Browse the sink aisle of any home improvement store and you’ll find more stainless steel models than any other variety on display. That’s because this attractive metal is durable, heat- and stain-resistant, and often more affordable than other sink materials, such as porcelain or soapstone. The best stainless steel sink for you will depend on the style you favor (there are discernable differences), your budget, and the desired sink location. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a stainless steel sink, and find out why the following models are true standouts.
- BEST OVERALL: Kraus Kore Workstation 30-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ruvati 30-Inch Undermount Stainless Steel Sink
- BEST TOP-MOUNT: Friho 28″x 22″ Drop-in Stainless Steel Sink
- BEST UNDERMOUNT: Kraus Kore 2-Tier Undermount Stainless Steel Sink
- BEST APRON/FARMHOUSE: Sarlai 33 Inch Farmhouse Kitchen Sink
- BEST DOUBLE BOWL: Hykolity 33-inch Double Bowl Stainless Steel Sink
Types of Stainless Steel Sinks
Sinks are categorized first by the way they install, and after that, by their quality, design, and style. All sinks fit into three basic installation types: top-mount, undermount, and apron-style (also known as farmhouse). The kitchen’s available space and whether the sink will be a new install or a retrofit are also top installation considerations.
For decades, the only type of sink on the market was the top-mount sink, commonly known as a drop-in sink. A top-mount sink features a rim, or a lip, that rests on the surrounding countertop. For those who have an existing top-mount sink, choose another top-mount when replacing the sink to get the best results. Handy DIYers with a bit of plumbing experience can often replace one top-mount sink with another because the process is fairly straightforward.
An undermount sink, also called a recessed model, is better suited to solid-surface countertops, such as granite, quartz, or stone. This type of sink is carefully fitted to a countertop’s underside after a professional fabricator cuts an opening for it. Undermount sinks come in two styles, and installing either type is a job for the pros.
- Reveal: An undermount sink with a reveal refers to a small strip (a fraction of an inch) of the sink’s top edge that is visible along the inside of the countertop cutout.
- Overhang: No top strip of sink is visible with an overhang design. Instead, the solid countertop surface is cut to the exact dimensions as the sink opening or slightly smaller, which allows the countertop material to extend over the top of the sink. While some feel this type is less likely to allow water to leak between the sink and the countertop, a professionally installed undermount sink of either type should be virtually leak-free.
An apron-style model features the front edge of the sink extending beyond the edge of the countertop. The look is currently popular, especially with “country” or rustic-style kitchens, as it resembles old-fashioned farmhouse sinks. Apron sinks are available in either top-mount or undermount styles to suit individual preferences and kitchen decor.
What to Consider When Choosing a Stainless Steel Sink
After settling on the best mounting type, consider sink size, the optimal number of sink bowls, material quality, and how to select a sink that complements the rest of the kitchen appliances without upstaging them.
Sinks are available in a range of sizes, from as small as 8 inches long (side-to-side) and wide (front-to-back), to as long as 60 inches for double- or triple-bowl sinks. Sinks are typically listed by total length, such as a 30-inch sink or a 36-inch sink. A few standard sizes apply:
- Single-bowl sink: 20 inches long by 30 to 33 inches wide
- Double-bowl sink: 22 inches long by 33 to 48 inches wide
- Apron sink: 24 to 25 inches long by 30 to 36 inches wide
- Depth: Sinks vary in bowl depth from 7 to 10 inches for a standard sink, though deep-bowl models that measure up to 13 inches deep are also available
Fortunately, most sink retailers (even those selling online) will publish detailed diagrams of a sink’s measurements so buyers can see precisely what size they’re getting and make sure those dimensions fit their countertop space.
Structure and Design
An array of design options is available when choosing a stainless steel sink today:
- Off-sink faucets: Some top-mount sinks come with holes predrilled at the back for installing a faucet. But sinks without holes can have the faucet installed on the counter behind the sink or even on the back wall so the spout extends out and over the sink. Nearly all undermount sinks require off-sink faucets.
- Built-in drainboard: A sink with a built-in drainboard allows the user to wash and then position dishes (on a drying rack) over the board, which slopes toward the sink bowl to ensure water doesn’t drain onto the countertop.
- Extra utility hole: A sink with a predrilled hole for a faucet may also come with an extra hole to install a drinking faucet for filtered water or a soap dispenser.
- Prep tools: Modern sinks often come with wire drain racks or cutting boards that fit along the top of the sink for chopping foods right over a sink bowl or drying dishes in the sink.
The thicker the gauge of stainless steel, the better the quality. The standard gauge for stainless steel sinks ranges from around 14 to 20, with the lower number indicating a thicker gauge of steel. A decent-quality sink should have a gauge of at least 18, while 14- to 16-gauge is even better. In addition to thickness, shoppers can select from a high-shine or a brushed-satin finish. A glossy shine will look like a mirror when spotlessly clean and polished, but it shows water spots and scratches more readily than a brushed finish.
To qualify as a top pick, a stainless steel sink should be made from good-quality steel and have an attractive, durable finish. While the best stainless steel sink for a kitchen will depend on personal taste and DIY capabilities, the following models are well-made and could be an asset in many kitchens.
When looking for an attractive, hard-working, high-quality sink, consider this Kraus model. It measures 30 inches from side to side, is 22 inches wide, and comes with a 9-inch-deep single bowl (other sizes may be available). This durable Kraus sink is made of heavy-duty 16-gauge stainless steel. It comes with a predrilled center hole for mounting a single-lever faucet, plus an optional utility hole for a soap dispenser or filtered-water faucet.
As a top-mount, drop-in sink, it’s well suited for a DIY replacement project. It comes with several trappings to make food prep easy, including a ledge on the sink’s inner top for holding a cutting board or drying rack (both included). The sink also comes with noise-dampening pads that fit between the steel and the countertop to muffle any echoing sounds (not uncommon with metal sinks), and the inside bottom of the sink features channel grooves that direct standing water to the drain.
A great-looking, high-quality stainless steel sink needn’t break the bank. The undermount 30-inch Ruvati Stainless Steel Sink features a single bowl made from heavy-duty 16-gauge steel in a soft brushed-satin finish. The Ruvati sink is 18 inches wide (front-to-back), which leaves room for a faucet on the countertop or wall behind the sink, and the bowl is 9 inches deep (other sizes may be available).
It comes with padding that fits between the lip of the sink and the cabinet’s underside to reduce echoing and features a rounded inner-bowl design for easy scrubbing. The soft satin finish looks attractive and resists scratches. Also included is an inner rack that fits the bowl’s bottom for draining dishes.
DIYers looking to replace an existing top-mount sink might want to check out the Friho Drop-In Stainless Steel Sink. It measures 28 inches long by 22 inches wide, with a 10-inch-deep bowl. The single-bowl sink boasts good-quality 18-gauge stainless steel in a brushed-nickel finish.
It comes with a center hole at the back for installing a single-lever faucet, plus an optional hole for a filtered-water spigot or a soap dispenser. The sink features padding on the rim and bowl’s underside to reduce metal echoing, and it comes with a dish grid and basket strainer. The bottom of the sink also features drain grooves to direct water to the drain.
For the serious home chef, the Kraus 57-Inch Stainless Steel Sink is a solid choice. It measures 57 inches long by 19 inches wide and comes with a 10.5-inch-deep bowl that gently slopes to an offset drain. It features two separate work tiers where the cook can position the two included bamboo cutting boards or the drying/draining rack. This extra-long stainless steel sink requires an extended cabinet base—at least 60 inches wide—for installation.
The sink is made of high-quality 16-gauge stainless steel and has a soft, brushed finish that resists stains and scratches and wipes clean with a rag. It comes with sound-dampening pads to reduce metal echoing, and two or three swing-arm faucets can be installed behind the sink if desired. This oversize sink will hold a party’s worth of dishes, but it requires professional installation due to its size and undermount configuration.
Fans of country kitchen decor are likely to fall for the Sarlai Farmhouse Sink. This undermount apron sink measures 33 inches long by 22 inches deep, and it comes with two bowls, both 10 inches deep. The two bowls are a 60/40 split, meaning the larger bowl takes up 60 percent of the sink space while the smaller bowl takes up 40 percent. The front apron of the sink extends 1 inch beyond the countertop in a gentle bow.
This Sarlai sink is made of high-quality 16-gauge stainless steel and features a brushed finish that resists stains and cleans easily by wiping. The sink has an inner ledge designed to hold a cutting board, a drop-in stainless steel pan, and a drying rack. Two additional chrome racks are sized to fit in the bottom of each bowl. This undermount sink requires professional installation, and the faucet installs on the countertop or wall behind the sink, depending on personal taste.
Wash dishes on one side of the sink and rinse them on the other side with the Hykolity Double Bowl Sink. The sink features 16-gauge stainless steel in a soft satin finish that resists stains and scratches. This undermount sink measures 33 inches long by 19 inches wide and comes with two generous 10-inch-deep bowls. The bottom of each bowl gently slopes toward its drain to keep water from standing in the sink.
The sink comes with noise-dampening pads designed to mute metal echoing. It also includes two chrome racks that fit in the bowls’ bottoms and protect the stainless surface from cast-iron pots and other items that might scratch.
FAQs About Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel sinks are durable, attractive, and complement kitchens with stainless steel appliances. If you want more information, whether you’re shopping for a replacement sink or choosing one for new construction, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Q. What is a good gauge for stainless steel sinks?
The thicker the stainless steel, the more durable the sink will be. Stainless steel sinks come in a range of gauges (the lower the number, the better). For the best results, choose a sink with 16- to 18-gauge stainless steel. A few high-end sinks come with 14-gauge steel, which is even better.
Q. How do I get a stainless steel sink to shine?
Keeping a stainless steel sink clean needn’t be a chore. Commercial stainless steel–cleaning products are available, but for a quick shine and to get rid of hard-water spots, let the sink dry after use, and then moisten a clean, dry rag with a little white vinegar and wipe the surface. For an even higher shine, buff the sink dry with another soft dry rag.
Q. What should I not use on stainless steel?
Avoid using any abrasive cleaner on a stainless steel sink, such as scouring powder or steel wool pads, which can dull the surface finish.