Greatest Hits 2022: Single-Bowl Vs. Double-Bowl Sinks in the Kitchen

1. The size and profile can be cumbersome.

For starters, one downside is the amount of counter space consumed. A double-bowl unit can measure 40 or even 48 inches long (you can even buy a triple-bowl unit, which may be as long as 60 inches), and don’t forget that even more counter space is needed on both sides of the sinks for stacking unwashed and clean items. In a small kitchen, that’s a lot of real estate. “Here in San Francisco, people do the arithmetic and find that they just don’t have enough counter space to give away for two good-size bowls,” says Williams.

2. It eats up under-counter storage space.

Another minus: You’re also sacrificing under-counter storage space, since a sink base cabinet has no shelves or drawers. (And that garbage disposal takes up space.)

3. Ironically, it can mean less space for washing large items.

Finally, there’s the issue of sink size, especially when one bowl is smaller than the other. “It’s just annoying to have a second bowl that’s not very big,” says Williams. “It makes it hard to wash bulky items like roasting pans.” Some double-bowl units have a lower interior partition that makes cleaning large pots easier.

a single bowl, stainless steel sink in a chic fixer upper on fire island,  14
Above: A single-bowl, stainless steel sink in A Chic Fixer-Upper on Fire Island, Budget Edition.

Is a single-bowl sink less expensive?

It can be. For example, a Kraus Undermount 33-Inch Double-Bowl Sink costs $299.95 at Home Depot, while same model as a single-bowl sink—the Kraus Undermount 32-Inch Single Bowl Sink—is slightly less expensive, at $224.95. Installation generally costs more for a double-bowl unit, and you may need two faucets.

Can I swap a single-bowl for a double-bowl sink?

That would depend on available counter space, obviously, and also on the cabinetry and countertop material. You’ll likely need to enlarge the cutout to accommodate the new unit, which will be more difficult with, say, a stone countertop in place.

one alternative: not a double bowl sink per se, but two sinks, separated. see&# 15
Above: One alternative: Not a double-bowl sink per se, but two sinks, separated. See Kitchen Confidential: 10 Ways to Achieve the Plain English Look.

Are there other ways to get the benefits of a double-bowl sink?

Here’s an old-school idea: simply drop a plastic basin into your single-bowl sink and fill it with water. Afterwards, empty it and store it under the sink.

Another option: Two single-bowl sinks installed in different spots, say one on the main countertop and one on an island. (See 10 Genius Double Sinks, Utility Edition for some ideas.) “A separate bar sink is great when you have two people who are active participants in the kitchen,” says Buttrick. If there’s room, you can even make the second sink a full-size one. There will be extra plumbing costs, but the busy cook will appreciate space opening up around the sink (and having an extra hand).

Trying to decide which kitchen sink is right for you? Consult our guides:

Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose your kitchen sink and faucet in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Sinks & Faucets.

N.B.: This post is a rerun; the original story ran as “Remodeling 101: Single-Bowl Vs. Double-Bowl Sinks in the Kitchen” on December 21, 2017 and has been updated with new information and images. Featured image by Sarah Elliott from Kitchen of the Week: A Clean, Well-Lighted Space in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

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