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julieste

Any stainless steel kitchen sink haters changed mind & now like it?

julieste
3 years ago

I've always had white Kohler cast iron sinks and for the most part have liked this sink material. Stainless has never called to me, and I always think they look kind of yukky, dull and spotty. We've done a ton of traveling over the years and have rented many houses and apartments with stainless sinks, so I've had a chance to actually live with them. None of these have ever done much for me, and they never seem to look good. I can't believe that every single one of these places put in bottom-of-the-line sinks and the issues can be attributable to using lower quality stainless sinks.


We're doing a kitchen gut remodel, and I am trying to figure out the kitchen sink. I am wondering if I am doing myself a disservice by not even contemplating stainless since it would give me so many more choices. I guess I should add in that I always preferred white appliances to stainless until it got to the point if I wanted lots of upper mid-end choices in appliances I realized I had to go with stainless. With all stainless appliances I have learned that the keep up of stainless is definitely more of a pain. (I am not a slob, but I am kind of lazy and definitely not a compulsive neat freak).


Are there any people out there who used to really dislike stainless kitchen sinks who've gone with stainless and discovered that you like it? Thanks.

Comments (34)

  • mainenell
    3 years ago

    I would say that many people select stainless for its function over aesthetics. I am in that group. I know it will never rust, or crack and a good scrubbing will bring it to a good look. Not new looking, but still good.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
    3 years ago

    Between homeowners and specs, we're about 50/50 stainless/other while our personal home has enameled cast iron for both kitchen and utility. I am not in charge of our next personal home decision.


    Our upcoming custom clients have stainless, fireclay and composite, while our low price range flip gets a low cost stainless.


    Consider purchasing quality (thickness, finish) & read the bad reviews so you understand your purchase. Some of the well known low priced units sent to me by clients weren't square enough for precise undermounting, so fatter tolerances may be needed. Some have drainage issues.


    It's not just a $2-300 sink saving you a few hundred vs a premium ss sink, it's the 5-10K stone top that makes it a significant decision.

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  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    mainenell--Yes I understand the function part and why stainless is appealing for this reason. We have a very large commercial stainless utility sink that i bought for its function. There is not a lot of beauty there.


    Jeffrey--You hit upon my largest concern. The countertop! This is why I can't just say I'll try out a stainless, and if I don't like it I'll replace it in a year or two with something else. This is exactly why I am so carefully considering this decision.

  • wekick
    3 years ago

    I think it depends on how you use your kitchen. I’ve had many Sinks-enameled cast iron, red and several white, some kind of composite and stainless. We use our kitchen hard so the stainless looks the best with the least amount of work.

  • Rachel
    3 years ago

    There are some places where function trumps everything for me. In my current home we built 26 years ago. The Elkay ss sink still looks good. New build will have stainless too.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I do real cooking (I know some people don't). I know Elkay is supposed to have better quality stainless.


    Interesting comment from wekick that the stainless looks the best with the least amount of work.


    Maybe some brands just are better at maintaining their finish to look good. I am not one who would ever be bothered to try to stay on top of water spots, but I'd at least like a somewhat lustrous look on a stainless. I know it all looks good when originally purchased,but I'd want it to be decent years afterward too.

  • suezbell
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    My sister at least paid half again as much for a wide single white country sink and then washed and it stained -- she washed paint brushes paint brushes and the paint showed her every tiny defect in the sink she didn't even know was there -- like that blue stuff they give school children in health class while teaching the importance of good dental hygiene. I've always stuck with a deep double stainless steel because I remember my mom's country sink issues.

  • Shannon_WI
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I have a single bowl stainless steel sink. When clean, the gleam of it is lovely in my kitchen. I like seeing that first thing in the morning coming in to make breakfast. Also, I never worry about stains. So, with Covid19 quarantine, I’ve had to color my own hair (a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do). I rinse the color out in the kitchen SS sink rather than risk the color on my bathroom tile or my enameled cast iron tub. Obviously, that’s unusual, but boy am I glad not to have to worry.

    The downsides are water marks and my water can leave rust spots on the stainless steel. But really, with all that’s going on in the world, are water marks such a terrible thing in the scheme of things? I’d rather have one less thing to worry about which is not to have to worry about stains or chips.

    I will say that a lower gauge of at least 16 is necessary. Many people feel the thinner 18 gauge is fine. I do not. And, since you can find 16-gauge sinks for the same price as 18-gauge if you shop carefully, why not get the 16-gauge.

    julieste thanked Shannon_WI
  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    3 years ago

    " This is why I can't just say I'll try out a stainless, and if I don't like it I'll replace it in a year or two with something else."


    Picking the cutout is more important than the sink material. If you have a cutout that can do double duty, changing an undermount sink is less than a two-hour job.


    If the cutout has to be changed, it's a six-hour job, but in neither case does the countertop have to be pulled.


  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    3 years ago

    "I will say that a lower gauge of at least 16 is necessary. Many people feel the thinner 18 gauge is fine. I do not. And, since you can find 16-gauge sinks for the same price as 18-gauge if you shop carefully, why not get the 16-gauge."


    I've owned an 18 gauge sink, have installed hundreds, and have never gotten a complaint. If you're worried about sound, get some sink sound dampening pads; they work great. No one is ever going to say "OMG, did you hear that 18 gauge sink?" in the car on the way home from your dinner party. I'd take a 16 over an 18, but I'd never make it a deal breaker. I won't install a 20 gauge sink.


    My custom sinks are 14 gauge and have no soundproofing:

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Rust in stainless steel is something I'd definitely have to think about. How often rust actually occurs is something I have no idea about. Perhaps this is just one of those notions that people talk about but that in reality don't happen very often. People seem to mention enamel cast iron sinks chipping, but that too (I think) is a very rare occurrence.


    Joseph--Thanks for the info. I assume you are saying that if one chooses a pretty standard shape, size and configuration, one can swap out a sink and put in a different one. And, the cutout hole can always be made larger, obviously, but can't be made smaller. I know I am gun shy a bit because in our current place we have an extremely unique, now discontinued, Kohler sink that requires an extremely large cut out. The cabinetry and plumbing and soapstone were all fitted to this particular model of sink. In this situation there is no way we could just swap out for a different sink.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    3 years ago

    " In this situation there is no way we could just swap out for a different sink."


    Sure you can. Customers tell me that other fabricators say "It can't be done" all the time, then I do it. I've got pictures to prove it.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Dana--You are exactly the type of person I wanted to hear from. I will admit that when I do my research, the primary people who are standing back and admiring their stainless sinks are those who put in the fabulous and fabulously costly specialized stainless sinks that are workstation type sinks.

  • Shannon_WI
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    “I sure regret my stainless sink.”

    “Dana--You are exactly the type of person I wanted to hear from.”

    Well, now I am confused. Your subject title asked for people to comment who like their stainless steel sinks. Why didn’t you say that what you actually wanted was to hear from people who don’t like their stainless steel sinks? You wanted negativity. I don’t get it. If you don’t like SS sinks to such a degree then don’t get one. I wasted my time responding above because that wasn’t the response you actually wanted.

  • Aglitter
    3 years ago

    @julieste Have you considered copper sinks? I think that might really be an option for you if you want something special and yet durable. Also, there are a couple of companies that do a 3D rolled textured stainless steel that has some properties to it as far as hiding water stains and scratches that the non-textured sinks don't have. These products are available from the higher-end custom shops like you mentioned above. Native Trails is a company that does some really unique work with different materials for sinks (though I don't think they do textured, but they can do nickel-plated and other specialty work). If you do choose a material that's an alternate to stainless, it pays to do as much research as you can on the properties of wear that you may encounter. All of those alternative materials to stainless steel you mentioned in your original post can have issues, so it would pay to read up before committing.

  • 54ndy b34ch
    3 years ago

    I'm not sure if I fit your description, reading the thread...but here's my two cents as someone who didn't think much of stainless originally. (sorry my opinion ended up being kinda long!)


    In someways I had been sort of over stainless anything--it seemed everywhere, and why would I ever want to add to that utilitarian feeling with a stainless sink?


    Before, I wouldn't have thought I'd ever like a stainless sink, though I grew up with one. Admittedly, growing up, who thinks about sinks?? So, I'd never thought about it. Since I moved out of my parents' I've had lots of sinks in apartments and now my own house, never a stainless one in the bunch, which seemed fine to me because, like I said, I'm over stainless. The sinks in my places over the years were always white (probably not too high end in apartments/rentals, of course).


    That's what I knew, until we bought our house. This house has a Kohler cast iron double sink, which when my mom saw, she said, "that's a great sink!" So if I thought about it, it was this beautiful, shiny white sink (the kitchen in our house was brand new when we bought it). I loved its shine and smoothness when we moved in.


    However, now that I've lived here 10 years, I find, the white seems to show everything! I must admit, my husband's a chef (and used to having someone else clean up--haha) and used to cooking a lot and banging pots and pans around, so the sink sees a TON of use because he loves to cook at home. The sink never seems clean, and shows everything, and seems a little worn, after only 10 years.


    When I went home to my parents' (after owning my own home), I started to appreciate that their sink cleaned up so easily and always looked so shiny, even when fully of dirty dishes. (My parents, though not chefs, also cook almost all their meals; so, it gets a lot of use.)


    About two years ago, my parents renovated their kitchen (they built their home in the early 1970s) and went with a beautiful quartz counter and a new stainless sink. My mom said when they took out the old one, the contractor commented that it still looked brand new. It was an Elkay--supposed to last 100 years. They replaced it with another Elkay. My mom said the only reason they replaced it was their designer said they should, since they were doing everything else. Stainless may be 'functional' as someone said above, but it has it's own beauty, to me. I appreciate it more now, after owning my own, white sink.


    Now I'm building an ADU behind my house (garage conversion) hopefully for my parents to move into when they are ready (they are in WI and I am in CA). Time for me to choose the sink for the unit's kitchen... I went with a quality stainless sink and I'm really excited about it! Now I want to renovate my kitchen and get a new sink!


    Still, regardless of my experience or opinion (and I'm sort of sick of all the stainless appliances about too) you should follow the advice someone gave you above about what appeals to you, as you have to ultimately live with it.


    Don't know if that helps you...


  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    A Native Trails hammered copper apron front replaces a tired white cast iron sink. Very nice sink.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I value all the comments and input from everyone, and Shannon I am sorry you feel that you wasted your time. You didn't.


    54ndy I can get where you are coming from because as the owner of a white cast iron sink for decades I do know they can look grubby when not thoroughly cleaned, and there can be the occasional grey black marks from pots running on the sink.


    I will have to take a look at the copper and other materials available. Of course, I also don't want to pay a gazillion dollars for a sink so that is a consideration too.


    I don't want an apron front sink. Perhaps with an undermount stainless sink it's not all that visible anyway. I'll admit that part of the imagery in my mind is of the bottom of the line (I am guessing) standard double bowl drop in sinks or of the spotted water fountains in public places.


    Thanks all.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    3 years ago

    I have never had a stainless sink rust and I have owned both cheap and expensive ones. I will always choose stainless for actually the look and the practicality and my last choice would be a cast iron like the old style sinks that chipped left black marks from pots .. As for water marks if you are anal wipe out the sink or get water softener. If you think stainless is a hassle just wait until you get a copper sink. IMO there is no advantage to an apron front sink so a nice large single bowl undermount stainless IMO still the best choice.

  • nhb22
    3 years ago

    As a white cast iron sink lover, that's my vote. Go Kohler!


    We are currently in a rental home while we build. Have a stainless steel sink. The stains drive me crazy. Never had that problem with my cast iron sinks (3) over many years in three homes.


    We have also vacationed in many home that had stainless. They are just not my thing.


    My neighbor has a copper sink. Says it was the worst decision ever! Beautiful when cleaned and polished, but most of the time she says it looks terrible.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I have a friend who had copper counters. To keep them nice looking was a major PIA. I am still pondering all of this. Maybe silgranite (in a darker color) might be a compromise.

  • Anne Duke
    3 years ago

    Love my Elkay stainless sink. It’s a sink, I wash produce, fill a kettle and wash pots and pans. It’s got a few scratches from the feet on its ridiculously priced rack but other than that no issues.

  • Aglitter
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    @julieste There is a spectrum in the quality of copper sinks on the market today. Lesser quality copper sinks may be shipped with coatings to try to boost performance, but these sinks are maintenance-heavy and don't end up looking good long-term installed. High-quality, pure, non-recycled copper such as used by Havens Metal and Rachiele in the manufacturing of their sinks never needs to be coated and is brilliantly easy to maintain. It sounds like you didn't have a budget for the custom sinks of higher quality copper or stainless, so perhaps you should stick with something else if you didn't want stainless. Create Good Sinks has a few stainless models that are in the budget range but with features that are offered usually by higher-end manufacturers like ledges and workstation accessories. The topic of sinks, if you have noticed, is one of the hottest topics on the Houzz forum. People express very strong opinions across a wide range of conclusions, so it is beneficial for you to do as much of your own research and assessment as you can rather than depending on a single thread for gathering the information required to make the best decision, as I feel sure you must be aware.

  • Jerry Jorgenson
    3 years ago

    We've really enjoyed our Rachiele copper sink that we put in during the 2017 kitchen remodel.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Yes, silverlined, I don't want to spend the money that people put into the very high end sinks. But, I am definitely willing to spend more than the typical sink costs. This is a small, condo townhouse kitchen and not a huge family house. I know what the place can carry as far as investment into the kitchen.


    I appreciate all of the very diverse comments and am now at the point where I have decided some of the function over form advocates are perhaps correct. I will (probably) go with whatever material comes in the sink configuration I want--another huge dilemma because I don't just want a standard single basin sink and am instead looking for a drainboard or a work station configuration that is less than $1000.


    Thanks all.

  • Snaggy
    3 years ago

    I have had stone sinks ..enamel sinks.....to be honest stainless steel sinks are great ...I only changed my last SS sink because I wanted a left hand drainer and not a right side one ..the never rust never heard of one splitting. I don't understand people who pay ££££ for a sink !

  • Jerry Jorgenson
    3 years ago

    julieste -- I hear you, but the problem is that you get what you pay for. There's nothing that can't be made a little cheaper by making it a little worse. I'd consider either just living with what's supplied or removing and saving the OE sink and taking the good sink with you to your next location. (Most likely I would just use what came even though it's not ideal, particularly if you don't intend to stay all that long.)

  • nhb22
    3 years ago

    This is my neighbors sink. Not sure what brand it is.


    Hammered copper sink

  • Kaytee
    3 years ago

    My thoughts:

    Stainless steel: Had one for thirty years. Very practical, didn't have to worry about anything hurting it, but not pretty. Easy to use.

    Kohler white cast iron apron front: just remodeled and this is what we have now. Love it for looks. This is the one element in the new kitchen that everyone admires. I've been able to keep it clean. However, we are being extremely careful with it, bought the steel sink grids and I don't let others do the dishes now. I hate having to be so careful but I don't want any chips. Still very glad I got it.

  • julieste
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I have to admit that I have a bottom mat in my Kohler white cast iron, so I too am a bit careful and don't just throw things at it.


    Jerry's all too right about getting what you pay for. We know this and try to balance out the trade-offs of cost vs utility. It's kind of like whether you feel you need a basic car that will just get you somewhere of whether you feel you need a luxury model. They both perform the same basic function but offer different amenities or bells and whistles.


    I know apron front sinks are all the rage, but that's not what I am looking for.

  • pennfire
    3 years ago

    Before my current sink, I only knew cheap SS sinks. When we remodeled our kitchen, I selected a $$$ SS model that I love. I like the clean lines, the accessories and no worries about dings on a white finish.


    We also have copper sink at our cabin that was an impulse buy when ordering our counter tops. I would only recommend a copper sink to someone that will embrace an ever changing patina.



  • nhb22
    3 years ago

    I have never had a problem with my Kohler cast iron enamel sinks. And I am not careful. They have all been set in divided sinks, so maybe this chipping issue is with the apron front models. Sure, I have received a gray mark or two from pots and pans, but they have always come out with a little Comet or Bar Keepers Friend. I will get the same sink for my new build, although I may get an undermount this time. ;)

  • User
    3 years ago

    I also prefer a SS sink for function. as far as aesthetics, I think the under mount / flush mount ones look wonderful. I don't think of it as sacrificing looks at all.

    one thing I love with SS is that it's a little bouncy, so a dish or glass is less likely to chip if it slips out of my hands.