When it comes to choosing a kitchen sink, the options are overwhelming. Material, depth, size, shape, number of bowls… you may be tempted to just take whatever builder’s-grade sink the kitchen place offers. Don’t do it! You’ll regret it sooner than later.
Because your kitchen sink is (arguably) the most-used fixture in the room, you need to choose the right one for your kitchen and your needs. One of the most important factors is the size of the sink.
Obviously, if you’re simply replacing an existing sink and not the counter, your sink size is predetermined (unless you want to replace a single-bowl with a double or vice-versa). But if you’re designing a new kitchen or replacing the entire sink area, you’ll need to choose the size that best fits your specific needs.
Kitchen sink sizes range from a miniature 7″ to an enormous 72″ in width; here’s how to choose the right one.
There are several factors to consider in choosing a sink size:
The overall size of your kitchen is a huge factor in sink size. In a smaller kitchen, where space is at a premium, a large sink means less counter space as well as less cabinet space. (A rule of thumb, but not set in stone: kitchens up to 150 square feet can handle up to a 24″-wide sink.) The reduced counter space can be remedied with a custom-fit cutting board or cover to place atop the sink while it’s not in use.
If space is not an issue (or even if it is, but a large sink trumps that), be sure that the sink is proportionate to the overall kitchen layout. A massive apron-front sink will overpower a small kitchen (but an undermount of the same size won’t); a tiny sink will look puny in a large kitchen.
Base cabinet size
If you’re working with an existing layout or a small kitchen, you’ll need to consider the size of the base cabinet, which determines your maximum sink size. A large sink requires a large base cabinet, which may detract from overall cabinet space or look odd surrounded by comparatively smaller cabinets.
Standard kitchen cabinets are 24″ deep, but base cabinets are available in a large range of widths. To determine the maximum sink size for your base cabinet, measure the interior of your cabinet and subtract three to four inches for undermounting. A 36″ base cabinet can handle a 33″ sink at most; a 30″ cabinet should be fitted with a sink no larger than 27″ wide.
You may be able to cut into the cabinet to fit in a bigger sink, but that’s not recommended for several reasons: it voids the cabinet warranty, compromises the counter support, and replacing the sink will require damaging the cabinets.
How many dishes do you use in a day? How big is your largest serving platter? Do you bathe children or pets in your sink? Before you decide on a sink size, take a closer look at your cooking and cleaning habits. If you clean up as you go, your sink doesn’t have to be large, but if you like to let the dishes pile up, consider a bigger size. If your big roaster only gets washed on Thanksgiving, you can manage with the inconvenience of wedging it into your sink once a year; if you bake regularly, you’ll want a larger sink for those cookie sheets.
Sinks are generally between 6 and 12 inches deep. Most typical sinks measure 7 to 8 inches deep; if you like to stack dishes or use large pots or cookie sheets, you may want to go with a deeper sink. Just not too deep – if you’re short you’ll have a hard time reaching the bottom of the sink, and if you’re tall you’ll have to bend down further to get to items. Keep in mind that an undermount sink will be approximately 1-1/2 inches deeper than a drop-in or flush mount.
Like you did with overall kitchen size, consider the sizes of surrounding elements. Check out the window over the sink and other nearby fixtures – counters, stoves, accessories, even cabinet detailing – and measure to see if your sink will look proportionate. Place a piece of paper cut to size on the sink area or map it out with masking tape to accurately judge the effect.
Though many sinks are purely utilitarian, a beautiful or unusually-shaped sink can serve as a decorating focal point. If there’s a sink that you just have to have, be sure that it shines in your kitchen – tone down other elements to put the spotlight on the sink.
If you frequently host parties, chill drinks, prepare a lot of fresh food, or just don’t like taking a drink over a sink full of dirty dishes, consider a bar sink or prep sink. They’re both decorative and useful, especially for an enthusiastic entertainer with space to spare.
Now that you have the size dilemma out of the way, check out our three-part kitchen sink guide for a full, comprehensive aid in this important decision!