Farm Sink Mounting Details

For a custom kitchen, confusion arises over how the farmhouse sink is intended to be mounted. Learn more here about farm sinks and how they fit in. April 9, 2008

I've just installed a beaded inset kitchen with a farm sink. The sink isn't installed yet and the marble countertops will be templated on the 21st. My client absolutely loves the cabinets, finish, etc.

However, I noticed something that worries me a little. The picture she gave me of the farm (apron) sink shows the counters butting up to the perimeter of the sink, so that's how I made the sink base... with the top opening 9 inches high for a 10" sink height. The sink rim will currently be 1 inch above the top of the cabinets, with the marble 1-3/8 above the top of the cabinets. This makes the top of the marble surface 3/8" above the top rim of the sink, just as in the picture.

Since then I ran across some catalogs of farm sink installations with the counters coming over the top of the rim like an undermount, plus I noticed in her old home she's moving out of, her farm sink is undermount.

Well, my pickle is, I want to keep her happy, as she has referred me many profitable jobs, so there is not even a thought about getting into an argument. But to lower the sink means making a whole new face frame and two new doors, since it's beaded and virtually impossible to lower the rail supporting the sink. And doing it in a week so the templating is not delayed. I'm wondering if I should try to talk her into having the sink different than she is used to. Anyone have any experience with this issue?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
The worktop has to come over the rim of the sink. If not, how would you seal it? It should come about 3mm in on 3 sides and have drainer slots routed in. Better alter now than in 3 years time when the unit below is destroyed by water.

From contributor U:
I agree. It won't work unless it's undermount. I require clients to bring the sink to my shop before I build the sink cabinet. Clay fired sinks vary greatly and can be a pain to fit. On my last job, I built a deck for the sink to sit on (about 3/4" low and then used solid stock to shim the sink level; needed 5/8 in the back left corner and 3/4 in the other 3 corners). If the tops aren't on yet, take the sink and sink cabinet back to the shop and do some "open heart surgery" on it.

From contributor J:
I agree with contributor K. I think the picture you have shows a mistake that was never caught. The c-top should come over the top of the farmer's sink, making the sink essentially an undermount on 3 sides. I would definitely not try to talk your client into accepting something which is less desirable, especially since you consider her a good client. Your best bet, though, would be to bring it up now and see what the client wants. I can't imagine anyone would want their sink set up like that, but then again you never know...

One other thing to look out for if you redo the sink base. Get the sink and make sure you measure it and check that the top rim is flat. I installed a Franke fireclay sink that had a curved top (not on purpose), requiring me to route a 3/8" groove in the bottom of the c-top to make it work. They say there's a certain amount of tolerance you need to leave, but with this sink it was far more than that. And I had already built the base so it was either route the bottom of the wood c-top or wait another 5 weeks for a replacement sink and hope the replacement was better.

From contributor M:
Speaking from experience, communication is the best tool we have. You should voice your concerns. I'm sure your customer will appreciate it. As was stated previously, better to deal with it now than later. I have installed a few farm sinks and they have all been installed below the counter.

From contributor T:
You are better off to build this face frame out of 4 pieces rather than 6. The red in-filled corners are predominately short grain and (when moisture is present) expand differentially from the adjacent sticks. This turns the small pieces of wood into a sponge and you will eventually see swelling right here.

Something I learned on this forum was to develop your patterns with the sink upside down on a flat surface. This emulates the installed condition where sink is aligned to bottom of countertop.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor V:
Good tip on the upside down trick. We make our rail oversize and cut that out. Doesn't seem like it would make a difference between the two.

From contributor T:
It's probably not a big deal whether you do the scallop cut on the rail or the stile. I prefer the stile because there's more material tied to the end grain. If you do the profile on the rail, the grain fibers can get pretty short and are more susceptible to breaking off.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I really appreciate everyone's input. I definitely agree that communication is the key to keeping customers happy; that is what has kept me never having to advertise and always a waiting list of referrals.

I called the marble company doing her tops and talked with the technical adviser for the fabrication. He said they could route a 3/8 lip in the bottom side of the marble so the rim could undermount - without me lowering the rail.

I am considering this route and going tomorrow to test fit the sink and bring it back to fit the rounded corners. I'll meet with my client and go over all this. She has been very pleasant to work with, so bottom line is I'll do whatever it takes to get it right, even if I have to make a new frame.

From contributor J:
I would just offer that you should make sure she understands what your fix entails. I know if it was me I wouldn't want the bottom of my new and very expensive slab of marble routed out. I'm thinking it's probably going to look exactly like what it is... a quick and easy fix for a mistake. Part of the beauty of the farmer's sink (to me anyway) is seeing the countertop edge wrap around. If that edge gets rabbeted out to fit the sink...?

From the original questioner:
The truth is my gut feeling says I will be rebuilding the frame, but she will have the final say after I explain all the options. I called Rohls, who imports this sink, and talked to customer service. She explained that the sink in this picture is actually in the CEO's kitchen. She also said the appeal of this method of installation is that it looks more like the sink is set in a piece of furniture, but that undermounting is easier to clean. The picture makes it difficult to see, but she said that the tile does partially overlay the top rim.

Contributor J, you have a good point and it will have to be what she wants. Since she is getting a double ogee edge, which sticks out almost 2 inches, and the sink rim is not that wide, it may just be she likes the look in the picture better.