retailers talk about the thickness of steel, it’s actually a measure of weight per square foot.

Now you have something to make the sales rep look bad!

For ease, we’ll talk in terms of thickness!

The thickness of steel is measured in gauge with lower numbers indicating greater thickness. The sink’s thicker construction materials mean your sink is less likely to warp, bend and dent with everyday use.

Most quality kitchen sinks are made from 16-gauge stainless steel, some come in 18-gauge, and cheaper alternatives are 20- or 22-gauge steel.

For most of us, the number is pretty useless until you consider that 16 gauge steel is about 20% thicker than 18 gauge steel. For a solidly built sink, 16 gauge is a sign of quality.

What finish are you looking for?

The most popular and common stainless steel sink finish is satin brushed. Alternatives include polished, silk and linen finishes. As the names suggest, brushed steel has been brushed (or abraded) with fine grit sandpaper.

Satin finishes are finished with finer cloths, loaded with an abrasive paste with the final finish depending on how abrasive the paste is. The polished finish is the finest of the three (brushed, satin and polished).

It’s important to remember that regardless of the finish you choose, deep scratches can be difficult to remove. While you should always care for your sink and protect it, it’s important to accept that it will get scratched and figure out what finish will look best for you.

Many people choose a sink based on design over finish, remembering that over time there will be a buildup of micro-scratches from daily wear and tear that will change the look of your sink but can also add character to your kitchen.

Final purchase decisions

Ultimately, the final decision comes down to finding a quality kitchen sink from a leading manufacturer that looks good and fits in your kitchen.

However, it’s always good to know that your money was well spent and that the sink you invest in can outlast your kitchen with careful selection of thickness, finish and of course a little care. Most quality brands come with a limited warranty so you can be sure your sink will last!

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