Stainless Steel vs. Ceramic Sinks: Pros and Cons

If the kitchen is the heart of most American homes, then the kitchen sink is the heart of the kitchen.

“The sink is the most important workplace in the kitchen. 60 percent of time spent in the kitchen is at the sink,” says Architecture + Construction’s “Mastering the Art of the Kitchen Sink.”

HGTV says that today’s sinks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and can include a wide range of accessories, including cutting boards, utensil trays, drying racks, and colanders.

“One of the most hard-working features in a kitchen, your sink should be both functional and reflective of your kitchen's style,” says HGTV.

Wide Range of Materials Found in Sinks Today

A wide range of materials can be found in sinks today including:

  • Enameled Cast Iron
  • Enameled Steel
  • Quartz Composite
  • Granite Composite
  • Fireclay
  • Solid Surface
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Acrylic
  • Porcelain
  • Vitreous China
  • Stone
  • Wood

Two of the most common sink materials that you will find in your home are stainless steel, the most popular choice found in the $3.2 billion global kitchen sink market, and ceramic, the most common type of sink found in bathrooms.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of stainless steel vs. ceramic sinks:

The Modern Kitchen Workhorse: Stainless Steel

The lighter and easier to install stainless steel is the modern kitchen workhorse.

“Nearly every kitchen built over the past twenty years features a stainless steel sink,” says Kitchen Insider. “The shiny metal is quick and easy to manufacture. Modern techniques ensure that the steel is thin, light, and features a uniform appearance which made it a trending finish for appliances and sinks in the 21st century.”

Stainless steel sinks are manufactured from a single sheet of stainless steel with the shape being punched from a huge press. Fixr says stainless steel sinks can last from 15 to 30 years.

Stainless steel sinks come in a variety of thickness, according to Kitchen Insider, with the lower the number the thicker the stainless steel – the heavier 18-gauge is the most popular stainless-steel sink while a 23-gauge stainless steel sink is a lighter weight (and less expensive) alternative.

When it comes to design flair, stainless steel sinks can come in a variety of shapes and sizes but there is only one color option.

Pros of Stainless Steel Sinks

There is a reason that stainless steel sinks have been the default choice for many home builders as the materials has a lot of pros including:

  • Durable material that can maintain it appearance for decades
  • Easy to care for and keep clean
  • Lighter weight than other material such as ceramic so easier to install
  • Popular choice for kitchens built recently so very little risk for resale value
  • Comes in many shapes, sizes, and style
  • Stainless steel sinks can fit a range of budgets, including those that need low-cost options

Cons of Stainless Steel Sinks

Stainless steel sinks are not to the taste of all homeowners, and some choose other materials because of the following stainless steel cons:

  • While durable, stainless steel can be scratched, especially by knives
  • Stainless steel can be dented
  • Cheaper stainless steel sinks with uneven finishes can quickly discolor
  • Stainless steel sinks can be noisier than other materials
  • Only one color option limits design choices
  • Some find the look of metal too cold, impersonal or industrial-like

Timeless Beauty: Ceramic Sinks

While stainless steel has been around for just over 100 years, ceramic has been used for thousands of years to fashion items such as the ceramic basin fragments discovered in an archeological dig in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, on the site of an ancient place complex from 300 to 100 BC.

“Your grandmother likely had a ceramic sink in her kitchen. Her grandmother did, too. And their ancestors!” says Kitchen Insider. “Ceramic sinks are made using fine clay, minerals, and water and then fired at an extremely high temperature resulting in a durable product ready to last a literal lifetime.”

While ceramic might conjure up something that is fragile, ceramic sinks are so hearty that it takes a sledgehammer to break them up during a demo.

In fact, one of the big differences between stainless steel and ceramic sinks is that when you drop a breakable item, such as a dish or glass, it may survive a fall onto stainless steel but will more likely break when hitting ceramic.

Pros of Ceramic Sinks

There is a reason your grandmother’s generation opted for ceramic sinks and a reason that this is the most common type of material used in most bathroom sinks, they have a lot of pros including:

  • Extremely durable and easy to clean
  • Timeless appearance
  • Non-porous and smooth surface that is resistant to discoloration over time
  • Available in a few colors besides classic white
  • Multiple designs
  • Affordable compared to other non-stainless steel materials such as stones and copper

Cons of Ceramic Sinks

For all the advantages of ceramic sinks, there are also some negatives, including:

  • Can crack if abused
  • Can stain if not promptly cleaned (some manufacturers recommend daily cleaning)
  • Dishes and glasses that are dropped in sink will crack or chip
  • Heavier items than stainless steel, so tougher to install

Final Verdict: Stainless Steel vs. Ceramic Sinks

Like many home design decisions, the choice between stainless steel and ceramic steels will come down to the “eye of the beholder.”

“A kitchen sink should be aesthetically pleasing but most importantly should meet your needs regarding functionality,” says The Urban Housewife blog.

The Urban Housewife says that ceramic sinks offer “distinctive old-world appeal and they fit in perfectly with traditional kitchen like farmhouse-style themes. In terms of aesthetics, ceramic sinks are beautiful sinks, and they can come in a range of colors to suit your space.”

At the same time The Urban Housewife says that stainless steel sinks “are low cost and they are incredibly durable. Beyond this these sinks are very easy to keep clean and in good shape, and they never rust or receive damage beyond the odd scratch.”

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