The thickness of metal is measured in gauges. Thinner stainless steel has a higher gauge number. Thicker stainless steel has a lower gauge number. Look for kitchen sinks made with thicker stainless steel. They cost more but are higher quality than those made of thinner steel and therefore provide greater durability.
Stainless steel of thin gauges is OK for small sinks, but larger sinks should be thicker. The thinnest and least expensive stainless-steel sinks on the market are 22-gauge, which is 0.0312 inch. Thin sinks are more susceptible to bowing, denting and dings, and they make more noise from banging pots and pans than thicker sinks. A 22-gauge sink is generally not good if you have a garbage disposal that will vibrate it, but it is useful for a bar sink that sees casual use or a sink in an RV or vacation cabin. A little better from the vibration standpoint, but still noisy, is 20-gauge stainless steel, which is 0.0375 inch.
Nineteen-gauge stainless-steel sinks are a standard size at the lower end of the price scale for good kitchen sinks. A 19-gauge sink is 0.0437 inch. A little better, often described as "quality" stainless steel, is 18-gauge, which is 0.0500 inch. Home Style Choices recommends 16 to 18 gauges as a good thickness for a home kitchen sink. More costly 16-gauge sinks, good for large and deep kitchen sinks and often touted as "luxury," are 0.0625 inch.
Sinks used by restaurants and other commercial establishments are usually 14 or 16 gauge. Fourteen-gauge stainless steel is 0.0781 inch. These thick sinks, intended for frequent, hard use and heavy banging, are often very large and deep, which calls for thick stainless steel. They often have square corners that many homeowners find unattractive for kitchen sinks.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images