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The Kitchen Sink


fifi
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There seems to be a run on topics involving ranges lately so maybe there is a lot of kitchen building/remodeling activity out there. Most of the posts are in Cooking so I am putting this here. Admin, move it if you wish.

Have any of you working on kitchens thought about your sink?

As most of you know, I am in the design phase of my kitchen. One thing I forgot to mention in a previous post on the design process was consideration of the kitchen sink. I was reminded of it this morning when I was attempting to clean up a half sheet pan and rack in this stupid double sink in my apartment kitchen. I was reminded of how much I miss the sink I had in my previous house. It fit into the same space as the ubiquitous double sink but it had a big deep side and a small side with the disposer. I loved that sink. Big pots and pans were no problem. I could sit my roasting pan in the big sink and let it soak for a while. It was not some exotic or commercial model. You could have bought it at Home Depot. It was big enough to hold a turkey or big brisket for processing and easy clean up. My daughter lives in an apartment building that was built in the 20s. Her horror of a tiny kitchen does have a nice, big single porcelain sink and no dishwasher. Clean up is a breeze. You use a bowl or pot for the soapy water and rinse things off to the side. The roasting pan or broiler pan is no problem. It fits.

Where did the stupid idea of the double sink originate and when? Was the idea that you wash in one side and rinse in the other? It seems to me that about the same time, dishwashers became more common so what is the point? But, if you go into most new builder homes today... IT IS STILL THERE! When I bought my house and requested the substitution for the normal double sink, the builder looked at me like I was nuts. When my neighbors saw my sink, most said "Oooo... I wish I had thought about that."

New house will have a large sink for clean-up, maybe with a small side for the disposer. There will be a medium size prep sink in the island (no disposer, I compost) and a small bar sink in the beverage prep area. Do any of you have any suggestions for the big sink? I haven't done an exhaustive look yet nor have I gone to the plumbing supply yet. What I have seen in ads and at Home Depot and the upscale design centers are the regular brands and then some ridiculously expensive "German" models that can cost you more than you paid for your car back in high school. (Hey... I'm not a spring chicken.) Any pointers will be appreciated.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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The only advice I might offer is to get your sink in heavy gauge stainless--as heavy as you can find. A prep sink is a great idea, and if we can ever get the plumber back in here would love to put one in in a corner of the island.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Yeah... Definitely stainless. But I am curious about the gauge. I keep hearing that and my engineering experience tells me that heavier is better but the "builder grade" big sink/little sink I had in the house was just fine. No complaints. Possibly gauge will be more important if I am able to find one larger and deeper than I had. What has been your experience with gauge? Thanks for your reply.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Only that the really thin stuff tends to discolor and dent easily. I think Fine Homebuilding a few years back had a piece on stainless steel sinks. If I can find a link, I'll post or PM it.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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You need a heavy enough gauge such that it won't be damaged if you drop a moderately heavy item into the sink. There is no benefit to heavier gauge beyond that, indeed one thing that's nice about stainless sinks is that they have a little "give" to them, so when you knock a glass into the edge it doesn't shatter like it would if you knocked it against an enameled cast-iron sink. For similar reasons, I prefer wood floors for home kitchens, but that's another thread.

My ideal sink is a single basin, rather deep. Whatever benefit can be derived from a second area and drain is in my opinion outweighed by the benefits of a bigger basin.

Some additional issues to consider:

- I like undermounted sinks and wish I had one. Though the installation is more difficult and there's an increased expense involved in finishing a countertop to accept an undermounted sink, I think it's a superior method of mounting. When you have a drop-in sink, there's no way to avoid the accumulation of grech around the seam over time, on account of spills and splatter on the counters. Undermounting is also more aesthetically pleasing.

- The faucet is of great importance. Definitely get a faucet that has a flexible hose built into the main faucet. If your sink is near enough to your stove, even better: you can fill pots this way. I don't like the backsplash-mounted pot-filler faucets that are trendy in home kitchen design right now -- it's just a bad idea to put a faucet where there's no drain.

- Additional holes are in my opinion useless. I would not mount a soap dispenser or anything like that in a sink (or in the counter, assuming an undermounted sink). These items are virtually disposable and should just sit on the counter near the sink, or on a little shelf installed on the backsplash above the sink.

If money and space are were no object, I'd make some modifications to the above advice. But for most people that's how I'd recommed doing the sink.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I agree. Double sinks are a fine idea, as long as one of them is large enough to accomodate a big roaster.

Mine doesn't.

But permit me to grind my teeth. Four sinks?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Totally agree with the undermount. I also favor one big deep sink. The trick is to mount the disposer but I think that can be handled. Integral hose in the faucet, yep. Extra holes... nah. I seem agree with FG on all points. (This is getting frightening.)

Oh... Another thing I learned with my sojourn in the apartment... The value of the single handle mixer valve. I thought the retro look hardware was cool and was headed that way. Then I am here in the apartment with two valves for hot and cold. What a pain in the butt!

I would really love one of those foot valves down on the floor for when I am up to my elbows in chicken juice.

Now I am curious... FG, what would you add given space and money? Go ahead... Tempt me.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Our sink is a single peice stainless steel component that is not a drop-in sink -- its not cut into the countertop, it sits between two peices of countertop.

Its technically a farm style sink. Its made by a company called Blanco and I think we paid like 600 bucks for it. You can get it at Home Depot Expo.

perlowsink.jpg

I am pretty sure they make it in a single sink version if you hate double sinks.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Now I am curious... FG, what would you add given space and money? Go ahead... Tempt me.

Water filtration, hot water on demand, a sink big enough to be double but to have one of the basins be massive, a disposal (illegal and ill-advised in Manhattan apartments), and I'd probably have three sinks, one of which would be a big-ass sink, one of which would be a small task sink, and one of which would be that Kohler Pro CookCenter thing that boils water.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Jason does that thing somehow join to the countertop on each side? If you spill something on the countertop, what keeps the liquid from going into the seam? Is there a sealant or what?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Jason, your kitchen setup is almost exactly like my mom's, from the windows to the placement of the stove, dishwasher, countertop stuff, and drawers and cupboards. That's really eerie.

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I have 3 sinks. I think I will go for the one big-ass clean-up sink if I can put a disposer in it. (We can do that here.) The beverage area sink has the water filters and instant hot water. The water filters also serve the ice maker (separate, not in the fridge).

Jason... Dynamite pictures.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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There's color matched sealant (caulk?) joining the sink to the countertops. The right hand sink is smaller and shallower than the left hand sink, that is where the garbage disposal is.

Cost: originally $1400, $200 discount after I saw it on sale 5 months after we bought it, saved us $300 on countertop costs since there were no add on costs for cut outs* as there would be for top or bottom mounted sinks/faucet or soap dispenser holes, so net was ~$900. Still expensive, but it's a really cool looking sink.

* That's where they get you, especially with granite or Corian countertops - all the extra charges for cutting holes.

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Fifi, this a great thread you started. It's one of the things, after the range, that I've been rolling over in my mind.

The old little house I had torn down to make way for the new little house had a fairly long, enamel, shallow sink. I lived with that sink for around fifteen years and it was really handy. As I've thought about getting my new sink, there are only a few reasons I can think of to get a double bowl stainless.

One is that you don't need so much water to wash vegetables or soak lettuce, and the other is the ease of rinsing dishes. I don't have room for a dishwasher.

Your point about being able to wash the larger pans is something to consider. Also, being able to wash out the vegetable drawer from the fridge. For me, that's a biggy. It's such a pain in the ass washing the drawer, shelves, and racks in a small sink.

As far as the undermount sinks, ala Corian..... First of all, I'd love to have Corian - but at the price it's going for, no way. Second, I think I'll stick with the top mounted sink. I know we have some great adhesives these days, but they haven't yet passed the test of time. With the top mount, the counter and all below it would have to rot out before the sink fell. With the undermount it's all in the adhesive.

FG mentioned wood floors for kitchens and that's what I'm doing. Oak - like all the rest of the flooring. We could get into why I chose Oak over Cherry, Maple, Birch, etc. but that's for another thread too. The main reason I chose wood for the kitchen , aside from cost and complications of doing tile (ceramic), is that it seems that if you drop a heavy pan, such as cast iron on the tile, the tile breaks or gets shatter lines in it. Then you have to replace (with some difficulty) the broken tile. Another thing is that if you drop something that's glass on a tile floor - it's gone. With wood you may have a chance.

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Years ago at my parents country house, we didn't have a dishwasher and had the old big single sink. We kept a small plastic basin for the dishsoap and rinsed to the side. As far as washing vegetables, we would use a big stainless bowl. That worked fine and we still had the big sink for the big pots and those vegetable bins. I had forgotten about those. Good point.

Also, the big sink was handy for bathing the first 2 grandkids. Then they remodeled the kitchen, got the dishwasher and the oh-so-modern double sink. (Dumb!) We always regretted that afterward. Besides, the third grandkid (my son) was a huge kid and wouldn't fit! :sad:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Right, you can always stick bowls and other containers into the sink to create smaller spaces, but your maximum space can't be increased beyond the dimensions of the sink.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When you have a drop-in sink, there's no way to avoid the accumulation of grech around the seam over time, on account of spills and splatter on the counters. Undermounting is also more aesthetically pleasing.

It seems to me that with an undermount sink, you don't eliminate grech deposition, you only move it from the counter surface to the point where the sink meets the vertical edge of the countertop.

I've been thinking about this a lot, because the installation of my sink and laminate countertop was poorly done. As a result, the plywood underlayment is rotting out. I've got a few months to figure out what to do, but not much more than that.

I could redo laminate counters three times before I exceeded the cost of Corian, and that doesn't include the added hole cost to which Rachel alludes. On the other hand, Corian offers one of the only two solutions to the grech problem that I have seen. This is the formed sink that is seamlessly integrated with the countertop, leaving no grech accretion zones. Cost aside, Nick points out a nag-worthy flaw: the glue. Although the sinks are probably thermally and chemically bonded (something akin to PVC plumbing), I'd like a backup system. (I'm pretty sure that a typical undermount sink is held in place by a series of brackets, and fully gasketed or caulked.)

The other solution is a continuous stainless steel sink and counter. This is how the problem is handled in commercial applications, and it is flawless for their purposes. But the aesthetics leave something to be desired. I'd like a durable, functional surface. But I also want to cook in a place that's pleasant for me and the non-cooks in the house to look at -- it is a home, after all. Otherwise, I'd go back to cooking for a living!

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Every undermount sink I've ever seen has been installed with hardware, not adhesives. A sealant is used, of course, but not for purposes of anchoring the sink. I've seen lighter weight sinks anchored directly to the underside of the countertop or to a wood frame built into the countertop's underside by the fabricator, and I've seen heavier ones anchored to rails on the cabinets on either side of the sink. Undermount installation is definitely a bitch. I installed my own sink so there was no way I was going to undermount it, and there was definitely a cost-savings in the countertop from being able to drop a self-rimming sink into an unfinished cutout versus having a finished cutout with a finished hole (though it wasn't a massive savings -- certainly not from the perspective of what a given countertop costs overall -- and there are sink models available that don't require holes in the countertop).

Proper undermounting virtually eliminates the grech problem. Having a seam isn't the problem per se. You can close up a seam along a flat surface with epoxy and make it smooth and impervious -- the epoxy material is likely to be stronger and more impervious than your countertop material is. Corner seams, however, are a different issue, especially when you're constantly wiping stuff into those corners. Self-rimming sinks by nature can't be installed with a smooth seam -- there has to be a "corner" where the lip meets the countertop, and every time you wipe or spill anything towards the sink it runs into that corner. By eliminating the upper ring, an undermount sink allows you to wipe from the counter directly into the sink without the grech getting caught on anything, and it allows you to accumulate as much grech as you want on the counter without it touching the seam until such time as you clean it up. Yes, if you have particularly viscous, oozing, sentient grech it might slide down the edge of the sink and find its way into the seam like The Blob, but for the most part gravity and a good seal are going to be your allies here. I'm actually wondering why the type of sink the Perlows installed -- which is a great idea conceptually -- isn't designed to be flush-mounted. It seems to me that if you joined it at the exact height of the countertop in order to create a smooth surface, and you used an extremely durable epoxy to close the seal, you wouldn't have a grech issue. But they always build those sinks to sit 1/4" or so above the countertop.

Corian and the like are expensive, but they work really well and last a hell of a long time. You'll even see Corian in professional kitchens, especially pastry kitchens (and they have newer, better stuff like Silestone now too). The customer-satisfaction numbers for Corian are just amazing -- it's something like 98% of customers saying they'd buy it again. I'm actually in the other 2% but I was that way before I bought Corian -- I always favored stainless but it's just not affordable. If I ever have to do another semi-DIY kitchen renovation, I'm going to seriously consider concrete for my countertops. The concrete countertops I've seen have been really nice, and if you can learn to do it you can make them yourselves cheap. http://www.decorative-concrete.net/countertops_how.php And I'm going to learn how to install an undermount sink.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Corian and the like are expensive, but they work really well and last a hell of a long time. You'll even see Corian in professional kitchens, especially pastry kitchens (and they have newer, better stuff like Silestone now too). The customer-satisfaction numbers for Corian are just amazing -- it's something like 98% of customers saying they'd buy it again.

We opted for Corian with an integrated Corian sink. It has one very large, very deep side, and one small side with a disposal. We love it, very easy to care for and it looks great. The cost, however...boy it was steep, especially since our kitchen is one huge u-shaped piece. And with Corian, it must be installed by a qualified company, not your general contractor, which adds to the cost.

As far as the faucet goes, I bought a Grohe. It's tall, has an integrated hose, and can be turned off and on and adjusted with one hand. I love it, but Scott nearly had a heart attack when I told him the price.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Well, this is getting interesting. I find myself back in the materials business.

As to caulking or sealants... think pure silicone, not epoxy. I see the undermounted sink as independently supported and the sink/countertop juncture sealed with silicone.

I am with Dave on the cost of laminate versus Corian. Corian is a wonderful material. I... just... can't... spend... that... much... money. The other material of choice around here is granite. Now we are talking REAL money. Beautiful? YES! Functional? YES! But with the cost difference versus laminate, I could buy that small fridge for the beverage area, the 42" plasma TV, and a rockin' custom smoker. All of my past kitchens have had laminate and I have been very happy with them -- thank you very much.

Now here is a surprise. My mother and sister have had tile countertops. They were wonderful. A lot of folks worry and whine about the grout. That was never a problem. If it got stained... CLOROX. We did things like make elderberry jelly, turned the place blue, and a swipe with some Clorox made everything new again. Also, the bullnose trim on the outer edge kept spills from running off onto the floor. The house I grew up in was built in the 40s and had the porcelain "drugstore tile" counters and it was just fine and stood up to everything that my mother could throw at it. Looking at the cost per square foot, it seems to be an economical choice. For my own house, I am seeking the drugstore tile. The style of my house is sort of "retro-contemporary" so it fits. If I can't find what I want, I will probably go with laminate. That "look" would work as well.

Be very afraid of concrete. It looks cool but is not very practical in a kitchen. Any acid (lemon juice, vinegar)gets to it and FIZZ. You are totally dependent on whatever sealer is used. I have an architect friend in the Anacortes WA area that has a gorgeous house and B&B. She has the concrete counter tops in her house and has had real trouble with the sealers. She called me in to consult on the problem at one point a few years ago. We never really solved it. The polysiloxanes I was after aren't really available commercially. The polyurethanes were a mess.

Since this is already getting off topic for sinks, I will continue to floors. Has anyone considered commercial grade Composite Vinyl Tile (CVT)? I had that in a previous house about 30 years ago and it was wonderful. I saw a "Kitchen Design" program on FTVN or HGTV not long ago that had "rediscovered" the stuff. The rest of my living areas will have pine plank flooring, stained, sealed and waxed. (Don't even go there for polyurethane finishes.) That won't do for a kitchen with a cook that spills and splatters. It is available in thousands of colors and "patterns", dropped things don't necessarily self destruct, and it is easy to clean. Luckily, it also fits with my "look". My last house had ceramic tile floors and I was always worried about that dropped heavy pot.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Commercial grade composites seem to have gone in and out of fashion a couple of times in Canada in the past 10 years. Have you considered cork flooring? Easy on the feet, fairly economical, and comes with a laminated coating in whatever color you want.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Yes, I looked at it. It is an interesting product. A bit pricey though. (I am cheap about some things.) It certainly has merit and should be considered for kitchens.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Now here is a surprise. My mother and sister have had tile countertops. They were wonderful. A lot of folks worry and whine about the grout. That was never a problem.

My mother-in-law has tile counters and loves them. She doesn't worry about stains, but about chipping them with something heavy. If we had to redo our kitchen someday (a possibility I'm not even willing to contemplate right now :rolleyes: ) I would consider tile.

We have oak floors throughout our house including the kitchen. It looks great, but is NOT practical in the kitchen.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Now I am curious... FG, what would you add given space and money? Go ahead... Tempt me.

Water filtration, hot water on demand, a sink big enough to be double but to have one of the basins be massive, a disposal (illegal and ill-advised in Manhattan apartments.

FG: Go ahead and get that garbage disposal. The ban on them was lifted 6 years ago.

NYC Local Law 71-1997

Legislative findings. In 1995, the city passed Local Law 74, which provides for the limited installation of food waste disposals in dwellings served by combined sewer systems as part of a pilot study, the results of which were due to the Mayor and the council no later than 21 months after the effective date of Local Law 74. The findings are compiled in a June 1997 report prepared by the department of environmental protection entitled "The Impact of Food Waste Disposers in Combined Sewer Areas of New York City." In short, the study found that the prohibition of food waste disposals in combined sewer areas should be lifted. emphasis added.

Not only are they legal, but they're fairly inexpensive. I was at the Expo Design Center (aka Nirvana) in New Rochelle yesterday and they seemed very reasonable. The only other expense would be getting an GFCI outlet under the sink for power. I assume that since you put in your own sink, you could install the disposer yourself as well and wouldn't need to pay a plumber to do so. While you're at it, put in the Instant Hot as well, now that you have power down there.

Edited by abbeynormal (log)
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Interesting. Right around the time we were planning our kitchen, that law was under discussion. I didn't realize it had passed. Bravo. My building's management would never allow a disposal anyway, though.

I've got the GFI outlet under the sink already. Put it in just in case.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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