Types of Sinks: The Complete Guide

Today's kitchen sinks combine style and functionality, so you can easily upgrade your kitchen, laundry room, bar or other utility space. From large farmhouse-style kitchen sinks to decorative vessels in the bathroom, a kitchen sink is both a design statement and a practical element.

However, with the seemingly endless choices on the market, it can be difficult to find a sink that best suits your needs and personal design style. To help you choose the right sink for your space, we've detailed the most popular sink types currently available, along with the pros and cons of each.

Ryan Bent Photography

Farmhouse or apron front sinks

These deep, wide basin-style sinks give you plenty of room for washing larger pots and pans, soaking dishes, preparing food, cleaning up, or bathing pets. They're a more practical option than standard sinks. Although they're typically installed in rustic, cabin-style, or traditional spaces, today's farmhouse sinks can also have a more modern, industrial look. These sinks can be customized to fit many styles, sizes, and shapes in residential applications, but their customizability can also complicate the installation work—which often requires custom cabinets and countertops, driving up labor costs. Still, these spacious sinks remain a preferred option for many homeowners—largely because of their size and timeless beauty.

Drainer sinks

These sinks have a built-in drainer that allows water from drying dishes to drain directly into the sink. They are a great choice for anyone who needs to care for fragile kitchenware or who prefers to wash dishes by hand. You can also use the drainer as a drying rack or for food prep. However, a sink with a drainer can look cluttered or crowded if you place it in a small space. It also takes up a larger portion of your countertop, so if you are going for a high-end look where you would rather show off your countertop stone more, this is not the best option.

Robert Peterson

Undermount sink

Unlike the front panel of a farmhouse sink, which is completely visible, an undermount sink fits snugly under the edge of a countertop. This sink is considered a more compact option, frees up countertop space, and is typically smaller and lighter than farmhouse models. You can also wipe food scraps or waste directly from your countertop into your sink without any of it getting stuck on the edges of the sink. However, if you don't properly seal this sink, dirt and moisture can build up in the seam (between the sink and the countertop), leading to mold. When it comes to installing this upgrade, undermount sinks may still require you to hire a professional to ensure a proper fit. But their stylish and functional qualities may outweigh the cost of installation, especially if you want to achieve a more premium aesthetic.

Bar or preparation sink

Bar or prep sinks are typically smaller and function as secondary sinks in a room. Due to their size, they offer limited functionality. These compact sinks are usually no more than 25 inches long and 6 inches deep and are often used in home bars or pantries. Bar and prep sinks also come in rectangular, square and round shapes and are often made of stainless steel, granite composite or copper. They are usually installed as drop-in or undermount configurations.

Adam Albright

Built-in washbasin

It's possible to confuse drop-in sinks – also called overmount or top-mount sinks – with undermount sinks, but there is a key difference between the two. First of all, an undermount sink flows seamlessly from the countertop into the sink, while drop-in sinks have exposed rims that create a protruding edge from the top of the countertop. This rim, in turn, takes up more countertop space and requires more frequent cleaning as dirt can get trapped on its edge. However, this drop-in design also makes these sinks one of the easiest and most cost-effective to install. Since drop-in sinks are compatible with almost any countertop material, they are easy to upgrade during DIY renovations.

Disappearing sink

These sinks are designed to disappear when not in use, offering one of the tidiest looks available in sink design. Because this sink hides away in a countertop, you have more space for food prep and serving. However, due to the mechanics and material costs, drop-in sinks tend to be more expensive and cumbersome to install and operate. Some components of drop-in sinks may also require more cleaning and maintenance, so if you're putting this sink in a high-traffic area, covering and uncovering it can be a hassle.

Single vs. double sink

Many of the sinks featured in this guide are available in both single and double bowl designs. But how do you know which sink is better for you? The best way to make a decision is to first consider your lifestyle and daily activities at the sink. Keep in mind that a single bowl typically has a larger surface area and is more flexible when it comes to organizing and cleaning dishes (especially larger pots and pans) because there is no divider. However, because double bowls have a divider, you can sort clean and dirty dishes (or even create space for soaking dishes or rinsing vegetables), giving you more multitasking options.

John Granen

Wall-mounted or wall-hung washbasins

Wall-mounted sinks have a space-saving design, taking up no floor space and keeping the space under the sink free. You can even adjust the height of these sinks during installation. However, since this sink doesn't have a cabinet underneath, it may not be a suitable option for you if you need more storage space. And depending on the type of sink you buy, your exposed plumbing may not complement or match your fixtures and fittings. For an easy solution, look for models with a cover, or try making your own with decorative boxes or curtains. For the best look, it's a good idea to look for a drain and decorative trap that match the other surfaces in your space. Remember that wall-mounted sinks also need a sturdy wall mount.

Workplace sinks

These sinks transform your laundry area into a full-fledged workstation. With built-in accessories like folding racks, colanders and cutting boards that slide onto the sink's existing rails, you have a full-fledged work area (and free up counter space too). Workstation sinks are more expensive than traditional sinks and may require additional installation costs and plumbing. Plus, all accessories require additional cleaning, maintenance or replacement if something breaks over time.

Kerry Kirk

Basin or countertop washbasin

Vessel sinks sit on a countertop, making them higher than traditional sinks, which can make them more ergonomic. However, this setting can also make these sinks more prone to breakage, and they can be less stable than undermount sinks. And because they require precise installation (you have to line up and drill each hole perfectly so the drain works properly), installing them can be challenging. However, because vessel sinks come in many artistic finishes, including glass, hammered copper, ceramic, and stone, they can accommodate many design styles. Because the sink isn't part of the countertop, the area around the base is more prone to debris, making it difficult to clean.

Integrated sink

With an integrated sink, the sink and countertop are made from a single piece of material, making it a sleek and modern option for bathrooms and kitchens. Since these sinks have no seams, edges or borders, they are easier to maintain. Integrated sinks are also very customizable, so if you are one of those people who like to customize every detail of their sink in terms of shape, material and size, choosing an integrated sink design can be a creative process. You just need to decide on your choice in advance as these sinks are a more permanent solution. Integrated sinks are not the right choice for those who want to refresh or modernize their spaces regularly as these sinks offer very limited flexibility once installed. Moreover, if any part of your piece gets damaged, there is no way to replace the sink. You may end up having to replace the entire unit, which can be expensive and inconvenient.

Jay Wilde

Corner washbasin

As the name suggests, corner sinks make the most of the corners of smaller spaces. You can also customize the size, shape and material of a corner sink. However, if you install it along with cabinets, corner sinks require a custom countertop and cabinet layout. On the other hand, if you choose a wall-mounted corner sink, you can easily install this solution in small corner spaces, especially small powder rooms.

Ramp washbasin

Ramp sinks are usually easier to clean due to their shape and slope, which prevents water from collecting in the basin. Their minimalist and elegant design can also be an idyllic choice for modern bathrooms.

Sink without depth or basin

If you're looking for more minimalism, shallow or bowlless sinks offer precise craftsmanship with a gradual and shallow slope to direct the water flow, forgoing a basin altogether. Typically, these sinks feature a small linear cut for drainage and appear as completely straight countertops from certain angles. Bowlless sinks are a modern upgrade to any bathroom, a trend that's becoming increasingly popular. Because this is a more elaborate and luxurious upgrade, a specialized sink manufacturer is required to get the functionality and style just right.

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