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Myths and facts about selecting kitchen sinks and faucets

Consumer Reports News: May 31, 2013 03:08 PM

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With more styles to choose from, sinks and faucets are no longer an afterthought in planning a kitchen remodel. To find durable sinks and functional faucets, the testers at Consumer Reports rolled up their sleeves and stained and scoured 18 double-bowl sinks and 16 single-handle pullout faucets. We also dropped blunt and sharp objects into the sinks, which were made of six different materials, and put hot pots in them. The results may surprise you.

Myth: Sink brand matters most
Reality: The manufacturer wasn't as important as the material. We tested big brands, including American Standard, Elkay, Franke, Kohler, and Moen. Stainless-steel sinks aced most tests and were best of all. Solid-surface sinks came close, but a hot pot or a sharp knife that slips out of your hand can do damage.

Myth: Spend more to get more
Reality: We didn't find much difference between a $115 stainless-steel sink and one for $420, or between an $80 faucet and one for $600. Expensive, thicker-gauge stainless didn't necessarily perform better than thinner models. All fended off stains, heat, and dings, though they did dent. Sound-absorbing pads on the bottom of the sink's exterior hushed the noise of running water better than spray-on coatings, and matte or grain finishes hid scratches and stains better than glossy or polished surfaces. Better valves, tougher finishes, and lifetime warranties against leaks and stains are available on all but the cheapest faucets.

Myth: Color adds the right punch
Reality: Colorful sinks made of solid surfacing, enameled steel, enameled cast iron, or fireclay were dented, dinged, or chipped in our tests. Acrylic sinks melted slightly when we placed a hot pot in them, leaving a mark. Fireclay was the worst, cracking after our toughest drop test.

For more on Consumer Reports' sink tests, read our sink buying guide, which includes the results of our tests of six materials for kitchen sinks and seven for bathroom sinks. For the latest trends and best products for a kitchen remodel, read our special report, "Get the kitchen you've always wanted," which includes three "Magnificent kitchen makeovers."

Kimberly Janeway

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