How to choose a kitchen sink and tap, and how to keep them both clean

February 19th, 2016

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How to choose a kitchen sink and tap

When renovating your kitchen, have you thought of everything but the kitchen sink? It’s one of the three most-used sections of most kitchens, along with the fridge and the oven/stove.

kitchen working triangle

You’ll want to make sure that you choose the best sink to suit your home’s needs.

But a fine sink is nothing unless it’s paired with an equally fine tap. And you will also need to take good care of your sink to ensure its long-lasting reliability.

Here are some basic hints and tips to keep in mind when working out your kitchen’s next sink and tap combo:

Top Mount or Under Mount?

Kitchen sinks can be divided into two broad categories: Top Mount and Under Mount, with Flush Mount as a third alternative.

sink types

As the name implies, Top Mount sinks are installed with the lip of the sink on top of your kitchen benchtops. Conversely, Under Mount sinks are installed underneath the kitchen bench.

Which is better for your kitchen? It partly depends on your sense of style, and also on the material of your benchtop.

As Under Mount installations leave the benchtop exposed to water from the tap and sink, it’s best suited to nonporous materials such as sealed marble and stone. A Top Mount sink protects the benchtop from exposure to moisture (especially when fitted with an integrated continuous foam basket seal), so they tend to be a better choice for wooden benchtops and similar porous materials.

For a compromise, consider a Flush Mount design. This keeps the lip of the sink flush with your benchtop, giving your kitchen a more streamlined look and feel.

sink edges

And when selecting a Top Mount sink, a rolled edge gives a traditional look while a micro or bevel edge gives a more seamless, minimalist look.

Configuring your sink

When selecting a kitchen sink, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:


  • How many bowls will you need? Some sinks provide one or two, of equal or different size.
  • Will you need a drainer area? This area is ideal for arranging your washed-up plates, though some sinks include removable drainer trays that fit over one of the sink bowls.
  • Do you want the bowl (or the primary bowl for multi-bowl sinks) situated on the left or right hand side? This could make a big difference depending on the layout of your kitchen, and whether you’re left or right handfed.


Try to consider all of the available options to ensure you make a decision that will make the best use of your kitchen’s available space, and make washing dishes and food preparation easier.

How large do you need your bowl(s) to be?

It all depends on how you use your kitchen… or at least, how you WANT to use your kitchen once the renovations are done.

Kitchen sink, dish drainer, microwave, in makeover, Seattle, Washington, USAsource: Wonderlane on Flickr

If you’re a budding home chef, you’ll want a larger, deeper bowl that can accommodate your big baking trays and mixing bowls for cleaning.

Small Kitchen Sink Areasource: JacindaWalker on Flickr

But if you reckon you’ll only be washing up a few smaller dishes in your sink, and leaving the rest for your dishwasher to handle, then you may only need a smaller bowl.

kitchen sink cabinet size

Of course it will also depend on the size of your kitchen cabinets! Make sure to check all the measurements so you don’t accidentally order a sink that’s too big for your benches!

Choose your finish

This mostly depends on the aesthetic of your kitchen, and how you want it to match your personal sense of style.


Stainless steel is possibly the most common sink material, though there are a number of variations, including polished, brushed, or coloured finishes. The thicker the stainless steel, the pricier the sink.

Granite sink in outdoor kitchensource: Texas Custom Patios on Flickr

Stainless steel not doing it for you? There are other options, such as black glass or granite. Choose one of these to give your kitchen a unique look.

Fabricated or Pressed stainless steel bowl?

If you do choose a stainless steel sink, you’ll need to choose between a Pressed or Fabricated sink bowl.

800px-Kitchen_Sinksource: Demeester on Wikimedia Commons

Pressed bowls are made from drawing the bowl’s shape out of a sheet of stainless steel, giving you rounded corners that are seamless and easier to keep clean.

576px-HK_Central_IFC_21th_Floor_-_Double_Cove_Show_Flat_kitchen_washing_sink_n_water_pipe_tap_Oct-2012source: Famrnylongras on Wikimedia Commons

Fabricated bowls are made by folding and welding stainless steel into sharper angles, providing a greater overall sink volume.

Fabricated sinks tend to be made from thicker stainless steel than pressed sinks, making them slightly stronger overall (and more expensive). To make sure you get high quality when choosing a pressed bowl sink, ensure you choose one that’s made from at least two sheets of stainless steel.

Leave room for the tap!

Or taps. Maybe in addition to the traditional mixer tap, you’ll also want to add a filter tap or something similar.


In any case, make sure there’s space available in the lip of the sink where your installer can drill tap holes as needed.

Noise levels

Are you looking at a large, deep sink? Imagine water pouring at high speed into such a sink, hitting the stainless steel surface with a crash, and echoing through your kitchen and your home.


In sinks like these, it’s worth considering soundproofing options, to prevent your guests from thinking they’re vising Niagara Falls every time you turn on the tap. Options such as wooden backing boards can make a huge difference, ensuring that your kitchen remains peaceful.


No, we’re not taking about the packaging that’s left over after a sink installation (though our team can help you look after that). Rather, we’re referring to the sink’s drainage hole.


It’s always worth looking for a sink with the waste located toward the rear of its bowl, as this means that more of the space underneath your sink can be used for storage rather than plumbing.

It’s worth considering a basket waste, as these can help to strain any food grots so they stay out of the drain, reducing the risk of clogs.

Also consider whether you plan on installing a garbage disposal unit, and whether this will require you to organise the drilling of a specially-sized waste hole.

How to choose your mixer tap

What is a sink without a tap? While some of us may remember having separate hot and cold water taps, combined mixer taps are far more common these days.


Be sure to choose a mixer tap with a design that suits your kitchen’s décor. A mixer tap with sharp angles and straight lines may look good in a similarly finished kitchen, while a softer curve may be more appropriate if your home is going for a more elegant look.


Some tap designs can be found in polished, brushed, matte black or granite finishes. You should also pick a finish that either matches your existing sink and kitchen décor, or makes a pleasant contrast, rather than something that clashes.

When selecting a tap design, it’s usually worth selecting one with a single handle – it’s more convenient, makes temperature adjustment simpler, and is easier to clean! Some taps also include a spray button, which lets you change the water pressure from a high pressure steam to a fine spray with just a touch.

You’ll want to choose a tap that’s tall enough to conveniently fit most items underneath it for washing up, and with enough reach to access the majority of your sink space, especially if you have multiple bowls to work with.


If you have a larger sink, consider choosing a pull-out mixer tap, where the spray head is attached to an extendable hose that you can pull out to increase the tap’s reach. This can be very useful for giving large, awkward cookware a spray from different angles.

There are a few more features to keep an eye out for when selecting a mixer tap. Mixer taps that include ceramic discs suffer less dripping, and enjoy smoother handle movement.

Dezincification Resistant (DR) Brass is durable for a longer overall lifespan. It’s also important to confirm that your tap of choice is compatible with your home’s water pressure, and that the mixer you’ve selected has the Watermark Logo, confirming that it complies with the Plumbing Code of Australia and the relevant Australian Standards.

Keeping it all clean

Even if a dishwasher looks after a sizable percentage of your washing up, your kitchen sink and tap will still see a lot of use over the course of their lifetime, and will need to be properly cared for to ensure their long-lasting performance.

kitchen sink catTo start with, try to keep the cat out of there (source: Andrew on Flickr)

To makes sure your sink’s surface remains clean and unmarked, remember to rinse it thoroughly and towel it dry regularly (at least once a week), to prevent mineral deposits from building up, and to ensure a bright shine. Stainless steel polishing sprays and creams can make your sink look extra-great, though in a pinch, glass cleaners can also work.

Try to avoid leaving anything in contact with the sink that may mar or damage its surface. This includes detergents (including the trace amounts left over in damp sponges), fruit juice containing citric acid, and harsher cleaning chemicals such as chorine or bleach. It’s also worth storing these chemicals somewhere other than underneath the sink, just in case of accidents.

It’s also worth making smart use of any accessories that come with your sink to help protect its surface from scratches. This includes using a bowl protector to create a barrier between the dishes and the bottom of your sink, or using a drainer basket when washing knives and other sharp cutlery.

More tips?

Do you have a favourite style of sink and/or tap? How about tips for keeping them clean and looking great? Care to share?

If you need more help selecting a new sink or tap, or any questions around organising their installation, contact today!

Special thanks to Oliveri for their expertise and diagrams!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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