Whether referring to the sink located in the kitchen, bathroom or elsewhere inside a home, a sink can play a big role in a home's decor, and choosing the material that best meets the occupant's needs can be challenging. There are many types of sinks to choose from, and each style offers different advantages and disadvantages. While stainless steel sinks are a common sight in kitchens, the increasingly popular composite sinks are an alternative worth considering.
Aesthetically speaking, composite sinks offer a much wider variety of options for a homeowner or designer. While stainless steel has the same basic appearance, composite sinks come in almost any shade of colour and lend a certain shiny quality to a kitchen that some homeowner's desire.
Stainless steel sinks are ideal for those looking to go with the most cost effective option, as prices start as low as £26 but typically average closer to £97, with the price increasing to near £650 depending on the overall size and quality. While composite sinks do not range as low as the most affordable stainless steel models, they typically are not as expensive as the high end stainless steel equivalents, either. Expect something around £227 to £325 (as of 2010).
Stainless steel sinks are resistant to all types of damage and are not affected by hot or cold objects, making them a low maintenance option. For composite sinks, it depends on the type of composite material. The granite based sinks are stain resistant, while the polyester/acrylic composite material sinks are not, and as such require more cleaning to maintain the optimal appearance.
The stainless steel sinks with the thinner gauges are prone to scratches, dents, and other unsightly blemishes, although they rarely run the risk of cracking, peeling or chipping unlike some other types of material. The polyester/acrylic composite sinks scratch easily, sacrificing durability for vibrant colour. The other types of composite sinks, granite based and quartz based material, are much more resistant to scratching. The granite based composite material in particular is especially long lasting and durable based on a high concentration of rock particles at the sink's surface.
Both materials are relatively lightweight and as such make for much easier installations than do sinks such as granite or cast iron. With both sink types, homeowners can install the sink above or below the counter, although it makes for a simpler, cheaper installation to mount above the counter. In the case of stainless steel, the sink must be mounted on top unless the counter material is solid, not a laminate of some sort.