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Kohler Smart Divide Sink Review

The Kohler Smart Divide sink is one among several varieties in Kohler's cast iron and stainless steel sink lineups. The sink gets its name from its most distinguishing feature which is a lowered divider between the adjacent bowls.




kohler kitchen sinkPhoto Courtesy of Kohler

If you've ever had a double-basin kitchen sink you know that it's not always the most convenient setup to wash larger pots and pans and cookie sheets.

You usually have to tip the pans sideways into one of the bowls to wash them and then fumble with them again to wash the other side. When it comes time to rinse you usually end up with splashed countertops because you have to hold the pan up above the sink's divider.

That's where Kohler's Smart Divide sink is targeted. It's designed to allow enough room to wash those larger items more conveniently while still offering the benefits of a double sink.

You can fill up one basin and still use the adjacent bowl for rinsing and draining. When you need to wash larger items or just need greater capacity, fill it above the divide to fill both bowls.

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Pros & Cons

Strengths

Variable Styling
You're not limited to one particular shape or style since Kohler uses the Smart Divide feature with a number of different designs as well as on both cast iron and stainless steel sinks.

kohler smart divide sinkKohler Biscuit Deerfield Sink

Good Looks
The cast iron has a shine that is hard to beat with other materials for the durability it provides. If your preference is stainless steel there are steel sinks in the Kohler product line that use the same lower divide feature.

Color Availability
Smart Divide cast iron sinks come in a broad color palette including black, neutrals as well as vibrant colors in the red and blue families.

Flexible Functionality
Get the benefits of a large single-bowl sink when you need it and the versatility of a double-bowl sink too. Washing, rinsing and moving larger objects within the envelope of the sink is more convenient than a two-bowl sink with a conventional divider.

What To Watch For

Weight
Cast iron sinks are heavy so undermount installations require proper support using either special bracket kits or with custom-built bracing inside the sink's base cabinet.

Stainless Steel Isn't For Everyone
If you need a kitchen sink that always looks fantastic either commit to the maintenance necessary to keep stainless from spotting, get a cast iron Smart Divide instead, or get a sink made from a different material altogether. Stainless naturally tends to spot and look "used" (which is normal) unless it's wiped clean after use.

Protection Helps
Porcelain cast iron is durable but protecting the sink, particularly the bottom, from scratching, scuffs and scrapes will minimize the need to clean those scuffs and maintain the sink's good looks long term. Rubber pads or sink grates will usually do the trick.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Doesn't cast iron have a tendency to scuff and scratch?
    The porcelain enamel coating can scuff and scratch, the extent depending on how it's used. Scuffs can be cleaned off using Kohler's cast iron sink cleaner or a similar alternative.

    The porcelain enamel is a very hard material and Kohler offers a limited lifetime warranty on its cast iron sinks against chips, cracks or burns. A reasonable amount of care should be sufficient insurance against this type of damage. However over the long term, any sink material, including cast iron, will show scratches due to normal use.

    The use of a sink grate or a rubber mat in the bottom of the bowl is recommended to add protection from bumping and dropped dishes and pots.

  2. Aren't these types of sinks more costly?
    Costs range from just over $400 for a white Kohler Langlade self-rimming Smart Divide sink to $950 for a black Deerfield undermount. Different colors have different price points. Relative to other types of kitchen sinks the Smart Divide falls in a mid range between very inexpensive builder grade sinks and higher end stainless and multi-function sinks.
  3. Aren't cast iron sinks pretty heavy and do they come in an under-counter style?
    Kohler's Smart Divide sinks come in both undermount and drop-in (self-rimming) versions. Yes, cast iron is heavy and undermount cast iron sinks need proper bracing. However there are several companies, including Kohler, that make special inexpensive mounting brackets for these kinds of sinks.

    Additionally, if you're installing new kitchen cabinets along with the sink, the sink's base cabinet can be constructed to accommodate a heavier sink like this.

  4. Can the Kohler Smart Divide be used like a traditional two-bowl sink, for example, using one side for a dish drainer?
    These sinks work just as effectively as other twin-basin sinks with a conventional (taller) divider. The only difference is that that the Smart Divide bowl capacity is less than a sink with a conventional divide assuming similar size basins.

    They accept a dish drainer like other two-bowl sinks or can be used in conjunction with a garbage disposal as a prep sink.

    deerfield biscuit sinkDeerfield Sink Shown With Dish Drainer

    The divider is still high enough that it separates the two bowls while still offering the capacity of a larger single bowl when needed.

    Another benefit associated with its dual-use design is that if you want to soak something, you can fill just one basin up to the depth of the divider while still having the other side to use as you need.

    With a single-basin large (or small) sink, you have to utilize the whole sink to soak or thaw items.

    Conversely however, if the amount of water you need for soaking exceeds the height of the divider, you'll then have to use both sides of the Kohler Smart Divde sink.

  5. Won't the lower divide actually just be a nuisance "hump" between the two basins when using it as a larger single-bowl sink?
    This naturally depends on your preferences but when washing large cookie sheets for example, there's still enough capacity to submerge the pan below the water. It also makes rinsing these items easier because the lower divide creates more clearance below the faucet and allows you to swing the faucet as needed over the pan without it getting in the way.
  6. Are all the Smart Divide sinks the same configuration?
    These sinks come in several shapes and sizes where you can get basins of equal size or one basin that's larger than it's adjacent one.

    Kohler's Vault series of stainless steel sinks with the Smart Divide feature are square with zero-radius (90-degree) corners. Their unique feature is that they have a very thin edge flange which allows the sink to be mounted in either an undermount configuration or as a top-mount that almost looks like an undermount setup.

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Publisher's Comments - My Experience & Recommendation

I personally own a cast iron Smart Divide sink from the Deerfield collection and I've been very happy with it. These sinks have a 9" bowl depth which makes for good capacity.

We used to use a rubber mat in the bottom of the bowl for protection but the mat itself got pretty dirty and ended up trapping grime underneath it. We've since gone to using the sink without any protection (I guess we're just a bit more careful).

Besides the good looks the lower divide is my favorite feature and was the reason for purchasing this style of sink. Having come from an older double-bowl enameled steel sink I can say that the lower divide really does make a difference in accessibility and freedom of movement under the faucet and between the bowls.

Update Feb-2013 - Our sink is now over 3 years old and it does have a few minor scratches in the RH bowl that's our primary wash basin. We ditched the rubber mat early on for the reason mentioned above and have never purchased a grid for the sink bottom. We use a bit of care when washing things, particularly larger, heavier items, but we're not fanatics about it. And I must say that the Kohler cleaner we've used does a great job keeping the sink clean. Most of the time I just use dishwashing soap and a plastic scrubber for day-to-day dirt. We break out the Kohler cleaner when it starts to look grimier. All in all we're still very satisfied with this sink.

Who It's For & Who It's Not For

If you want to be able to thrash heavy pots and pans around with impunity, or if your kids tend to toss their utensils into the sink for sport, you might be better off with a stainless steel sink. You won't have the concern of cleaning scuff marks or chipping the enamel. Instead you'll just have scratched stainless steel.

On the other hand, if you like two-bowl sinks but want the versatility of added "room" for maneuvering larger pans and pots with long handles, then the Smart Divide is a good choice.

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