Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks

What you need to know...

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The first thing you need to know is the country of origin!

Why is this necessary, you might ask. Well, the standards for quality vary tremendously from country to country. You can assume stainless sinks coming from Canada and Europe (and actually made in the USA) will be a high quality stainless. Keep in mind, we are talking about manufacturing locations. Many company's do their best to mask where their sinks are actually manufactured. For instance, did you know made in American can mean Mexico? Mexico is considered as much America as the US.

Long time US companies have been quietly having their sinks imported from China. If you have read the papers at all over the last 10 years, you know that products made in China are less than desirable in many instances. This is a good example: rust on stainless steel sink

To the left we see a brand new Kohler sink showing what appears to be a rusted bottom according to the customer who purchased it. The label on the box indicates the sink was made in China. You have to look very hard to see where this sink was made. We have heard countless stories of rusting stainless sinks coming from China and other countries.

What makes stainless steel "stainless"? It happens to be the addition of chromium to the steel. Chromium in the steel combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form a thin, invisible layer of chrome containing oxide, called the passive film. These atoms form a stable layer over the metal. If the metal is cut or scratched and the passive film is disrupted, more oxide will quickly form and recover the exposed surface, protecting it. How amazing is that? This passive film requires oxygen to repair itself, so stainless steel has a poor corrosion resistance in low oxygen environments.


The photo to the left, below, shows a very common situation - a cracked stainless sink. This happens when quality materials and workmanship are not used. These cracks can show up years after installation.

Investing in a stainless steel sink used to be simple - not any more. Cheaply made stainless steel sinks are flooding the market. The most common practice is for a granite supplier to offer a free stainless sink with their granite top. Those sinks are most commonly imported from China and cost the granite fabricator well under $100 each. You could not make a more horrible mistake. Think of the ramifications. If you have the sink under mounted and it fails, you will likely have no luck finding a replacement sink to fit. The situation now becomes painful. Your options are expensive and more expensive. You can go to a custom manufacturer, and have a custom sink made, or you can have someone re-cut the top and replace the under mount sink with a top mount sink. Either way, financial pain is involved. Do yourself a favor and purchase a well made sink (of any kind). Nothing is more disruptive in a home than having to replace a kitchen sink after it has been installed.

I want to be totally transparent with this website. This is Dino Rachiele, owner of Rachiele custom sinks. So... why do I have this website? I want to educate as many people as I can about the pitfalls of many of the stainless steel sink offerings on the market.  In fact, I am going to list what I think are the best stainless steel sink manufacturers on the market along with reasons why I think so. Guess what? My sink does not top the list! Heck yes, I am a straight shooter folks. I tell it like it is!

Please note that my experience with the other manufacturers listed is dated. That being said, my information should give you a starting point for making an educated investment


Partial List of Stainless Steel Manufacturers

Please note that I am NOT an expert on other brands of sinks. I gathered my information online - and you should know that online information can be unreliable. My purpose in offering the information I found is to give you a starting point to do your own research. If anyone finds any of my information on this page to be incorrect, please let me know and I will make the changes immediately.

Julien Sinks - made in Canada

I have been a long time admirer of the quality of the stainless sinks that Julien makes in Canada. They are a huge company with the best of the best in terms of high tech machinery and tooling. Stainless is what they do and they do it well.


Rachiele Custom Sinks - Made in USA

There is no other sink on the market that compares in quality and in design functionality. All Rachiele sinks are made of 316 Marine Grade Stainless (the others use type 304) Marine Grade insures the highest degree of corrosion resistance. All Rachiele Stainless Sinks have rear corner drains and the bulk of them are workstation sinks with either a step or a ledge inside to hold various accessories. custom stainless steel sinks

Blanco - Germany and China The Blanco sink is one of the better mass produced sinks on the market. In fact, I was one of the largest Blanco dealers in the US for many years. Their quality was always very reliable. I read online that their Stellar sink is made in China. You will have to do some research to verify that information. The bulk of their stainless sinks, however, I assume are made in Germany.

Franke - made in Switzerland and China

Franke is considered to be the largest stainless steel manufacturer in the world. They have, as far as I can understand, two tiers of products. They offer Franke products in Lowes. I read online that those are made in China. Oddly enough, they call that line Franke USA. Again, note the use of the USA in the name to deflect the fact that those sinks are made in China.

Many years ago, while at a National Kitchen and Bath convention, I wandered through the Franke display. I was shocked at the amount of unevenness at the transition from the apron of their sink to the bowl. Based on that viewing, our welding is far superior (and so was Blanco). Again, this was many years ago.

Elkay Manufacturing - USA and China

Wow, I just learned something that makes me slightly nauseous. Elkay claims that most of its sinks comply with the Buy American Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Check this out:

"A waiver of the Buy American provision of the Recovery Act may be awarded in three circumstances: 1) when the manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality (“Nonavailability”), 2) when the inclusion of those goods will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent (“Unreasonable Cost”), or 3) when applying the Buy American provision would be “inconsistent with public interest.”

Are you kidding me??? How easy is it to prove that products made here are more than 25% more expensive than made in China. By researching the Elkay site, you would be lead to believe all of their sinks are made in the USA. I believe that to be untrue. I just got off the phone with Elkay. They said the majority of their sinks are made in the USA, however, many are made in China.

I have had first hand dealings with Elkay and have found them to be a wonderful company. Their products, at least the USA made ones, are well built.

Do your homework please! The fact of the matter is that I am going to be a bit biased, but that should not matter to you. You should do your own research and spend some time on selecting your kitchen sink. You may not realize it now, but after a year or so and a failed sink, you will then wish you had done your homework. If you noticed, I did not include many manufacturers. I hope you will not conclude that the listed manufacturers are all of the ones you should check out. Best wishes on a successful adventure!