How Sink Choice Affects Kitchen Design

The main kitchen sink and its accompanying fittings and accessories are at the heart of the food prep and clean-up centers of the kitchen. Kitchen professionals offer these planning tips to ensure satisfied clients.

Bowl Arrangement

Unless your client is going to wash and rinse dishes in a double sink configuration, demonstrate how a sink with one large compartment and one small compartment functions. This configuration gives you the largest sink for everyday use, and then a smaller—yet usable—compartment for other uses.

Corner Sinks

When placing a sink in a corner, do not push it back more than 2 or 3 in. away from the front edge of the countertop. That is the normal installation location and it should be maintained (even in a custom design) so the client has comfortable access to the water source.


Make sure your client realizes that cast iron, self-rimming sinks are susceptible to damaged edges or to warpage. This is particularly a problem with larger sinks. Make sure you inspect the sink before it goes to the jobsite. Look for chips along the lead edge. The client must accept the possibility of a wide caulking joint connecting the sink to the countertop for large sink configurations. If this will not be acceptable, specify another type of sink. With these self-rimming sinks, also make sure you specify caulking that will either match the countertop or the sink so the joint compound does not become a focal point in the sink area.


The deeper the sink, the straighter the sides of the sink. The tighter the angle where the sink side and bottom meet, and the flatter the sink bottom, the bigger the interior space is.

Drain Boards

A sink with an attached drain board is an excellent accessory to specify for a client who does a lot of fresh food preparation.

Waste Disposer Compartment

Some sink configurations are a single size (24 x 21 in.) but have a small, round compartment for the food waste disposer in one back corner. Because the compartment for the food waste disposer is almost too small to use, this is not the most desirable sink configuration.


Make sure you know how many holes are on the back ledge of the sink and how many holes you need for the faucet and water attachments. If a hot water dispenser, a faucet, a dishwasher air gap, other dispensers and/or water treatment spouts are planned, you may run out of pre-drilled holes.

Typically, cast iron sinks have four holes. A fifth hole can be drilled, but it is expensive and the sink may be damaged. Adding extra holes is much easier in a stainless steel sink. In solid surface sinks, the holes are drilled in the countertop deck so the number and placement is flexible.

Overall Size

When specifying a solid surface integral sink, verify what the actual overall dimensions of the sink are. The sink literature may list the interior dimension of the sink, not the overall dimension. This overall dimension will determine your spacing in a standard side-by-side double configuration. You may find it necessary to increase the cabinet size if you are planning to create a “butterfly” corner arrangement with such sinks.

Recycle Center

Some sinks on the market have an opening within the sink that allows access to a chute for a compost container or a waste receptacle below.

Round Shapes

If you are going to specify two round sinks as the primary sink arrangement, make sure your client understands the interior space of these sinks is less than a comparable square model. Also, realize these sinks require deck-mounted faucet locations; therefore, you must specify the faucet location on your plan.

Small Sinks

Avoid small, 12 x 12-in. sinks. They have a drain that does not accept a food waste disposer, and therefore are so small there will be a water-splash problem when the cook uses the sink for food preparation.


If you are not ordering a food waste disposer to be mounted on the sink, make sure you order a good quality strainer.

Undermount Sink

If you use separate under-mounted sinks in place of a sink manufactured in a double configuration, warn your client that if water is running and the faucet is swung from one sink to the other, water will splash on the countertop. Consider routing down the countertop section that separates the two sinks, or recessing the entire configuration into the counter surfaces 1/4-in. or so in order to eliminate the potential for water to run across the countertop and down to the floor as the spout is moved from sink to sink while water is running.


A variety of sink accessories are also available.

  • Plastic-covered wire or stainless steel baskets are useful for washing and peeling fresh vegetables. They take the place of a colander.
  • Plate racks that fit inside the sink.
  • Wire racks.
  • Specialized chopping surfaces that completely or partially cover the sink.

These accessories may match the sink color, contrast with the sink color, or be a combination of the sink’s color and stainless steel. They enhance the sink’s function, as well as its appearance. Do not overlook them.