"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Granite kitchen sinks. Integral kitchen sinks. Porcelain over cast iron sinks. Solid surface kitchen sinks. Soapstone kitchen sinks.

Integral solid surface kitchen sinks are most often used for bathroom vanity tops and to a lesser degree for use in the kitchen. Since the sink and countertop are all cast in one piece there are no hard to clean joints or seams. There are no seams, small crevices or overhangs where grime and bacteria can hide.


Soapstone is a popular, high-end sink. Soapstone kitchen sinks are created either by joining 1 1/4" (32 mm) slabs of soapstone with epoxy to form the sink basin or carved out of solid pieces of soapstone. The only drawback seems to be the perfectly flat bottom. Anything on the bottom of the sink, such as crumbs, must be manually swept toward the drain. Soapstone is stylish and ages wonderfully. Style and beauty of a soapstone sink and countertop is shown to the right.

Clean lines
for a contemporary look.
Cultured granite sink made
of 80% natural granite and
high quality acrylic.

If the sink you are buying comes in a box take it out and check for chips or other flaws before taking it home.

Kitchen Sinks
Solid surface.
Cultured. Engineered. Cast Acrylic. Soapstone

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Granite kitchen sinks. Integral kitchen sinks. Porcelain over cast iron sinks. Solid surface kitchen sinks. Soapstone kitchen sinks.
For information about stainless steel sinks click here

- Single bowl, single ascend bowl, apron sink, regular double bowl or double bowl with one side much smaller, housing the kitchen food disposer

As the name suggest, the sink is lowered from the top into a pre-cut rough opening in the countertop. The opening is less than the outside measurements of the sink's rim. The sink is clamped into place from below. A sealant is used to make the rim/countertop joint waterproof. This joint is also a potential source of catching dust and allowing germs to grow if not kept clean at all times. Self-rimming kitchen sinks can be used for all countertops regardless of the top's material.

Under-mount kitchen sinks can only be used with counters made out of solid materials, such as natural stone, man-made stone or solid surface. Bottom-mount kitchen sinks cannot be used with laminate counter tops. Bottom-mount sinks are attached to the underside of the countertop and a silicone based sealant is used to make the countertop/sink joint waterproof. There is also a small overhang at this joint which could hide a build-up of dirt and bacteria. Just make sure to check this area when cleaning up the countertop. Bottom-mount kitchen sink installations are popular because it gives your countertop area a clean and contemporary look.

Soapstone low-drop apron kitchen sink


Porcelain over cast iron kitchen sinks have been around "forever' and rightly so. Sinks made of this material are heavy, long lasting and produced in a wide variety of colours and shapes. Porcelain kitchen sinks are hot and cold resistant but are easily chipped when hit by a heavy or sharp object. Do not use abrasive cleaning products as they will dull the surface.
You may also come across enamel over cast iron kitchen sinks. They are less costly but also less rugged and will not last and stand up as well compared to porcelain over cast iron kitchen sinks.

Man-made (cultured or engineered) kitchen sinks are made of the same materials as those used for countertops. The two most popular materials used are engineered quartz and cultured granite. Some stone shops carry also cultured marble and onyx kitchen sinks.
Cultured stone kitchen sinks are generally speaking, fairly hard and resistant to chipping and heat. Hot pans will not mar the surface since these sinks are heat resistant. For information on cleaning and maintenance click on cultured granite, cultured onyx, or engineered quartz.
Cultured stone kitchen sinks are available in many colours.
Plumbing knockouts for the installation of kitchen faucets are partially drilled from the underside of the sink. Follow manufacturers instructions on how to remove the knock outs but usually all it takes is a tap with a hammer from the finished side of the sink. Just make sure to mark the exact location of the knock outs before hitting the sink!!!
Thermal shock and crackink. During my research for this article I came across some information which makes sense to me. They were talking about the possibility of thermal shock cracking around the sink's drain hole or outlet. Quote: "Thermal shock cracking is characteristic of composites using plastic and low-expansion materials such as quartz or metal. Expansion of the plastic due to heat near but not completely surrounding a hole will cause tension stress at the hole where it is most susceptible to cracking. An example would be if you are pouring boiling water off a pot of potatoes or spaghetti, maybe into a colander, and it was heating a spot near the outlet. That spot would try to expand and create tension at the nearby hole, and could result in a crack at the outlet."
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