How to Install a Sink and Faucet

Give your kitchen or bathroom a much-needed update by installing a new sink and faucet.

Easy Update

Installing a new sink is a fast and easy kitchen facelift. One thing to consider when choosing a new sink and faucet is how many holes the faucet requires. Is it a single-handle unit or does it have separate handles for hot and cold water? Do you need holes for a separate sprayer or soap dispenser? Most drop-in sinks are available with various numbers of faucet holes.

Editor's Tip: If you end up with different setups, such as a one-hole faucet and a three-hole sink, you can make it work by using the plate, called an escutcheon, that typically comes with the faucet to cover unused holes in the sink.

How to Choose a Sink

Measure the width of the base cabinet in which your sink will be installed. A sink should be four inches narrower than the cabinet to allow room for a mounting that doesn't require modifications of the cabinetry.

Also know that when it comes to the quality of sink materials, you get what you pay for. An inexpensive stainless-steel sink flexes when you push on it, scratches easily, and is difficult to keep clean. A higher-quality, heavier-gauge (6- or 8-gauge) stainless-steel sink, such as one with a burnished finish, is a better choice. If you opt for a stainless-steel sink, make sure the underside is well coated with sound-deadening insulation.

Enameled cast-iron sinks come in a variety of colors; they last much longer than enameled steel sinks. Acrylic sinks have the look of enameled cast iron, and the higher-end models are nearly as durable. Both cast-iron and acrylic sinks have insulating properties, so water stays warm longer than it does in a stainless-steel sink.

What You Need

To complete this project you will need the following tools and materials: a sink, a faucet, a strainer set, a basin wrench, water pump pliers, a crescent wrench, a screwdriver, a putty knife, plumber's putty, silicon sealant, a flashlight, a bucket, and towels. Keep a jigsaw close by in case you need to enlarge the opening in the countertop.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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. You may need help, as many sinks are quite heavy.

Step 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 than the old one, enlarge the opening in a laminate countertop by cutting it with a jigsaw. If you have a slab countertop, such as stone or quartz-surfacing, you will not be able to change the size of the opening.

Step 6: Install Faucet on Sink

It's easiest to install a faucet and other hardware on a new sink before the sink is put in place. Start by installing a standard basket strainer in one sink hole and the garbage disposal strainer in the other hole. Make sure you know which strainer goes to which hole. Place a rope of putty under the lip of the strainer body and hold it in place as you slip on the washers and tighten the nut.

Step 7: Prep Garbage Disposal

Following the manufacturer's instructions, prepare the garbage disposal mounting hardware for installation. Open the electrical cover plate and hook up an appliance extension cord using wire nuts. Replace the cover plate.

Step 8: Attach Garbage Disposal

Slide the garbage disposal mounting ring over the flange. Then install the cushion mount, making sure the groove on the inside fits over the lip of the sink flange. Position the disposal over the flange; push down and twist until the disposal is fully anchored.

Step 9: Assemble the Drain Pipe

Begin by installing the tailpiece and the arm that attaches to the disposal. Cut pieces to size as needed, then install the trap. Set the sink in the hole to see whether the trap lines up with the trap adapter in the wall; you may need to trim a piece or add an extension.

Step 10: Attach the Air Gap

Attach the air gap with a mounting nut. Run a 5/8-inch hose from the air gap to the disposal. Secure the hose with hose clamps. If the drain hose is easily disconnected from the dishwasher, attach it to the air gap now. Otherwise, attach it when you install the dishwasher.

Step 11: Install the Faucet

Install the faucet. If the faucet does not come with a plastic or rubber gasket, place a rope of putty under the faucet's flange to seal out water. Tighten the mounting hardware.

Step 12: Attach Tubes

Screw flexible supply tubes onto the faucet inlets. Make sure that the tubes are long enough to reach the stop valves, and that their ends are the right size to screw onto the valves. If the faucet has flexible copper inlets, use two adjustable wrenches to avoid kinking the inlets.

Step 13: Hook Up Plumbing

To make your work easier, hook up as much plumbing as possible before you set the sink in the hole. For instance, now is a good time to attach the supply lines for the dishwasher and icemaker.

Step 14: Drop In a 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.

Step 15: 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.

Step 16: Reattach Final 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.) 

Step 17: 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.

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