The Only Guide You Will Ever Need to Choosing and Installing a Farmhouse Sink
One of the toughest things about a kitchen renovation is finding ways to make your design stand out from being just another kitchen. Yet finding those extra elements can be exhausting, and you never know exactly how it will all come together.
Farmhouse sinks have become extremely popular because they instantly transform your design and give it that sought-after wow factor, which can be difficult to attain. But, they are installed a little differently than traditional sinks and you might be wondering what it takes. Luckily, we've put together this guide to give you a complete, step-by-step understanding of what you're in for.
We'll let you in on a little secret - it's much simpler than you think!
Step 1. Choose the Right Sink - and Order it Early!
Why order early?
Fireclay farmhouse sinks are sought-after, large and heavy. This translates into frequent backorders and, depending on the sink, sometimes freight shipping - which can take up to a week longer than a normal FedEx delivery.
When a sink is backordered, beware of websites that say “usually ships in 2 weeks” or “usually ships in 3-4 weeks”. These are often standard lines that aren’t checked against the actual delivery date of the next shipment. Whenever possible, Annie & Oak will state the estimated arrival date of the new shipment right on the product page so you will know exactly when you'll be getting your sink. This way you can plan your sink arrival around your kitchen renovation, and not the other way around!
What Size Should You Get?
If you haven’t picked out your base cabinet, and your cabinet maker or designer (or you, if you’re going the DIY route) hasn’t already planned/designed for it, you can choose any size you like! You’ll just need to get a base cabinet wide enough to fit it afterwards.
If you do have a cabinet maker, however, you should discuss it with them first - even if they haven't made or designed your cabinets yet. They will know exactly what size will work best, which will make everything much easier for both of you.
Diagram 1. The main dimension of your farmhouse sink is the length (side to side).
The most common sizes for single basin sinks are 30” and 33”. If you’re going for a double basin sink and you have the space, don’t be afraid to opt for the 36” or 39” size – they will give you a little extra room to work with and they look amazing! If you have a small kitchen, we recommend a smaller sized (eg. 24-26”) sink. It will give the whole space a balanced look – and you’ll come out of this looking like a pro.
Do you already have your base cabinet, or is its size already determined? If so, you will need to figure out what it can accommodate.
Most manufacturers will give a ‘minimum base cabinet size’ recommendation with each sink, and it is generally 3” larger than the sink length. This is just a generalization, and is talking about the outside width of your cabinet.
Your main concern will be what dimensions your cabinet can fit, and how it can be customized to accommodate the sink you pick. The maximum length (side to side size) of your sink will be about ¼” less than the inner width of your cabinet. And the maximum overall height of your sink will be the distance between the top of your cabinet base and the top of your cabinet doors. We will be cutting out the cabinet face to fit your sink in step 4.
If your cabinet doors are going to be custom made, you won’t have to worry about the sink height. You can have the doors custom fit.
Diagram 2. Determining your maximum sink width and height based on your individual cabinet size.
What About the Width (Front to Back)?
Most sinks are between 18-20” wide. Unless you are particular about this measurement, don’t fret. They are designed to ensure enough space for your faucet. It’s just personal preference, and a difference between brands. It won’t affect your installation.
Step 2. Check the Manufacturer's Installation Instructions.
Once you've ordered your sink, have a look at any documentation that is supplied by the manufacturer. Are there any special requirements for your sink? Some types may require padding installed underneath them. You will need to keep this in mind during your install process and accommodate for any other requirements that the manufacturer outlines.
Step 3. Cut Your Countertops.
If you chose fireclay or copper as your sink material, you will need to wait for your sink to arrive before attempting this step. Due to its organic or handmade nature, the dimensions can vary by up to 2% in each direction. Otherwise, you may be able to find a template of your sink online before it arrives.
Now you’ll need to decide how you want your counters cut. Do you want to see the edges of your sink, or do you want them completely covered? Refer to diagram 3, below, to help with your decision. With the exposed edges option (B), you will want the counters to be slightly overlapping (¼”) the sink walls to allow for proper sealing, and to avoid any unsightly gaps.
Keep in mind that different sinks will have different wall thicknesses. With thinner walls, option A is recommended.
You'll also need to account for the roundness of the front apron. Notice how in the examples below the apron protrudes slightly from the edge of the counter. This ensures that the straight edge of your counter lines up with straight edges of the sink. You will want any roundness of the corners to come past the counter for a truly professional look.
If you don’t have a manufacturer provided template (as is usually the case), use your individual sink to create one on cardboard – or you can give the actual sink to the company that is cutting your counters to use as a template! Just be sure to give them instructions on how exactly you want the counters cut. If you’re getting marble or granite, you certainly won’t want any mistakes!
Diagram 3. Two different counter cutting options. Option A is recommended with thin wall sinks.
Step 4. Cut Your Cabinet Face.
Cut your cabinet face (blue component in Diagrams 2 and 4) using your template. As in step 3, you may need to create one using your sink and some cardboard.
Trace the template outline onto your cabinet face. Be very precise. These cuts will be visible at the end. Then, cut along your lines. Ideally, you will do this before painting so you can sand and paint the rough edges.
Keep in mind that your sink top will need to be flush with the cabinet top.
Diagram 4. Trace your template onto your cabinet face and then cut along the lines using a jigsaw.
Step 5. Build Your Supports.
Fireclay is extremely heavy – much heavier than most other sinks. However, this step is recommended regardless of your sink weight or material to ensure your sink stays where it’s supposed to – even when it’s fully filled (water is really heavy!).
All you need are 2x4’s, some plywood, wood screws, construction adhesive, a drill, and a way to cut your 2x4s and plywood. You can also use an installation kit for this step. However, for sinks over 100lbs, we recommend opting for the 2x4 support system as described in this guide – it will be able to take on more weight, and you can rest easy knowing you won’t end up with any major kitchen disasters.
If your sink is less than 100lbs, use ½” thick plywood for your shelf. If your sink is 100-150lbs you should get thicker or stronger plywood like 5/8”. More than 150lbs? Go with ¾” thick plywood.
A) Make Your Marks on the Inside of Your Cabinet
Mark on your inner cabinet walls where the base of your sink will sit when installed. Make sure that the top of the sink is perfectly flush with the top of the cabinet when you make the marks. Now check your marks again. Are they level? Maybe check them one more time…is your sink still flush? Make any necessary adjustments now.
Diagram 5. Mark the height of the base of your sink on your inner cabinet walls. If your sink is less than the width of your cabinet, you still need to do this step. This will be where the top of your plywood shelf will sit.
B) Install Your 2x4 Supports.
Cut your 2x4s to size and install on the left, right, and back walls ½” lower than your mark (or whatever the thickness of your plywood is). Remember we still need to install the plywood shelf on top! Apply construction adhesive to your 2x4’s and screw them in using 4 evenly spaced wood screws.
C) Install Your Plywood Shelf
Measure the inside of your cabinet and cut your plywood shelf to size less ¼” for a nice fit. Measure and cut holes for the plumbing connections in the back, and the drain connection to your sink.
Diagram 7. Cut your plywood shelf and install on top of the 2x4’s.
D) Place Your Sink and Check Your Work
Test it out by resting your sink on the supports and checking if it’s level and flush. Check your shelf – is it bowing? If it is, you’ll need to level-up your plywood thickness.
Your sink is now fully supported! Farmhouse sinks will be heavy enough that they will simply rest in place. You can give yourself a pat on the back. You're most of the way there!
Diagram 8. Make sure your sink is still flush with the top of the cabinet when in place.
Step 6. Finish Your Cabinet Fronts and Install your Counters and Plumbing Fixtures.
Now it’s time to see your hard work pay off. This is the step where everything comes together.
Install the cabinet face and doors to complete the cabinet front, and finish the rest of your plumbing and counter installation. Once your counters are in place, caulk the edges of your sink where they meet the counter to protect your cabinets from any moisture damage.
Diagram 9. Install Your Cabinet Face and Counters.
That's it! You have now installed a farmhouse sink, you pro.