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Copper Sinks

Beauty & Benefits For The Kitchen & Bath

Copper sinks offer several terrific benefits, not the least of which is their unique aesthetic appeal. It has what's called a "living finish" and when left bare to the elements, will take on a patina over time as it darkens from it's polished pink hues to a more caramel brown.

Beyond it's good look however, copper also has more practical and useful qualities too. It's softer than steel and other sink materials so it's easily formed and shaped.

Regardless of whether you're interested in copper when choosing new kitchen sinks or for a new bathrooom sink, there are designs to suit virtually any style and situation.

But while copper brings with it a unique look and 'personality', there are some things about these sinks you should be aware of before making any final decisions. Understanding these facts can help you decide whether copper is a good choice for your kitchen or bathroom.

Things To Consider First About Copper

Before marching out to buy that shiny new (or stunningly 'tan') copper sink there are a few things you should know about copper. Armed with information, you'll be able to make a better buying decision and hopefully be satisfied with your sink for a long time to come.

  • Some Copper Products Have Antimicrobial Properties
    Certain alloys of bare (uncoated / unvarnished) copper have been shown to reduce the amount of certain types of bacteria they come in contact with.

    copper prep sink

    That's a potentially good thing. However you should be aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has weighed in on this issue, regulating the claims that can be made about the antimicrobial properties.

    Product makers who wish to make this claim about their products must register with the EPA, validating that the products are antimicrobial. You can check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) facts on the matter here. Additional information about copper's antimicrobial properties can be found at Copper.org, the website for the copper industry.

  • Metal Thickness (Gauge) Is Important
    Metal thickness is measured by it's "gauge". Lower numbers mean thicker metal (14 gauge is thicker than 20 gauge). Copper is a soft metal and thicker gauge sinks will stand up to use and abuse better than thinner gauges. Think copper kitchen sink here -- and the chances for dropped dishes and such. A 14 gauge sink is robust, 16 gauge is good. Less than that and you might be more susceptible to dents and dings.
  • Many Copper Sinks Are Hand Made
    A lot of copper sinks, particularly bath and vessel sinks, are hand made and may display the kind of variability in form that you'd expect from this kind of manufacturing process. That's OK for a copper bathroom vessel sink but it might mean trouble for a larger kitchen sink that's being mounted in a stone countertop where precise cuts (in a material that isn't easy to cut) are necessary.

    When you need precision, you may want to consider sinks made by more modern processes and/or with stricter quality controls. Either that, or verify the sink's dimensions (side-to-side, front-to-back and corner radii) to ensure they're consistent before accepting it.

  • Some Come Bare, Some Come Sealed
    Copper kitchen and bathroom sinks are available "bare" or sealed. That information should be clear from the source you buy them from. The finish on bare copper will age and darken, unless you polish it. Sealed copper 'locks-in' the color tone but brings up other issues like the possibility of wearing through the sealant with aggressive cleaners or cleaning methods. Wherever the sealer is gone, the copper will eventually change color, making it different from the surrounding areas that are still sealed.

    More importantly however is that sealed copper negates any antimicrobial benefits that the copper may have since the copper material is no longer bare.

  • copper farmhouse sink

  • Various Color "Finishes" Are Available
    You can buy a sink that's as shiny as a brand new U.S penny or darker and browner with caramel hues. The darker and bronze-like colors are achieved by the sink maker using various techniques to pre-patinate the copper. These types of sinks are usually sealed to retain that color (but see the bullet point above).

    Shinier new copper sinks will ultimately darken on their own unless you seal it with a wax (like the kind used in antique restoration such as Renaissance wax) or polish it periodically.

  • Check For The Overflow Drain
    Lots of copper kitchen and bath sinks are made without the virtue of an overflow drain like you see on more conventional sinks (usually bathroom sinks). This is more critical in the bathroom where sinks are usually smaller and it doesn't take long before an overflow can occur.

    Some custom sink makers can incorporate an overflow drain for you but you'll need to ask for it.

  • Some Copper Might Contain Hazardous Elements
    Some copper raw material, and any sinks made from it, may contain hazardous materials like lead and/or mercury. Look for sink makers that can specify in writing that their sinks are free from these constituents. If that information isn't readily available, don't hesitate to ask and have it verified for you. It doesn't hurt to ask and it helps to know for peace of mind.

The information above is really meant to give you an idea of what you should consider if you're thinking about buying a copper sink. A copper kitchen or bathroom sink can add a very nice touch to the right decorating scheme. Just arm yourself with a little bit of education in order to make a good decision.

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Where You Can Buy Them

copper bath sink

There's no shortage of sources for copper sinks but what might surprise you is that they range from small artisan shops to major sink and fixture manufacturers like Elkay, Bates & Bates, Native Trails and Herbau. You can buy them from online internet retailers or from offline stores and showrooms that carry plumbing fixtures.

Online Retailers

There are numerous online retailers ranging from larger internet shopping sites that carry a wide selection of products to companies that specialize in copper sinks and sell their products directly through their website.

You can find many of these sources by simply putting "copper sinks" into a search engine; the results are most often sites that sell these products. More often than not, websites that specialize in copper sinks will provide more information about them than generic shopping sites.

If you buy a sink online, be mindful of the warranty and the seller's policies with regard to shipping and returns. Warranty terms aren't all the same and they typically don't cover the finish or appearance of the sink.

Showrooms And Offline Stores

Buying a copper sink from a showroom or home center offers you the ability to touch and feel the product before you buy. However you might be limiting your range of choices as compared to what's available on the internet. At a minimum, shopping at a brick-and-mortar store will give you a representation of certain kinds of copper sinks and how they actually look.

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Publisher's Comments - Making A Good Choice

Regardless of which source you choose to buy from just know that there is a wide range of sellers out there. The amount of information that they provide about their copper sink products will vary widely.

Look for those that provide enough information, sufficient to answer your questions. I tend to gravitate toward merchants that provide more information than less. For me, it shows they know their product and anticipate the kinds of questions that potential customers might ask.

If you find a retailer that doesn't provide enough information to answer your questions, either move on or contact them directly with your questions. Also, read and pay attention to their shipping and return policies and be aware of just what is covered in any warranty. I found some sellers that require you to ship a sink back to them very quickly and at your cost if you have a problem.

Ultimately your due diligence will pay dividends in getting a copper sink you'll be satisfied with.

Here's More Related Info That Might Be Helpful...

Kitchen Sink Selections - Not sure about what type of kitchen sink to choose? Check out what's available and their pros and cons in this article on choosing the right kitchen sink.

Choosing A Bathroom Sink - Choices abound but there's more to a bathroom sink than its beauty. Find out what you need to know when making your next bathroom sink decision.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks - Get knowledgeable about stainless steel sinks so that you can choose one that will give you years of good service and satisfaction.


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