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Undermount SinksContinued

Blanco, Custom Sinks by Rachiele, Elkay, Franke, Just, Kindred, Kohler, Federal Product, Revere, Sterling, and Vance Industries all manufacture undermount, stainless steel kitchen sinks. Kohler also makes undermount bathroom lavatories in stainless steel (Figure 3).
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Many undermount kitchen sinks, like this stainless steel sink from Franke, come in double-bowl models (top). To create a double-bowl kitchen sink, it is also possible to install two single-bowl sinks side by side. The solid-surface countertop around these two Elkay stainless steel sinks (above left) has been dressed up with a contrasting stripe. Although most bathroom lavatories are either vitreous china or cast polymer, it is possible to get a stainless steel lav, like this model by Kohler (above right).Enameled cast-iron. Enameled cast-iron sinks are less likely to scratch than solid-surface or composite sinks, and they have a satisfying solidity and appearance. Enameled cast-iron sinks, unlike stainless steel sinks, cannot be dented, although their enamel can be chipped. Eljer, Kohler, and Vance Industries all make undermount enameled cast-iron sinks (Figure 4).

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Figure 4. Enameled cast-iron sinks, like this double-bowl kitchen sink from Eljer, are often chosen for their resistance to denting and scratching.

Enameled steel Enameled steel sinks are usually considered to be a less expensive, less durable alternative to enameled cast iron. In order to add rigidity and durability to the basic enameled steel sink, American Standard has come out with the Americast line. These enameled steel sinks, which are available as undermounts, have a "structural composite" backing made of polyester resins and fillers. Americast sinks have been available since 1991. Vitreous china. Vitreous china, also called porcelain china, is the same material used to make toilets. Vitreous china is an extremely durable product, able to last thousands of years. However, china can be broken if it receives a sharp blow. Kohler is the only manufacturer making undermount kitchen sinks out of vitreous china. Eljer and Germer both make undermount china lavatories (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. Many bathroom lavatories, like this oval model from Eljer, are made of vitreous china (left). Although china is rarely used for kitchen sinks, Kohler does make a few undermount kitchen sinks out of fireclay, a type of vitreous china (right).Copper, brass, and solid stone. For customers looking for the unusual, it is possible to get an undermount sink in copper, brass, or solid stone (see ).

Planning for an Undermount

If you're planning a job with an undermount sink, it is crucial to get the sink delivered early. If you don't have the sink on hand, the countertop fabricator probably won't even want to come to the site to make a template. "One of the reasons I like to get the sink well in advance is to make sure it will work with the cabinet," says David Delp, a lead carpenter with Prime Construction in Burlington, Vt. Tony Pelcher, a solid-surface fabricator in Colchester, Vt., agrees. "A lot of times they're trying to stuff a large sink in a fairly small hole," says Pelcher. "If the sink is too big for the base cabinet, sometimes we have to cut away part of the cabinet. The less we have to cut away, the better we feel." When specifying a sink, the kitchen designer needs to keep the requirements of the countertop in mind. For most countertops, the standard sink setback is 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 inches, while stone fabricators like to see a minimum of 3 or 3 1/2 inches on all sides of the sink cutout. When the amount of stone remaining around a sink cutout is thin, the chance increases that a very expensive slab of rock could break during installation. "I've done a cutout that leaves only 2 inches, but it's risky," says stone fabricator Anita Socinski of A&M Stoneworks in Colchester, Vt. Once you have the sink on hand and the base cabinets have been installed, the countertop fabricator can be scheduled to make the countertop template. During the visit, the fabricator usually wants to pick up the sink. In the case of a cast-iron sink, some countertop fabricators will pick up the sink manufacturer's template, leaving the sink behind, so the carpenters can build a cradle to support it.