Whether you're remodeling your existing kitchen or building a new one, you'll need to evaluate the many sink options available to you. Today, sinks come in a variety of materials, including Corian, cast iron, acrylic and steel. If you've selected steel as your sink material of choice, you'll also need to determine the best thickness gauge for your budget and needs. Making the right decision requires considering the pros and cons of each option.
The fundamental difference between an 18-gauge stainless steel sink and a 20-gauge sink is the thickness of the steel used. With stainless steel, a lower gauge count signifies a thicker steel, so 18-gauge stainless steel is thicker than 20-gauge. Thicker steel is more durable, less noisy and lasts longer than thinner steel. If you accidentally drop a heavy pot in a stainless steel sink made of a thinner steel gauge, you may ding or dent it, and you'll hear a louder noise than you'd hear in a thicker sink.
If budget is an important consideration, you're likely to be more drawn to a 20-gauge sink, as it offers a lower up-front cost. As of publication of this article, a popular home improvement store offers stainless steel kitchen sinks starting at about $80. Thicker 18-gauge sinks started at $125. However, if you need a harder-working sink that can withstand more damage, you may save money in the long run by purchasing a thicker, more durable version that needs to be replaced less often.
Thickness is not the only quality difference between stainless steel sinks. Evaluate the finish to determine how durable your sink will be overall. Stainless steel sinks with a surface gloss will be more prone to damage, more likely to show damage and will need replacement sooner. Better sinks have satin-smooth finishes whose luster remains over time.
To find the best sink for you, also consider how many bowls you'll need, as manufacturers now offer one-, two- and even three-bowl versions. Find the sink that offers the right capacity for your family's needs, and evaluate whether your budget or countertop choice permits an undermounted sink, which offers easier cleanup and a more attractive look at a slightly higher cost.