The kitchen sink may be the hardest working place in your home. Kitchen sinks are used for cleaning and rinsing dishes, washing and prepping food and produce, hand washing, drinking water, and are often also used for bathing pets or babies, washing or rinsing hair, disposing of scraps, rinsing clothes … if you can think of wetting or washing it, your kitchen sink has probably done it.
Because it plays such a central role in the heart of a kitchen, the look and functionality of your sink is incredibly important. People’s needs and expectations vary widely, and if a sink isn’t working well, your kitchen isn’t working well.
Sinks are one of the most frequently replaced or upgraded item in the home, and it’s an important decision. If you are considering a sink upgrade, the most important thing to decide first is whether you want a single or double bowl sink. Let’s take a closer look at these sink styles and compare them.
Single Bowl Sinks
Single bowl sinks have a single, large basin. Single bowl sinks give you a lot of space to handle large kitchen tasks, with plenty of clearance on all sides. Because single bowl sinks have been used in homes for centuries, they come in a huge range of sizes, so you can choose a single bowl to fit any size kitchen or any amount of counter space.
They are also compatible with a much wider range of faucet styles and options, making it easier to upgrade your faucet or find a sink that is compatible with your existing faucet. Because single bowl sinks only have one drain, they are also easier and more affordable to install. Single bowl sinks are the classic choice that fits into any kitchen, in any style.
Single Bowl Pros
- More affordable to purchase
- Greater range of size choices
- Large enough to handle big items like pots
- Easier to install
- Larger range of faucet options
Single Bowl Cons
- Less versatility in function
Double Bowl Sinks
Double bowl sinks are incredibly versatile. You can use one side for washing and one side for rinsing or drying. Two people can work side by side at different cleaning or food preparation tasks. You can use one side for longer tasks, like defrosting meat or soaking dirty dishes, and still use the other side for more immediate tasks. As you can imagine, a double bowl sink doubles the number of things you can do with your sink. The divider usually gets in the way of larger tasks, and dividers are more likely to show wear and tear earlier than other parts of the sink.
Double Bowl Pros
- Wider range of functions
- Allows multi-tasking that makes a kitchen more efficient
Double Bowl Cons
- More expensive to purchase and install
- Sink compartments are usually too small for washing oversized pots
- Fewer sink and faucet options available
Single vs. Double Bowl Sink: More Considerations
While we’ve shared the most common pros and cons of each sink style, there are a number of other factors worth considering when choosing a sink. These factors depend on your needs, your lifestyle, and your kitchen habits, so they may be advantages or drawbacks for different people. Here are some other factors to consider.
If you have a dishwasher and use it regularly, you probably won’t use your sink as often for hand-washing dishes. It’s not as important to set aside space for dirty and drying dishes, because the dishwasher is already that space. In that case, you may prefer a single-bowl sink, with enough room to hand-wash large pots and pans that are too big for a dishwasher.
Generally speaking, people with limited counter space prefer double basin sinks. A double bowl sink allows you to use part of the sink for drying dishes, defrosting meats, draining produce, and other tasks, while you still use the other part of the sink. You don’t have to find and use counter space for a dish rack and other needed items — you can simply keep them in the sink.
Many double bowl sinks also have convenient racks and covers that allow part of the sink to be used for those kinds of items. In most cases, the overall footprint of a double bowl sink isn’t larger than a single bowl, so both types of sink take up the same amount of room.
However, if a double bowl sink is a very large one, then it may end up costing as much counter space as it saves.
Use and Maintenance Costs
For people who have a double bowl sink, and use one side more often for simple rinsing and drying dishes, they may save time and money on detergents. If most of the tougher, dirtier kitchen tasks are kept on one side of the sink, then they are effectively using (and washing) a smaller sink, which requires smaller quantities of cleaning agents and is faster to take care of.
For that reason, some people feel that double bowl sinks save money and water over time. However, those costs depend a great deal on how the sink is used, so it may not be everyone’s experience.
If you need a lot of room in the sink for oversized pots and pans, art projects, or bathing a baby or a pet, then a single bowl sink is probably a better choice. A single bowl sink gives you more room to work with large objects and your motion isn’t impeded by the center divider.
If you share your kitchen with other people, or prepare complex multi-step meals, a double bowl sink is probably the best choice for you. It allows easy sharing and multitasking, without taking up additional space or requiring things to be shuffled around.
Keep in mind that the faucet plays an incredibly important role in how much space, functionality, and versatility a sink has. As a rule, single bowl sinks have a lot more options for the size and placement of the faucet, and more faucet options in general. If you have your eye on a particular style of faucet, make sure it will work with your style of sink.
While you can choose faucets with escutcheons that cover unwanted faucet holes (for example, your sink has three holes, but you only need two for your faucet), it is not a good idea to drill additional holes in a sink that were not intended by the manufacturer.
Compromise Sinks: 60/40 Double Basin
For kitchens where counter space isn’t an issue, perhaps the best possible option is a double basin sink with large main basin that has all the space of a single basin sink, but with a smaller sink on the side for more versatility and more options. Sinks like this one from Zuhne allow you to have the best of both worlds
Some Key Features in a 60/40 Sink Are:
The low divider on the Ruvati RVH7419 or this Kraus KCA-1200 give you more room to work with oversized items like sheet pans.
Many 60/40 sinks come with racks, covers, and other accessories. The more distinctive your sink is, the more likely it is that you will need specifically designed accessories from that manufacturer and won’t be able to find third-party accessories that fit well. If you want sink accessories, try to buy them as a set.
The offset shape of a 60/40 sink means that the flow of water from a single faucet will usually “reach” better in the smaller basin than in the larger one. If this may pose a problem for your cleaning tasks, you may want to consider a faucet with a spray hose or other, more flexible option to extend the reach.
Whether you choose a single or double bowl sink, you have an incredible number of options that let you choose the perfect sink for your kitchen and your needs. If you have the counter space, a 60/40 sink with a low divider is a great option that gives you the best of both worlds.
However, you divide it, your kitchen sink is one of the most used areas in the home, so it’s important to choose the size, style, and features that make the most sense for your needs and your lifestyle.