Kitchen sinks come in many different colors (white, silver, black) and materials (stainless steel, acrylic, porcelain). The finishes on these sinks will last a lifetime if maintained correctly. However, many homeowners want simply a new sink color, not a brand-new sink. Porcelain sinks should only be refinished professionally, but stainless steel and acrylic ones can be painted and repaired. This can be done on your own with proper painting preparation; without it, paint will chip and ruin the sink. Painting your kitchen sink isn't difficult, and, depending on its size, it can be done in two to four hours.
Just the Sink
Remove everything from the sink that you do not want painted. This means all hardware from the sink. Disconnect the water lines from the bottom of the sink, remove the nuts that hold the sink into place and slide the water faucet out of the sink. Remove the drains from the bottom of the sink by loosening the nut under the cabinets and removing the drain up through the sink pan.
Clean It Out
Give the sink a wash to remove any stuck-on food particles or sticky leftovers. Make sure that you remove any excess dirt and grime from the sink pan. If necessary, use a scrub pad to remove any stuck-on material. Dry with a cotton rag and make sure no cleaning chemicals are in the sink. Sand the sink with 120-grit sandpaper. The purpose of this is to scratch the surface enough to give the paint something to stick to. You don't want to remove any sink coating with the sandpaper, just scratch the surface so that it isn't glossy. The last step is to give the sink a final cleaning with acetone. The acetone will dissolve other substances in the sink like paints, varnishes and glues. It can be dangerous if inhaled, so make sure the area is properly ventilated. Wear gloves, avoid contact with eyes and make sure no other chemicals are in the sink to avoid a dangerous mix. Wipe the sink down with the acetone, making sure that no particles from the sandpaper remain.
Protect the Countertop
Tape the countertop around the sink with a painter's plastic drop cloth and tape. (Use green tape to begin with, as it will prevent paint bleed.) Tape a 2-inch-wide area from the edge of the sink flange and over the countertop. Make sure that the tape doesn't overlap the sink flange. Once you've laid down a 2-inch-wide strip around the sink, cover all areas surrounding the sink with plastic—out to about 3 feet on either side surrounding the sink. You want to create an isolated area in which to work without getting paint on the countertop. If you have an undermount sink, carry the tape down over the exposed edges of the countertop edge that leads down into the sink.
Spray the sink with primer, and allow to dry. Stainless steel and acrylic sinks are very similar in the way they are painted. The exception is that acrylic will not be primed before painting. Primer will leave a fine film of dust once it dries; remove that dust before painting. Then apply the color coat, holding the spray can 6 to 8 inches away from the surface. Make sure that the paint is oil-based enamel so it will adhere well. Make the first coat thin—there is no reason to try to put all the paint on at once. After the first thin coat has become tacky (about 15 minutes), apply a second thin coat. Follow drying instructions printed on the can, and then apply an extra coat. Allow to dry for 24 hours before use.
Ready to Use
Reinstall the hardware. Be careful not to scratch the paint when reinserting the faucet into the sink holes. Attach the nuts that hold the faucet in place, and then reattach the water lines. When reinstalling the sink drains, you will need to apply a thin layer of plumber's putty beneath the flange of the sink drain, between the flange and the top of the sink drain hole before retightening—this will allow a waterproof seal. You can purchase plumber's putty from your local hardware store. Follow directions on the container for use.
Billy McCarley has been freelancing online since April 2009. He has published poetry for Dead Mule, an online literary publication, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University Of Alabama where he is also a first-year graduate student in history.