What's the best way to go about replacing my kitchen sink and faucet?
July 27, 2009 8:13 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to go about replacing my kitchen sink and faucet?

I have $1500-2000 that I can put towards a sink, faucet, and disposal. I also need the under sink plumbing worked over (there is a persistent leak). Should I source the whole thing piece by piece and then hire a plumber? Should I just get a plumber to sell me the whole thing? How do I know if I'm getting hosed? What's the best way to do this?
posted by aburd to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
You will save the most money if you comparison shop and buy the hardware yourself, then get bids from 3-4 plumbers for the installation. If you are unsure of what to buy you can get free help at most big-box home improvement centers. And ask about close-outs and 'scratch and dent' sales if you are not too picky.

If the leak is not in the supply lines but rather in the drain it is not hard to do that work oneself. Lots of help is online, if you are 'handy'.
posted by TDIpod at 8:27 PM on July 27, 2009

I like to select the fixtures and ask the plumber to buy them for me if he can as he gets a discount. I've found that plumbers may know how to plumb, but design isn't their strong suit and they will buy whatever. I tend to look in the high end designer shops for things like plumbing fixtures and tile, then check out the places where the trades shop as there are usually deals to be had on the same or very similar stuff. If you don't have a regular plumber, get two or three estimates. I tend to go with the people who are/have been plumbers rather than the designer types who wouldn't know a washer from a faucet.
posted by x46 at 8:33 PM on July 27, 2009

Most cities have plumbing and electrical supply houses, where the tradespeople get their supplies and fixtures, and can order from catalogs. The stock items in most of those places, especially in the current soft economy, where inventories have been pared back to the minimum, is going to be pretty basic, contractor grade stuff, but perhaps adequate to your purposes. A stainless steel double kitchen sink, chrome single handle faucet, and strainer bowls, flexible hoses, and makeup fittings to existing pipes ought not to cost more than $500. Add another $80 to $100 for a basic contractor grade waste disposer, if you have wiring and sewage connections for such.

Tearing out an old sink, cleaning up a remaining countertop for a new sink (perhaps patching old holes or slightly enlarging sink cut out for new sink), assembling a faucet to new sink, setting new sink, and connecting water and sewer lines, is a about a 4 or 5 hour job, if no disposer is needed. Another 1/2 hour if you're also hooking up a separate spray hose. This isn't skilled plumbing work, and if I were you, I might look around at having this job done by a general handyman service, particularly if you think water has damaged drywall or cabinetry under the sink. Handyman services can often take care of such ancillary problems, all under one job ticket, for a combined price.
posted by paulsc at 9:22 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

$2000 is about right if you use a plumber for everything. Or, like, half that if you do it yourself. As far as home renovation projects go, this is a pretty simple one (and I'm no expert!)

So I'd invest your first 20 bucks in an "Install Your Own Kitchen Sink" book and do it all yourself, leaning on the helpful guy at Lowe's or Home Depot to get you all the small connecting doodads once you choose the big/visible/important parts.

I'd never done a sink before last summer, but I installed my own starting with nothing but a roughed in plumbing pipe and a hole in the kitchen counter, and it still only took a single long Sunday afternoon.

(Well, and the next evening, too, when I realized I'd put the taps on backwards and had to take it apart and put it back together again... but we won't talk about that.)

I didn't need to change the hole in the counter (the old cutout was slightly bigger than necessary, and the lip of the new sink covered the extra space, luckily), but if I had, that would have been another hour futzing around with a saw. The only real annoying part was getting water from the bathroom for two days while waiting to be sure the pipes were all sealed, dry, and cured.

Since you're replacing it all and have the chance to do it "cleanly" from scratch, can I also recommend saving $150 for one of those instant-hot-water taps while your'e at it, because god, I am in love with mine. Instant-access for cocoa, tea, coffee... it's become one of the favorite pieces of "technology" in my house. It's decadent.
posted by rokusan at 10:32 PM on July 27, 2009

I also need the under sink plumbing worked over (there is a persistent leak).

Have you identified the source of the leak? If it's coming from any of the actual faucet connections, it might well go away when you install the new faucets. As long as the leak is coming from pressure fittings and not a connection that requires soldering (like the water source turn-off), this is a project you can fairly easily accomplish yourself and save a nice chink of change.
(This is not to say soldering is particularly difficult, but it's definitely not something one can just jump-in and do with no experience and expect it to turn out correctly. Just sayin'.)
posted by Thorzdad at 5:39 AM on July 28, 2009

I have been assured that there is always rot or water damage under or behind a kitchen sink. You don't know what must be fixed until you pull things out and take a look. For this reason, you should allow more money and more time than you think, for this project.

Don't buy your sink and fixtures from a big box hardware store. I have had repeated disappointments with the quality and selections available at Home Depot and Lowes. Visit plumbing supply stores, and you will be confronted by a huge variety of choices, most of which are outside your budget. However, there are some more basic and affordable choices there, as well.

Choose your sink and fixtures, and then get a plumber to do the install. This is not really a first time homeowner project.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:28 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a pretty straightforward job. Measure really, really well, then measure again. Take pictures. I've been happy with plumbing from HD or Lowe's when I get the better quality. I shopped at the plumbing store and the prices were astronomical. Call a reliable plumber (ask around or check angie's list) and ask them to visit and help you plan the job. They'll tell you which brands not to buy. (Those brands will have the fixtures you like best.) Shop for fixtures and sink, keeping in mind that the countertop was cut for that sink. My plumber is usually able to do the work enough faster that it's worth the extra $/hour. YMMV.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2009

Thank you all so much!
posted by aburd at 6:40 PM on July 28, 2009

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