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In Sync with Synthetic Sinks
May 25, 2017

Who doesn't love the aura brought to a kitchen by a countertop of genuine granite?

However, for all their beauty and attractiveness, stone counters and sinks, have a few downsides. Many are porous enough to stain, and to harbor bacteria. Regular and preventative maintenance is required, and often they carry an imposing price tag.

Many people gladly accept any unfavorable traits in return for the impressive, natural effect. Decades ago, these negatives triggered the idea of creating a more-perfect, man-made, stone material. And voilà! In the mid-20th century, scientists emerged from their labs with a new product ' a blend of acrylics, resins and crushed minerals. Today they are known by individual brand names, depending on the manufacturer and their proprietary formula. And, though originally developed for countertops, these blends were quickly found ideal for sink manufacturing as well.

There are two types of these formulations, yet some people use the terms interchangeably. What are known today as Composite sinks, are predominantly some type of stone, crushed or as dust, mixed with a lesser amount of acrylics and resins. Conversely, what are known as Solid Surface sinks are all, or mostly, acrylic and resins, mixed with a lesser amount of other minerals or fibers.

Although granite counters are extremely popular, only few sinks of natural granite are available. Therefore, a composite sink is often simply referred to as a granite sink since it uses one or more of the crystals found in granite. Whether it's quartz, feldspar, mica, or others, the choice of crystals, their proportion to the acrylics, and other added substances, makes each manufacturer's product unique. For quality, look for composite sinks formulated with at least an 80% stone to 20% acrylic ratio.

Granite composite is the most robust material you'll find; every bit as durable as raw granite. It won't chip, scratch, or dent, and has a high resistance to heat. Though countertops often mimic natural stone patterns, composite sinks are typically found with only subtle graininess in soft, consistent tones.

The Solid Surface category is sometimes loosely referred to as Acrylic, simply because that is its primary component. The type and amount of added materials determines its durability and appearance; which is usually very smooth. Like composites, solid surface counters are available in numerous natural stone patterns, but sinks are typically in light, solid colors. Quality varies by manufacturer. Overall there should be no chipping, cracking, or staining; they're easy to clean; and usually less expensive than composites.

A key concern, however, is their resistance to heat. Most have a reasonable tolerance for a hot pan or boiling water, but others can potentially be scorched or even melt if a hot pot is set in it. Read the fine print about the product's heat tolerance before you buy. And be careful about tossing sharp objects into these sinks, as they can scratch. But, because of their softness and consistent composition, any marks can be sanded and buffed out. Lastly, solid surface sinks tend to be lightweight, which makes installation easier, but that same lightness can translate into vibration when a garbage disposal is in use.