Friday, July 29, 2011

The Kitchen Sink Area

Once upon a time a contractor decided that a 4 inch back splash behind the sink was sufficient. This was copied so many times that it became the norm for back splashes. Laminate counter top makers such as Formica designed their counter tops with a four inch back splash. Today most builders automatically install a four inch back splash even when working with granite or engineered stone. This bad design has been replicated so many times that it has become the norm and continues to frustrate women because of one simple fact. Men build houses and women clean them.

Don't build this:

The problems with this design are as follows:
  1. The material for the sink area is Formica laminate which is not waterproof.
  2. The arc of the faucet is higher than the backsplash.
  3.  The backsplash is not high enough to prevent water from splashing and damaging the walls
  4. Water collects on the back splash ledge, browning the sealant and requires constant bleaching.
  5. Water collects between the sink back and the backsplash and is difficult to clean.
  6. Gunk collects around the drop in sink ledge and the counter top.
  7. Water erodes the laminate
A better option would be a farmhouse sink with an integral backsplash and dual drainboard with a wall mounted bridge faucet with soap dish . The taller the back splash the better. Here is a reproduction farmhouse sink.

Clarion by Storm Plumbing found at Vintage Tub & Bath

American Standard Amarilis Wall Mount Kitchen Bridge Faucet at Vintage Tub & Bath

The kitchen sink with its integral back splash and two drainboards works for several reasons.
  1. The back splash is high enough to prevent water damage to the wall.
  2. The back splash is too high to have water collect on a ledge.
  3. A wall mounted faucet eliminates the area between deck and backsplash were gunk can collect.
  4. The rolled edge around the sink and drainboards prevents water from spilling on the floors.
  5. The one piece design means no seams or ledges where dirt can collect.
These integral sinks are readily available at your local architectural salvage stores, your local Habitat for Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, on Ebay, Craig's list and of course Vintage Tub & Bath.

The second best option is to do an all integral sink of Corian with a  12" to 18" backsplash that meets the bottom of the upper cabinets, this eliminates the ledge, no ledge no place for water and dirt to collect.

The third best option is to do an under-mounted sink with granite or solid surfacing with a 12" to 18" backsplash that meets the bottom of the upper cabinets. I don't recommend creating grooves in the granite or solid surface to create a drainboard as is currently done because the grooves are too deep and these grooves become a cleaning nightmare as water and gunk collects here. If you want to create a drainboard in solid surface or granite a better way to do it is to make the grooves two inches wide and not more than 1/4 inch deep.

When it comes to kitchen sink back splashes you want the following things:

Seamless design as much as possible
A tall backsplash that extends at least an inch and a half higher then the arc of the faucet,
Preferably a backsplash that extends to meet the base of upper kitchen cabinets. (Why give yourself two surfaces to maintain for example backsplash material and paint.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Last night i used up and entire tub of caulk around my kitchen sink :) Why? Because of the poor design around my kitchen sink. I HATE water collecting in between the sink and backsplash. I wanted to address the issue before it erodes the countertop completly. I would to install a new sink as the ones from the pictures you have posted: they are lovely and I too can not underestand why they got rid of them. What do you for a living? Are you in Real Estate?