We have all been told that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. And yet, people are still being drawn into fabricators and kitchen and bath places by this dream of getting a "Free Sink" with their counter top. Let's break this whole debacle down.
When did this "Free Sink" promotion start?
It hard to pin down who exactly started this promotion, whether it was the small businesses trying to stay competitive against the big box stores, or the local Home Depot or Lowe's trying to keep you buying stuff from them even though you are never pleasantly surprised by their products or service. All we know is that a handful of places offered a free sink, then this went to the head of the consumer who then used this as ammo against the remaining companies who didn't offer a free sink..... Now its hard to find a kitchen and bath place or fabricator who still charges for a standard sink.
What this has caused in the industry is a virus of rusty sinks that came from companies who need to off set the "Loss" of giving a free sink. To off set this loss they then sought out cheaper and cheaper sinks. Seriously cheap - I'm talking $40-$50 for a sink that has no brand, padding sound absorbent pads etc (more on that later). But think about it... $40-$50. That's less than a tank of gas these days. Less than a dinner out.
How this is fueled further. Ill tell you a personal story:
My brother's and I grew up in a nice neighborhood in the 80s and 90s. Our kitchen had a puke green Formica top, white cabinets with the lovely soffit to give the appearance of the wall cabinets going to the ceiling... and a bathtub of a top mount sink - glazed porcelain.I actually remember being bathed in this thing... Anyway.. When time came for my oldest brother to buy a house with a new kitchen he was given a free sink. He was blown away! For the first time in his life he has granite! Does he know about different qualities of granite? no. Does he know about different cabinet brands and features and warranties? no. It's safe to say he was not an informed consumer when it came time to speak about his sink. Given he only has a 27" but this still allows a huge variety of sinks from various companies in various gauges and layouts. So after he closed on his house and I visited with my Wife (Both of us are in the kitchen and bath industry) we walked into the kitchen and felt sad for my brother. I walk over to the sink... I cant find a logo. Cant find a UPC (uniform plumbing code) I did find a mismatched finish from the drain to the sink. I could not locate a grid. I estimate the sink to be barely 7" deep. I turned on the faucet and was pleasantly greeted by a distant marching band snare drum; This sink was loud from the vibration of the water hitting the steel. I opened his sink base and investigated. I found the sink was sprayed with a slim amount of undercoating - no pads. I thought to myself; "This was a free sink" it had to be. When my brother came back into the kitchen I asked some questions about his granite choices. He first liked a color called Uba Tuba, but the fabricator said to him, "If you get Tan Brown, I can give you the sink for free" He liked the Uba Tuba, but his wife liked tan brown, so they compromised and chose Tan Brown. Now let me explain what has happened.....
Today he now has a sink that is starting to show rust. RUST - but its STAINLESS STEEL! Stainless steel has different grades. Check this out: stainless chart
A stainless sink needs to be 304 grade. Why? The nickle content for corrosion resistance. 302 stainless is less expensive and has a lower resistance to corrosion because of its lower nickle content...ah cheaper! In fact, you can't use this grade in doctors offices, why? Because the chemicals, they will pour in the sink will eat through it.
I recently reviewed the supplier of free sinks for my area. Their website has no mention of the stainless grade... I am curious to know the quality. Its funny the site is so poorly arranged and often grammatically incorrect. In general, the site gives me that feeling of "I've just been scammed."
Problems the "Free Sink" causes the seller
- They lose money. They THINK it's only $40 or $50 for the sink. But that's not exactly true.
- Consider how much they pay their skillful granite people to fabricate the top. These "Free Sinks" are often not exact to each other. (Remember, buying the cheapest sink may mean bouncing from supplier to supplier) Which means the sink cut out need to be done by hand. A CNC cutter will not do. This takes more time... and you guessed it, time is money.
- The top and sink gets installed. Great. Now 3, 6, or 12 months down the line the customer is NOT happy with the sink. The sound, the rust, the fact you can't get a bottom grid etc. They take their dissatisfaction by alerting all social networking avenues and their friends. Bummer. In a small business, reputation and service is everything. A mark against that can cause a huge ripple effect.
Problems the "Free Sink" causes the buyer
- The sound. Oh the Sound! You either hear the drum roll when the faucet goes on, and the faint echo through the house when you kid drops their glass into it.
- You have a 30"+ sink base, but have a sink the measures 21" wide. You think you could have gotten a bigger sink? Yes. Absolutely. But it wasn't free. And you didn't know. So you keep washing those cookie sheets angled out of the sink.
- Often, no bottom grid or grill will be available to protect the bottom of these free sinks. Ouch. Now you start to see scratches in the finish. And guess what... that leads to rusting. See here why a grid is so important.
What's the Big Deal? It's Just the Sink.
An accredited kitchen designer uses a "Triangle" when designing your kitchen. This is the distance between your stove, refrigerator, and you guessed it... THE SINK. These are the three points that you use the most. You don't believe me. Try and take notice next time where you spend the most time in the kitchen.
Let's role play :
A customer, or you, want a new kitchen: Yay! Time to get that amazing fridge I saw at Home Depot and I can finally get that stove I like. Sink? yeah I'll take the FREE ONE??? See how backwards this sounds?? If you aren't getting this, then seriously, I have a bridge to sell you.
COSTS OF CHANGING SINK AFTER INSTALL
Okay. You saw this informative blog post too late. How much is this "Free Sink" going to cost me now?
- Well, first you'll have to find another sink. It may take a little while to find one that will fit in the existing hole exactly. (time is money).
- You need to find a plumber to shut off the water, if you aren't handy.
- You need to find a fabricator that will do this type of service call. And get into their schedule. But since you aren't a "big profit job" you'll probably have a week or so to wait.
- If you have a new sink totally different then the hole you have cut already, you better hope the fabricator doesn't do a botch job on you. Then you could be buying a new granite top too!
- Make sure they use the mounting clips that come with the sink. Otherwise one day you could be standing there and the sink could fall right off the stone top because the glue let loose. Duh!
Just Wrap It Up Already!
People REFINANCE their homes, save up tax returns, and pillage their kids college funds to remodel a kitchen. It can be expensive! especially when done well. So tell me again how or why are you are going to put a $40, or "free" sink in your $5,000 top and $30,000 kitchen?
Here's my point: YOU'LL DO THIS KITCHEN ONCE every 20 years. You're going to commit to the HOLE we cut into the top...for 20 years. Don't sell yourself down for a free sink, a cheap and loud sink. A sink that has a weak finish and lacks padding and undercoating. The sink needs to be quality. You can cheap out on an appliance (which only last about 9 years now). You can cheap out on curtains, because you're going to get tired of them next year anyway. You can cheap out on paint. All of this can be redone easily. Commit to a sink that has all the quality 20 years needs. Commit to a sink that has a warranty. Do it right the first time.
UPDATE - September 2021
Yesterday, September 1st, 2021, A Panicked customer came in looking to replace this sorry excuse for a sink. Said his contractor included it when they did a renovation - 5 YEARS AGO (And yes, this was in his kitchen)
This product is still widely used and sold to fabrication to offer as a free sink.
The lack of service, consideration, concern, and due diligence by the fabrication industry who willingly purchase this product gets me upset for all the unknowing homeowners who have this pathetic product.
If you were to replace the brakes on your vehicle, would you be comfortable taking "free brake pads" with calipers? Would you feel safe and confident?
People spend thousands of dollars of their hard earned money on a new kitchen or a new home. Some people only get to achieve this in the final years of their life. This is the sink they get? This is what is offered to them?
" But it's Free"
Cost savings to the fabricator, contractor, or kitchen dealer is short lived. Difference in price between this sink, and a true stainless sink is negligible.
Do you think this homeowner will ever use the same contractor again? Will the contractor get any referrals?