Essential and hardworking, sinks and taps are often the forgotten stars of the kitchen but it is important to give them plenty of thought before you buy. They’re key pieces of kit – after all you’d be hard pushed to manage without them – and the latest improvements in both design and technology mean that they will perform efficiently as well as look good. The size and style of your kitchen design will probably influence your choices but whether you’ve a bijou city space or a lovely big open-plan farmhouse kitchen, there’s something for everyone.
Even if you’re lucky enough to own a dishwasher, your sink is bound to get a lot of use day-to-day. If you have a big family or entertain on a regular basis, then a deep rectangular sink big enough to hold roasting pans and casseroles is probably a must-have. A double-bowl sink or even two square undermounted models placed side-by-side make for a good-looking and efficient solution. Double bowl sinks are ideal if space is not a problem meaning you can allocate different activities to each. If you only need a smaller second bowl for hand-washing or veg prep then a one-and-a-half-bowl sink is a great alternative.
Small circular or square prep sinks are useful when inset into an island but are not the most effective choice for a small kitchen despite their size. A more effective option is a sink that has accessories such as a wooden chopping board or sliding glass cover that when fitted over the bowl can double up as extra worksurface or prep area making it much more versatile.
Available in a wide range of materials, it’s worthwhile investing in the best sink you can afford. Stainless steel is the most popular choice and is renowned for its hygienic properties, combining great versatility with a wide price range and an ever-increasing choice of designs. Invest in one with 18% chromium and 10% nickel mix to ensure it’s tough and rust-proof.
White ceramic styles such as Belfast or butler sinks are perfect for classic or country-style kitchens with pre-sink in island and have a porcelain-coated fireclay finish making them stain and heat resistant. Materials such as Corian and quartz composite are the relative new kids on the block. Growing in popularity they’re particularly good if you want to match your sink and worksurface for a seamless look. Glass surround sinks are an eye-catching, contemporary choice while if you’re after a real wow factor then wooden sinks are an interesting choice as teak has great antibacterial properties - but be aware of the maintenance required if you opt for timber around wet areas.
Tap design has evolved enormously in the past ten years. Who would have thought a decade ago that there would be such a wide variety on offer? The latest innovations include filter water taps, boiling water taps, sparkling water taps, pull-out sprays, light emitting diodes indicating water temperature and most recently taps with water saving and flow regulation measures built in.
Whether you want a traditional bridge mixer or a modern monobloc with hi-tech features you should make sure you check the water pressure it needs to work efficiently to ensure it’s compatible with your system. If you don’t have the right water pressure, you could end up with something that looks great but that delivers a disappointing dribble rather than a healthy flow. A low-pressure tap will generally require 0.3 bar, a high-pressure tap 1.0 bar and professional-style taps 1.5 bar.
Most taps are made from chrome, stainless steel or nickel-plated brass. Quartz composite handles and casings are also popular, particularly those who are looking to match their seamless sink and worktop with a matching tap. Polished chrome and stainless-steel are a popular choice for modern schemes but can show finger marks, while matt brushed or satin finishes are easier to keep looking clean and suit any style. Stainless-steel taps are usually more expensive than chrome versions but are generally harder wearing as they won’t chip.
Cheap taps really are a false economy, as they’ll soon show signs of wear and tear. Instead, it’s worthwhile investing in one that features the latest ceramic disc technology, a durable system that efficiently regulates the flow of water, which is superior to old rubber washers and much less likely to require fixing. Another fairly new feature is aerated flow; this mixes air with the water to regulate the amount you use without losing pressure. A great eco choice, it also gives the water a ‘softer’ feel.
Taps with spouts that swivel or with pull-out sprays will help you get maximum reach around your sink for cleaning and filling pans. The latest trend for taps offering greater functionality, for example spray hoses with a long reach, different spray settings and filtered and chilled water mean it’s not just about hot and cold water anymore. Before buying, it’s a good idea to check the size of your largest pan to ensure your tap spout sits high enough to fit the pan underneath to fill it. In contrast, if you’re considering a high-pressure, professional-style spray tap then pair it with a sink that is big enough to contain its power or you could end up with a face-full of water when you turn it on.
We have a wide selection of sinks and taps featured in our showroom displays, and our expert designers receive regular product briefings to keep them abreast of the latest developments. Don't hesitate to visit your closest Harvey Jones kitchen showroom for inspiration for your new room. Alternatively, call 0800 389 6938 to speak with a designer, or request a design consultation here.