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How to buy stainless steel sinks using science

Melissa Paniagua, a Ferguson Website Content Coordinator

by Melissa Paniagua


Remember when you thought your high school science teacher was wrong and that you would never have to apply those chemistry lessons later in life? Well, when it comes to picking a new stainless steel kitchen sink, it turns out your teacher was right. Understanding the basic chemistry of stainless steel will give you a better idea of what to look for when you go sink shopping. Make your old chemistry teacher proud and use the science of stainless steel to find a quality kitchen sink for your home.

Stainless Steel Science Basics

  • Stainless steel is a metal alloy that is comprised of steel and at least 10.5% chromium.
  • Adding chromium to steel gives the material its stainless properties.
  • The atomic structure of the stainless steel changes when other elements are added to it.
  • There are five families of stainless steel that are grouped based on atomic structure.
  • Stainless steel with a high nickel content is an extremely durable type of stainless steel.

Apply the science – What to look for when stainless steel sink shopping and why

Luster. If the sink is particularly shiny, there’s a good chance the sink was made with nickel. Adding nickel to stainless steel changes the atomic structure of the substance, making it stronger and more brilliant than other kinds of stainless steel with less nickel. Sinks with a higher nickel content are excellent for withstanding daily abuse.

Magnetism. Are you able to stick a magnet to the inside of the sink? If you answer yes, this means the sink is made with a lower-quality stainless steel. This goes back to the nickel content. As more nickel is added, the stainless steel becomes stronger but loses its magnetic properties.

Thickness. Stainless steel quality is dependent on its thickness, or gauge. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the stainless steel. Look for gauge 18 stainless steel sinks .It might seem like a trivial number, but when you’re banging pots and pans in it every day for years it makes a huge difference.

Series. Stainless steel categories are assigned series numbers that indicate the elemental makeup of the material. Stainless steel sinks in the 300 series are the most sought after as they have higher levels of chromium and nickel, the elements that add durability to stainless steel. 304 series stainless steel sinks are especially strong and corrosion-resistant.

Now that you’re a stainless steel expert, take the test! Put your science skills to use and find the best stainless steel sink for your kitchen.

Melissa Paniagua, a Ferguson Website Content Coordinator

Melissa Paniagua

Melissa's mission is to empower Ferguson customers in finding the resources they need to expand their knowledge through her writing. She has intensive experience in the creation of relevant industry content and aims to offer you meaningful insight and inspiration to help you better complete your next project.