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Much Ado About the Kitchen Sink

Posted on 29 March 2016 by cradmin

A couple of weeks ago, we published an article about a universal design for kitchen sink workstations developed with Ken Kelly using a sink from BLANCO, and I realized we have yet to provide an overview of the latest and greatest options for kitchen sinks. Not so long ago, the choices for sinks were slim, and nearly everyone was satisfied with porcelain, enameled iron or stainless steel drop-ins/top-mounts. Although the above styles still remain both common and  popular, several new types and models of kitchen sinks have entered the market and are making decisions tough for consumers and commercial building owners.

As our industry survey revealed last year, countertop fabricators hold a great deal of sway over their clients, so by understanding all of the options, you can stock kitchen sinks that both meet the needs of your clients and provides a solid profit margin for your business.

Stainless Steel

Wave_coverflow_371_259_Image2Stainless steel is still considered the mainstay of the modern kitchen sink. These sinks are affordable, and although they can scratch and thinner ones are more prone to  being dented, they do so without damaging their functional integrity. Stainless is also very versatile and can complement a wide range of décor and interior styles.

Just last year, MR Direct debuted a new series of budget stainless-steel sinks that are fully insulated, and Kohler introduced the Undertone Preserve series of stainless-steel sinks that have a special, scratch-resistant barrier. Other brands and series of stainless-steel sinks to watch for include the following:

  • Lottare – Stainless Farmhouse
  • Moen – 1800 Series with SoundSHIELD
  • Franke – Grande Series
  • Artisan Manufacturing Corp. – Frigidaire Collaboration Collection
  • Elkay – Slim Rim Sinks
  • Oliveri – 1100 Series
  • Ukinox – Micro Series

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron was once the standard for kitchen sinks, and they’ve got a lot to say for them, namely durability. A well-made sink of this type could well last more than 100 years. At worst, it will need to be re-enameled, which is also this type of sink’s primary flaw.

Once the enamel chips, it is never quite the same again. Repairs may last a few years but will need to be repeated. The porcelain enamel, however, provides an appealing finish and is easy to clean. Because of their weight, cast-iron sinks are usually self-rimming, and these are simple to install. Undermount cast iron will likely require reinforced support. A few of the top manufacturers of these sinks include Kohler, Clarion, Song and American Standard. For a less expensive alternative, you may also want to explore enameled stainless steel.

Quartz/Granite Composite

Schock_lg(2)Quartz composite, also called Granite composite, is a relatively new material that is taking the kitchen-sink market by storm. Although every manufacturer has its proprietary formula, most are about 80 percent quartz/granite and 20 percent acrylic resin. It is compact, versatile and durable, being resistant to heat, chipping, etching and scratching.

The finish of these composites are typically slightly textured, and it is said to have the look and feel of natural matte stone, which may also work out to be a disadvantage because it cannot be polished smooth. Another disadvantage is that like many other types of sinks, some may eventually stain from water with high mineral concentrations, and the finish may dull over time.

A few of the latest options to watch for are the Granitali Collection from LOTTARE, BLANCO SILGRANIT sinks and Schock CRISTADUR. More recently, Domain Industries has unveiled its Lexicon Platinum Series quartz sinks.

Farmhouse Sinks

Fireclay_Image3One popular style of kitchen sinks that has come back into the spotlight like a blast from the past is the farmhouse sink with apron front. These large, deep, tub-like sinks originated in England more than 400 years ago. They were designed to hold large amounts of water, which often had to be hauled from miles away.

Farmhouse sinks are often the focal point of a kitchen, so many clients like to make them special. Stainless steel and enameled cast iron are both materials that are common used for these sinks, but several new materials are now available, including fireclay, hammered metal, concrete composite and quartz/granite composite (as outlined above).

Fireclay – Fireclay is very similar to porcelain and it appears nearly identical to enameled cast iron. The material is made when clay is glazed and heated at about 1,600° F until the glaze fuses into the clay. This makes the material extremely hard and durable. Last year, BLANCO added new colors to its fireclay CERANA series, and the year before, Domain Industries introduced Crestwood Fireclay sinks. Rohl now offers two styles, one with a flat apron front and one with a rounded apron front.

Hammered Metal – Hammered copper and bronze are also popular materials for farmhouse CPS291-Paragon-Copper-Apron-Front-Kitchen-Sink-vsinks that are durable and eye-catching. These sinks are also beloved because each one is unique. Houzer Hammerwerks copper sinks are one example, and Native Trails also creates a fine line of copper farmhouse sinks.

Concrete Composite – Native Trails has also pioneered a new material that is garnering some attention called concrete composite and branded as NativeStone. This material combines natural jute fibers with concrete for strength and sustainability.

Integral Kitchen Sinks

The last category we are looking at is integral kitchen sinks typically made out of the same material as the countertop, but not always. By strict definition, integral sinks are fabricated from a single piece so that there are no seams between the sink and the countertop, but we are including those with seams because truly integral sinks are rare.

A true integral sink can be fabricated from solid surface, and most of the large solid-surface suppliers have at least a couple line of sinks separate from their countertops, including DuPont Corian, LG  HI-MACS and many others. These sinks are lauded by those who purchase them because they are attractive, require little maintenance and are easy to clean. Another option is downloadgraphite-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC), which can be created onsite or offsite and cast to be part of the countertops.

Other integral sink options include natural stone and quartz. When it comes to natural stone, the top choices are marble and soapstone, but because these materials are both so soft, they are best suited for kitchens where appearance is more important than functionality.

However, a discussion of integral sinks would not be complete if it did not include Karran, who pioneered the process of seamless undermounting of sinks made of various materials to  countertops made of completely different materials. Karran’s Edge series of sinks can be undermounted to solid surface, laminate, engineered stone and granite tops in a virtually seamless manner (as shown in this video depicting a seamless integration of a Karran quartz sink to a laminate countertop). Karran even won a coveted ISFA Innovator Award for this line Edge of sinks in 2012. Originally in acrylic and stainless steel, there is also the Quartz Series from Karran, which has been on the market now for about two years. And of course, like any great idea, there are now other companies that are on the bandwagon trying to offer this same “edgeless” quality in combining sinks and countertops of different materials.

Upsell Jobs, Hike Profit Margins

The world of kitchen sinks has greatly expanded in recent years, and more end users have taken an interest in having specific types of sinks in their kitchens. As a fabricator, it is possible to use your knowledge of the latest trends in this niche to upsell clients and expand profit margins. After all, it is easier to sell a few bells and whistles to a client already in the bag, than sell a whole new client…

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LOTTARE Launches New Line of Granite Composite Sinks

Posted on 21 January 2015 by cradmin

Lottare Granite Composite SinkLOTTARE is bringing out a new ‘Granitali Collection’ line of granite composite Sinks in 2015. The kitchen sinks will, at first, feature three composite sink models: A classic single-basin sink, an equal-double sink and an offset sink. They will be offered in three colors, Black, Graphite and Chocolate. They are made from a “green material” that recycles granite and then uses it in a forming process to create the sinks. The choice of composite material makes them more durable, reports the company.

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