We often hear the saying that tapware is the jewellery of a kitchen… But in recent years, kitchen sinks have also become a focal point. Finding the right kitchen sink is one that elevates your overall kitchen design and is functional while fitting within your budget. From stainless steel to fireclay, these are the top kitchen sink materials for kitchen renovations and design.
But first… function is key
While kitchen sinks can be a design statement in your kitchen, first and foremost, they serve a function. So it’s important to balance style choices with practical needs.
The material you select can require different types of care and daily routine. For example, in a busy household constantly rotating through dirty pots and pans, you may prioritise a kitchen sink that is durable and easy to clean. However, in a new show-stopping kitchen you may put more weight on a kitchen sink that is strikingly unique and be willing to give it a little more daily care and cleaning.
Similarly, it’s important to think size. A single bowl kitchen sink is not suitable for a family of 5. Even with a dishwasher, you will need a sink that is large enough to wash, drain and dry items throughout the day.
Cleaning and maintenance is also important. As we mentioned earlier, durability and ease of cleaning can vary significantly between kitchen sink materials. The ability to avoid blockages with clean drains and plumbing is also crucial.
We’ve done the research for you and have summarised the pros and cons of each material. So keep reading for the 6 most popular kitchen sink materials to find the right fit for your home.
Stainless steel kitchen sinks
Affordable, durable, easy to clean and impervious to corrosion, there are plenty of reasons why stainless steel kitchen sinks are a popular option! As a non-porous material, stainless steel sinks are also easy to sterilise — removing harmful germs and bacteria.
This classic kitchen sink material has come a long way in the design stakes. In stainless steel you can find the most versatile offering of kitchen sink shapes, sizes and styles. There are drop-in, over-mount or undermount options, square or round profiles, with or without a drainer, and a wide range of bowl sizes too.
One key thing to look out for is the composition of stainless steel. This is your indicator of quality and good value. The ideal ratio is 18% chrome and 10% nickel, otherwise referred to as 18/10 grade or ‘304 stainless steel’.
Together, the two elements increase toughness and resistance, offering long-term durability. Lower ratios are weaker, will damage more easily and lose lustre more quickly.
The price of stainless steel kitchen sinks vary significantly depending on size, style and quality. Stainless steel kitchen sinks start from $100 and can cost up to $3000.
Brushed metal kitchen sinks
Stepping up from plain stainless steel, you find brushed metal. The material of these sinks is still stainless steel, however they are coated in a metallic finish to create a design statement. While early iterations of these sinks were prone to scratching, there are newer, award-winning ranges on the market now.
You can find these in unique finishes, such as gunmetal black, brushed bronze gold and brushed nickel. This allows you to match your kitchen sink to your tapware just like in the kitchen pictured below. There’s also a wide range of sizes, including single, one and a half, and double bowl variations.
Quality is especially important when selecting a brushed metal sink to avoid issues of scratching or colour wear. Look for the term ‘PVD’ as this is a more premium coating technique. Other benefits of PVD coating is that it shows fewer fingerprints and can be easier to clean and maintain than standard stainless steel.
Depending on size and brand, brushed metal kitchen sinks can range from $350-$1200.
Granite or quartz composite kitchen sinks
Composite kitchen sinks are made from granite or quartz dust and combined with acrylic materials. A typical composition is 80% granite or quartz with 20% acrylic resin. Composite sinks are heat, scratch and stain resistant making them incredibly hardwearing. This material is also non-porous adding to their durability.
Generally available in matte black or matte white, these modern sinks fit seamlessly into contemporary kitchens. Due to their popularity, you can find endless design options including single, one and a half, one and three quarter or double bowl, with or without a drying rack, as well as various shapes.
The price of composite sinks range from $450 to $2000, depending on size and quality.
Copper kitchen sinks
If you’re happy to splurge, a copper sink can make a true statement. Made from real copper (versus a copper finish), this living material with achieve a beautiful, organic patina over time. This is where the copper surface will darken or develop a green tinge as the metal ages.
Copper sinks are available in a smooth or hammered finish, further adding to their character.
As well as costing a lot more, copper sinks require more care and consideration. They should be cleaned with mild products, such as dish soap, warm water and a cloth. If you love to clean with heavy chemicals, this is not the sink material for you. However, it’s worth noting that copper has the natural ability to kill 99.9% of bacteria so it isn’t necessary to go heavy on cleaning products.
Despite the price and maintenance copper sinks require, they are a fabulous option because of the unique character they can bring to a space. That striking colour and ongoing, changing finish is truly divine. Especially suiting farmhouse, industrial or luxe interior styles, copper sinks are a statement piece.
Prices of copper kitchen sinks can range from $700 up to $3000, or even more.
Fireclay kitchen sinks
As the Hamptons and farmhouse design styles continue to gain popularity in Australia, so too do fireclay kitchen sinks.
Often seen in a butler’s style or farmhouse style shape (as pictured below), they also come in inset or undermount styles, in both square and round shapes. Recently, black fireclay sinks have come onto the market as well as new design features like a fluted front.
Fireclay is an ultra-durable material that can withstand high heat and is impact-resistant to handle the knocks, drops and messes that come with day-to-day life.
Prices range from $650 to $3000. However, premium brands can offer a lifetime warranty to give you peace of mind.
Natural stone kitchen sinks
The final option that’s less common but can look incredible is a natural stone sink. Generally made from granite or other dense natural stones, such as soapstone, these sinks are anything but mainstream.
Natural stone kitchen sinks are either carved directly from stone as a full, seamless sink or use several pieces of stone that are bonded together.
While they have the benefit of generally being extra-deep to fit large pots and pans, stone is a natural material that is somewhat porous. This means, the sink may stain or discolour over time, and requires regular sealing. You also need to be mindful of what products you use to clean the sink, avoiding any acidic or bleach cleaners that can ruin your sink in an instant. Stone sinks are also very heavy, requiring reinforced cabinetry.
There is also a massive price jump to natural stone sinks as they are generally custom made to fit your space.
Has this guide to the 6 most popular kitchen sink materials helped you? Hopefully, we answered your questions but if you have any more, pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you asap!
This article was first published in October 2021 and continues to be updated with latest information and images.