“Come the Revolution”
I don’t normally write on one product as many times as I have written about Karran Sinks, but I have to say that I am really quite taken with this product. While I was at KBIS last year I saw any number of truly fascinating products that I could hardly wait to get back home to write about, but much as I like to keep everyone happy by not singling anyone out, the truth of the matter is this: the products I most enjoyed seeing were in two booths that were quite near each other, namely Formica and Karran Sinks.
One of the things I most want to do for this house is to remodel our kitchen. As anyone who has priced out a new kitchen will tell you, that sort of thing can cost quite a bit of money. Ours is a small kitchen, and we will not enlarge it. Also, having thought about it for some years now, we have decided that we are not going to move the appliances. They’re too close together, and the kitchen is too small, but we’re used to it as it is, and mean to keep the existing footprint. My interior designer friends who often rip out walls and transform itsy-bitsy kitchens into gargantuan Culinary Shrines would surely regard these as modest plans, but even so, we mean to gut the entire room and replace everything now in it. If we went to the open market, it would be hard to get this done for much less than thirty thousand dollars, assuming, as we should, I think, that we were wise enough to invest in well-built cabinetry and appliances that will do a good job and stand the test of time.
As a cabinetmaker, I can clearly save a significant amount in that area, but another area open to me is open to all, really. Countertops come in all sizes and shapes and prices, but one of the materials that is making some significant noise these days is Formica because of the much lower price and because of what they have done to revolutionize the product. One of the things that really helps Formica is Karran Sinks. It’s what was once thought an impossibility, an undermount sink for plastic laminate. I like them for every sort of reason, starting with the unique appearance of them, but another aspect of these sinks is sanitation, which is why they’re increasingly becoming a mainstay in doctors’ offices.
I have referred to Karran Sinks as an undermount sink, but really, the correct term to use is seamless. It’s an important distinction because it has a lot to do with one of the primary benefits of this type of installation, namely that it is seamless. We have undermounted sinks throughout our home. These installations are all about forty years old, and it shows. The one in my bathroom has developed a gap between the top and the undermounted sink, and whenever I’ve been doing a lot of work in the shop, I find that I can splash water into that gap and rinse out a fair amount of sawdust. The one in the kitchen is under a tile countertop and appears sound, but if you look at it closely, you can see the discoloration in the sealant all around the sink.
Undermounted sinks are held in with clips. Done properly one achieves a tight fit between sink and countertop, but that is not the same as watertight. To achieve the latter, the seams are normally caulked with silicone. It keeps the water out, and while it’s new, it looks fine. What happens, though, is that this material tends to transform itself into a nifty growing area for mold and bacteria. It can also fail over a period of time, which is what I suspect has happened in my sink. The caulk to the very back of the seam is still there, as it’s not leaking, but it certainly harbors sawdust; and if it will retain something as relatively bulky as that, it will certainly also give shelter to a fair number of germs, and any number of other creepy crawlies I don’t want to think about! But that’s a typical undermounted sink, and that’s where they eventually end up.
Karran Sinks, by way of contrast, are installed in a way that produces an absolutely seamless integration between sink and plastic laminate top. The pictures that accompany this illustrate the concept much better than anything I might write here. I should point out that this sink can be used in a number of different countertop materials, but whenever I think of Karran Sinks, I think plastic laminate, because what Karran has done with their Edge Series sinks has absolutely revolutionized the industry.
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