Since moving into our house in late 2019 I have wanted to replace the kitchen sink. The existing sink was an enameled cast iron double bowl that weighed around 130 lbs. My preference is for one large single bowl so that I can fit my larger pots, pans, and cutting boards. I also wanted to add an instant hot water faucet, which wasn’t possible with the existing sink.
To replace the sink, I needed to remove all of the existing plumbing and fixtures and re-plumb, which was a bit daunting but nothing that can’t be learned by watching some YouTube videos. The bigger problem was that this sink was a “drop-in” model, meaning that it is meant to be installed from the top, but for some reason this particular one was installed from the bottom in an “under-mount” configuration.
Now, there are a few standard ways to under-mount a sink, but a drop-in sink is not built to be under-mounted, so the builder took the route of placing wood cleats around the sink, adding the sink, and then putting the counter over it. This gave me no obvious way to remove the sink, and any non-obvious approach (i.e. figuring out some way to remove the cleats without removing the countertop) risked me being crushed under 130 lbs of iron.
This posed quite a conundrum, and so the sink remained for several years. Until last month, when Katy was out of town for a week and I decided to go for it. I figured it would take one day to remove everything and drop the old sink out, then one additional day to install the new sink. All told, the project took five very stressful days.
Removing the old plumbing and fixtures was relatively straightforward, but one of the water valves would not fully close, so I had to shut off the water to that part of the house for the duration of the project. Next I built a contraption for holding the sink in place while I removed its supports and then lowering it down.
Cutting all of the bolts on the cleats proved extremely challenging. The space was extremely tight and the two tools that would fit — an oscillating saw for the front and a reciprocating saw for the rest — were mostly ineffective at cutting the screws. I had to go back to the hardware store to get carbide blades, which still didn’t work very well. A lot of drilling and cutting and hammering and prying eventually got the four cleats removed.
Dropping the sink out involved a cheap chain hoist and a lot of patience.
Since I had shut off the water and had a leaky valve, I figured I might as well replace all four. That required an additional trip to the hardware store. Next I discovered that the outlets below the sink were corroded from water infiltration. They were also non-GFCI and ungrounded. So I had to go back to the hardware store to buy new outlets. The back of the cabinet was warped, and when I removed it I discovered quite a bit of mold, which had to be cleaned. Then I had to go back to the hardware store to buy some new backer material for the cabinet.
Before I could install a new sink, I needed to remove a ton of very stubborn adhesive from under the countertop, which took a lot of sanding and chiseling and swearing. Then I discovered that the underside of the back of the countertop had not been made smooth, which explained why the water had infiltrated the back of the cabinet. That slowed me down and almost derailed the project entirely as I could not figure out how to fix the problem. Eventually I was able to use a diamond disc in a grinder to smooth the surface, although this was somewhat scary and also coated every surface in the house in a fine layer of stone dust. And required two trips to the hardware store.
The cutout for the sink was (of course) non-standard, so the only sink I could find that fit the size and contour was one specific (drop-in) model that I would need to (surprise!) under-mount. When I went to test fit the new sink, I discovered that the cutouts for the fixtures did not work with the countertop, so I had to return it and special order a different variant with only one cut-out. Cue two days wait.
The new stainless steel sink was thankfully very lightweight. I ended up building supports with 2x4s and mounting it that way. Next I needed to carefully make my own cutouts without damaging the sink, which was a bit scary. This also had the unfortunate side effect of spewing little steel chips and dust into my drying caulking — whoops.
With all that done, all that remained was to install the faucet, disposal, disposal air switch, water filter, instant hot water dispenser, dishwasher air gap, and of course all of the water lines. Which turned out to be the easy part of the project!
Was it all worth it? It sure was! I use the kitchen sink many times every day, and every day it brings me joy. As with many DIY projects, the blood, sweat, and tears make the end result all the sweeter.
Since I did a lot of research and am pretty happy with my choices, here is a list of all of the components currently installed:
- Kohler Verse Drop-in Stainless Steel Single Bowl Kitchen Sink
- Flow Motion Activated Single-Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Kitchen Faucet – I really like the convenience of the motion sensor when washing dishes, it allows me to easily use less water by turning the sink on and off by waving at it without losing my temperature setting. That said, when washing bigger items it is easy to accidentally trigger the sensor, which is frustrating.
- Ready Hot Instant Hot Water Dispenser System – I wanted both hot and cold dispensing and this one had the nicest faucet
- Filtrete Maximum Under Sink Water Filtration System – I am ambivalent about water filtration but since I was doing everything else this was easy enough to add
- Existing InSinkErator disposal with new InSinkErator SinkTop Button Dual Outlet Switch – This is much more convenient than a wall switch and since it uses an air tube it is completely safe.
- Counter Soap Dispenser with extension tube (there are many options, I just chose one that was highly rated)