Even when you can't afford a full kitchen makeover, you can give your kitchen a fast and affordable visual boost with a new sink and faucet. Here's how.
Because kitchen sinks and faucets long ago evolved from simply functional tools into major kitchen fashion accessories, manufacturers provide seemingly endless component choices. In this example, we selected stylish products that are friendly to do-it-yourselfers seeking a fast kitchen facelift -- a drop-in sink and a top-mount, single-handle faucet.
When making your decisions, keep a couple of factors in mind. While most drop-in sinks are available with various numbers of faucet holes, you should know how many holes your faucet requires. Is it a single-handle unit, or does it have separate handles for hot and cold water? Do you want a separate sprayer or soap dispenser?
Even if you do wind up with differing setups, such as the one-hole faucet and three-hole sink we used for our project, you can make it work because faucets typically include a plate called an escutcheon that covers unused holes in the sink.
Be sure to measure the width of the base cabinet in which your sink will be installed. A sink should be 4 inches narrower than the cabinet to allow room for a mounting that doesn't require modifications of the cabinetry.
1. Shut off water supply and power. The copper lines that supply hot and cold water to the sink often have shutoff valves under the sink. Turn them off. In some homes, you may need to turn off water elsewhere, such as at the lines in the basement that lead to the sink. Once the water supply is off, turn the faucet on to let water and pressure drain from the lines. If you have a garbage disposal, turn off the breaker panel switch that provides electricity to the kitchen and unplug the disposal's power cord.
2. Disconnect existing sink and faucet from plumbing. Use a crescent wrench (or a basin wrench if the nuts are difficult to reach) to disconnect the faucet from the supply lines. Then disconnect the sink from the drainpipes using water pump pliers. Keep a bucket and towel handy to clean up the water that inevitably will spill from the pipes as you disconnect them.
3. Disconnect garbage disposal. Disconnect the disposal from the sink by loosening the ring that attaches the disposal to the sink flange. The best way to do this is to insert a long screwdriver into the lugs on the ring and twist. When the disposal is loose, lift it off the drainpipe. You also must remove the disposal's mounting bracket from the bottom of the sink drain; you'll need it to attach the disposal to the new sink. To remove the mounting bracket, pry the retaining clip off the drain flange, then loosen the screws on the bracket.
4. Remove old sink. Many sinks are secured to the countertop by clamps under the countertop. To remove the clamps, loosen their screws. Loosen the sink by inserting a putty knife under its edges. Lift out the sink, keeping in mind that you may need help, as many sinks are quite heavy.
5. Measure countertop opening. Your new sink's box should include a template that shows you how large the countertop opening must be. Use it to check the existing opening. If your new sink is the same size as your old one, you should be able to drop it into the existing opening. If your new sink is larger, enlarge the opening by cutting it with a jigsaw.
6. Install faucet on sink. It's easiest to install a faucet on a new sink before the sink is put in place. Follow the installation instructions for your specific faucet. The process typically involves laying a gasket on the sink, then setting the faucet on top of the gasket with its tailpieces extending through the sink's holes. Tightening a nut on the underside of the sink secures the faucet to the sink.
7. Drop in new sink. Confirm the sink's fit by setting it into the new hole, grasping the sink through the drain holes. Lift the sink out and apply silicon sealant around the edge of the opening, being sure not to leave any gaps. Then set the sink in place. Press on the sink to set it in the sealant. If your sink requires clamps to secure it to the countertop, attach those now. Use a damp cloth to wipe any excess sealant off the countertop. Let the sealant cure for 30 minutes before proceeding.
8. Install new strainers. You could use the old strainers in a new sink's drain holes, but getting shiny new ones is usually part of getting a new sink. You often need to purchase these separately from the sink. Apply plumber's putty to the underside of each strainer flange and set the strainers into the holes.
9. Reattach plumbing. On the sink's underside, attach the gaskets that came with the strainers to the strainer flanges. Then attach the drainpipes to the strainers and tighten the nuts. (You may need to adjust the lengths of the drainpipes if your new sink's shape is different from the old one's.) If you have a garbage disposal, reconnect it to the sink flange, insert its drainpipe, and plug the power cord in. Reconnect the faucet by reversing the steps you took to disconnect the water lines. Turn on the power to the kitchen.
10. Turn on water and check for leaks. For a few days after you finish the installation, keep a close eye on the plumbing, as small leaks are almost certain to pop up. Be ready to tighten fittings and add sealant or putty as needed.