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