The basics: Stainless steel kitchen sinks contain chromium and nickel, materials that make them truly stainless and resistant to rust. The sinks come in varying thicknesses: 16 gauge (thicker and higher in quality) to 22 gauge (thinner and less expensive).
Cost: $100 to $600 average. However, prices can go up dramatically — up to $2,000 or more — for premium steel, a thicker gauge and more complicated sink layouts.
Advantages: Stainless steel sinks come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and can be made very large and deep.
Depending on the gauge, stainless steel’s durability can stand the test of time. In fact, hot pots and pans can be loaded directly into a stainless steel kitchen sink without damaging its surface. Fragile dishes are also less likely to break when dropped into a stainless steel sink, since it’s not as hard as stone.
Aesthetically, these sinks allow for cohesiveness in finishes, since so many modern appliances are stainless steel.
Disadvantages: Not all stainless steel sinks are created equal. The thicker the steel, the more durable the sink. Thin stainless steel sinks are more likely to dent, scratch and even rust when the finish wears off.
Stainless steel sinks can also be a tad noisy — some may require sound-deadening pads. These insulating pads are installed on the bottom and sides of the sink to absorb sound, protect against condensation and maintain the temperature of the sink water.
Maintenance: As its name indicates, stainless steel does not stain and can be easily maintained without special cleansers. But if you want to get your sink especially shiny, a soft- to medium-bristled brush and a mildly abrasive cleanser like Bar Keeper’s Friend will do the trick.