Farmhouse, or apron-front sinks, are among the most popular kitchen sinks installed in remodeling and new construction, especially in higher-end projects. Even though they are based on an old-fashioned design, people seem to want them in modern kitchens because they offer a look that is different from the standard rectangular sink.
Farmhouse sinks can be made of any material that other sinks are made from, including stainless steel, cast iron, fireclay, composites and copper. They start at about $400 but the prices go up quickly for some models.Sinks that cost $1,200 and more are not uncommon. And that includes only the sink itself, not the drain lines or trap, the water supply lines and certainly not the faucet.
Farmhouse Sink Installation Methods
In general, kitchen sinks can be installed installed by one of two methods: drop-in or undermount. Drop-in sinks contain a rim that rests on the countertop material. Clips under the sink basin help hold it in place. Drop-in sinks can be used with any type of counter material.
Undermount sinks are supported from below. The installation is considered more difficult because the measurements need to be exact. But undermounts are extremely popular. With an undermount, the sink sits below the counter material, so that the edges of the sink cutout are exposed. For this reason, any countertop material that is solid will work with an undermount sink, including natural stone of any kind, synthetic stone, or man-made solid-surface material. Laminate counters do not work because the laminate is attached to a core of plywood or particleboard, and once you cut out the hole for the sink the interior core will be exposed. Nor does a ceramic tile countertop lend itself to an undermount sink.
You can find drop-in farmhouse sinks, but most are undermount models. But there are some special considerations for installation that changes the costs.
Farmhouse Sink Installation Costs
Expect to pay about $250 to $800 for installation of either a drop-in or undermount farmhouse sink. This is usually more than it costs for other types of sinks, because apron-front sinks are heavy, some weighing over 120 pounds empty. Both drop-in and undermount types need to be supported from the bottom. For most jobs, it takes two people to safely lift the sink into position, and there is extra work that goes in to providing the necessary support and cabinet modifications.
The type of support depends upon the manufacturer and the weight of the sink. Some require that the plumber screw cleats to the interior walls of the sink base cabinet and place the sink on the supports. Others want the cleats combined with vertical supports that extend down to the floor of the cabinet. Some installation instructions call for plywood to sit atop the supports so that the sink basin rests on a continuous solid surface. This method requires drilling a hole for the sink's drain, or drains, as well as making sure the assembly does not interfere with the water supply lines.
In addition, the plumber will need to modify the top of the sink base cabinet. Some sinks come with a template that the plumber can place on the cabinet and trace the area that he or she needs to remove, usually with a jigsaw. This may lead to a complication: When the sink is in place it may interfere with the cabinet doors opening and closing. In that case, the doors will need to be modified so that they operate properly.
Some plumbers will charge by the project, which is the estimate shown above, while others may charge by the hour. Installing a sink should take two to three hours. The hourly rate can vary from $45 to $200, depending on labor costs in your region. Rates at the higher end usually include the plumber as well as a helper.
Fran Donegan is a writer and editor who specializes in covering remodeling, construction and other home-related topics. In addition to his articles and blogs appearing in numerous print and digital media outlets, he is the former executive editor of the consumer magazine Today's Homeowner and the managing editor of Creative Homeowner Press, a book publisher. Fran is the author of two books: Paint Your Home (Reader's Digest) and Pools and Spas (Creative Homeowner Press).