Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Buying Guide

There are many reasons stainless steel sinks remain best sellers. They’re beautiful yet neutral in appearance, so they go with anything. The material lives up to its name – it will remain free of stains and corrosion for many years. And stainless steel kitchen sinks are available in the widest range of sizes, styles and designs. This stainless steel sink buying guide gives you the details you need for comparing sinks and making a decision you’ll be very happy with.

stainless steel kitchen sinks

About Stainless Steel Sinks

Stainless steel is low-carbon steel enriched with at least 10% chromium by weight. It is the chromium that effectively resists staining and corrosion because it forms a chromium oxide film on the surface of the material. If the film is scratched, the metal beneath oxidizes to effectively replace the coating. Oxidation on iron is called rust and is unsightly. On stainless steel, the oxidation preserves the good looks of the metal. The chromium (think chrome) gives the metal its sparkle too.

There are many different stainless steel compositions. Many of the finest sinks are made from a mix known as T304 stainless steel with 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It is also known as 18/8 stainless steel.

Stainless steel is both strong and lightweight relative to other metals. There are several gauges of stainless steel used in sink production. The gauge refers to the thickness of the steel, and the thicker it is, the sturdier (and more expensive) the sink will be. Starting at 23-gauge material, which is the thinnest, the stainless steel used in sinks tops out at 16-gauge steel. That’s a point to keep in mind when shopping for stainless steel sinks – the smaller the number, the thicker the gauge.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Options

This is where your buying decisions will get difficult. You’ve got so many choices!

  • Single, double, triple sinks (See our Guides to these styles)
  • Topmount, undermount, corner and farmhouse/apron sinks (See our Guides to these types)
  • Widths from less than 20” to more than 40”
  • Stainless steel sink prices starting at less than $100 to more than $4,000

Top Stainless Steel Sink Brands

All the best names in the industry make stainless steel sinks, unless the company specializes in copper, fireclay or other specialty material. The top-rated stainless steel sink brands include:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks

Let’s look at the reasons for the popularity of stainless steel sinks and a few potential drawbacks too.

Stainless steel kitchen sink advantages – Stainless steel:

  • Is affordable, though stylish and expensive sinks are available too
  • Offers stain and corrosion resistance even to acidic foods to maintain good looks and durability
  • Is available in the widest selection of styles, sizes and depths to match any kitchen design from traditional to modern
  • Cleans up quickly and is non-porous, so it won’t harbor bacteria
  • Is resistant to heat from boiling water and hot pans
  • Is very strong for its weight
  • Can be recycled, and ecofriendly stainless sinks use up to 80% recycled material

Stainless steel kitchen sink disadvantages – Stainless steel:

  • Is considered a bit drab by some, not as interesting as copper or granite composite, for example
  • Is noisier than porcelain or composite, though upscale stainless steel sinks are coated or padded on the underside for noise reduction
  • Polished and mirror finishes sparkle like nothing else, but maintaining that gleam at home is more difficult (so consider a brushed or satin finish, if this is a concern)
  • Thinner gauges of stainless steel dent somewhat easily

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Style

You’ll find stainless steel in every style kitchen. Most designers think they look best with traditional, European, retro, contemporary and modern designs while not as fitting in Old World, Mediterranean and similar kitchens.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Prices

We break down stainless steel sink costs by style and type in the Stainless Steel Sink Price Guide, but here’s an overview:

  • Starting price for stainless steel kitchen sinks: About $55
  • Price range for most stainless steel kitchen sinks: $200-$500
  • High-end stainless steel kitchen sink prices: $1,500-$3,000

Is a Stainless Steel Sink Right for Your Kitchen?

As your review the pros and cons of stainless steel sinks and consider your kitchen style, does stainless steel fit into the design? What about your lifestyle? If you want a sink that doesn’t demand a lot of care and will continue to look good with heavy use, stainless steel is an excellent choice. Whether you want good value for a lower price or something with exceptional flare at a higher cost, this material should be on your short list to consider.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink FAQ

This stainless steel sink Q&A covers additional important topics.

What warranties come with stainless steel sinks?

Better sinks are covered by lifetime warranties against defects in the material or construction. However, dents and scratches typically are not covered.

Do stainless steel sinks need extra support?

It makes sense to provide extra support to wide stainless steel sinks, but they generally don’t need the type of extra support heavier materials like cast iron or porcelain require.

What should I clean my stainless steel sink with?

This topic is covered in detail in the Stainless Steel Sink Care and Maintenance Guide. In brief, mild detergents are best. See the care guide that comes with your sink for specifics.

There’s a rusty hue on my stainless steel sink. What is it, and how do I get rid of it?

It might be rust, but it’s not your sink that is rusting. If you clean your sink with stainless steel, the steel debris left behind will rust. Try removing the rust with a textured pad or soft scrub material. However, avoid using products containing bleach.

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