Can We Replace a Kitchen Sink without Replacing the Countertop

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Last updated: April 19, 2023


How do you run your kitchen with prep, cooking, cleaning, and storing? Does the kitchen sink keep up? If the reason is a remodel, a basin with insufficient space, or a different type of sink, you can remove it and get a new one. 

Can we replace a kitchen sink without replacing the countertop? There’s a lot of detail to decipher in this question, and I will help you better understand the options. I will cover details such as the undermount versus a drop sink installation, the preparation steps, and how to protect your countertop. 

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Can we replace a kitchen sink without replacing the countertop

Assuming the new sink can fit inside the cutout, you can replace a kitchen sink without replacing the countertop. If the sink is larger than the last one, you can hire an expert to cut out more countertop space to make it fit. The problem arises when you get a sink smaller than the existing cutout template; a new countertop is the only solution because the sink can fall through the hole or leave gaps.  

Another problem is thinking you can do the job because a DIY (do it yourself) home improvement show or video showed you the easy steps. One mistake and you will pay more money to correct it rather than hiring a professional to do the job. Therefore, hire a contractor to replace a kitchen sink because the person knows how to preserve your countertop. 

Three essential steps before replacing your sink

Preparation is essential to successful sink removal. Therefore, I would focus on the three steps below before I call a plumber to separate the sink from the countertop. 

Get sink and tailpiece measurements

With the help of measuring tape, get the length measurements of the sink from left to right. Obtain the sink height by measuring it from top to bottom. Measure the sink basin from the bottom to the top of the rim (or divider for double sinks) for depth. 

The tailpiece connects to the sink shutoff valve, and its measurements are only for replacement sinks with greater depth. You will probably need to adjust this; leaving it the same will make it difficult for the new sink to drain well. If the new sink has the same depth, skip this step.  

Pay attention to the kitchen faucet

When you remove the sink, you must remove the faucet components too. All sinks have between one and four holes, and the new sink must have the same amount of faucet holes as the existing one.  

You can upgrade or downgrade, but you must buy a new high-end kitchen faucet. If you upgrade, do not empty any holes, and fill it with a gadget like a sprayer, soap dispenser, water tap, or dishwasher air gap

Turn off water supply lines and disconnect everything

Beneath the sink, turn off the cold and hot water supply lines in the clockwise direction. An alternative route is turning off the water heater valve in the clockwise direction. Also, remove the pressure inside the pipes by turning the faucet on and off. 

Turn off the dishwasher and garbage disposal. Disconnect the garbage disposal, dishwasher drain line, and plumbing from the sink using a wrench. Remove the garbage disposal unit from the cabinet, the water supply tubes, and the mounting hardware attaching the sink to the countertop.  

professional male plumber replacing the kitchen sink

Safely removing a sink: Tips to protect your countertop

Use the right tools

Tools for sink removal are a putty knife and rubber mallet. A painter’s tool combines a sharp end for prying and a flat center for removing old caulking and adhesive. You will also need caulk remover and rubbing alcohol or nail polish to remove stubborn and lingering residue. 

Aim at the adhesive between the countertop and sink

It’s simple to scratch the countertop as you pry the sink from it. Focus the aim on the bonded seal. I would pry it slow with the tool to avoid scratching the surface. 

Squeeze a separator between the two

When you lift it, slide a wide, flat, and durable item inside. That separates the countertop from the sink, and the product should be something that will not scratch either. Plastic door levelers, craft sticks, and wood planks are good choices. 

Metal is a terrible choice; it can scratch, and glass is awful because it breaks. 

Sinks versus countertop: Which gets installed first

I often wondered what gets installed first between the sink and countertop. Contractors in home renovation know the answer, and they all say the countertop goes first. The counter makes installing a sink, backsplash, appliances, and cabinet refacing easy. 

If the reverse occurred, the countertop must fit perfectly around the sink, plumbing, backsplash, appliances, and cabinet alterations. If it doesn’t, the contractors will have to start over with a new countertop. Not only is that wasteful, but it takes too much time to correct. 

double bowl kitchen island undermount sink with black faucet against cooktop and cabinets

Replacing an undermount sink: Is countertop replacement necessary

A drop-in sink sits on top of the countertop with metal clips below it; to replace it, you would lift the sink from the countertop after removing the caulk. That’s much easier than an undermount sink sitting below the countertop. It seals to the countertop above it with an adhesive, and its removal goes down through the base cabinet. 

It is possible to remove an undermount sink from the countertop. Is countertop replacement necessary? It is salvageable when you allow a contractor to separate the countertop sink from the countertop.  

It bonds with solid stone slabs such as granite, marble, quartz, or composite. The slabs have the structure to hold undermounts in place. Popular sink material choices are stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain in the kitchen and ceramic in the bathroom vanity. 

Countertop replacement may be necessary if you want to switch from a drop-in to an undermount. That’s because countertop materials like laminate and tiling may not be eligible for undermount installation. Another reason is the material may require different instructions for installing the undermount.  

Drawbacks of an undermount sink: Understanding the cons

As mentioned in the last paragraph, not all materials work well with undermount sinks. A contractor can tell you if undermounts are eligible for your countertop choice. Replace the countertop material with a solid slab surface or pick a drop sink if it is not. 

Undermounts are heavy, and I would not take a chance on other countertop materials for undermount sinks unless it is solid stone. Even if it connects underneath a stone slab with hardware and adhesive, the heavy undermount can still fall out or sag because of gravity or poor sealant.  

Like solid slab surfaces, undermounts are more expensive to install and buy than drop sinks. 

Undermounts need to be on a level surface for watertight sealing, and non-slab countertops are not always even. Should you choose a non-water-resistant worktop, you risk water damage and mold growth, and the damage will occur in the walls and flooring underneath the sink or in the sealant area between the sink and countertop. 

Is it possible to install a new sink in a granite countertop

The assumption is a granite countertop is too complex to install a sink without replacing the entire thing, and that assumption is false. An expert can add a new sink to your granite countertop in a few hours.  

Still, I would keep two things in mind: 

1The granite must be re-cut if you plan on adding a massive sink. Granite is a vigorous surface to mold, and only an expert with the latest instruments can cut it. 

2The granite countertop surface needs to be re-leveled for a new undermount sink. There must be no trace of the old adhesive glue for the sink to seal to the granite properly

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