A few years ago a number of new stainless steel sink lines began appearing on the market claiming to be of the same quality as the major brands but for half the price. It was an amazing claim and I wondered if it could really be true. I recently ordered one of these low priced sinks so we could have a first hand look at it.
The sink I ordered was described as being 18 gauge, premium type 304 stainless with scratch resistant finish and sound baffling. It was an under mount 1-3/4 style bowl configuration, 9” deep.
The sink arrived and when I opened the box the first thing I noticed was a strong chemical smell. The smell remained for several days so I contacted the local rep and arranged to have a second sink sent. When that arrived a few days later I opened it and found the exact same smell wafting from the contents. I contacted the company again and a third sink was sent, this time a 16g model. It had the same smell. I decided perhaps the smell would go away in time so I placed the sink into our kitchen display to air out.
My idea in getting this sink was to evaluate it based on sound quality, finish, interior bowl dimensions, gauge (or thickness) of construction and steel type to see how it stacked up against the other stainless sinks. Here is what we found:
- To test sound quality we simply knocked on the side of the sink with our knuckles. This test elicited a hollow tinny sound from the new sink instead of the solid thump that our other sinks had.
- The finish was brushed but it was a light abrasion of the surface and not the deep working of the steel that produces a really corrosion resistant finish.
- The interior revealed 3” radius corners. This means the corners are open curves (rather than tight corners) resulting in a smaller interior bowl space.
- To test the gauge we tried pushing on the walls of the sink and found that we could flex the sides, especially at the divider. We could not do this with major brand name sinks.
- I wasn’t sure how we could test to see if the sink was type 304 until someone suggested we try using a magnet. We did and it stuck solidly to the side of the sink. Type 304 steel is not magnetic.
What’s going on here? Is this sink being advertised to be something that it is not? Or is it a careful use of marketing? In fact I believe the description used for this sink is mostly true but missing some important facts which I will detail in part two of this post.