Available in all manner of shapes, sizes, colours and materials, your kitchen sink is one of the of the focal points of your entire room. Find out everything you need to know before you buy with our comprehensive guide.
One of the most fundamental elements of any kitchen, the humble sink is used for food preparation, dish and crockery washing, rinsing and cleaning. Your choice of kitchen sink should reflect your own personal needs, which is why we put together this handy guide to help you choose the perfect design.
In this expert guide, you can jump to the most relevant section by clicking on any of the links below.
- What is a kitchen sink?
- Different styles of kitchen sink
- Different kitchen sink materials
- What is a Belfast sink?
- Taps and accessories
- Things to consider before you buy
- Shop kitchen sinks
What is a kitchen sink and how does it differ to a basin?
What’s the difference between a sink and basin? Technically speaking, a sink is to be found in a kitchen and a basin is used in the bathroom. However, many of us don’t distinguish between the 2 and commonly use both terms interchangeably.
A kitchen sink is merely the bowl-shaped component which is used in combination with a tap and waste, to wash and rinse things, especially before, during and after the preparation of food.
Kitchen sinks are usually larger than bathroom basins and often come with a draining board for drying washed items or a second, smaller bowl, used for rinsing or draining items when the larger bowl is filled.
Kitchen sinks come in a range of different styles, colours and materials
Different styles of kitchen sink
To help you choose the perfect model for your needs, we’ve listed some of the most common styles of kitchen sink below.
Kitchen sink with drainer
One of the most popular designs is a kitchen sink with drainer. The drainer allows you to dry washing up. Thanks to a slightly sloped design, any excess water simply drains back into the sink. This type of kitchen sink is available in a range of materials (see below).
Reversible kitchen sink
To avoid ordering the wrong model for your installation, many kitchen sinks are reversible, meaning they can be fitted with the drainer on either the left or right, as you require. A pre-drilled tap hole is supplied on both the front and rear, with a cap to cover the unused hole. However, not all kitchen sinks are reversible, so check before you buy.
1.5 bowl kitchen sink
Also known as a kitchen sink with a rinser, a secondary rinsing bowl is incorporated into the design. This comes in very handy when you are already using the main bowl for washing up and wish to rinse veg or pour away liquids. Sometimes, a waste disposal unit can be fitted to the rinser.
A rinser, like the one incorporated into the Rangemaster Manhattan 1.5 bowl kitchen sink, can come in very handy
Inset or undermount kitchen sink
Whilst many kitchen sinks are fitted into a pre-cut hole in the work surface, inset or undermount sinks are fitted below the surface instead. This can offer a cleaner look with no rim visible between the basin and countertop.
They can come in 1 or 1.5 bowl versions (see below). Usually made from stainless steel, ceramic versions are sometimes referred to as Belfast sinks or Butler sinks (see below).
2 tap hole kitchen sinks
Whilst most kitchen sinks come with a single pre-drilled tap hole for a kitchen sink mixer tap, if you prefer 2 separate taps, you can purchase a sink with 2 tap holes instead. Again, make sure you check the number of tap holes before you commit to buy.
Different kitchen sink materials
A very common material for kitchen sinks, stainless steel offers a smooth, polished finish that is both hardwearing, easy to clean and affordable.
See all our stainless steel kitchen sinks.
Whilst it may have fallen out of favour in modern times, ceramic is a great choice for your kitchen sink, especially if you’re looking to accessorise a traditional style kitchen. You’ll usually find Belfast kitchen sinks are made from ceramic.
Browse our range of ceramic kitchen sinks.
Composite quartz and granite
If you’re looking to invest in a sink that is incredibly durable, with superb resistance to heat, stains and scratches, look no further than composite quartz or granite.
Manufactured by combining natural quartz or granite with acrylic resin, composite sinks offer a highly contemporary appearance for modern kitchens.
What is a Belfast sink? What is a Butler sink? What are the differences?
What is a Belfast sink?
A Belfast sink, as the name may suggest, was originally designed and made in the city of Belfast for the more affluent households of the time. Most commonly made from ceramic, a Belfast sink resembles a large bathroom basin in many ways. It usually comes with a slightly larger capacity than a conventional sink, plus a weir-style overflow. It can also be split into 2 different sections, which comes in handy when completing different kitchen tasks.
What is a Butler sink?
A Butler sink—which also goes by the name “London sink”—is very similar to a Belfast sink, in that it is manufactured from ceramic. However, the original design didn’t allow for an overflow, to encourage servants in upper class London homes to conserve fresh water (which wasn’t as readily available as in Belfast). So, Butler sinks tend to be shallower in design than a Belfast sink.
Both Belfast sinks and Butler sinks are great options for traditional or farmhouse style kitchens, offering a vintage look and feel.
A Belfast sink, like this one from Rangemaster, will make a real style statement
Kitchen taps and accessories
Of course, no kitchen sink would be complete without accessories. We take a look at the most common kitchen sink accessory options below.
Kitchen sink mixer taps
Suitable for use with sinks that have a single tap hole, kitchen sink mixer taps come in a wide variety of designs. Most commonly designed with a single handle for temperature and flow control, they allow you to blend the hot and cold flows easily to achieve the perfect water temperature.
Kitchen taps are available in vast array of different styles like contemporary and traditional and also come with handy features like pull out sprays which help when washing pots and pans.
To help you find a tap that is completely compatible, we offer a range of great value kitchen tap and sink packs, so you won’t need to mix and match.
Instant boiling water taps
An increasingly popular alternative to the more traditional kettle, this type of tap delivers instant boiling water whenever you need it. Available in a variety of designs, including mono taps that are designed to work alongside your existing mixer tap, as well as 3 in 1 designs that offer hot, cold and boiling supplies, instant boiling water taps are ideal if you are all about convenience.
Find out more with our instant boiling water tap buying guide
Kitchen sink waste
The kitchen sink waste unit is normally made up of a plug, so you can fill the bowl easily, and a drain which fits onto your waste pipe. Some plugs feature a filter which catch food particles, to prevent clogs blocking your pipes. There are also different sized wastes available for rinser bowls.
Waste disposal units
A waste disposal unit allows you to reduce food waste to almost liquid form, before flushing through your plumbing. Whilst they aren’t so common in the UK, they can be fitted to certain types of kitchen sink. If this is something you’d like in your kitchen, it’s always best to speak with a plumbing professional about installation options.
Things to consider before you buy
How much will you use it?
If you regularly wash dishes, pots and pans, it is worth buying a larger sink with draining board and/or rinser bowl. However, if you simply use your sink for rinsing, a smaller model may be more suitable.
What look are you going for?
If you’re looking to achieve a modern or contemporary style, you could opt for a simple stainless steel design or composite quartz/granite design in black, accessorised with a sleek mixer tap. For traditional kitchens, a ceramic undermount sink, like a Belfast sink, would be ideal, complete with a traditional kitchen tap.
Replacement or part of a new kitchen?
If you’re simply replacing an old kitchen sink, you’ll need to carefully consider both the size, orientation and type of fitting before committing to buy. If it’s part of a new kitchen set up, this will give you more freedom when it comes to choosing.
All the kitchen sinks we stock come with extended guarantees supplied by each individual manufacturer. It is always worth considering these and investigating exactly what each guarantee covers.
Shop kitchen sinks
Know you’ve got the knowledge, why not browse our fabulous range of kitchen sinks by clicking on the image below.