Consumer Reports' tests reveal which kitchen sinks can really stand the test of time.
Even something as mundane as a kitchen sink looks glamorous when it's on display at the store, and the choices are endless. There's stainless steel and Corian and styles from an above-the-counter basin to apron-front sinks.
Gorgeous showrooms aside, you need a sink that can handle daily wear and tear. That's where Consumer Reports comes in. Testers put 18 kitchen sinks through some tough tests.
They stained sinks soaking cotton balls with foods like Kool-Aid, pasta sauce and coffee. They scrubbed with scouring pads, and they dropped hard objects - up to five pounds - from different heights. They even checked to see how well the sinks could handle a hot pot of 400-degree oil.
All of the materials had a weakness; some worse than others. "Our acrylic sinks actually melted during our heat-resistance tests," according to Chris Regan of Consumer Reports. "Our fire clay sinks cracked during our impact tests."
While nearly all of the stainless-steel sinks scratched, they proved to be the most durable type of sink and among the least expensive. But avoid high-polished stainless steel.
"The brushed and the matte finish will hide stains, scratches a lot better than your high-polish surface," Regan says.
You'll also want to get a stainless steel sink with sound-absorbing pads on the underside. They're quieter than ones with a spray-on coating.
So while a sink isn't the most glamorous purchase, choosing the right one can make kitchen jobs easier.
Consumer Reports says there are two considerations people often overlook when picking out a new sink.
1. While double sinks are popular, you want to check that at least one of the sinks is big enough to fit your largest pans.
2. Sinks come in different depths. The deepest sinks are hard for shorter people to use.