What Gauge Stainless Steel Sink is Best? 16 vs 18 vs 20


When it comes to building a kitchen that will stand the test of time, choosing the right materials is crucial. One key component is the stainless steel sink – sleek, clean, and versatile, it has become a staple in modern kitchens. However, not all stainless steel sinks are created equal. In this article, we will delve into the world of sink gauges, specifically focusing on the best options for your kitchen needs.

What is a Sink Gauge on a Stainless Steel Sink?

If you’ve been researching sinks, you’ve probably come across the term “sink gauge.” The gauge number refers to the thickness grading of the stainless steel used for the sink. Similar to golf, lower numbers signify thicker and more durable steel, while higher numbers indicate thinner and weaker materials. Sink gauges generally range from 12 to 20, and sometimes even higher to 22 or 24.

Stainless Steel Sinks Gauge Chart

To better understand the different sink gauges, let’s take a look at the following chart:

Sink Gauge SizeThicknessDurability / StrengthCostRecommended Use
160.0625 inchesVery highHigherHome kitchens
180.05 inchesHighModerateHome kitchens
200.0375 inchesModerateLowerBar sinks

Based on this chart, we can see that the best options for home kitchens are 16 and 18 gauge sinks, with 20 gauge sinks being a less preferred choice.

The Best Gauges for a Stainless Steel Sink

16 Gauge

If budget is not a constraint, we highly recommend investing in a 16 gauge stainless steel sink. With a thickness of 0.0625 inches, these sinks are the top of the line choice for home kitchens. They offer exceptional durability and strength, ensuring longevity and resistance to damage.

18 Gauge

The 18 gauge stainless steel sinks are also a great option for kitchen sinks. With a thickness of 0.05 inches, they are considered standard quality and offer comparable strength to 16 gauge sinks. When it comes to durability and cost-effectiveness, these sinks are a solid choice.

20 Gauge

While 20 gauge sinks may be suitable for bar sinks, they are not ideal for home kitchens. With a thickness of 0.0375 inches, they are borderline thin for regular kitchen use. However, if you are on a tight budget, these sinks can still serve their purpose. Just keep in mind that they may not offer the same level of durability as 16 or 18 gauge sinks.

Sink Gauge Comparisons: 16 vs 18 vs 20 Gauge Sink

16 vs 18 Gauge Sink

For most home kitchens, the choice typically comes down to either a 16 or 18 gauge sink. Both options are popular and reliable. However, the 16 gauge sink holds an advantage due to its 25% greater thickness compared to the 18 gauge sink. This translates to increased strength, making it more dent-resistant, better at noise dampening, and less likely to bow or get bent. Ultimately, the 16 gauge sink is our recommended choice for its superior quality.

16 vs 20 Gauge Sink

The difference between a 16 and 20 gauge sink is even more significant. The 16 gauge sink, being 40% thicker, offers substantial improvements in durability and noise reduction. Conversely, the 20 gauge sink is significantly cheaper but sacrifices thickness and overall quality. We highly recommend opting for a 16 gauge sink over a 20 gauge sink for maximum durability and longevity.

18 vs 20 Gauge Sink

While the 18 gauge sink measures out 20% thicker than the 20 gauge sink, the difference in quality is similar to the 16 vs 18 comparison. The 18 gauge sink provides sufficient quality and durability, making it a suitable option for most kitchens. On the other hand, the 20 gauge sink falls below our recommended quality line.

Stainless Steel Sink Gauges to Avoid

12-14 Gauge Sinks

Sink gauges within the 12-14 range are the most durable and robust due to the thickest steel used. However, these sinks are typically reserved for commercial kitchens that experience heavy-duty use. They offer excellent resistance to damage from heavy utensils and pots, but they come at a significantly higher cost. Additionally, their thickness may not be aesthetically pleasing for a home kitchen.

22 Gauge Sink

Sink gauges above 20, such as 22, are considered thin and should be avoided for regular kitchen use. If you use heavy cookware like cast iron or a dutch oven, these sinks are likely to get damaged over time. However, they can be suitable for bar sinks or utility sinks where lighter usage is expected. Still, keep in mind that these higher gauge sinks are more prone to damage, cannot connect to a garbage disposal, and may become discolored over time.

Final Verdict: What Gauge Stainless Steel Sink is Best?

When it comes to selecting the best stainless steel sink gauge, the battle between 16 and 18 gauge sinks takes center stage. With 20% thicker steel, the 16 gauge sink emerges as the clear winner in terms of durability, dent resistance, noise reduction, and long-term performance. However, the 18 gauge sink is also a great option, offering reliable quality at a slightly lower cost. Reputable brands such as Ruvati, Blanco, Kraus, and Kohler produce both 16 and 18 gauge sinks, making them readily available and affordable for home use.

If you’re still deciding on the type of sink you want, be sure to check out our guides on undermount sinks and drop-in sinks, as these options are commonly available in stainless steel material. Invest in a sink with the optimal gauge, and enjoy a kitchen that will withstand the test of time.

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