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What Gauge Stainless Steel Sink Is Best? 16 vs 18 vs 20

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

You’ve moved into a new home, or you have been renovating your current home.

You’ve got to the kitchen, and it’s shaping up to look incredible. It’s taken many months, plenty of manpower, and a lot of cash.

But, it is all coming together, and you can start to see yourself living and spending plenty of time in it.

However, before you can start getting comfortable, or settling back down, there is one major feature of every kitchen that you need: A good kitchen sink.

Okay, technically, your new kitchen sink should e one of the first things that you should probably have decided on when you are renovating, but the point should be obvious.

Kitchen sinks are a vital part of any kitchen setup, so it is of the utmost importance that you decide on what exactly you are going to fit into your countertop.

There are plenty of materials that you can choose from, from plastic to ceramic, to some type of rock, like marble. It is even possible to find yourself a hardy wooden sink!

However, in recent years, the most popular material that sinks have been made from is stainless steel.

Thanks to their water resistance, durability, and relative cheapness when compared to other more extravagant materials, whilst still looking great, it isn’t hard to see why.

But once you’ve decided on buying a stainless steel sink, another question that you might have been expecting makes itself known: What gauge should you go for in your renovation project?

Well, that’s what we are here to find out. We are going to talk about what exactly a gauge stainless steel sink is, as well as compared the most common types you can find out there.

What Gauge Stainless Steel Sinks?

So, before we begin to discuss what size gauges are best for your type of kitchen, we should briefly explain what they are, and what about them distinguishes them from other sinks.

The main difference between a stainless steel sink and other types is the material it is made out of.

Stainless steel offers a wide range of features and qualities that, whilst not exclusive to these types of sinks, make them overall some of the best options for your money’s worth.

Like other materials such as ceramic, stone, and wood, stainless steel sinks are very durable and are resistant to damage from water and heat.

However, stainless steel, unlike a material would, requires very little maintenance to keep it functional, compared to wood, or even some stone sinks, which can start to deteriorate or soil is not well looked after constantly.

Unlike stone and ceramics, stainless steel also avoids chipping and fragmenting, making it generally safer to use, even after years.

And, perhaps best of all, it is very easy to find an affordable stainless steel sink, which is probably why they have become so popular over the last few years.

What Does ‘Gauge’ Mean For Stainless Steel Sinks?

So, we’ve quickly covered why stainless steel sinks are great, but what exactly does the term ‘gauge’ mean when talking about these types of installations?

Well, in the context of stainless steel, gauge generally refers to the thickness of the steel being used to make the sink.

There are a variety of different levels of gauge for stainless steel sinks. As a rule of thumb, the lower the number for a gauge stainless steel sink, the thicker the steel is that it is made from.

The opposite also holds, so the higher the number of the sink you are looking at, the thinner the steel will usually be.

The gauges for sinks that you can buy and source range generally from gauge 12 to 24.

What Are The Most Common Gauges For Stainless Steel Sinks?

As we have already mentioned, the main range of gauges of sinks you can buy goes from 12 up to 24.

However, the ones we want to focus on today are gauges 16, 18, and 20, as these are the most readily available that most people will be able to find, and have the best domestic uses for your home or establishment.

Gauge 20 Stainless Steel Sink

These are some of the most affordable options of stainless steel that you will be able to buy.

This is primarily due to their relative thinness, especially when they are compared to even gauges 16 and 18.

The steel that these sinks are bent from tends to be very thin, measuring around 0.0375 inches thick.

This gauge is a very common choice to build smaller sinks from, as the thinness will not compromise the overall strength of a smaller steel item such as this

Gauge 18 Stainless Steel Sink

Gauge 18 is probably the most common type of stainless steel sink gauge that you will find, especially in most domestic settings, such as in your kitchen. 

The thickness of these sink’s steel is approximately 0.05 inches thick, a decent amount more than gauge 20.

Whilst this does mean that these sinks tend to be a little more expensive than gauge 20, they are also noticeably stronger.

This allows the sinks that are built with gauge 18 stainless steel to be significantly larger than their thinner counterparts, and more appropriate for use in most people’s homes.

Gauge 16 Stainless Steel Sink 

Probably the thickest type of stainless steel sink gauge, these stainless steel sinks are some of the best that you can find in your home.

Sinks made from this gauge of stainless steel tend to be very expensive when compared to gauge 18, and especially gauge 20.

However, their price is often justified, as the 0.0625-inch thick stainless steel means that these products will stand up to pretty much any punishment a domestic setting can throw at them, as well as be noticeably larger as well.

Comparing Gauge Stainless Steel Sinks

So, now that we have covered the main gauges of stainless steel that we will be comparing for using in kitchen sinks, we can finally start to compare them and see where each gauge shines.

What Gauge Stainless Steel Sink Is Best 16 vs 18 vs 20 (1)

Thickness & Durability

When it comes to how thick the stainless steel used in the making of a kitchen sink is, their thickness also dictates how durable they generally are.

Unsurprisingly, this means that the higher the gauge you are using, the weaker a stainless steel sink will probably be.

Gauge 16 sinks are the best in this regard, and are plenty durable enough for most homes, although gauge 18 does also perform admirably, and is also very suitable for widespread use.

Gauge 20 sinks meanwhile, whilst not the thinnest type of stainless steel sink out there, do suffer from a lack of durability because of it and are known to deteriorate and break much sooner than their counterparts.

This isn’t to say that 20 gauge steel is useless as a sink material.

But it does mean that a sink designer using this thickness will likely have to compensate for this shortcoming in some way, such as by making the sink smaller than would be useful for most people.

Only buy this if you have no alternative.


Logic would suggest that the thicker and more material used in a sink would also increase the price of said object, and this generally holds for stainless steel as well.

By this metric, gauge 16 is almost always the most expensive and is outside many people’s budgets.

Gauge 20, meanwhile, is almost always the most affordable, which is why it is still often considered useful for domestic settings, though they are not ideal.

Gauge 18 sits comfortably in the middle of the other two options, being thick enough for most households, whilst still being more affordable than gauge 16.

Most Appropriate Uses

So, with the previous factors considered, where do these gauge sinks work best?

Well, if budget is of little concern, gauge 16 should be the sink you pick for your home kitchen.

For those on a slightly smaller budget, gauge 18 is a perfectly fine compromise between being cheap and tough.

Gauge 20, whilst perhaps poorly durable for most homes, is still useful in some settings, such as if you work at a bar, or if you are on a very tight budget for your kitchen.

Which Gauge Stainless Steel Sinks You Should Probably Avoid

There are other gauges that you can use for making sinks, such as gauges 14 and 12.

However, these are made for commercial use in working kitchens, meaning that they are much more expensive, and are likely too large for your kitchen sink space. Avoid these for domestic use.

Final Thoughts

So, whilst there is certainly plenty of options out there for your stainless steel kitchen sink (see also ‘How To Drill A Hole In A Stainless Steel Sink‘), these three gauges all have their ideal uses. All you have to do is decide which one works for you.

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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