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Double sink or single sink in the kitchen? Which is better?

homemaker working at a double sink in her 1950s kitchenIt’s a kitchen design question as old as time: Double sink or single sink, which is better? Some readers recently started commenting back and forth on the question, and it occurred to me that we’d never discussed and debated this topic in a story. (We did discuss the classic toilet paper over or under question, though!) Above: Illustration of American-Standard kitchen cabinets and sinks from a 1953 catalog.

Woman working at a single sink with drainboards in her 1940s kitchenOf course, each design has its pros and cons. [Above: Illustration from 1953 Crane kitchen catalog.]

Double sink pros and cons:

  • Double sinks make it easier to wash on one side, stack to dry on the other.
  • Or procrastinators can wash on one side, pile dirties on the other, and get to finishing up when you can. [I plead guilty, but you could guess that already, couldn’t you?]
  • On the flip side, double sinks typically are smaller, so you sometimes cannot get a big pot or tray completely into one of the bowls. Jamming a large tray into one side of a double sink kinda runs the risk of scratching or dinging it. 
  • In the same vein, they can take up more room. 
kohler delafield double kitchen sink
Our go-to favorite double sink for the kitchen here on Retro Renovation is the Kohler Delafield with metal hudee ring — which you can still buy today. Many readers have put this into their kitchen. Available on Amazon, be sure to order the metal frame too (affiliate link). And while you’re at it, consider going full Dishmaster, I adore mine. (affiliate links)

Single sink pros and con:

  • Single sinks can be sized larger, so they can fit large pots and pans and trays. [My husband is in the single sink camp for this reason.]
  • I guess you could say: They encourage you to clean as you go, because there is no second bowl to pile in the dirties.
  • Overall, they likely take up less room, so there is more counter space for prep.
ceco cast iron single bowl white cast iron sink
This Ceco “Seaside” white cast iron single bowl sink is 24″ wide. There are two models, and I can’t discern what the difference it (ask the company). Apparently, this was previously marketed as the Kohler Mayfield — but now, you get it directly from Ceco. Order the metal hudee frame separately.

Double sink or single sink — which do you prefer?

CategoriesSinks
  1. Michelle says:

    My 1940 house has a double sink which I like because I don’t have a dishwasher. One basin would take forever to fill up with hot water for washing dishes. With 2 basins, I wash on one side and rinse on the other.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m a double sink fan. My current place has a double, where my last had a single. I do not have a disposal, so this helps keep one side designated for rinsing plates and capturing in a strainer, leaving me with second side that easily drains for staging rinsed dishes and hand washing.

  3. Barb says:

    Definitely a double. I have a deep 60/40. WAY too expensive, but it was what I needed. Even tho I have a dishwasher, I often wash things and set in the smaller side in a dish rack to drain and dry. Otherwise it would be out on the counter taking up space and looking bad.

  4. WK says:

    I base my vintage Kitchen love on my Grandmother’s 1940 kitchen . She had a single bowl sink that held a white porcelain Pam with red rim . You washed your dishes in the metal pan and rinsed them under the same faucet in the same sink as you went along . Large family gatherings meant a lot of dishes . No problem

  5. Bee says:

    I have to go with the double sink: just make the sides bigger! One side for washing, one side for rinsing and drying! The bigger sized areas would take care of the bigger dishes! Manufacturers , are you listening?

    1. CarolK says:

      Bee, you can get a huge double sink like that if you’re willing to go industrial. You’d need to go to a restaurant supply place though. They need big sinks in restaurants.

      I don’t know of anyone who makes large double sinks for the home unfortunately. If you’re talking about 23″ or 30″ sinks, you’re talking about 4 or 5 feet of sink.

      1. CarolK says:

        I may have spoken too soon about restaurant supply houses being the only source for large double sinks. I was reading an article on House last night about kitchen islands and one post had a reference to a ledge sink made by these guys:

        https://www.creategoodsinks.com

        They have some absolutely huge double sinks made for the home kitchen. They are stainless and the apron front ones are mid-century, but I think some aren’t apron front. They might not be drop-in though, but undermount. They’re not hugely expensive either.

        1. Kathy says:

          Wow, thanks for the tip. The sinks are fantastic and the drains don’t have a ring and has a removable flange for easy cleaning, and they come in all kinds of sizes and prices and configurations, with or without aprons, with a ledge for cutting boards and drain mats and whatnot, and some even have built-in drainboards (which appear to be mounted just under the counter).

          I combed the site and all the pictures and comments and FAQ and installation instructions show them undermounted. But the flange is very flat and looks just like the ones that can be drop-in or undermounted. The faucet also has to be deck mounted.

          I think it might be possible to use them with Formica/laminate countertops. I would contact the manufacturer for advice. I have read of using Formica countertops for undermounted sinks here: https://bethepro.com/forums/topic/undermount-sink-in-formica/

          Or you can be creative, especially for a retrofit. I tiled in the front of my sink when I burned the counter and perhaps a similar treatment could add some vintage flair if you have a Formica countertops. I considered:

          1) getting a custom stainless surround (I even called the Hudee Ring people to see if they could make such a thing with a wider edge in front to cover that pesky strip in front–their machinery can’t do that unfortunately),
          2) using a Kohler Vault apron-front sink that fits standard cabinets–great option, but unfortunately the sizes didn’t work with my existing countertops.
          3) inserting a piece of quartz or granite in a contrasting color just around the sink area so I didn’t have to replace all the counters.
          4) tiling the strip in front of the sink with small white subway tile that was the perfect width (sold by the sheet at Home Depot for about $2) with dark grey mortar.

          I chose #4 and cut out the damaged portion and leveled and sealed and glued in a chrome tile holding strip with landscape-grade construction adhesive. These strips were invented by Schluter back in 1975 and are readily available, so that is pretty retro. A lot of work but it looked great and has held up so far for 3 years. But you do have to use dark grout and sealer and regrout once in awhile due to constant water. I make sure I wipe it down regularly.

          Perhaps a similar approach could tile an undermount sink in, and I think the other alternatives could work too. I like the added benefit of having a heat-proof surface near the sink. Really helpful when handling big hot heavy pots of water and such.

  6. Ruthie says:

    I love a large single sink you can always turn it into a double with a dishpan but it takes up less counter space I’m at the waiting to renovate stage and have a triple sink ugh!

  7. Kathy says:

    I have had double bowl sinks most of my life, and I like that I can keep one side for “dirty” tasks, like preparing raw meat, and the other side for “clean” tasks, like washing veggies, to avoid cross contamination. I keep bleach cleaner handy, but you can’t be too careful.

    However, I lived in an apartment with an old-fashioned cast iron Butler’s Sink with a single bowl, double drainboards, porcelain back and wall mounted faucet, and I just loved it. If I could have one of those again, or maybe a prep sink plus a regular sink, I would definately could go for that.

  8. Sharon says:

    I also like the built in backsplash, and a sink going to the front edge, so that there is a straight sink edge to bring the countertop to. Countertop cut outs are hard for DIY construction.

  9. pmorehouse says:

    Great comments! I’m redoing a “retro” kitchen right now and looking at a Kohler single farmhouse… I have in my house now a double porcelain which I really like.

    1. CarolK says:

      pmorehouse, one option for folks who are torn between a large sink sink and double sinks is a large single with a “smart” or French divide. The wall between the sinks only goes up about halfway so that you can have two sinks for dishwashing or stacking dirties on one side while the other side is clean for prepping. You still got a large sink for washing big things like cookie sheets and pots. It’s not so good, though, if one of your reasons for wanting a large single is dog bathing. Even my little Shih tzu would not fit in a one side of a double and my dachsie would be hit right in the middle by the divide.

  10. Megan says:

    My double sink is the bane of my dishwashing existence! Can’t fit large pots in there, and have to let them soak on the counter. I have a 1960s ranch with a galley style kitchen at the front of the house. Counter space is limited, and also I hate having a dirty soaking pan so close to my front door and the only viable place to put mail and keys. It feels WRONG. And last, not being able to fully fit larger items into the sink while rinsing means water gets splashed everywhere. Such a pain in my ass. Ugh. I think I actually hate the double sink.

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