We spend an inordinate amount of time standing at the kitchen sink, yet it's often the last thing we think about when renovating the kitchen. The right sink balances style and practicality – you want a design that looks good, while making cleaning up a breeze.
The first decision to make is how your sink will be mounted to the benchtop, as this affects the type of benchtop materials you can work with. Undermounted sinks are installed under the benchtop to create a seamless finish. They're secured with strong adhesive and clips, rather than being supported by the benchtop. “It's a more modern look and there's no lip over the benchtop to collect crumbs,” says John Stubbs, director of 77 Architecture. The downside is that installation is tricky and they're usually more expensive. They can also only be installed with weight-bearing benchtops, such as engineered stone.
Inset or overmounted sinks are dropped into the worktop, leaving them with a protruding lip. They're generally more cost effective and can be used with any benchtop material, including laminate. However, they have a more traditional look than undermounted sinks, so may feel out of place in a modern space. “Some newer inset sinks come with a flush mount to give the illusion of an undermount,” says interior architect Christine Ghrayche of One x One Interiors.
Stainless steel wins brownie points for its affordability, durability and heat resistance. “There are many grades available,” says Christine. “The thicker the steel, the more durable and scratch resistant.” She also suggests a brushed or satin finish, rather than a mirror finish, as water marks and scratches will be less noticeable. Stainless doesn't have to mean silver either; consider a copper, gold or glass-topped finish.
Composite stone sinks are generally made with 85 per cent quartz or granite mixed with a polyester-resin base. “They usually feature speckled colour, resistance to stains and scratches, and are easy to look after,” says Luke Kubis of Mondella. “However, they're usually more expensive.” They come in a range of colours and look great paired with a timber or granite benchtop.
Copper is a trend that fits perfectly in the kitchen, as the metal is antimicrobial. For a budget-friendly option, try a stainless-steel sink with a copper finish, paired with a laminate stone-look benchtop.
When it comes to size, prioritise function over form, suggests John Stubbs. “If you have a dishwasher, consider a single large sink for items that you wash by hand, like pots and pans,” he says. If you like having a sink for rinsing, John recommends adding a second sink in a half or quarter size, but says, “Always consider how much bench space you have and whether that sink size is appropriate.”
Consider bowl depth. The deeper the bowl, the more room you'll have for washing and rinsing, but if you spend a lot of time at the sink, a deep bowl can cause back strain.
Your benchtop material influences the type of sink you can choose. “Undermounted sinks can only be installed with stone or timber benchtops,” says Christine Ghrayche. “Laminate is essentially MDF decorated with a thin layer of laminate, so cutting into this surface exposes the internal MDF.” So if you're working with a laminate bench, your choice will be limited to inset sinks.
Photo credit: Getty Images, GAP Interiors/Douglas Gibb, TI Media
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.