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Outdoor Kitchen Sink: 7 Considerations & Best Options

By James King

July 5, 2022

If you’re reading this article… chances are, you’re considering putting a sink into your outdoor kitchen.

It’s hard to imagine cooking inside without a sink… So why shouldn’t your grill island have one, too?

The next time you cook.. count how many times you wash your hands while preparing dinner!

What happens when you get sauce on your hands? Or when you finish touching the chicken, and now you need to grab something else? Or what about when you need to rinse off your spatula?

There are a lot of reasons to have a sink right there beside you. However, we realize that an outdoor kitchen sink may not be for everyone.

Let’s start off with the pros and cons… just to help you get an idea if this is the right route for you.

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Is an Outdoor Kitchen Sink Right for Me?

outdoor kitchen sink built into countertop

A sink completes the kitchen. It keeps your cooking area fully-functional… so you can actually use it as a real kitchen.

No one wants an outdoor “sort-of”-kitchen. You want the real deal!

There are a number of benefits to installing one… from convenience to sanitation. But there are also a few downfalls.

Let’s consider both sides of the coin before we jump into how to put one in your grill island.

Pros

  • Convenience: It’s more convenient to keep the entire food preparation process in one place. If you don’t have one… you’ll be going back in the house every time you need to wash something.

  • Multipurpose: They’re also good to have access to when doing yard work. You’ll always have a place to wash your hands or the veggies from your garden.

  • Sanitation: If you plan on preparing your food outside… it’s helpful to have soap and water right beside you. You don’t want to get germs on your food… or contaminate your workspace because you didn’t wash your hands after handling meat.

Cons

  • Difficulty: They can be complicated projects to install… especially if you want hot water.

  • Weather: If you live in an area that gets below freezing… you’ll have to winterize anytime it’s going to get below freezing for more than 24 hours.

    In northern states, that means you’ll probably wait until the first hard freeze and only winterize it once. If you live in a warmer area where freezing weather comes and goes, you will have to put in more work if you want to continue to use it during winter.

  • Permit: You might need a plumbing permit… depending on where you live.

  • Codes: Local codes can make plumbing difficult if you want to do a DIY outdoor kitchen sink. You’ll probably have to hire a certified plumber to make sure it’s set up correctly.

  • Expense: Depending on your space… Setting up the plumbing can be extremely expensive… You’ll want to have a plan for your budget.

What If I Don’t Want a Sink?

There are so many reasons to get a sink… but there are also good reasons to not get one.

If you look at our list of cons and think that an outdoor kitchen sink might be too much work…

You might want to consider alternatives. Especially if you’re on a budget… You have to consider your utilities carefully.

Although not quite as convenient… The following are perfectly suitable alternatives!

  • Prepare your food inside… then bring it out to your grill when you’re ready to cook.

  • To stay clean while you cook, keep hand sanitizer by your grill!

  • If you’re going to cook outside… You can keep towels and surface cleaner in a drawer to wipe up after you’re done and between different foods.

Now, for those who do want a sink… What kind will you get? Let’s look at a few different types.

Ready to create your own Grill Island?

Use our 3D design tool for free and bring your outdoor kitchen idea to life.

Install Types

There are two basic types of sink configurations to consider… Drop-in and undermount.

Knowing which of these you want will help you narrow down which sink is best for you.

Although each option has its own benefits, neither has any significant drawbacks… so there is no wrong choice here.

Drop-In Sinks

Drop-in sinks became popular in the 70’s… and it’s easy to see why! They make installation so much easier.

You can recognize a drop-in sink by the rim that spills over the opening it is placed in.

Because these sinks are installed from above through a hole in the countertop, the rim is what holds the sink in place.

To keep water and dirt out, silicone caulk is applied to the lip where the rim meets the counter.

Pros

  • These sinks are simple to install.

  • They aren’t hard to re-caulk.

  • They’re typically cheaper than undermount sinks.

Cons

  • It’s ever so slightly more difficult to slide things from the countertop into the sink due to the protrusion of the lip.

Pros

Cons

  • These sinks are simple to install.

  • They aren’t hard to re-caulk.

  • They’re typically cheaper than undermount sinks.

  • It’s ever so slightly more difficult to slide things from the countertop into the sink due to the protrusion of the lip.

Undermount Sinks

Instead of sitting on a rim, an undermount sink is attached to the underside of the counter.

Undermount sinks are installed from below and are kept in place using a combination of silicone adhesive and brackets.

Bolts or a strong epoxy adhesive hold the bracket mounting.

Pros

  • They’re aesthetically pleasing.

  • The transition from countertop to sink is seamless, making it possible to slide items right in from the counter.

Cons

  • They can be more difficult to install.

  • These are often more expensive to purchase.

Pros

Cons

  • They’re aesthetically pleasing.

  • The transition from countertop to sink is seamless, making it possible to slide items right in from the counter.

  • They can be more difficult to install.

  • These are often more expensive to purchase.

Now that you have an idea of how you want to install your sink…. What type should you select?

Sink Types

Again, you’re in luck… there’s no “right” type…. It’s what’s best for you!

We’re going to compare two popular options… and you can select which product is best for you.

Standard Sinks

If you plan on using your sink for dishes, your hands, and cooking… a standard sink is a good option.

These sinks are similar to what you might find in your house.

Because the sizes vary, you’ll be able to get a small outdoor kitchen sink… Or a large one!

If you want something more “out of the box”… consider a beverage center.

Beverage Center Sinks

tamara day outdoor kitchen idea brought to life

Beverage centers are perfect for parties. They’re also called cocktail stations for this very reason!

They have multi-functional set-ups, which incorporate a small sink for drinks. They often have other small holders for ingredients, condiments, or even (as the name suggests) mixers for cocktails!

Different beverage centers will have additional features you can choose from.

For example, the Coyote 30-inch Stainless Steel Built-In Refreshment Center has a removable condiment tray insert. The beverage center also features a convenient bottle shelf, drop-in cooler, towel holder and a bottle opener.

Basins

You should also think about how many basins you want in your sink!

These will impact how much room you have in your sink… And on your countertop.

There are advantages to having either one or two basins… So let’s explore both options.

Single Bowl Sink

A single-bowl sink has just one basin with no dividers.

This sink is always a good option, but especially when you’re trying to save space.

Making your sink so big you don’t have enough counter space is a common outdoor kitchen mistake that is simple to avoid!

Single-bowl sinks usually take up less room on your countertop since they only have one bowl… But they can actually give you more space inside since the basin isn’t divided!

Double Bowl Sink

A double-bowl (or divided ) sink has two basins.

These divided sinks are perfect for washing dishes by hand. They let you keep the dirty dishes soaking in soapy water on one side… and the other basin stays free for hand washing and rinsing!

It’s like having two sinks in one.

Now that you have an idea about the style and type of your sink… What will it be made out of?

Material

When choosing an outdoor sink there are a few things to look for with the material its made from.

It needs to be durable for the outdoor elements. Depending on where you live… it will be dealing with sun exposure, heat, rain, frost, salt air, or more.

You don’t want it to rust… And if there’s a storm, you want to make sure it won’t dent if a stray branch hits it.

Choosing quality material will help you protect it from the elements.

Let’s cover the top two you will find.

Copper

The first option is copper. Durable and pretty, these sinks are a good idea for people who don’t mind a bit more upkeep.

They’re beautiful and would look good in any traditional or modern outdoor kitchen.

You will have to wash your copper sink occasionally with vinegar or copper cleaner to keep it from oxidizing and turning green.

Because of this, they aren’t recommended for beach houses… The salty air will cause oxidation to happen quicker.

You should also know that these sinks can be very pricey. You’re looking at hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on how nice your sink is.

Looking for something that isn’t as expensive but is still durable and simple to maintain?

Stainless Steel

According to HGTV, stainless steel sinks are the most popular… And for good reason!

As long as you get a good grade of stainless steel… They are durable and easy to clean!

We’d recommend making sure that yours is 304 stainless steel.

This is a fantastic grade that we would recommend for all of your outdoor appliances because 304 stainless steel will be the most resistant to rust and corrosion.

After using it, just wipe it down with dish soap and water.

Now, we know the best materials for sinks… But how do we get them working?

Build your own outdoor kitchen

Use our 3D design tool for free and bring your outdoor kitchen idea to life.

Outdoor Kitchen Sink Plumbing

Outdoor plumbing can be complicated… So we asked for a professional plumber to help! Meet Brant Stacey. He’s a managing business partner and vice president at Earl’s Plumbing… And a licensed plumber!

Stacey has been doing this for over 20 years… So he had lots of advice for anyone who might like to buy a sink.

His number one piece of advice is that this needs to be done according to your local code.

This is because if you want to sell your home someday… It will be inspected, and it needs to pass inspection!

A plumber will be up-to-date on city codes and be able to make sure it’ll pass inspection for you.

This is also important to make sure you’re doing it safely. There are a lot of things that can go wrong… So you want to make sure you’re doing it right!

The first step is getting the water to your sink.

Getting Water to Your Sink

“One of the biggest issues of an outdoor sink is the logistics of getting the water there,” Stacey said.

Make sure you talk to a local plumber so that you’re choosing the best option for your yard and local codes.

We’ll go over a few ways they might do it… But a plumber should be able to tell you the most efficient and economic way for your yard!

Running a Line to the House's Water System

The first possible way is to run a water line from the house.

In this option… Your sink is connected to your home’s water supply line.

According to Stacey, this is a complicated way to get water… Especially when you’ve already poured concrete down for the patio your kitchen will rest on.

“If we catch it on before the concrete is poured, we can make it go smoother and make it much more cost-effective,” he said.

This also gets complicated if you’re installing your outdoor kitchen on a deck because you’ll need to run your utility lines into the bottom of the kitchen!

Regardless of whether you have your kitchen on a patio or deck, if you run your lines incorrectly… You could wind up with issues like leaks and even frozen or burst pipes.

Although it can be complicated… You could get hot water from this setup… So ask your plumber if that’s the best option for your kitchen!

If you talk to your plumber and this option just isn’t for you… There is another option.

Using a Hose

If you don’t mind not having hot water… Your hose could potentially save you a lot of money!

“If there’s a hose spigot, then we could just get cold water. It’s most likely less costly, and usually easier, because there usually is a hose spigot in the yard somewhere,” Stacey says.

You won’t be using the hose itself… But from before it disconnects at what’s called a “vacuum breaker.”

“There’s an air gap at the vacuum breaker that doesn’t allow the water from the water hose to back up in, possibly cross-contaminating the system,” Stacey explains.

Why not straight from the hose? It’s technically not code-approved.

“The reason that a hose isn’t an approved potable water source is because it can become contaminated,” Stacey says.

Now that we know of two ways a plumber might decide to get water to your sink… How might he drain it?

How to Drain Your Sink

So you’ve got the water… But what now? It needs to drain somewhere.

Draining can be even more difficult than getting the water!

“Getting the cold water line? Not an issue. Getting it to drain appropriately according to code? That is a possible issue,” Stacey said.

We would highly suggest you talk to your plumber about this step, too. You want to make sure that your sink will adhere to code.

While no one will be hunting you down if you DIY it incorrectly… Your home will not pass inspection if you try to sell it later.

This could be a major headache, so make sure you’re following your local rules today so you don’t have to fix (or even demolish) your hard work in the future.

Building codes usually require that your sink drains into a sewer or septic system… So getting your outdoor kitchen utilities properly set up can get complicated without the help of a plumber.

Another important thing to consider is where your drainage will go if you use it to dump food… And being aware that it may happen no matter what you plan for.

“You may think that you’re never going to put any food waste down your sink, but your guests may not know that, or the person who buys the house from you in the future may not know that. That’s why it has to be done appropriately and to code,” Stacey says.

Here are a few ideas on how you can drain your sink.

Under-Sink Bucket

The easiest and cheapest way to drain your sink is with a simple bucket!

There’s no plumbing involved… and you can then use the water for your plants!

In super dry areas… Your city may even prefer that you recycle your water like this.

If you’re going to dump your greywater into your yard… Be careful what you put down your sink. You don’t want to get food or grease in your backyard. It could rot and attract critters!

Another thing to keep in mind is making sure you remember to dump it before it overflows.

French Drain & Dry Well

Although a french drain and dry well are often spoken of interchangeably… they drain in slightly different ways.

These are also not always to code… So check your local ordinances!

A french drain is a buried pipe that works by guiding the water away from the sink.

Unfortunately, this option is almost never in code.

Alternatively, a dry well is essentially a bucket with rocks in it… That has been buried underground at least ten feet away from your kitchen. It is connected by a pipe and reroutes water from your sink.

How do you make a dry well?

You dig a hole about 4 feet deep. Put in a bucket with holes drilled into the bottom. Add coarse gravel to fill the bucket. Run the drain into the bucket with a pipe… And cover it all up!

These options are also not suitable for food discarded down the sink, as it will rot and stink!

“You can’t put grease, bio waste, food materials, or anything like that in a dry well or french drain,” Stacey said.

Many cities will require that you only dispose of your sink water through the sanitary system… So you’ll want to make sure you plan out your utilities in advanced.

Self-Contained Lift Station

If you want hot water and don’t mind a little extra work… self-contained lift stations are a good workaround to traditional plumbing.

With a lift station, you will have two tanks underneath your sink. One will be filled with clean water. The other with waste water.

This will require that you replace the tanks as needed… But it’s a simple process!

It also can be used anywhere because it’s a “temporary” plumbing structure.

The one caveat to this is that it requires electricity to work.

If you don’t want to bother with getting electricity to your lift station… The best option is to see if your plumber can connect your sink to a drain line.

Connecting to the Closest Drain Line

utility line in ground to supply outdoor kitchen

One of the best ways to drain your sink is to have it connect to the sanitary system (underground pipes for transporting sewage from houses to a sewage treatment plant).

This will absolutely be according to code… But it can be difficult to do depending on your house.

In many places, this will be the only option that is to code!

Your plumber will be able to determine if you can connect your grill island straight to your house’s drain line… So call them before you purchase your island.

They’ll need to map and plan where pipes are at… Because the pipes need to have constant slope downward… That way, gravity helps the water get to the sewers.

But what if your kitchen is too far away from the closest drain line? The necessary slope could make your pipes wind up way below where they should be… In this case, your plumber might opt to use a catch basin and grinder pump to help out gravity.

Catch Basin and Grinder Pump

A catch basin and grinder pump are one way to get greywater to the sewers.

A catch basin is a plastic pot or tank. All the debris from your sink goes in it after you use it.

Once the catch basin fills up to a certain level… The grinder pump will grind up anything in it, then shoot it under pressure down the line.

A plumber should be the one to install this for you.

Now that you have a sink that gets water and drains appropriately… How do you maintain it?

Maintenance

For all the benefits a sink brings to your grill island… An outdoor kitchen sink will also bring a small set of maintenance to be aware of.

This will include cleaning and winterizing your sink.

Cleaning Your Sink

Most outdoor sinks don’t require much for cleaning… but they aren’t totally maintenance-free!

Remember that since it’s outside… you’ll have leaves, pollen, dust, and more landing in it.

Make sure to talk to your dealer about the best ways to clean your particular sink. Some materials require different types of maintenance. For example, you can keep your copper looking shiny by using copper cleaner once every 6 weeks.

Another type of maintenance you might have to deal with is winterizing it.

How to Winterize Outdoor Kitchen Sink

You want your sink to be in good shape come spring.

When temperatures drop to freezing or below freezing… The water in your pipes can freeze too, causing them to burst.

To avoid this…

Shut off all water supply lines that lead to the kitchen from your indoor plumbing system.

Drain the pipes so that there is no water left in them to freeze, and blow out the water pipes to make sure the water has all been removed!

Keep your sink protected with an outdoor kitchen sink cover to keep debris from scratching your basin or falling down the outdoor kitchen sink drain.

If you’re concerned about your pipes… You can also have a plumber come out to make sure they’re drained properly.

Now that we’ve been through the hard stuff… Let’s go through the fun part: shopping for a new sink!

Buying the Best Outdoor Kitchen Sink

Not all sinks are good for outdoor kitchens.

Just like with other appliances… There are many important considerations when you buy a sink!

You want to make sure that the sink you have chosen is sturdy enough to handle the elements: falling branches, bad weather, and maybe even the occasional stray ball from your kids.

Here are a few products we would recommend both for their looks and their durability!

FIRE MAGIC STAINLESS STEEL DOUBLE SINK​

Product Highlights

💵 Price: Price Varies

📏 Size: 30.25″ x 16.63″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: Mixer Faucets

This 30.25″ x 16.63″ undermount sink is perfect for any BBQ island.

It has two basins, and is made of 304 stainless steel… A durable material that’s good for the outdoors!

Their optional mixer faucets will have the option for hot or cold water.

The price will vary depending on where you choose to buy it… So be sure to shop around!

UNIVERSAL MOUNT COYOTE SINK​

Product Highlights

💵 Price: $499.00

📏 Size: 16″ x 18″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: Can be drop-in or undermount

At 16” x 18”, this sink is a perfect size to wash dishes in.

Made of 304 stainless steel… this is the perfect material for outdoors.

It can be put in as either a drop-in or an undermount! No matter what look you want… This sink can do it.

As a heads up, you’ll need to purchase the outdoor kitchen sink faucet separately.

This sink goes for $499.

SUMMERSET 19 X 15" STAINLESS STEEL UNDERMOUNT SINK​

Product Highlights

💵 Price: $510.00

📏 Size: 19″x15″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: Hot and cold water swivels, drain stopper

This 19″ x 15″ undermount sink from Summerset is not only durable… But also beautiful!

It comes with a faucet that dispenses both hot and cold water and swivels… And it also includes a drain stopper!

Made of 304 stainless steel… This sink is high quality. You can find it for $510 on BBQ Guys.

21" Coyote Sink with a Faucet, Drain, and a Soap Dispenser

Product Highlights

💵 Price: $899.00

📏 Size: 21″ x 21″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: faucet, soap dispenser, cutting board, stainless steel cover

This 21″ x 21″ 304 stainless steel outdoor kitchen sink from Coyote was created specifically to be used outside.

The design is simple and sleek, and as we said before, stainless steel is simple to maintain.

We love that everything is built in… Even the soap dispenser! It also includes a cutting board for added convenience… Plus a stainless steel cover to protect the basin when you’re done using it.

This one sells for $899.

BBQ Guys Signature 23 x 18" Stainless Steel Undermount Sink

Product Highlights

💵 Price: $112.00

📏 Size: 23″ x 18″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: Drain strainer

You can purchase this 23″ x 18″ outdoor rated stainless steel sink from BBQGuys!

Of course, it’s 304 stainless steel… Our recommended grade for an outdoor appliance.

It comes with a drain strainer… And you can also add on a faucet if you would like for $202 more!

This sink comes to a total of $112 without the faucet.

Coyote Refreshment Center

Product Highlights

💵 Price: $1,499.00

📏 Size: 10.25″ x 20.75″

🔧 Material: 304 Stainless Steel

🚰 Features: Faucet and drain, integrated cutting board, fully-insulated drop-in cooler, removable condiment & beverage shelf, towel hook, bottle opener.

If you’re looking for something that does it all… This is your option.

This 10.25″ x 30.75″ has a removable condiment and beverage shelf, a towel hook, and bottle opener. It’s the perfect sink for a party.

The sink itself comes with a faucet and drain, as well as an integrated cutting board… so this refreshment center is multi-functional!

And you can’t forget the fully-insulated drop-in cooler.

You’re looking at $1,499 for this beverage center.

If you’re interesting in getting an outdoor kitchen with a sink like this… we might be able to help!

How Can RTA help?

At RTA, we’re happy to help you with your outdoor kitchen needs (with or without a sink)!

We have a strategic partnership with Coyote Outdoor Living… So over the past few years of this partnership, we’ve installed thousands of Coyote sinks, including some in our own yards.

Ultimately, the brand of sink you choose is entirely up to you! Only you know what you need…

…However, we can ensure that Coyote’s sinks are a great option for both aesthetics and durability!

And if you want an outdoor kitchen and sink… RTA has just the thing for you. Outdoor kitchens are our specialty!

Schedule a 15 minute call with one of our Design Experts… Or just start building your own outdoor kitchen with our free design tool. You’ll see a variety of sinks that you can place anywhere you want on your island.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

HAVE A QUESTION? GET AN ANSWER.

Need some assistance bringing your project to life? Book a call with one of our expert designers to get started.

Q&A

Stainless steel or copper are excellent choices for outdoor sinks! It has to be tough enough to withstand the elements. 304 Stainless steel is our recommendation because it is long-lasting and requires the least amount of maintenance.

If you’re willing to put in the effort, it’s well worth the work and expenses. If you’re willing to pay extra for a plumber, they’re a great addition to any outdoor kitchen! They’re very useful and convenient.

You can absolutely put a sink outside! Outdoor sinks are a great addition to any outdoor kitchen.

There are multiple ways to drain an outdoor sink! Some examples are by using a bucket under the sink, a dry well, or using a self-contained lift station. But check in with your local plumber to make sure that you’re following local codes.

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