This post contains affiliate links.
In my quest to remodel my kitchen on a budget, I wanted to reuse and DIY everything I could. I didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around to put into a kitchen remodel, I was happy with the layout of my kitchen, and my cabinets were still in good condition. But was it possible to replace my dingy double-bowl, stainless steel sink with a stylish farmhouse sink, without replacing the cabinets? A couple of contractors and salesmen told me it couldn’t be done, but this little handy-woman figured out how to do it.
Confession time… I have a dreadful habit of not taking any “before” pictures. I dug up an old picture of our kitchen before we bought the house so you can get an idea of our starting point before the new sink, countertops, and paint. I take no responsibility for the clutter in this photo! Although I admit my own clutter is probably no better…
Which sink did I buy?
The important key was to search for a sink specifically labeled as “retro-fit.” These sinks are designed to fit into standard sink base cabinets. You’ll want to read the description carefully, but most of these sinks are labeled at the exact width of your base cabinet.
I decided to go with a stainless steel farmhouse sink for a few reasons: it looks industrial and modern, and it’s cheaper and weighs a lot less than porcelain. After searching the internet and reading reviews, I decided on a 33″ Retro-fit Flat Apron Farmhouse Sink from Auric. Shipping from www.auricsinks.com was fast and the sink was well packaged and beautiful in person. I bought it on sale and the price couldn’t be beat. The sink also comes in 30-inch and 36-inch options.
Prepping the cabinet
I intended to replace my countertops, which made this process a lot easier. If you are removing countertops with the intent of reusing them, that’s a serious pain in the rear-end (been there, done that). The contractor would not measure for my new countertops until the new sink was installed, so I removed the old countertops myself. This ended up saving a few hundred dollars on the final bill. It was a bit of hard work, but after I removed the laminate countertops, prepping the sink base was relatively easy.
First I removed the doors from the cabinet, then the false drawer at the top. Next, with a hand saw I very carefully carved out the top slat. I used a hand saw for this process because I was nervous of getting carried away and cutting too far into the cabinet with an electric tool.
The next step was to install supports in the cabinet for the farmhouse sink. The sink will come with instructions for how to do this. I carefully measured the height of the sink from the top of the cabinet and, using 2 x 4s from Home Depot, I installed supports in the base cabinet for the sink to rest on. Despite my best efforts, I needed to add some shims to get the sink completely level and in line with the top of the cabinets.
I wanted the front of my new sink to be flush with the new countertops, so I used scraps from the 2 x 4s to install spacers at the back of the sink so the amount of space it protrudes from the front of the cabinet was exactly the distance of the countertop overhang. During his measure, the countertop contractor confirmed that the overhang would match up with the sink.
Next, the sink slid in from the top of the cabinet and rested on the supports I built and up against the spacers. After the countertops were installed, I caulked around the left and right edges of where the cabinet meets the new sink.
How do I feel about the final result?
Auric claims their stainless steel sinks are scratch resistant, but I think they are over-selling that aspect of their product. After several months of use, there were hairline scratches in the bowl of the sink. Nothing major, but I also was using the protective great and I’m always very gentle with my new, shiny things. Later when I had my cabinets painted, the contractor put a large scuff in the front. Luckily he was able to buff it out using a stainless steel repair kit. The sink took well to that product, but is the Auric sink really all that scratch resistant? I don’t think so.
It’s also difficult to keep the inside of the stainless steel sink looking clean and pristine as water spots tend to build up on the inside. I periodically use a stainless steel cleaner on the inside of the sink to improve its appearance. If anyone has tips for what they use to keep the inside of their sinks looking nice, I’d love to know!
Ultimately I enjoy the look of the stainless steel farmhouse sink paired with granite countertops and my wooden island top (which I’ll write about in another post). The sink has created a striking focal point in my kitchen and the depth is convenient for cleaning big pots and pans.
A note about drainage
Farmhouse sinks are often much deeper than a standard sink, so you’ll want to be mindful of the position of the sanitary tee that connects to the drain pipe in the wall. The center line of the sanitary tee needs to be below the sink drain, or your sink won’t drain properly, which could lead to back flow. This is especially important to keep in mind if you want to install a garbage disposal. A garbage disposal would lower the discharge location from your sink by at least ten inches. For some people, the position of your drainage pipe might not allow enough clearance for a deep farmhouse sink, not to mention a disposal. So evaluate your sanitary tee and drain pipe situation before you decide to install a farmhouse sink!
If you’ve installed a retro-fit farmhouse sink in your home, let me know what your experience was like in the comments!