Kitchen Countertop and Sink Installation

by Josh on December 28, 2011 · 9 comments

in Kitchen,Projects

With my butcherblock countertop cut and finished, I was ready to install it along with my new kitchen sink and faucet.

As a reminder, here is the sink area of my kitchen before the installation:

countertop and sink beforeI began the replacement process by removing the current countertop and sink. For the countertop I scored the caulk along the edges and removed the few screws that attached it to the base cabinets. The faucet came out easily by just reversing the basic installation steps: closing the water supply pipes under the sink, disconnecting the hoses, and unscrewing the faucet base from the sink. Then I could free the sink by unscrewing the ten small retaining clamps around the edge of the sink on the underside of the counter. The faucet supply hoses and the sink retaining clamps are both visible in the photo below.

old sink mounting hardware

old countertop removed and cut

Removing the countertop also allowed me to remove the old backsplash, which was a melamine-type material that had been painted several times. To make sure I wasn’t disturbing a hazardous material, however, I pried off a small sample and brought it to a local asbestos testing lab.

asbestos test sample

I also took samples of my basement ceiling and some old floor tile on basement steps. (I’ll write more about the basement in a future post.) Testing the samples cost $40 each, which sounded like a pretty reasonable price for the peace of mind the test provides. Best of all, the testing company was able to get my results in less than a day so the project wasn’t paused for long. The results: no asbestos in any of the samples. My home tests for lead paint on the backsplash also came up negative. I was on a roll.

With no hazardous materials to worry about, I removed the rest of the backsplash in the sink area and an identical one on the wall behind the stove. Then I placed the new countertops on the base cabinets and marked the area of the sink base face frame I would need to remove to accommodate the IKEA Domsjo apron sink. These dimensions are specified in the installation instructions from IKEA, but it I wanted to have the counters in place to mark the exact cut locations.

Unfortunately I forgot to take “in-process” and “after” pictures of this, so on the picture below the highlighted box marks the portion of the cabinet frame I cut out using my jig saw.

sink base showing cut area

I had remove the countertops when making the modifications to the sink base. With that work done, I reinstalled the new countertops and attached them to the base cabinets. At this point, I was ready to install the sink itself– the weight and size of which required me to call in the reinforcements. Ms. Bungalow would rather have continued crocheting the blanket she was making for our younger son, but she was a good sport about heaving and grunting the massive ceramic double bowl sink into position.

sink installed detail

The fit was tight but right (check out the 1/8″ clearance with the drawer to the left of the sink), so I moved ahead with installing the new faucet and reconnecting the drain. Between the asbestos testing and the final sink base modifications, this work stretched into a third day since I had disconnected the water and I was getting anxious to be able to wash dishes.

The existing drain pipe didn’t leave me much to work with. It was a jumble of metal and plastic pipe and I found to my shock that the metal pipe going from the u-bend to the drain pipe coupling at the wall was so corroded that I inadvertantly pushed my finger right through the underside of the pipe when I removed it. I had never noticed any water dripping under the sink, but it’s hard to imagine how that pipe had not been leaking. Hmm. Unfortunately, as with my sink cut-out, I was so focused on the job at hand that I forgot to pick up my camera to document the drain pipe “before.”  Trust me, it was ugly.

plumbing parts

Now that I knew i was replacing all the sink cabinet drain pipe, I went over to my local True Value Hardware for supplies. It’s a good thing these stores are so close by, too, because it took me several trial-and-error trips to finally bring home all the materials I needed. I had the most trouble figuring out how to make the elbow and connection to the second sink basin and how to handle the challenging relative heights of the pipe on either side of the u-bend.

new kitchen drain pipe

My challenge with the u-bend was that after adding the elbow for the second sink basin and the inlet for the diswasher drain, the pipe coming down from the sink was a few inches lower than the outlet pipe going into the wall and I was having trouble making the standard u-bend pipes fit. When I explained my challenge to the clerk at True Value, he suggested I try the gray flexible rubber u-bend you can see in the photo above. After cutting off a bit of excess length, I clamped down the rubber pipe for a great fit– though I think the u-bend is technically installed in reverse. Hey, it works and it doesn’t leak.

Other than my challenge with the u-bend, working with plastic drain pipe was a pleasure. It cuts easily with a hack saw and the couplings can all be connected by hand and just given a simple final torque with a pipe wrench. Best of all, with my new plastic pipes I won’t have to worry about unnoticed pipe corrosion under my sink.

countertop and sink after

Where the drain had been a bit challenging, the faucet installation was a snap. I had resolved any faucet issues weeks before as I tried to find a single-hole faucet with traditional looks and a cost less than $150. I settled on the Belle Foret kitchen faucet above that I found online. In addition to meeting my basic criteria, I like that it has a convenient single-handle design that isn’t a right-hand biased side-mounted as so many similar faucets are. I do most of the cooking and dishes and I’m a lefty. The faucet is working out just fine, but I wish I had given more consideration to faucets with pull-down sprayers.

My mild restlessness about the faucet aside, I’m thrilled with the sink and countertop replacement. The before-and-after collage below shows just how big a change this made to the kitchen.

sink and counter comparison collage

Great, right?

You also might have noticed the white subway tile sample in the “after” photo. I’ll have more to say about subway tile and my backsplash area in a future post.

Disclosure: I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

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