Despite the popularity of composite sinks, stainless steel is not ready to relinquish its role in premium kitchen projects and is still a defining character
Spanning a wide variety of budgets and installation types, it’s no surprise stainless steel still has a substantial role to play in kitchen sink design and their subsequent sales.
However, what may be more remarkable is this material, which is at home in commodity projects, has not yet relinquished its role in premium priced kitchens.
Sales and marketing director at Franke UK Jo Sargent explains why: “Stainless steel sinks are a strong performer across all areas of the market because they are widely acknowledged as the material of choice of design scope, durability, hygiene and ease of maintenance.
“We ensure our range has something for everyone, from practical value-led options to high-end styles.”
It is the evolution of stainless steel, which has seen it keep its position in the luxury kitchen sink stakes.
David Morris, sales manager of MHK UK, explains: “In recent years, they have evolved to cater to the demand of mid to high-end consumers.
“Higher-end products may be made of a higher quality stainless steel or thicker gauge of material and may offer a wider variety of styles such as a double bowl configuration or undermount installation.”
Also coloured PVD finishes, slimline profiles, surface technologies and sound insulation has secured the position of stainless steel in premium projects.
Leader, product management, for Grohe UK and Lixil EMENA Ronke Ugbaja explains: “Thanks to innovative, cutting-edge product design and modern PVD finishes, stainless steel sinks are no longer limited to the lower-end sector, with premium-looking, scratch resistant design finishes and clever features such as noise reduction and generous bowl depths, attracting a larger range of customers with different projects and budgets.”
Not only a material but also an aesthetic in its own right – stainless steel – is no longer available in just one colour.
The world of PVD finishes has opened up the material to be produced in a variety of hues from Gold, Gunmetal and Anthracite through to Jet Black.
Jo Sargent of Franke UK states: “Although not new to the market, stainless steel sinks in coloured metallic finishes are growing in popularity among discerning consumers as they add a luxurious touch and offer scope for design personalisation at the sink space.”
And there will be longevity in this trend, as the kitchen has seamlessly integrated into the living space and functional products are transformed into decorative items.
“Metallics are not only timeless but they also lend a luxurious edge to high-end kitchen design, which goes some way to explaining the popularity of PVD stainless steel sinks”, explains sales director of Rangemaster James Cunningham.
Interestingly, then, while the colours of the sink may be created to stand out, in terms of styling– less is more.
Undermount installations and slimline profiles, providing flushmounted fits, are de riguer.
Answering the question what are his company’s most popular sink styles, sales director of Falmec Ron Blount states: “Our Como range – handmade 1mm profile, 10mm radius radius corners – for undermounting, inset or flushfitting in 500mm and 700mm models. “
And Jo Sargent of Franke UK says this is also reflected in her company’s sales: “The fastest growing sink models are drainer-free stainless steel bowls such as our Maris MRX undermount and Slim-Top inset sinks.”
CDA, which offers sit-on, built-on and built-under models, has seen increased interest in undermount sinks, as its marketing communications manager Holly Bolus expands on specific requirements: “Homeowners are looking for a specific combination of sinks, such as a large undermount single bowl which can be used for cleaning big tines and trays plus a smaller single bowl which can be used for staining, defrosting food or washing vegetables etc.”
It highlights consumer’s continuing demand for the sink’s functionality to equal its fashion stakes in interiors, especially with the rise of consumers cooking at home.
Procurement manager at Clearwater Daniel Boulton comments: “Workstation sinks are on the rise, with accessories that turn the sink area into additional counter space for food prep, for example.
“At the higher-end of the market, we’re seeing this option being used by consumers as second sinks in utility spaces etc.”
In fact, design manager at Abode Paul Illingworth believes this focus on functionality and providing sinks which maximise space to be a ‘game-changer’ for sink sales: “Managing workflow at the sink to optimise efficient food prep will be a big part of the work zone this year, with new and exciting sink accessories that seamlessly co-ordinate with the latest stainless sinks.”
Consider chopping blocks, colanders and foldable drainer racks.
On top of this, stainless steel is a sustainable option, increasingly important in legislation, and of growing concern to eco-conscious consumers.
Paul Illingworth of Abode adds: “Stainless steel has excellent eco-credentials as part of a closed loop recycling system. I think there will be many opportunities for innovation.
“In fact, the British Stainless Steel Association states that any stainless steel objects have an approximate recycled content of 60% and it can be recycled and re-used without any degradation.”
So while composite sinks are growing in sales significance, and in fact vying for top spot in premium kitchen projects, stainless sink sales are far from over.
In fact, stainless is still, very much, stealing the show.