Are you shopping for a kitchen sink but can’t decide between a granite composite and stainless steel?
What are the main differences? Is one material better than the other?
In this comparison of granite composite vs. stainless steel sinks, you’ll learn how they differ in construction, design, durability, price, and much more.
You’ll also learn what kitchen design professionals have to say about both options.
By the end, you’ll be able to confidently decide which type of sink is right for your kitchen.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Granite Composite vs. Stainless Steel Sink: Key Takeaways
- Difference 1: Construction
- Difference 2: Stain Resistance
- Difference 3: Color Options
- Difference 4: Weight
- Difference 5: Durability
- Difference 6: Configuration
- Difference 7: Noisiness
- Difference 8: Heat Retention
- Difference 9: Cleaning
- Difference 10: Price
- Difference 11: Availability
- What Experts Say About Granite and Stainless Steel Sinks
- Bottom Line: Are Granite Composite Sinks Better Than Stainless Steel?
Granite Composite vs. Stainless Steel Sink: Key Takeaways
Here’s a quick breakdown of the key differences between granite composite and stainless steel kitchen sinks.
Construction: Granite composite is made from resin and stone, usually 80% quartz sand and 20% resins and acrylics. Stainless steel sinks are typically made from 16- to 22-gauge 18/8 steel (the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel).
Stain Resistance: Granite composite is non-porous and resists staining better than solid granite, but it still darkens near the faucet or borders over time. Stainless steel is less likely to stain, though hard water stains and rust can occur.
Color Options: Stainless steel is typically silver or steel gray, while granite composite offers a wider variety of colors, including beige, black, brown, white, gray, and more.
Weight: Granite composite sinks are heavier, requiring a sturdy cabinet base. Because of their heft, installing a granite composite sink is more difficult than stainless steel.
Durability: Granite composite can crack or chip under heavy impact. Stainless steel is more prone to scratches but won’t crack or chip.
Configuration: Stainless steel sinks provide more basin configuration options. In contrast, granite composite sinks often have standard designs, like a single large basin or a typical side-by-side setup.
Noisiness: Stainless steel sinks can be noisy when handwashing, while granite composite sinks are quieter.
Heat Retention: Granite composite retains heat slightly better than stainless steel. When you fill the sink with warm soapy water, the water will stay warm for longer.
Cleaning: Granite composite sinks should be cleaned with plane dish soap or pH-neutral cleaners. Highly acidic cleaners can damage granite composite sinks. Stainless steel sinks can be cleaned with any soap, vinegar, baking soda, and specific stainless steel cleaners.
Price: Granite composite sinks generally cost more than stainless steel sinks.
Availability: Stainless steel sinks are popular and widely available at major retailers. Granite composite sinks are also widely available, but the selection of designs and models is more limited.
Which Type of Sink Is Better?
Granite composite sinks are available in various colors, cause less noise while handwashing, and retain heat better. But they’re less durable, require careful maintenance, and can be costly. Stainless steel sinks are less expensive, durable, and available in more configurations, but they’re noisier and more prone to scratches. The best type of sink for you depends on your decor, budget, and personal style.
Granite composite is a mixed material made from resin and stone. The exact stone-to-resin ratio depends on the manufacturer.
Granite composite sinks are made by heating, molding, and cooling resins and granite and/or quartz sand. The resulting material is molded into the desired shape and polished.
Most high-quality granite composite contains about 80% quartz sand and 20% resins, acrylics, and other materials.
Granite composite is quite hard – harder than stainless steel. For this reason, you’ll want to exercise caution when placing or washing glass (especially delicate pieces such as wine glasses) in granite composite sinks.
Stainless steel sinks are usually made from 18/8 steel. This ratio refers to the amount of chromium and nickel in the alloy. The higher the numbers, the better the quality of the steel.
Another quality indicator for stainless steel sinks is the steel’s gauge, which refers to its thickness.
Most stainless steel sinks range from 16 to 22 gauge; the higher the gauge, the thinner the steel. For example, 22-gauge stainless steel sinks are .0312 inches thick, while 16-gauge sinks are .0625 inches thick.
In general, sinks with a lower gauge (thicker) are more durable, absorb sound better, and are more expensive. Sinks with 18-gauge steel are ideal for most homes. You’ll find 16-gauge sinks in luxury and commercial kitchens.
Difference 2: Stain Resistance
Granite composite is non-porous and therefore doesn’t stain as easily as solid granite. However, that doesn’t mean sinks from this material are entirely immune to stains.
You might also see the sink darken near the faucet or borders if you don’t correctly install, seal, and maintain the surface over long periods.
Stainless steel is even less likely to stain than granite composite. It’s still possible, though, and you might see hard water stains or rust discoloration if you don’t rinse your sink out after each use.
Difference 3: Color Options
Stainless steel will always be steel gray or silver. A polished finish will look shinier than a brushed finish, but the underlying color will remain the same.
Granite composite sinks offer far more color variety. Since they’re made of ground stone, resins, and pigment, you have several options, including beige, black, white, gray, bisque, café, dark brown, slate gray, seashell, brown, sand, or greige.
Despite this, most granite sinks are black, gray, white, or beige.
Granite composite sinks don’t have the veining of natural stone (like a granite countertop). Most have a uniform look with either one solid color or a subtle speckling from the stone dust, giving it a matte and slightly gritty texture.
Difference 4: Weight
Granite composite sinks are heavier than stainless steel sinks. Because of that, they require a sturdy base cabinet and countertop, and installation can take longer and be more difficult.
This comparison chart gives you an overview of the weight differences between the two materials:
|Kraus 31-Inch Granite Sink
|Delta 33-Inch Granite Sink
|Ruvati 32-Inch Granite Sink
|Kraus 32-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Elkay 33-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Kohler 36-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
Difference 5: Durability
Granite composite sinks are durable but can crack or chip when heavy items (such as pots or pans) are dropped on them.
Stainless steel sinks won’t crack or chip, but they’re more prone to scratches.
Heavy cookware (like a cast iron skillet), sharp knives, and utensils can scratch the steel. As minor scratches accumulate, the steel will lose some of its initial luster.
To prevent major scratches, install a grate at the bottom of your stainless steel sink.
Difference 6: Configuration
Stainless steel sinks are more popular than granite composite ones. For this reason, you can usually find a greater variety of stainless steel sink configurations.
Most granite composite sinks come in either one large single sink or a standard side-by-side arrangement. If you want a more unique or custom configuration (like a triple-basin), you’ll have more options with stainless steel.
Difference 7: Noisiness
Stainless steel sinks are noisy. Expect to hear some clanging and banging when handwashing pots and pans. Thinner sinks are noisier, so aim for at least an 18-gauge stainless steel sink if you can afford it.
In recent years, manufacturers have started adding rubber pads on the bottom to absorb some noise. The pads help, but they don’t completely mute all sounds.
You can also apply rubberized undercoating spray to the underside of the sink to dampen the noise.
Granite composite sinks are not nearly as loud. In fact, they make very little noise when you place dishes in them or bang a pan against the sink’s wall.
Difference 8: Heat Retention
Stainless steel sinks are fire and heat-resistant, and you don’t have to worry about thermal shock. However, they don’t retain heat well. So, if you fill the sink with warm water in preparation for hand washing a pile of dishes, the water won’t stay warm long.
Granite composite sinks hold heat slightly better than stainless steel. They are also heat resistant up to 500°F.
Difference 9: Cleaning
The best way to clean a granite composite sink is to use plain dish soap, hot water, and a sponge. Once you’ve wiped down and washed the sink, dry it off to prevent minerals in the water or soap from binding to the surface.
Highly acidic cleaning solutions, such as vinegar, can damage the surface particles of granite composite sinks over long periods. You can get away with it here and there, but it’s best to use a pH-neutral cleaner for daily cleaning.
The best way to keep a stainless steel sink clean is to install a metal grid at the bottom. These grids allow the water to drain, which prevents rust and corrosion. It also protects the surface from scratches.
Avoid rubber mats in your sink because they trap food and chemicals and end up being counterproductive.
To clean a stainless steel sink, apply vinegar, baking soda, club soda, or specific stainless steel cleaners to the surface and then rinse it thoroughly. Olive oil applied to a soft, microfiber cloth makes an excellent polish, as does corn oil or Bar Keepers Friend.
Regardless of the sink’s material, you should rinse the sink after each use, remove dishes and other items between uses, and avoid abrasive materials like steel wool.
Difference 10: Price
Granite composite sinks are generally more expensive than stainless steel sinks. However, prices vary by brand, size, and configuration.
The chart below shows the current prices of popular stainless steel and granite composite sinks on Amazon. Click the price to view more details about each sink.
|KRAUS Bellucci 33-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|Ruvati 33-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|Lonsince 31-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|ALFI 34-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|Franke Ellipse 33-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|BLANCO 32-Inch Granite Composite Sink
|Kraus 32-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Ruvati 32-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Oxwiser 30-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Houzer 25-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|Gaomasck 30-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
|MR Direct 31.5-Inch Stainless Steel Sink
Difference 11: Availability
Stainless steel sinks are widely available. You’ll find them at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, and other local hardware and kitchen supply stores. Plus, there’s no shortage of online stores (including Amazon) selling stainless steel sinks.
Granite composite sinks are also available at major hardware stores, but the options are limited. Research online before heading to the store to ensure they have what you need. Or shop online on sites like Amazon and Wayfair.
What Kitchen Design Experts Say About Granite and Stainless Steel Sinks
I contacted several kitchen design experts to get a broader perspective on this topic. When I spoke with each expert, I asked:
Do you recommend stainless steel or granite composite sinks? What are the pros and cons of each?
The specialist at Build With Ferguson, an online home improvement retailer, said, “Granite composite and stainless steel sinks have similar properties, but granite composite is more scratch-resistant. And scratches show more in stainless steel.
He mentioned, “Granite composite sinks are also more sound-dampening. The main downside is that you have to use less abrasive chemicals with the composite sink.”
When I asked if granite composite sinks are susceptible to cracking, he said, “The risk is minimal. The granite itself is strong, and the composite materials add more strength.”
Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston, a design company in South Carolina, said, “Stainless can be more contemporary (depending on the shape of the sink bowls), but they need a coating on the bottom to insulate for sound. Also, you should use a grid on the bottom of the sink to prevent scratching the steel. Stainless steel sinks are more widely available; therefore, they can be less expensive.”
When I asked about granite composite sinks, she said, “Composite sinks are worth considering because they come in several fun colors and can be more forgiving. They won’t show marks or scratches as much as stainless steel.”
Lastly, I connected with Kitchens Baths & Beyond, a kitchen remodeling company in South Carolina. The design expert said, “Most of our customers go with stainless steel sinks due to low cost and low maintenance (granite sinks need to be resealed annually). However, granite composite sinks are more durable (when sealed properly) than stainless, and they come in a variety of colors.”
Bottom Line: Are Granite Composite Sinks Better Than Stainless Steel?
Now that you know the key differences between granite composite and stainless steel sinks, it’s time to decide which material is best for you.
Before I give you my recommendation, let’s quickly recap the main points.
- Granite composite sinks are made of resin and quartz, while stainless steel sinks are typically made of 18/8 stainless steel.
- Granite composite sinks are more scratch-resistant.
- Both materials are stain-resistant, though stainless steel is slightly more so.
- Granite composite sinks come in a much wider variety of colors.
- Granite composite sinks are heavier and more challenging to install.
- Both options are durable, but granite composite sinks can chip or crack. Stainless steel sinks won’t crack but are more likely to get scratched.
- Since stainless steel sinks are more popular, they tend to come in more configurations than granite composite ones.
- Stainless steel sinks are noisier and require sound-damping measures.
- To prevent damage, you have to use pH-neutral cleaners on granite composite sinks (avoid vinegar).
- Granite composite sinks cost more than stainless steel sinks, though exact pricing will vary depending on the configuration and installation cost.
Here’s the bottom line.
One sink material isn’t better than the other.
Granite composite sinks are upscale and come in a variety of different colors. They’re less noisy than stainless steel and won’t scratch. The trade-off is that they are not as durable as stainless steel options, and are usually more expensive.
Stainless steel sinks are ultra-durable and come in various configurations, but you’re limited to shades of silver and gray with slightly different finishes. Plus, they’re noisier and more prone to scratches.
If you like the look of steel and it fits well with your kitchen decor, you can’t go wrong with a stainless steel sink. It’s a classic look that ties in nicely with other stainless steel appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. Granite composite is an excellent option if you prefer a dark-colored or white sink.
You can read reviews and check the current prices of both sink types at the links below.
- Stainless steel sinks on Amazon and HomeDepot.com
- Granite composite sinks on Amazon and HomeDepot.com
- How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances Without Streaking: 4 Easy Steps
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