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Sink Buying Guide

Sink or Swim: Navigating the Singapore Kitchen Sink Scene

MATERIAL MATTERS: STAINLESS STEEL VS COMPOSITE GRANITE

In the sweltering heat of Singapore’s kitchens your sink needs to be tougher than a hawker auntie during lunch rush.

Stainless steel sinks are like the reliable friend who never lets you down – durable and sturdy enough to handle all your cooking adventures. Just make sure it's thick enough to withstand the knocks and bumps of daily life.

If you're craving a pop of colour in your kitchen, composite granite is your go-to option. They are not indestructible like steel but are fade-resistant as the colour  is ingrained in the composite raw material. With PVD or nano-coating stainless steel sinks, colour is a coating as the name implies and will fade over time.

On the flip side, stainless steel is prone to condensation which can damage your expensive cabinetry. Consumer Reports, the leading US product review journal, cites noise and thermal insulation as the number one factor to consider when purchasing a kitchen sink. Many European brands, including Ikea, have none or very little insulation. This is one area where you want to be kiasu and do your own comparison, instead of relying on a brand’s advertising copy.

Pro tip: It’s best to touch and feel the product prior to purchase. Online customer reviews are generally based on first impressions and not on after-use realities. For heavy cooking, natural stainless steel is the clear winner. Avoid granite. For lighter use you can opt for stainless steel (if you want the sink to blend with other stainless steel appliances) or composite granite (if you prefer a coloured sink). We suggest avoiding white as it is more prone to stains.

MOUNTING OPTIONS: UNDERMOUNT VS OVERMOUNT

The mounting style of your kitchen sink contributes to both aesthetics and practicality. Undermount sinks create a seamless look with countertops, enhancing the visual appeal of your kitchen. They also make the sink feel deeper than they actually are. Drop-in or topmount sinks are mounted over the countertop for easier installation and are often more budget-friendly.

Pro tip: Most countertop surfaces are compatible with undermount but validate this with the countertop manufacturer. A better alternative to overmount sinks is inset or ‘flush’ install (pictured below) wherein the sink rims are recessed into the countertop - however not all countertop surfaces can be machined this way and it requires high precision cutout, which some fabricators may not have the expertise for.

 


BOWL CONFIGURATION: SINGLE VS DOUBLE

 The sink industry has transitioned from an even split between single and double bowl sinks to overwhelmingly single. This is primarily due to shrinking kitchen sizes where single bowl sinks are seen as more compact, practical and versatile. Consequently there are a lot more size and style options in single bowl configuration.

We recommend double sinks that are at least 80cm wide so that both bowls are usable.

Pro tip: For bigger sinks, you may want to have a pull-down type faucet to spray the corners and sides.

REVEAL OPTIONS FOR UNDERMOUNT INSTALL

If you don’t tell your installer otherwise, the default installation in Singapore is negative reveal, wherein the countertop ‘overhangs’ the sink. In other words, the countertop cutout is actually smaller than the sink bowl dimensions. This conceals the silicone lining between the countertop and the sink rims. Do note that if you have a workstation sink with inbuilt ledges to stage accessories like cutting board and drying rack, your only option is to do a flush or zero reveal installation.

 

Sink Reveal Options


BEST KEPT INDUSTRY SECRETS

Steel sinks are made using either of two manufacturing processes. The first type is handmade or welded - these sinks have uniform thickness and are typically 23-25cm deep. They come in zero-radius right angled corners or gently curved ‘small radius’ corners which are easier to clean. The second type is pressed or deep drawn, made by punching a flat steel sheet. These sinks are considerably cheaper with a typical depth of 20cm or below. These are found in older homes and you can recognise them by their extra rounded ‘large radius’ corners. Thickness is not uniform for these sinks.

Steel thickness of 1.5mm is the max in the industry. Many China brands falsely advertise the sink thickness as 3-5mm. In reality only the sink rims are made with thicker steel. Actual basin thickness is usually around 1mm.

While every brand advertises 304 grade stainless steel, use your judgement. If the sink price is too good to be true, it probably points to lower grade stainless steel.

8 things you wish you knew before you purchased your kitchen sink

  1. Once installed, kitchen sinks are practically impossible to replace. This is the last thing you should be buying from Taobao. Buying from a local seller will ensure that spare parts or accessories are readily available should you need them down the road. Not to mention, easier communication for installation or post-installation product support.
  2. Natural stainless steel without colour coating works best long term. If you must have a coloured sink, go the composite granite route.
  3. Choose a minimalist rectangular sink design so that you have maximum inside work area. This will also make it easier to find compatible accessories for the sink.
  4. Big is better but ensure the sink does not eat into all or most of your countertop area.
  5. Scratch proof sinks are a myth. However, some sinks are more scratch resistant than others. If you have OCD regarding this, consider embossed stainless sinks from Korea and Japan which provide scratch resistance without compromising on aesthetics or functionality.
  6. Stainless steel sinks can get noisy during use. Check if the sink has a sound dampening feature in addition to thermal insulation. Again, don't go for the advertising. Not all sinks are created equal!
  7. Single or Double bowl? For compact spaces or heavy cooking with woks and long handles pans, a single bowl will work better. Buying a smaller-sized double bowl sink is a self-defeating exercise as the bowls will be too small to be of actual use.
  8. Craving the “waterfall” sink from China? They look great on Instagram but be aware that more features = more failure points. The waterfall nozzles are prone to mould and extremely difficult to clean. Glass rinsers will be perpetually wet leading to a less than hygienic kitchen environment. These sinks have the highest buyer remorse after only a few months of actual use.

So there you have it fellow Singaporeans. Shopping for a sink may feel like navigating Orchard Road traffic over the weekend but worry not. With a bit of luck (and effort!) you will find one that is sturdy as our Merlion and as shiok as a bowl of piping hot soup on a rainy day. May your kitchen be filled with the aroma of success.

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