There are a two basic types of stainless steel sinks: undermount and self-rimming. The undermount is used in installations where the countertop material is the same all the way through such as granite or a solid surface (i.e. Corian). It's usually installed by the countertop fabricators because of the liability in drilling the counter material for the anchors that will be used to mount the sink. After the undermount sink is attached to the c-top, the rest of the install is the same as the self-rimming sink, which is the type of installation that will be described here.
- Determine your sink configuration and finish. There are a few options available in stainless steel finishes with the most popular being the brushed and mirror finishes.The mirrored finish is very bright and shiny, but as you would expect, it shows water spots very easily.
The quality of a sink is also determined by the thickness of the steel (known as the gauge of the steel) -- the lower the number of the gauge the thicker material. Typical gauges range from 18ga to 22ga.
Typical residential sinks come in a single, double, or triple bowl configuration, with the bowls of equal or unequal size depending on the needs of the consumer. Some sinks come with a small bowl made to accommodate a food disposal.
Sinks come drilled for the specific faucet to be installed on it. Determining factors are whether the faucet is single or two handle, has a sprayer incorporated in the spout, or there is a soap dispenser, all of which will determine how many holes you will need punched out of the sink.
Note: Most applications have the faucet mounted to the countertop on an undermount sink and the faucet mounted to the sink on the self-rimming sink.
- Cut out the countertop (laminate or solid surface). If your countertop is being fabricated for you, the fabricator will gladly cut out the sink for you for a modest charge. You need only drop off the sink template (found in the box) or sink itself if there is no template. Many fabricators have a library of templates and let you fax over your model #.
Mark your cutout on the c-top with the template if you are cutting it yourself. If you are re-using a sink and don't have a template, then mark the width and length of your sink onto the c-top, being careful to copy the radius corners. Now make another line 1/2" to the inside. Use a compass set to 1/2" and follow around the outside line with the point. Wipe off your first, larger line.
Using a bit larger than your jigsaw blade, 3/8" to 1/2", is usually good, drill two holes located in either of the opposite corners, making sure that your hole stays inside the line. With masking tape, mask off around the perimeter of the line to protect the c-top surface.
Insert the jigsaw into one of the corners an cut toward one corner, then use the same hole to work in the other direction. Be sure to support the cutout on the opposite end before finishing the final cut so the weight of the material doesn't snap the piece off prematurely.
- Mount the sink. Make several long "ropes" of plumber's putty by taking a ball of it in your hand and spinning it between your palms. Place the long pieces of putty around the edge of the cutout, connecting them into a continuous seal.
Pick up the sink and set it into the hole. If the hole is cut right, it will be 1/2" smaller than the sink, and the rim of the sink will push down onto the plumber's putty.
Crawl under the sink with your back on the cabinet bottom, reach up and slide clips into grooves on the underside of the sink rim. Using a slot screw driver or a nut driver, whichever type of clip you have, torque down on the screws until they start biting into the countertop, pulling the sink tight and usually squeezing out some of the putty on the top side.
- Plumb in the drain. Install a basket strainer (usually sold separately) in the hole at bottom of the sink by putting down another "rope" of putty around the drain hole then pushing the basket down into the putty, squeezing some out. More will squeeze out as you tighten the nut onto the basket on the underside of the sink.
Use tubular brass or PVC drain fittings, starting with a tailpiece from the basket, into a p-trap (if the drain is at the wall) or an s-trap (if the drain is at the floor) and tighten the slip nuts first by hand, then with a large channel locks. Do not over tighten as the brass and plastic can easily strip out destroying the threads.
Hook up the food disposal in place of a basket strainer if needed
- Hook up the faucet. There a oodles of faucet manufacturers out there that have their own idiosyncrasies in their installations. There are some commonalities, though.
Mount the faucet to the sink. Some faucets come with a gasket that stops water from running between the sink and the faucet. If yours doesn't come with a gasket, the use the plumber's putty around the faucet holes before mounting, pressing the faucet into the putty.
Connect the hot and cold supply lines from the faucet. Some faucets have supplies connected to them and can be fastened right to the shut off valves inside the cabinet, and some need the supply lines added to them.
- Clean up. Using a small slot screwdriver or something similar, push the edge of the screwdriver around the edge of the sink, digging out the excess putty
Repeat this process for the baskets and faucet base if necessary.