February 15, 2023

Choosing the Right Sink for Your Commercial Space

Sinks in commercial environments serve a wide range of functions and there are a few crucial features and designs to consider when choosing the right sink for your business. The demands of the space and the regular sink users will play major roles in selecting the right equipment for your facility. NSF-certified sinks can be broadly categorized into four main groups: wall mount, base mount, freestanding and mobile. We’ve outlined some essential features and details of each of the four types of sinks to help you get started selecting the right sink for your next project.

Wall Mounted Sinks

Sinks installed using a wall mount are a popular option for high-volume hand washing spaces, including kitchens and hospitals. Wall mounting is a crucial part of the health code in the United States, as it keeps the sink away from other surfaces that can be contaminated and makes it easier to clean underneath the sink. The addition of side splash walls can help further contain the risks of contamination from water droplets. These space-saving designs are ideal for labs and healthcare facilities.

Base Mounted Sinks

Base mount sinks, sometimes known as a pedestal mount sinks, are generally foot operated with a small pedal at the bottom of the sink that turns on the water flow. Knee valve operation is also an option, but foot operation is widely considered better for accessibility, as knee heights are not the same across all people. Environments that need a hands-free operation, such as dental offices and other healthcare facilities, will often turn to base mount sinks because of their ease of use and sanitary advantages. The pedestal also houses the plumbing, so pipes are protected and out of view.

Freestanding Sinks

The most common type of sink seen in kitchens and commercial facilities is the freestanding sink, which rests on four legs and can also feature undershelves for extra storage. Although they do not need any additional support, they are typically installed along walls for stability and to save space. Most installations will include a backsplash, which keeps the water from damaging the wall. Backsplashes come in a variety of standard heights, and can also be custom-fabricated to fit a particular space if needed.

Freestanding sinks vary in size and can feature multiple compartments. The number of compartments needed depends on the function of that particular sink in the space. For example, in the United States, the health code requires that dishes washed manually in a commercial facility follow the three step “wash, rinse and sanitize” protocol. Each step is required to have its own compartment, making the three compartment sink a near-essential piece of equipment for most commercial kitchens.

Among freestanding sinks, corner sinks are a variation ideal for high-flow kitchens and labs. The ergonomic design allows you to access multiple bowls simultaneously, improving efficiency. The corner sink is also perfect for spaces with small footprints, like convenience stores and small restaurants.

Mobile Sinks

Mobile and portable sinks have recently seen a growth in popularity when restaurants and healthcare facilities shifted their work outdoors during the pandemic. Mobile sinks are ideal for these applications where a standard hand wash station is inaccessible or inconvenient. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, the sink uses a refillable tank of water in the base of the sink, so no dedicated water source is necessary. Mobile sinks are helpful for jobs in spacious areas, such as in airports or pop-up store locations where walking to a dedicated handwashing station isn’t feasible.

What About Trough Sinks?

Not all spaces need to be concerned with space-saving or sanitization. Sinks requiring multiple faucets where multiple people can wash their hands simultaneously, known as trough sinks or multi-wash sinks, are best for these situations. These sinks are made for big spaces, so they’re not ideal for smaller facilities. Multi-wash sinks are excellent for areas with a high turnover of visitors, like classrooms and bathrooms, or places with large groups of people needing to clean at once, like factories, prisons, farms and mass transit buildings. Cross-contamination can happen more often in a multi-wash sink than in individual sinks, so they’re not ideal for strictly sterile environments. Trough sinks can be wall mounted or freestanding.

A Note on Faucets

Sinks can also be characterized by the type of faucet options, including hand-operated, knee/foot valves, and electronic. While not all sinks will have these types of faucet options, most freestanding, wall mount and pedestal mount sinks have this flexibility of configuration.

Hand-operated faucets have a standard spout and faucet at the top of the sink enclosure with knobs that control the water. In contrast, knee and foot valves have a unique mechanism (operated by the knee or foot, depending on the valve model) that manages the water flow. Electronic faucets use sensors with lenses to track movement and control water flow. Electronic sensors are the more expensive of the hands-free option, as knee- and foot-operated mechanisms are less expensive to manufacture. Knee- and foot-operated faucets are often more reliable than electronic faucets because the lens of an electronic sensor can get clouded over and lose sensitivity. When this happens, the lens must be either cleaned or replaced.

Sourcing The Right Sink

Many factors weigh on deciding which sink to install, such as health codes, building requirements, and the type and amount of expected usage. For most projects, there is a standard sink model that will fit your needs, but for some projects, working with a custom fabricator might be your best option. A trusted supplier should be able to help guide you to the right choice based on your project parameters.


With our expert technicians and over 10,000 items in stock and ready to ship, we’re here to get the perfect sink to you as soon as possible. Contact us to get a quote or learn more about how our custom fabrication can fulfill your needs.

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