Find out what you need to know to help you choose the best farmhouse sink materials.
When it comes to designing your perfect kitchen, it’s easy to overlook the sink as a smaller detail. People tend to think that sinks are square and white, or square and stainless steel, and that’s all there.
In reality, there’s a variety of sink materials. colors, and styles to choose from.
(For more on the different options, check out our farmhouse kitchen ideas guide.)
If you’re interested in expanding the design possibilities in your kitchen, start with sink materials. There are several popular materials for sinks, each with their own benefits and potential downsides.
Here are the basics you need to know about the main options.
And if you’re looking for something specific, try out any of these great options:
- Hammered Stainless Steel
- Budget Stainless Steel Sinks
- Brass Farmhouse Sink
- Gold Farmhouse Sink
- Copper Farmhouse Sink
- Hammered Copper Farm Sink
- Hammered Nickel Farmhouse Sink
- Cast Iron
- Black Granite
- Granite Composite
- Quartz Composite
Kitchen Sink Material Comparison
The good news is, as long as you’re paying attention, it’s easy to get a quality sink. Most sink materials are very durable, and come in multiple styles.
Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about each material, and how it compares to the other options:
Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel is a sturdy, affordable material, that’s easy to maintain.
This type of sink doesn’t stain or retain smells as easily as some other materials. And if it does stain, cleaning it is relatively simple. It also doesn’t crack and chip the way that porcelain and similar materials can do.
Another benefit of stainless steel is that it’s better for glassware. If you drop glassware into a sink made of harder materials, like porcelain or cast iron, it will break. Stainless steel is a gentler material, so you stand a better chance of your glassware surviving any slip-ups.
The main downside is that cheaper, thinner metal can warp. You can avoid this issue by not putting very hot or very cold items directly on the sink.
When purchasing a kitchen sink, the thicker the better, especially if you’re buying a larger, double basin sink. When purchasing metal sinks, the thickness is measured by gauge.
The gauge for sinks typically falls between 14-19. The lower the gauge, the thicker the sink. So for a kitchen, you’ll want something closer to 14 than 19. This will ensure a thicker sink, which will be more durable.
The other interesting thing about stainless steel is that you can get it in a few different options. Brass, bronze, gold, and gunmetal are all popular color choices.
Copper is notorious for requiring more care than other types of materials, however it’s a beautiful material.
Plus, with metals like copper, general wear and tear is considered a feature, not a bug. As your sink develops a patina and scratches, it actually looks more beautiful.
The aged copper look is so desirable that many sinks come with an artificial patina in place. Of course, you can purchase bright, unmarred copper, and develop your own patina if you want.
Another option is to get a nickel sink. Most nickel options are actually made of copper, but have a silver finish, rather than the traditional orange. These are essentially a higher-end alternative to stainless steel.
Another common feature is to get copper with a hammered design. A material that’s hammered essentially has a bunch of dents placed in it. This creates a different texture, and has a unique and attractive look.
If you want a hammered copper sink, try to get one that only has a hammered exterior. If you get one that has a hammered interior, the little dents can actually retain water. This prevents the sink from drying out properly between uses.
When shopping for copper, follow the same rules you would with stainless steel. Go for a thicker material, and therefore a lower gauge, if you’re buying for your kitchen.
Cast Iron Sinks
Cast iron is known for being a durable material. With proper maintenance, a cast iron sink can last for decades.
The biggest issue with durability for these sinks is actually the porcelain, enamel, or paint coating that goes over it. These coatings can stain or scratch, especially if you’re using abrasive sponges and harsh cleaners on them. Porcelain and enamel can also crack if you drop something heavy or sharp with enough force.
However, replacing an old and worn coating is an easy process, depending on the type of coating you used. With simple paint coatings, you can even do it yourself.
When people think of ceramic, they tend to think pottery or tableware, but this material is also good for sinks.
Like composite sinks, these are made from natural materials, like clay and stone. Those materials are molded into shape and then heated to create a sink.
Once molded and fired, the sinks are covered in a glossy coating. This means that they can come in a variety of color options. However, it also means that they are susceptible to chips and cracks.
Aside from that, ceramic is fairly durable. Because of the way it’s made, you can even handle hot pots and pans on it without damaging the sink itself. Although, again, you’ll want to be careful with the coating.
Porcelain is similar to ceramic, the main difference being that it’s comprised of different clay. The earth they use for porcelain, is not the same as the one used in ceramics. As a result, porcelain is considered more durable.
Like cast iron, these options can last decades when properly cared for. You want to avoid using abrasive sponges, like steel wool, on the surface. Avoid harsh chemicals as well.
You’ll also need to be careful not to drop heavy objects on it.
One of the benefits of porcelain, besides it’s durability, is its design potential. Porcelain comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles. This makes it ideal if you want to do something colorful and different with your sink.
The main downside to porcelain is that it’s expensive. For a quality option, you can end up paying many times more than you would for something cheaper, like metal.
It’s also important to note that you’ll have to be extra careful with your glassware. Unlike metal, porcelain isn’t very forgiving. If you drop any sort of glass dish or cup in a porcelain sink, you have a greater risk of breaking it.
Fireclay Farmhouse Sinks
Fireclay options are a type of ceramic, essentially. The clay is molded and then super heated, hence the name. They’re also coated, just like porcelain and ceramic options.
Because of the similarities, They have the same basic benefits as well. They’re durable and come in a variety of styles.
The main difference is the price. These are among the most affordable options, along with stainless steel.
You can easily find quality options under three hundred dollars. With a good sale, you can even get options under two hundred.
That affordability is what makes this material one of the most popular choices.
Composite sinks are some of the most common sinks, besides metal. The price of these options varies, depending on the type of composite. However, if you’re on a budget, these are an excellent alternative to porcelain or cast iron.
They’re made of a mix of different minerals and stones that have been pulverized, and then formed together. They often contain granite in their mixes, which is why they are sometimes referred to as granite sinks. There are other options, like quartz though.
The benefit of making a composite is that they’re more durable than similar materials, like stone and ceramic. They’re not as likely to chip or crack, and they won’t warp like metal. Although, as with other materials, it’s a good idea to avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing.
The downside is that these tend to pick up stains fairly easily. If you like this material, make sure you can keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance.
As an alternative to composite sinks, you can also purchase natural stone options. These have a very unique look that would pair well with any modern design.
There’s also a variety of stones to choose from. You can go with traditional options, like soapstone or granite. But there are fancier options as well, like marble or travertine.
The main downside to these is the price. They can be extremely expensive, with most options being upwards of a thousand dollars. They’re also heavy, and require additional supports.
They’re also higher maintenance that other options. Since they’re natural materials, they’ll need to be resealed regularly. Granted, resealing can be done easily as a DIY project, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
However, if you’re after that particular stone aesthetic, there’s really no other options.
If you’re not interested in the traditional materials available, try an alternative option instead.
If you’re after something more eco-friendly, bamboo is a great material options. It’s much more sustainable than options like metal and stone. It also happens to work great if you want a wooden farmhouse sink look.
For some more industrial flair, a concrete sink is a good option. Concrete is by no means the most functional material. It is, however, a very distinctive aesthetic that you won’t be able to find elsewhere.
Which Kitchen Sink Material is Best?
Overall, any sink you buy is going to be effective long as you care for it properly. What’s best for your kitchen really comes down to your budget and design choices.
If you have room in your budget, getting a porcelain or cast iron sink is a good choice. These options are among the most durable, so you’ll be able to enjoy them for a long time.
With cast iron in particular, the coating may sustain damage, but the base will last indefinitely.
For a mid-range to low-range budget, ceramic and composite sinks are fine. They’re still sturdy, and look similar to more high-end materials.
And for a low budget, metal sinks are your best option. They’ll save you a ton of money, and they come with their own unique benefits.
They’re much better for glassware, and they don’t chip or crack the same way that porcelain and similar materials can. They can warp with extreme temperatures, but as long as you’re careful, they’ll last a long time.
Color is the other determining factor.
If you’re looking for that classic, white, farmhouse look, you’ll have to pay more. Ceramic, composite, cast iron, and porcelain are the best materials for that.
There are farmhouse metal sinks, however these are farmhouse in shape only. They don’t have the same color and style options.
How to Choose Sink Materials
Your budget as well as your design are the two main things you have to consider.
If you’re on a budget, stainless steel or composite sinks are a good choice. If you want something durable, cast iron is hard to beat. And for something stylish, try copper. ceramic, or porcelain. Whatever your kitchen needs, there’s a material that will suit it.
So don’t let your sink become an afterthought. Take time to look at your options, and see just how much the right sink can add to your design. After that, it will be easy to pick the best farmhouse sink material for you.