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Stainless Steel Sinks Show Their Metal

Stainless steel sinks made in the U.S. prove to be hygienic, sustainable and corrosion-resistant solutions for meeting accessibility and occupant needs.

February 2012
Sponsored by Just Manufacturing

By Karin Tetlow

Continuing Education

Use the following learning objectives to focus your study while reading this month’s Continuing Education article.

Learning Objectives - After reading this article, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the characteristics of stainless steel and why it is one of the most sustainable materials specified today.
  2. Identify the environmental benefits of stainless steel sinks such as corrosion resistance, hygiene, non-toxic cleanability and recyclability.
  3. Specify stainless steel sinks that meet requirements of multiple building types and help achieve LEED
  4. Summarize the ADA guidelines as they relate to sinks and know how to specify for ADA compliance.

Credits: 1.00 HSW

This test is no longer available for credit

The sink has long been an indispensable feature of kitchens around the world. In earlier times they were constructed from vitreous china, enameled cast iron and local materials such as Italian travertine, Vermont soapstone, or glazed red clay from the English Midlands. Today, such choices still exist and, with the addition of polymers and epoxy resins, a multitude of sink materials are on the market. But there is one sink material that offers significant advantages over the others—stainless steel.

Stainless steel sinks are not only constructed from one of the most environmentally friendly metals commonly used in construction, they provide many benefits such as corrosion resistance, fire and heat resistance, hygiene, strength to weight advantage, ease of fabrication, impact resistance and long-term value. They have documented sustainability features, can meet ADA requirements and have applications for virtually all building types. Moreover, with informed specification they offer a choice of design aesthetics and enhanced functioning. It is not surprising that at one point in time, the largest single use of stainless steel was for the manufacture of sinks (now it is beer barrels).

What is Stainless Steel?

Used for many industrial, architectural, chemical and consumer applications for over half a century, stainless steel is essentially a low-carbon steel, which contains chromium at 10.5 percent or more by weight. It is this addition of chromium that gives the steel its unique stainless, corrosion-resisting and enhanced mechanical properties.

The chromium content of the steel allows the formation of a rough, adherent, invisible, corrosion-resisting chromium oxide film on the steel surface. If damaged mechanically or chemically, this film is self-healing, providing that oxygen, even in very small amounts, is present. The corrosion resistance and other useful properties of the steel are enhanced by increased chromium content and the addition of other elements such as molybdenum, nickel and nitrogen. The addition of nickel changes and stabilizes the crystal structure of the steel at room temperature and below, making it more formable, weldable and tough. Nickel also gives stainless steel a lustrous and brighter appearance which is less gray than steel that has no nickel.

Photo: Just Manufacturing


Originally published in February 2012
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