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Kitchen sinks & taps buying guide

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You'll be surprised at the wide range of styles and finishes you can choose from.
 

The taps you choose to go with your sink are an important part of the style; will it be a homely brass, or contemporary chrome? Ornate Victorian or modern simplicity?

Which type of sink best suits my style and needs?

First, let's consider the material you'd prefer, as sinks are available in ceramic, stainless steel, and granite.

Ceramic

Ceramic sinks have been around for a long time and are still extremely popular, and for a number of good reasons too. Surprisingly robust, a ceramic sink can take everyday use without suffering a scratch, although you should be careful with those heavier pots and cutlery, which can chip just about any sink if carelessly handled.

It's also resistant to extreme temperatures, such as hot pots and pans and frozen foods, as well as common household chemicals. It won't take on the flavours or smells of foods it comes into contact with either, while even stubborn stains can usually be relatively easily removed. In fact, ceramic is easily cleaned and very hygienic.

No other sink comes in the wide variety of colours, or the amazing array of shapes and styles. Which means there's a ceramic sink out there that's just perfect for your kitchen or bathroom.

Stainless Steel

Although remarkably durable and practical, stainless steel sinks are not only cheaper to buy, but they're also usually much cheaper to install too. Whereas heavier sinks require extra under-mount support, a lighter stainless sink only requires an easily installed top-mount support.

They're resistant to most cleaning products, heat, peeling, cracking and chipping, if a little prone to scratching and water spotting. However, a sink with a satin finish can provide additional protection from scratches and rusting.

Thanks to their clean, neutral look, and the variety of finishes, styles and designs available, stainless steel sinks can complement or match your appliances, fixtures and fittings.

Granite

Incredibly beautiful yet extremely functional, granite gives you superior heat, scratch, chip and stain resistance while seamlessly blending into your granite worktops.

It's a far more natural look than you'll achieve with any other kind of sink, giving you a blend of tradition and modernity. There are also far more colours to choose from than you might expect.

What should I be looking for in a kitchen sink?

Rather than the standard single bowl with drainer, you might like to consider a more versatile and practical double bowl, or even a double with a central half bowl. One of the hardest-working items you'll use, your kitchen sink can actually help make your kitchen tasks easier, whether it's washing-up or rinsing salads.

Many people prefer to have a drainer as an integral part of their sink, which is where stainless steel sinks come into their own. But ceramic and granite bowls can be blended into a worktop with the right type of mounting.

What should I bear in mind when choosing a tap?

With so many beautiful taps to choose from, it's tempting to simply opt for whatever first catches your eye. However, there's a practical consideration you need to address; the water pressure in your home.

Thankfully, the vast majority of taps work perfectly well with standard water pressure. However, some (such as mixer taps) require a higher water pressure. If you're not sure what level of water pressure your home has, call your local water company or ask a plumber for advice.

For this reason, too, you shouldn't regard taps as ornamental fittings to choose late in the planning of a new bathroom or kitchen; they should be amongst the very first things you're choosing. It's much easier to adjust plumbing before rather than after everything's been fitted.

One other consideration you might like to make is the size. Smaller taps work best with small basins, and larger taps are more suited to bigger fixtures.

Other than that, your choice comes down to individual taste. There are many styles and finishes, so you're sure to find a tap that perfectly complements your kitchen or bathroom. There are even taps that serve up deliciously filtered water, bringing the nearest thing to a sparkling spring into your home.

What are the different types of taps?

The taps you choose to go with your sink are an important part of the style; will it be a homely brass, or contemporary chrome? Ornate Victorian or modern simplicity?

Brass

Transforming even a plain sink into something special, brass taps are warm and inviting, conjuring up a sense of the country style.

Brushed, Matt and Satin

Bringing a fresh, sleek look to modern rooms, these are easier to clean than shiny chrome.

Pillar Basin/Pillar Bath

Cheap and simple to fit, these come in pairs: one for hot water and one for cold. As well as traditional cross head or lever handles, you also have a choice of shrouded heads with plastic coverings, making them ideal for elderly users.

Mixer

Making it easy to regulate temperature and prevent burns, hot and cold water is mixed in the single spout and controlled by two taps either side. These need relatively high water pressure to work well.

Dual Flow

So you'd like a mixer tap but your home suffers unequal hot and cold water pressure? The dual flow provides a single stream of water, while keeping the hot and cold water flows separate within the body of the tap.

Monobloc

For the minimalist in you, the monobloc is a pared-down yet extremely effective design, with a single lever controlling the hot and cold flow through one tap. Elegantly neat and offering ease of control, the monobloc only works if your hot and cold water pressure is almost equal.

Water Filter Taps

Who wouldn't like deliciously clear water with reduced chlorine, lead and sediment? Filter taps give you just that, yet come in a surprisingly wide range of styles and finishes.

Pop-up Waste

You can forget the plug and chain with this highly convenient, yet surprisingly neat, method of opening and closing the drain. The control is on the tap itself, with the ingenious mechanism hidden behind the bath or basin.

Pull-out Spray Mixer

Giving you unbeatable control for rinsing and washing food, this features a pull-out, extendable hose with dual spray heads.

An extra piece of advice on fitting taps

Most people are so used to seeing taps directly mounted onto a sink or bath that they forget to consider an option that creates an enviably modern feel: fixing the taps behind the fixtures. This gives you an amazingly clean, uncluttered look. But remember that fitting taps is a job for an experienced plumber.

Keeping taps clean

To make your taps sparkle, clean them using a soft cloth and warm soapy water, then give them a rinse before wiping them dry with a clean cloth. You shouldn't use abrasive compounds, pads, cloths or creams, as they can damage the tap's surfaces.

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