Whether you are a master chef, a one-pot-wonder kind of cook, or even if you rarely cook at all, you still use (or at least look at) your kitchen sink every day! There used to only be a few options to choose from but now consumers are overwhelmed with colors, finishes, sizes and materials. Here are the 5 most common types of kitchen sink materials.

Stainless steel

You’ve definitely seen a stainless steel sink before as this is the most popular option when it comes to sink materials. It’s resistant to heat and stains and is very durable. It tends to be louder than other materials so many sinks have a spray coating or padding for noise reduction. Although stainless steel is strong, there is a chance that the sink could scratch and it easily shows water spots and fingerprints. To limit the appearance of water spots, choose a brushed or satin finish.

Copper

The biggest advantage of copper (besides its unique design) is its antibacterial nature. Copper kills most bacteria on its surface which helps keep your kitchen sink sanitary. Copper is rust-resistant and has a high strength rating as long as it doesn’t come in contact with hot pots and pans, acidic foods and drinks, or harsh cleaners. Check the quality of your copper sink before you make a purchase to ensure that its composed of at least 99% pure copper (a small amount of zinc may be added for strength).

Granite composite

For a modern kitchen, granite (or quartz) composite brings a cutting-edge element to your cooking space. Each composite mixture varies but usually it consists of 80% stone and 20% filler. You get a similar aesthetic look as natural granite without having to worry about sealer! According to Better Homes & Gardens, it’s nonporous, hygenic, and resistant to heat, stains, scratches and chips. Unlike stainless steel, it’s very sound absorbing.

Cast iron

One of the oldest materials used for sinks is cast iron and it is often seen in vintage or country style homes. It can last for decades and is resistant to stains, scratches, light and fading and although standard white is very common, it comes in a variety of colors. Its glossy enamel finish (no, it’s not paint!) won’t show water spots like stainless steel and it’s easy to keep clean as long as you use a cleaner that’s not too abrasive. Cast iron (yes, the same material as a skillet!) is extremely heavy (almost 3 times more than stainless steel), so it’s crucial to ensure that the weight is supported, especially for an undermount installation. If the enameling does chip, the iron exposed underneath can rust as a result.

Fireclay

This material normally pops up in traditional or rustic homes with a farmhouse sink. Fireclay is formed by molding ceramic clay into the shape of a sink and letting it dry in a high temperature for 40 hours. Once dry, the porcelain enamel is applied and is put into a kiln for a period of 20 hours (again at high temperatures). Fireclay has a similar look to cast iron but is more durable and usually more expensive. It’s possible for the enamel to chip from the impact of a dropped dish and it can be prone to cracking (but proper installation and care should prevent this).

You might think that the sink will be an easy design choice to make but there are so many options for the consumer to choose from. Not only is the material important, but you also have to think about if you prefer a single bowl, double bowl, top mount, undermount, or apron sink! The time spent on your decision will be well worth it in the end when you have a functional yet stylish kitchen sink in your home.