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How to Keep Your Kitchen Sink Looking Great

By Erin Carlyle

A new sink can give your kitchen that oh-so-fresh feel. But sinks get a lot of use, and they’re not made of Teflon (at least we hope not), so over time they’re bound to show some wear and tear. Here are tips for keeping 10 popular kitchen sink materials looking great. And if you have a sink-care secret of your own, please share it with your fellow readers in the Comments.


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1. Stainless Steel

Basics to know. Easy-to-maintain stainless steel is the most popular choice for a kitchen sink, according to the majority of the designers I interviewed — and with good reason. “A stainless sink is very hygienic,” says Andrew Williams of Andrew Williams Designs in Boulder, Colorado. “There’s not anything in there where bacteria can grow.” 

Stainless steel isn’t indestructible, but it’s about as close to that as a sink can get. Still, stainless is prone to scratching through daily use. Hard water also can be a problem, with marks showing more on mirror-finished stainless, seen with very high-end sinks, than on brushed, or satin, finish, which is the more common finish for these sinks. Also, if something extremely hot touches a dry stainless sink, the material can become discolored in a process known as “blueing,” Williams says.

Cleaning regimen. To keep stainless sparkling, wash the sink regularly with mild dish soap and a sponge or soft rag — that’s it. “You don’t have to worry yourself with a lot of daily maintenance,” Williams says. Alternatively, manufacturers recommend using a stainless steel cleaner or polish about once a week. 

When you clean your sink, avoid using steel wool, wire brushes or abrasive sponge pads, as they can cause the material to scratch. Also avoid cleaners that contain bleach, as they can corrode the sink. And if you do for some reason use a cleaner with bleach, be sure to rinse the stainless surface immediately to prevent corroding.

How to protect it. To keep stainless looking great, you may want to keep a grid on the bottom to protect it from scratching during daily use. If your sink gets water marks from hard water, a mixture of vinegar and water may work to remove the marks. Don’t allow water to evaporate on the sink, or this may lead to more water
marks. Instead, after you use your sink, wipe it dry with a soft cloth to prevent water stains. And to prevent blueing, be sure to always add water to the sink before putting a hot pan in — never put a hot, dry pan directly in the sink.

How to repair it. If your stainless steel sink does get scratched, you can buff out the scratch with steel wool. But do keep in mind that buffing doesn’t actually remove a scratch; it smooths the sink’s surface so the scratch is not in dramatic relief but instead blended into a larger buffed area. This works best on satin or brushed finishes. A buffed area will stand out more on some of the higher-end stainless sinks that come with a shiny, mirror-like finish.

If you dent your stainless sink — something that might occur if you bump a cast iron pan against its side, for instance, or drop a heavy object on the sink bottom — there’s pretty much nothing you can do, and your sink will have a dent, Williams says. But to put this potential problem into perspective, consider that a ceramic or enamel sink placed under the same pressures would chip.


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2. Granite Composite

Basics to know. Granite composite sinks are typically made of 80 percent granite and 20 percent acrylic resin, which makes them an extremely durable material. They are resistant to heat, stains, scratches and chips. This material comes in a range of colors (though only in matte finishes), but be aware that lighter composites can stain, while darker colors camouflage food scum best. Granite composite doesn’t show scratches the way stainless steel does and the colors don’t fade when exposed to high heat. But these sinks are prone to stains from waterborne minerals, which can dull the finish over time. These sinks can work with a range of kitchen styles, “from cottage to more contemporary,” says Heather Kirk, of Kirk Riley Design in Seattle, Washington.

Cleaning regimen. You can clean daily with a mixture of mild soap and warm water, Kirk says. Alternatively, you can use a non-abrasive cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend, Soft Scrub or Soft Scrub with bleach. Simply scrub any marks or stains with the sponge and soap or cleaner, then rinse with water. After cleaning and each use, be sure to dry the sink with a towel. Kirk recommends microfiber, which is more absorbent than a regular towel. “Yes, this is an additional step, but it will help prevent water stains or limescale from building up on the surface,” she says.

Despite your cleaning, over time the matte finish of a granite composite sink may dull and begin to look as though it is coated in a hazy film, due to buildup of dirt from daily use, or mineral deposits from hard water. A white ring of calcium deposits may appear around the bottom of the sink. To remove these blemishes, use a cleaner targeted at stains from hard water and mineral deposits, such as Lime-A-Way or CLR.

To help prevent this buildup as well as to rid the sink of stubborn stains, some sink manufacturers recommend deep cleaning monthly by sprinkling a mild household cleaning product around the sink bowl and adding hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Let the water stand at least two hours and up to overnight. Drain, clean the sink with a sponge and wipe dry. “This should remove any discoloring from food or limescale residue,” Kirk says. Alternatively, you could leave a solution of half bleach, half water in the bottom of the sink for an hour, then scrub and rinse well. 

How to protect it. Follow your sink manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to deep cleaning. Straight bleach or products that contain ammonia are typically not recommended. For daily cleaning, avoid using steel wool or abrasive scrub pads, as these can scratch the sink. 

How to repair it. Granite composite sinks are resistant to stains, chips, scratches and burns. Marks from metal pans can be removed using the rough side of a sponge along with a mild cleaner — dish soap or a household cleaner should be fine in most cases, but check the sink manufacturer’s recommendations first.


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3. Fireclay

Basics to know. Fireclay sinks are made from a mixture of clay and glaze fired at temperatures of at least 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in the clay and glaze fusing together to create a durable, ceramic-like finish. This material is non-porous and highly resistant to scratching or chipping. Though they are generally stain-resistant, designer Lauren Davenport, of Davenport Designs in Atlanta, recommends rinsing a sink thoroughly after placing red wine, coffee or tea bags in it, as they can leave a mark on the sink. You can place hot pans and dishes in the sink without fear of damaging the material. These sinks are often apron-front and found in farmhouse-style kitchens. 

Cleaning regimen. Use mild dish soap and a soft cloth or sponge to clean fireclay sinks of daily messes. For heavier, crusted-on messes, apply baking soda or a mild abrasive cleaner to a sponge or soft cloth and clean off the gunk. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.

These sinks often have flat bottoms and food can accumulate in the sink’s corners. When this happens, you can use a plastic spatula or a soft scrubbing sponge to scrape off this food muck. Applying a liquid wax to the sink once a month will help with proper drainage, particularly useful for flat-bottomed sinks. “It can help with water flow and helping prevent the water from pooling in the corners of the sink,” Davenport says.

How to protect it. Using a sink grid can help prevent scuff marks that may come from pots and pans. Take care with heavy cast iron pans; if you whack the sink hard enough with cast iron, the sink body could crack.

How to repair it. These sinks will not scratch, burn or crack during daily use. If you do see what looks like a scratch in a fireclay sink, it may be a metal mark left from silverware; these can be cleaned with a scrubber. Chips are rare, but if they do happen, you can get a repair kit from your manufacturer. Davenport says you should follow the instructions on the kit precisely, then avoid using the sink for a week so the compound can fully cure.

Also important: “When comparing fireclay sinks to other sinks, know that the only available finish is in white,” Davenport says. “While these sinks are very durable, dishes and glasses that are dropped into these sinks tend to shatter more easily.” Also, fireclay sinks are very heavy and will require extra reinforcement to accommodate their weight.


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4. Concrete

Basics to know. The most important thing to know about concrete is that it’s fairly porous, and although these sinks will have a sealer, they’ll still show use with time. “When you go with concrete you have to like that worn look, because the material will change,” says Ellinor Ellefson of Elle Interiors in Chandler, Arizona. But you can have a concrete sink custom-made and get it in custom colors. Often used in industrial-style kitchens, these sinks can go with all sorts of countertops. “I have used it with both quartz countertops and granite,” Ellefson says.

Cleaning regimen. Wipe down once or twice daily using a mild dish soap, Ellefsen recommends. Stay away from any abrasive cleaner, as this can wear down the sink’s sealer. Once or twice a week, clean the soap with a household cleaner that is not too abrasive — she recommends checking to make sure that the cleaner is OK to use on natural stone. If not, don’t use it on a concrete sink because it will seep in and start dulling the concrete’s surface.

How to protect it. Avoid placing hot pots and pans directly in the sink; instead, run water into the sink first. The concrete itself won’t be damaged by heat, but the temperature could damage the concrete sealer. You should expect some minor white scratches to appear in your concrete over time; applying Pledge periodically can help fill them in and give your concrete a nice sheen, according to manufacturer Trueform concrete.

Don’t let acidic foods or liquids — lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, wine, soda, tomatoes — sit on your concrete, as they can eat through the sealer and possibly stain the exposed concrete beneath. Similarly, don’t use cleansers that contain ammonia, citric acid, vinegar or bleach. 

To keep it looking good, reseal a concrete sink using a special concrete sealer or a concrete wax, Ellefson advises. When the sink is first installed, she recommends waxing frequently the first month, then re-waxing about every six months. Similarly, if a concrete sealer is used, she suggests resealing every six months. 

How to repair it. Again, if you choose a concrete sink, you should be prepared to accept some scratches as part of the character of this material. But if they build up and are bothering you, you could have a handyperson skim coat the sink with a fresh layer of concrete, which would effectively give it a new finish. You’d just have to avoid using the sink until it is completely dry and has been sealed. Chips in a concrete sink can be repaired with polyester resin and a putty knife — you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do it yourself or contact a concrete fabricator.


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5. Natural Stone

Basics to know. Natural stone can bring a gorgeous organic note to your kitchen sink, but it is not as durable a material as granite composite or stainless steel. While there is a wide variety of natural stones to choose from — including black granite, green or gray granite, limestone, marble, travertine, sandstone, onyx, quartzite and soapstone — some stones are better suited for kitchen sinks than others. Natural stone may scratch or chip, and many stones are susceptible to staining since they are porous. Proper sealant is critical to maintaining the look of these sinks. “A general rule of thumb is that the lighter the stone is, the more porous it is,” says Ellefson, the Arizona designer. 

Cleaning regimen. Natural stone can be cleaned with warm water and a soft brush, or mild dish soap and a soft cloth. Alternatively, you could clean with a product recommended for countertops of the same stone material — check with the manufacturer to get a list of such products. With either method, be sure to wipe your sink dry after use or cleaning to help prevent water marks. If your sink does develop stains, try using a non-abrasive household cleaner like Soft Scrub, a dishwasher soap or a professional stone cleaner to remove them. 

Your kitchen sink will frequently have contact with water, which can remove the protective sealer, so you’ll want to regularly reseal natural stone with wax or a stone sealant to protect the porous stone from damage or stains. Most tile or hardware stores will carry a variety of stone-sealing products. Check with your manufacturer for recommendations on how frequently you should seal the particular stone you have; once or twice per year is often the recommendation. If you prefer to use wax, you’ll want to apply it at least once per month.

How to protect it. Don’t use acidic or abrasive cleaners, like tub or tile cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners, on the sink. Also don’t use ammonia, vinegar, alcohol, window cleaners or lemon juice on a natural stone sink. Avoid abrasive cleaning tools like steel wool and metal brushes. 

How to repair it. If you get a scratch in your natural stone sink, call a repair person. If your sink gets stained, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to remove a stain.

Also important: Natural stone can be hard on dishes and stemware. “Avoid throwing dishes and glasses into the sink, as they [will] have a tendency to chip and break easier than [in], say, a stainless steel sink,” Davenport says. These sinks are also quite heavy and will need extra reinforcement to accommodate their weight.

Soapstone

Basics to know. Soapstone is distinct from other natural stones because it is not porous, which makes it very stain-resistant. While this stone is known for a rich, dark look, it’s actually light gray in color when it comes from the quarry; the charcoal tone comes from exposure to water, grease or oils that cause the stone to oxidize. “What people like the most about soapstone is the way it looks when it’s oiled,” says Erika Couture of Inspire Kitchen and Bath Design in Colchester, Vermont. Typically, mineral oil is used. But since the water used in a kitchen sink on a daily basis rinses away the oiled finish, maintaining that oiled look in a sink can take some elbow grease. If you don’t keep up the oiling, your sink can end up looking streaky, Couture says.

Cleaning regimen. To keep the sink clean, scrub it with soap or a household cleaner like Ajax or Comet. You can use a small brush to keep the corners of the sink clean. 

How to protect it. If the sink is new, you’ll need to treat it regularly with mineral oil to keep it looking good — at least once a month is recommended, but the choice is up to the individual homeowner. A general rule of thumb is to apply mineral oil when water begins to leave a noticeable dark spot, according to Vermont Soapstone in Perkinsville, Vermont. Over time, the soapstone should absorb the mineral oil and you won’t need to continue coating it. 

How to repair it. A soapstone sink is not likely to stain because the stone is not porous, and it won’t burn, Couture says. If you gouge or scrape the sink, you can buff out the damage with fine sandpaper. If the sink chips around the edges or corners — perhaps you hit it with heavy dishes — use fine sandpaper to smooth down the edges.

6. Cast Iron

Basics to know. Cast iron sinks have an enamel finish that is fired at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The polished enamel is nonporous, and if the quality is high this material is very durable. However, be wary of lower-quality enamel finishes that may be more prone to chipping. This type of sink can be hard on dishes and glassware, so be careful how you place these items into the sink. 

Cleaning regimen. Rinse the sink after use and wipe it down with a soft cloth. You can also use a mild dish soap and a soft cloth or sponge for cleaning. Avoid abrasive cleaners, which can cause the enamel finish of the sink to wear off. 

How to protect it. Use a sink grid to protect the sink bottom from scuff marks from pots and pans. Don’t leave dirty dishes, coffee grounds, tea bags or other materials that may stain in the sink for long periods of time. 

How to repair it. If you do chip the enamel on your sink, the underlying cast iron may be exposed and subject to tarnishing or rusting. Acidic foods like orange juice can start to damage the sink. Rather than spot-repair chipped enamel, Davenport recommends having the entire sink professionally resurfaced or re-enameled.

Also important: Cast iron sinks are sometimes used in place of fireclay sinks, which tend to be more expensive. But these sinks get mixed reviews from designers. Davenport prefers to use them in bathrooms, where pots and pans won’t damage their enamel finish. On the other hand, Kirk, the Seattle-based designer who specializes in restoring vintage homes, uses cast iron sinks often and finds them easier to repair than fireclay, arguing that if you hit cast iron hard with a pan, it will damage the enamel but not the cast iron, while if you hit fireclay hard enough, you could crack the actual sink body.


copper kitchen sink

7. Copper

Basics to know. Raw copper is rust-resistant and anti-microbial, and a just-bought copper sink will have a glorious glow to it. Raw copper will naturally develop a patina over time. “It’s like a penny: It’s going to be bright and shiny, and then it’s not,” Kirk says. Keep in mind that there are a few types of copper sinks on the market: those that are raw, and therefore designed to patinate; as well as lacquered copper, designed to preserve its bright look; and finally pre-patinated copper sinks, which have patination before you buy them. The care instructions for these types of sinks are essentially the same. 

If you’re buying a sink, be sure to choose one that is at least 99 percent pure copper — otherwise you lose the benefits of using copper, “namely its anti-microbial properties as well as its malleable-yet-tough quality,” says designer Jennifer Ott of Jennifer Ott Design in San Francisco.

Cleaning regimen. Clean your copper sink daily with mild soap, warm water and a soft cloth or sponge, then dry with a cloth to prevent water spots. It’s best not to use abrasive cleaners or tools like steel wool.

The development of patina is a natural process with copper, but if you want to try to intervene in the look of your sink, there are some steps you can take — you will just need to be ready to take on some work. You may want to apply a product that can help prevent water spots, especially if you have hard water that could leave mineral deposits. One option for protecting the sink from such spots is a spray wax applied once per month.

Too much moisture can lead to green spots in your copper sink’s patina; this is a mineral buildup that you can remove with your fingernail or a soft cloth, or with warm water and a sponge. Some soaps may also cause green spotting if they sit on the sink’s surface for too long. Sometimes these sinks can also get a brown film; similarly, it can be wiped off with a cloth or scratched off with a fingernail. For some people, none of this is really a big deal — others will find staying on top of the development of patina an annoyance. 

How to protect it. Don’t leave a rubber mat, sink grid or sponge inside the sink, and don’t leave food or dishes in the sink for a long period of time, as all of these items can stain the sink. Don’t let bleach touch the sink; it will remove the patina. Acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, ketchup and soda also can strip the patina from your copper sink. So can cosmetics and toiletries like toothpaste, makeup or shaving cream, as well as abrasive chemicals like bleach or drain unclogger. Even oil from your fingertips can affect the patina on copper. Some manufacturers make sink grids that work specifically with copper and don’t take off its patina; consider one of these to protect the sink.

8. Porcelain

Basics to know. A white porcelain sink can look great with a farmhouse style, especially when it’s new. But the look of these sinks will degrade over time. “No matter what you do, a porcelain sink will become scratched and the finish will get dull,” says Ellefson. “You can try to be careful, but there’s really no way to keep it looking as pristine [as it was] in the beginning.” Porcelain sinks can chip, and metal pans can leave black marks or scuffs that can be difficult to remove. Porcelain isn’t as durable as fireclay, and it isn’t as popular a sink material as it once was. “It’s still used, but mostly when farm sinks are in play,” says Angie Keyes, a kitchen and bath designer in Naples, Florida. These days, porcelain is more commonly seen in bathrooms. 

Cleaning regimen. Wash your sink on a daily basis with warm water and dish soap, and use a semi-soft brush to scrub it. Wipe your sink dry to prevent water stains. If the porcelain starts looking dull or dirty, sprinkle a little Borax laundry detergent in it, then rinse that with water. The Borax will help take off mineral deposits that build up and dull the sink’s finish. For a deeper fix, you can get the porcelain sink refinished — hire a professional to do this. 

How to protect it. Ellefson advises keeping a rubber mat at the bottom of your porcelain sink to prevent scratches. 

How to repair it. To repair a chipped or cracked porcelain sink, you can purchase a porcelain repair kit and follow the directions — but the look may not be completely smooth. Alternatively, you can have your porcelain sink professionally refinished.


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9. Solid Surface

Basics to know. Solid surface sinks are man-made, synthetic material composed of acrylic or polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments — Corian is one brand name. Sometimes people also refer to engineered quartz as solid surface, but engineered quartz is a distinct material made of naturally occurring quartz chopped up and mixed with a resin-like material, similar to the process for forming composite granite (see next sink description). Solid surface sinks are supposed to be stain-free, but they do actually stain, says Couture, the Vermont designer. Dark cast iron pans, blueberries and anything that sits on the sink for a while can leave a mark. 

Cleaning regimen. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a soft cloth after each use. Alternatively, wash the sink with soapy water before drying. Mild abrasive cleaners like Comet or Bon Ami can be used occasionally to scrub down the sink, and stains can be sanded down with fine sandpaper. “Be careful not to do it in just one area” or the sink will show a depression in that area, Couture says. 

How to protect it. Don’t leave dirty dishes, coffee grounds, tea bags or other items that could stain in contact with the sink for a long time. Use a basin rack to protect the sink’s bottom from scratching. 

How to repair it. Solid surface sinks can be damaged by heat. If you pour boiling water in without first warming the sink up by running hot water on it, the bottom of the sink might drop out, Couture says. You also want to make sure you avoid placing anything very hot straight out of the oven and onto the sink, or the hot item could melt the material, Couture says. If your sink has a crack or burn that needs to be repaired, call a professional. Synthetic solid surface sinks can be lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper to remove stains or scratches, Couture says. “But because it is soft, you don’t want to oversand in one spot or you will create a depression in that one area.”

Also important: Avoid using window cleaners on the sink, as they can leave a waxy buildup that may dull the sink’s finish.

10. Engineered Quartz

Basics to know. Engineered quartz, also called quartz composite, is a blend of ground quartz and resin. Similar to granite composite in terms of the way it is made, engineered quartz is non-porous and resistant to scratches and heat. This material comes in a variety of colors and, like most sinks, can show hard-water marks if not properly maintained. Force or pressure from heavy objects can damage its surface. On the downside, engineered quartz is not quite as strong or scratch-resistant as granite composite. “Until recently, quartz [composite] sinks were only available as a custom integral sink in a quartz [composite] countertop,” says designer Barbra Bright, of Barbra Bright Design in San Francisco. However, these sinks are now available as standalone products. 

Cleaning regimen. Wipe clean with soap and water, and the scrubber side of a sponge. To clean off tougher spots and dirt, use a non-abrasive household cleaner like Soft Scrub Liquid Gel. To remove food or other items that may stick to the sink, scrape with a putty knife and then clean the sink’s surface with a damp cloth. As with many sinks, wipe dry after use to avoid developing mineral deposits from hard water. For tougher stains on lighter-colored engineered quartz, use a product such as Bar Keepers Friend, Bright suggests. Also, you’ll want to be sure to clean the sink on a regular basis to avoid developing a haze from everyday cooking greases and oils. “Some of the designers say they use Magic Eraser on them daily,” says Cindy Aplanalp-Yates of Chairma Design Group in Houston.

How to protect it. Though this material is heat-resistant, it can be damaged by sudden, dramatic changes in temperature, so avoid transferring hot pans directly into the sink. Instead, run warm water to acclimate the sink first. 

How to repair it. An engineered quartz sink that gets a crack or divot in it could be repaired by filling the damage with epoxy, Bright says, but the patch method might be visible, depending on the color of the sink. The best course of action would be to call a professional — either the fabricator who initially installed the engineered quartz or a stone repair company. 

How to Choose the Right Bathroom Sink

Article by: Anne Ellard

“Eight,” I hear you say. “She can’t possibly be serious. Isn’t a sink just a sink?” But yes, I am serious — and my clients are often baffled when trying to choose from the available options. The truth is that choosing one can be a bit overwhelming, but only when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. First, you need to consider which room you are shopping for (master en suite, family bathroom, powder room), who will use the room and how much space you have. 

So before you head off to choose your new bathroom sink, grab a coffee, have a read and then go out armed with the information you need to help narrow down the best options for you and your space.

1. Top-mount sink. Probably the most commonly used sink, a top-mount, or drop-in, sink is designed to sit on top of the counter, as the name suggests.

Generally speaking, most of the sink sits below the counter, with just the rim of it sitting on top of, and visible above, the counter. The rim can be either very slim or a bit chunkier, like the one pictured, depending on the style you choose. 

Pros: Top-mount sinks are suitable for pretty much any countertop material, including wood and laminate, as the cutout is completely covered by the sink and therefore doesn’t risk being damaged by water. They are also less costly to install in a stone countertop, because they don’t require laborious polishing of the cutout edges, as with an undermount sink. 

Con: You can’t wipe water and spills straight from the counter into the sink. 

Good for: Elegant en suites and minimalist schemes.

2. Undermount sink. This sits underneath the counter. The rim of the sink is fixed to the underside of the countertop, as opposed to sitting on top of it. 

Pros: This creates a seamless, clean look, as less of the actual sink is visible. Another advantage is that water and spills can be wiped directly from the countertop into the sink without any obstruction, making it a great, easy-to-clean option for family bathrooms. 

Cons: Undermounting a sink will usually only be possible with a solid-surface countertop, such as stone, and isn’t suitable with a laminate, as it can’t be sealed as well against moisture. These sinks also tend to cost more than top-mount ones. 

Good for: Busy family bathrooms.

3. Wall-mounted sink. This is fixed directly to the wall without needing to sit in or on a countertop. It looks streamlined and gives a minimalist feeling to a room. 

Pros: A wall-mounted sink doesn’t have any cabinets below it, which saves on space and also leaves more visible floor area, making the room feel bigger. For a wall-mounted sink to work in your space, all the plumbing, including the waste, must be positioned inside the wall to have a clean look.

Cons: There is no storage space, and there is a lack of “landing” space due to the absence of a countertop. Consider your need for storage in your bathroom before opting for a wall-mounted sink and maybe reserve it for the powder room, where storage isn’t as important. 

Good for: Small spaces.

4. Pedestal sink. If your preference is a simple wall-mounted sink, but your waste pipe has to go through the floor and can’t be changed, then a pedestal sink is a great option.

Pros: The pedestal under the sink sits between the underside of the sink and the floor, concealing any pipework in between. A pedestal sink is also aesthetically pleasing and perfect if you want to give your bathroom a classical vibe.

Cons: Again, consider the fact that you won’t have any storage space under the sink or any counter space around it. This option can also be a bit tricky to clean around, as there is usually a gap between the wall and the back of the pedestal (as pictured here).

Good for: Period properties and traditional schemes.

5. Semirecessed sink. If your bathroom or en suite has limited space, but you would still like some vanity cabinets below your sink for storage, then a semirecessed option might be the solution you need.

Pros: A semirecessed sink sits proudly at the front of cabinets and the countertop that it sits on, allowing you to have much shallower cabinets — maybe even as shallow as about 12 inches (300 millimeters), depending on the model you choose. This frees up valuable floor space. It also keeps a lot of the counter space free for cosmetics and other products. Much like a pedestal sink, this is a good option for young children and people with limited mobility, as you can get closer to the sink to reach the faucet without the obstruction of a countertop and cabinets.

Cons: The storage space underneath is limited. Also, because there isn’t any countertop around the front of the sink to catch water, splashes and spills onto the floor are more common, especially in a home with children. 

Good for: Mini-me’s and beauty queens.

6. Washplane sink. Washplane sinks, often spotted in sleek hotels and restaurant bathrooms, are the simplest of the options. They’re slim, streamlined and stylish. 

Pros: Washplane sinks take up very little space, so they are great in a room where space is limited, such as in a powder room. You can buy one made of ceramic, porcelain or glass off the shelf. Alternatively, a stonemason can make them in this style from granite, marble or engineered stone. They simply mount a small stainless steel trough under the sink to catch the water before it runs into the waste pipe in the wall behind.

Cons: Washplane sinks are best suited to the powder room, where the sink will be used just for hand washing. They don’t come with the option of having a plug, plus they are extremely shallow, so they’re not designed to hold water. 

Good for: Powder rooms.

7. Vessel sink. A vessel sink is one that generally sits completely on top of the countertop, although there are some models that sit partially below the counter. 

Pros: Unlike most other sinks that are exposed above the counter a little or not at all, vessel sinks demand attention and are a great way to create a statement in your bathroom. As the name suggests, a vessel sink is basically like a large bowl, so it is a great choice if you like a deep sink that can hold plenty of water. 

Cons: Due to the height of vessel sinks and the way they sit above the counter, careful planning of the counter height, and of the height of the cabinets below, is required to ensure that the sink doesn’t end up being too high and uncomfortable to use — this often leads to less storage space under the counter. Cleaning around the base and back of the sink can also be a bit tricky. 

Good for: En suite bathrooms.

8. All-in-one sink and countertop. Many off-the-shelf vanity cabinets that can be purchased from bathroom supply stores offer an all-in-one countertop with a sink that sits on top. With this style, the sink itself is actually molded as part of the countertop. It can be made from various materials, such as porcelain or acrylic. 

Pros: The main advantage is that it’s so easy to clean. There are no ridges or seams, so it’s very streamlined and a great choice for busy family bathrooms. These sinks are generally available in set standard sizes; however, some suppliers may offer the option to have one custom made to the size that suits your space best.

Con: These all-in-one tops are usually designed so the countertop gradually slopes down and inward to create a sink in the middle. This can lead to having less flat counter space to put things on than what you would have had if you had opted for a top-mount sink sitting on top of a countertop, for example. 

Good for: Time-poor renovators, and those who need to buy something straight off the shelf and don’t have time to wait for a custom-made sink.

Everything You Need to Know About Farmhouse Sinks

Farmhouse sink kitchen

Article by: Anne Ellard [Houzz]

They’re charming, homey, durable, elegant, functional and nostalgic. Those are just a few of the reasons they’re so popular.

Being from Ireland and having included the beautiful Belfast farmhouse sink in many traditional country and farmhouse kitchen designs, I have a bit of a soft spot for farmhouse-style sinks. The farmhouse sink originated in a time when there was no running water. The idea behind the sink was that it was a place to hold large amounts of water, which was fetched by hand from nearby wells, lakes and rivers. 

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15 Doggone-Good Tips for a Pet Washing Station

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This is going to sound harsh, but your dog stinks. Don’t feel bad — it’s natural, and you are nice to let him swim in that creek and run in the mud and roll around in yucky things. You don’t notice anymore, because your schnoz is used to it. But when I come over to visit, the smell of your dog’s bed and the smell on my hand after I pet him is very noticeable, so chances are, the same smell is in your carpets, car and any furniture Fido lounges on. 

You probably mean to wash the dog more often, but it’s a pain in the neck. Large dogs are tough to get into bathtubs, the big shake afterward makes a mess, and the whole thing can be quite an ordeal. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, a home pet washing station isn’t looking so crazy. In fact, you can use them for other things, too. A builder who’s been adding them for years, Vincent Longo, says that one client uses his pet care station for cleaning dirty golf clubs, gardening tools and even the kids after a busy day making mud pies. 

Whatever your thoughts about pet wash stations, there’s no denying their popularity. If you’re thinking about adding one, here are some ideas to consider. 

Incorporate the washing station into the mudroom. Mudrooms are a very popular spot for dog wash stations. Dogs enter from the back or side door, and their muddy paws never make it into the rest of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Include a handheld showerhead or sprayer. Not only will it help you get your dog’s entire bod nice and clean, but it will also let you do a quick paws-only wash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be prepared for the big shake. Anyone who has ever washed dogs knows that afterward they shake off the water with gusto and get the entire area wet (including the person doing the washing). Having a surround and floor that can stand up to water will keep the big shake from damaging drywall and floors. 

If your dog is the type that runs around the house in crazy circles after a bath, all I can recommend is shutting the mudroom door until Sparky dries off and calms down, or else letting him into the garage for the runaround.

 

Go bigger with the drain. Longo recommends using a 3-inch drain in a pet washing station. It will handle dog hair better than the standard 1½- to 2-inch shower drain. He also recommends adding a hair filter over the drain.

Clearly, this dog loves the pet wash station and is just begging for a rinse. 

Consider an elevated dog bath for smaller pets. It will be easier on your back and knees in the long run, as long as your dog is willing and able to jump into it, or you don’t have a problem lifting your pet into place.

 

Step it up. In this clever design, the counters double as steps up to the basin. The middle step serves as a drying station and has room for a cozy pet bed underneath. 

For smaller dogs a large utility sink plus a sprayer is all you need. 

Use what the pros use. You can find professional bathing stations complete with ladders or ramps at places like ProGroom. 

Combine gardening and pet grooming. Pet washers are also great places to water plants, rinse off mucky Wellies and clean your gardening tools.

 

Incorporate your own style. This custom dog bath utilizes vintage tiles that the homeowner had been collecting for years.

 

Have drying towels handy. An overhead drying rack is a handy spot for drying dog towels as well as laundry. If you utilize this kind of system, be sure to remove your people laundry before the big shake. 

Embrace the theme. This area celebrates dogs in the wallpaper and has plenty of shelves for dog supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider going high-end. Do you and your pet have luxurious tastes? If so, try a dog-specific tub. When family-owned company Hydro Systemsdecided to dip into dog bath design, the owners collaborated with their groomer of more than 20 years, adding features like skidproofing to prevent slips and slides, and even an optional jetted whirlpool system. 

Is your dog the spa type? Do tell, because this idea is certainly new to me, and I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Unless the dog’s name is Zsa Zsa. Then it makes sense. (Seriously, though, the folks who designed this tub and added the spa option say it’s a matter of personality on a case-by-case basis.)


This model is for smaller dogs. I included it because a photo of a dog sitting in its own personal bath wearing a bling-bling necklace simply must be shared.

 

 

 

 

Think about storage for supplies. Just like a human shower area, this one has handy shelves for dog shampoo and sponges.

 

 

Take it outside. Homeowners are increasingly incorporating pet washing stations into their outdoor showers. All it takes is a handheld sprayer or showerhead that can reach down to the ground. Rinse off muddy paws here before they can get inside and muck up your rugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provide a clean path to the door. A concrete, gravel or stone walkway will prevent your dog from dirtying up his paws on the way in from an outdoor wash. Unless, of course, the dog breaks free and does that crazy circle thing out in the yard.

 

How to Replace Your Kitchen Faucet

Article By: Meg Padgett

Kitchen remodels require a multitude of skills from conception to completion, and ours was no exception. From tearing down walls to replacing floors, we’ve been through it all — and we’re exhausted. Luckily, the very last change was the quickest and easiest to tackle.

Replacing our basic kitchen faucet with a gorgeous one-handle high-arc pull-down faucet was the finishing touch our kitchen remodel needed. The process was surprisingly easy — it’s a do-it-yourself project that almost anyone can accomplish. 

All you’ll need are a new faucet and a few household tools:

  • Adjustable basin wrench
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Safety glasses
  • Bucket or bowl for catching water 

Clean out the area underneath the sink so you have ample space to inspect your work area and move about freely. Next, turn off both the hot and cold water supplies via the shutoff valve under the sink. Test that the water is off at the faucet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using a basin wrench or slip joint pliers, unscrew the connections for each water line at the shutoff valve. Have a bowl handy to catch any residual water, and place the ends of the water lines in the bowl.

 

Unscrew the mounting nuts that hold the faucet to the sink, using either the wrench or the pliers. Remove the faucet from the sink and set it aside. Instead of tossing the old faucet into the trash, consider donating it to a salvaged goods shop, like a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Check here for locations

Once the old faucet has been removed, clean the surface of the sink. I used a baking soda paste to eliminate water stains. 

Place the gasket that came with your new faucet around the sink hole and slip the supply lines and faucet tailpipe through. Our new Moen Woodmere faucet required only a single hole for installation, so we capped the remaining three holes on our stainless steel sink with covers that can be found at any hardware store. In lieu of capping, consider adding accessories such as a soap dispenserwater filter faucet or hot water dispenser. You can also use the deck plate that is provided with some models.

Note: Some faucets do not include gaskets; you need to apply sealant to the sink.

 

Secure the faucet in place from beneath the sink with the provided installation hardware. Ensure the faucet is positioned correctly and then tighten the mounting nut securely. Check the faucet from above to make sure it doesn’t wobble or wiggle. 

Attach the faucet’s supply lines to the shutoff valves and tighten the connections with a wrench.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our faucet included a pullout sprayer, which required a few extra steps. If yours does too, simply insert the spray hose through the faucet and push through until the hose is visible beneath the sink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then attach the spray hose to the water line and push in the locking clip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn on your water supply and test that the water is working. If the stream is irregular, you’ll need to adjust the flow at the supply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attach the spray nozzle to the spray hose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tighten the connection with a wrench or pliers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attach the spray nozzle weight to the hose between the marked area and the curve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again test that the spray nozzle works.

 

Here’s what everything looks like from below once the faucet is fully installed.


 


Master Bathroom Choices: One Sink or Two?

Article By: Tiffany Carboni

One sink or two? This is the classic debate for couples renovating a sizable master bathroom. There are pros and cons to both. So what’s right for your bathroom? I spoke with architect Thayer Hopkins, who offered up what you need to consider about installing either a single or double sink during your master suite remodel. 

“Couples these days usually prefer the idea of two sinks for one simple reason,” says Hopkins. “They lead busy lives and need access to the bathroom at the same time.”

On paper the double sink looks ideal. But let’s walk through this two-sided argument. 

Some Benefits of 2 Sinks 

Personal space. With two sinks, theoretically no one will ever again spit toothpaste on your hand as you’re trying to wash up. Also, your very own sink means you can keep your makeup, moisturizers or shaving kit out as necessary without having your partner knock anything over.

And by having your own designated sink, you don’t have to stare at your partner’s toothpaste residue while you’re brushing your own teeth. Even in the best of partnerships, there are some things that neither of you want to see of the other.

Two sinks can help make you and your partner feel like you’re in a loving, adult relationship rather than siblings fighting over a single faucet. 

Some Disadvantages of 2 Sinks

“The convenience of two sinks has its tradeoffs to consider,” Hopkins notes.

Cost. It costs more to plumb two sinks than one. Add to that the additional cost of finishes and a larger vanity.

Space. A typical sink basin is about 17 to 19 inches wide. “If there isn’t a solid 6 feet or more available for two sinks, I will counsel clients to stick with just one sink basin,” says Hopkins.“These 6 feet or more will give the minimum 11- to 12-inch buffer needed between basins to keep a couple from banging elbows and crowding each other out.” 

Even if you do have a good amount of space, two sinks will eat into counter space that could be used for tasks, displays etc. Two sinks will also double the amount of undercabinet space taken up by the double drain pipes. 

If you’ve got ample storage or counter space elsewhere in the bathroom, this space tradeoff may not pose any problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two-sink styles you can both agree on. The prefabricated two-sink vanity is one of the easiest styles to choose and install in a bathroom because of its fixed dimensions. In other words, there’s no guessing if elbow clearance might be an issue for you and your partner. You can see for yourself in the showroom or tape out the dimensions prior to ordering a vanity online to test the sink measurements.

Custom vanities offer even more benefits, as they can be tailored to your exact wishes. But you and your partner have to be willing to work with a designer or cabinetmaker to cull through the endless possibilities.

 

You can also use two freestanding pedestal sinks, either for aesthetics or to overcome any space limitations, as they can be put side by side or on separate walls. “Pedestal sinks have made a resurgence in the last 10 to 15 years,” Hopkins says. “As a result, there’s more product available to suit different needs.” 

If you don’t need the counter space or storage space in a vanity, two pedestals will create an airy feel that may sway your choice. 

You can also use a single basin with two separate faucets. 

This sort of double sink performs duties for two people while acting like one sink underneath with its single drain, which leads us to …

 

The Benefits of the Single Sink

Leaves room for other amenities. “I might push for a couple to install only one sink if there’s a possibility of using that extra space for a separate shower and tub instead,” says Hopkins.

Cost and cleaning. One sink, with one hardware set, is cheaper than two, and one sink is easier to clean than two.

More storage. You can have more storage underneath if there’s only one drainpipe. If you’re the kind of person who loves to pull out every bit of makeup, you’re going to get frustrated if you don’t have enough room for it because of that extra sink. 

More counter space. You can get a lot more usable counter space if there’s only one basin. More countertop space equals more display opportunities and more room for your everyday toiletries.

Designing Your Kitchen: Deep Thoughts for Your Sink

Article By: Jennifer Ott

I tend to think bigger is always better. Maybe it’s because I live in Texas. So when it comes to working in my own kitchen, I do love having a nice, wide sink. It offers plenty of space for food prep and cleanup, perfect for our two-cook household. But what about bowl depth? Sure, an extra-deep sink is good for hiding dirty dishes, but it can also do a number on your back, especially if you are of a shorter persuasion. 

Here are some tips for selecting the correct sink depth for you and how you use your kitchen. 

Kitchen sinks have been steadily growing in bowl depth. Most sinks used to be as shallow as 6 inches or less; the average today is 8 to 10 inches, and they can go as deep as 12 inches. If you repurpose a vintage sink, such as the one pictured here, it will likely be on the shallow side. 

When to Go Shallow

A shallow bowl depth — say, less than 8 inches — is going to be the most comfortable bowl depth for those who are 5-foot-4 or shorter or who are very tall (6-foot 2 or taller). A shallower bowl depth allows a shorter person to work in the sink without having to lean into it to wash items in the bottom. Taller folks can work in a shallower sink without having to crouch down or hunch over. 

 

Shallow sinks also take up less space in the sink cabinet below them. Not only does this free up storage space, but it also makes it easier to install and access the garbage disposal and the plumbing fittings. Shallow sinks also tend to cost a bit less than deeper versions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When to Go Deep

For those who, like me, seem to dirty every dish in the house when making a meal, a superdeep sink is ideal. You have plenty of space for prepping meals, and in a pinch you can hide your dirty dishes in there until you are able to wash them. This is a nice sink for bakers or others who are regularly washing large sheet pans and cutting boards, too. A sink depth of at least 10 inches will give you the room you need to wash larger dishes without splashing water all over the floor and surrounding countertops. 

Keep in mind that if you are going with an undermount sink, you will gain the additional depth of the countertop thickness. You can offset this, however, by using a raised sink grid, as shown here. 

Try One On for Size

When selecting your kitchen sink bowl depth, it’s all about finding one that is just right for your height and how you use your sink. If you can, check out kitchen showrooms that have a variety of sink sizes on display —mounted at the standard 36-inch countertop height — to see what sink depth feels most comfortable.

Bathroom Details: Show Off Your Sink Line

Article By: John Whipple

Many modern and classic sink designs expose our waste and water supply lines. If your new sink is going to show off your plumbing, you’ll want to choose a good sink trap — specifically a P-trap, named for its shape, like the letter “P” — and matching sink fittings. 

There are two basic kinds of P-traps: A European-style P-trap has no U-shaped pipe, while the North American style does. Regardless of which shape you choose, you can find a sink trap in all kinds of materials — including nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, stainless steel, brass and copper — to coordinate with your bathroom’s style. 

Your sink trap holds back a little water after each use to keep air from your sewer pipes from coming back into your home. Consistent sink use, from simply running the tap to washing your hands, keeps the system working well. 

In seldom-used bathrooms, water in the trap slowly evaporates. If you have a guest bath you don’t use very often, get into the habit of sending a little water down the sink from time to time to maintain the proper water level in the P-trap. 

Toilets need this same care; make sure you flush toilets in seldom-used bathrooms once every one to three weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Kohler Adjustable P-trap With Tubing Outlet, 1¼ by 1½ Inches – $126.15 »
This shot of a Kohler adjustable P-trap (North American style) shows where the trap got its name; if you tilt your head to the right, the pipe looks a lot like the letter “P.” The curved part of the trap retains a small amount of water after the sink is used.

This shot shows a European-style sink trap, which doesn’t have the same P shape and can actually save a little more room under your sink. The water in these traps acts the same way as in the previous trap. This clever installation has a shelf notched around the well-placed trap, creating great towel storage under the sink. 

Here’s a shot of the same sink in the previous photo. The installer did a great job with this setup. If you have a small vanity and need extra storage, consider using one of these European-style P-traps to save room under your sink. 

Most sink traps are installed perfectly centered on the sink with the pipe running from the front of the sink to the back …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… while some installations show off the curve with the pipe run parallel to the wall, allowing you to see the full P shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan your fittings to fit the space and feel of the room. This bathroom has loads of old-home charm, and the exposed plumbing is part of that look. A sleek, modern pipe would look out of place with this sink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re planning for your golden years and want a more universal bathroom design, understand thatAmericans with Disability Act–compliant bathrooms have room to roll under a bathroom sink with a wheelchair. This means choosing a pipe that won’t bang anyone’s legs or knees. 

Make sure the front of your sink is no higher than 34 inches off your finished flooring to comply with theNational Kitchen and Bath Association‘s planning guidelines for accessibility. 

Tip: If you want more room under your sink, ask your plumber to send the sink waste line to the back wall and install the P-trap in the wall or right up against it.

 

 

 

 

Some of today’s sink designs don’t need a P-trap, like the one in this photo. This sink doesn’t even have a waste line; the water simply slides down into the shower drain! 

Tip: Today a sink’s graywater (wastewater) can be used to fill the toilet and cut down on water use. If you want your home to save on natural resources, this is a great ecofriendly option.