All About Kitchen Sink Basket Strainers


I can easily understand the frustration of some of my customers when it comes to trying to replace a kitchen sink drain assembly. There is very little information on the Internet, about this subject,  and nearly nothing, showing the dimensions, of a kitchen sink drain opening, or the size of a kitchen sink drain assembly.

« All Kitchen Sink Basket Strainers Are The Same Size,     3 1/4" In Diameter »

Let me start by saying that all kitchen sink drains openings (hole) are a standard 3 1/2" in diameter and all kitchen sink drain basket assembly on the market are 3 1/4" in diameter.  Therefore, the 3 1/4" basket assembly will fit the 3 1/2" sink drain opening every time. You don't have to measure it, you don't have to measure the size of your sink drain hole, this is the industry wide standard. (See also, this Dec 9, 2008, article by Terry Love).

Kitchen Sink Drain Opening Size - Trusted E Blogs

Diagram of Kitchen Sink Opening, showing the standard                  3  1/2" opening size.

Having said that and although they all fit the same size opening, there are many different kinds of kitchen sink basket strainers, available on the market. Different manufacturers have come up with their own designs, and have their own ideals, of what is the best one to use.  Sometimes a design choice, is simply to avoid, a patent infringement. 

Types of Kitchen Sink Basket Strainers


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3 1/2" Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Assembly with Ring Nut and Basket



3 1/2" Premium Double Cup Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Assembly


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3 1/2" Polypropylene Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer  with center screw for easy assembly


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3 1/2" Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer with easy install ring screws for a single person installation

Kitchen Sink Basket Strainers can be connected to the sink drain, in a variety of ways. My preferred method is using a tailpiece, because it offers the most flexibility.  Basket Strainers can also be installed using a 1 1/2" ABS or PVC Threaded Female Adapter, a Swivel Tray Plug Adapter or a 90° Sink Strainer Adapter

Now lets take a look at each one of these individually.  Let start with the most commonly used Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer the 3.5" Basket Strainer with Assembly Ring.  This strainer comes in 7 pieces as do most of the kitchen sink basket strainer assembly.  

Basket Strainer with Assembly Ring, Trusted E Blogs

Kitchen Sink Basket Stainer Assembly 

When you purchase a new Basket Strainer Assembly it will come with all the parts illustrated in the image on the left.

If you are planing on doing the most common type of assembly, that is, using a tail piece you may need to purchase the tail piece separately.  This type of strainer basket comes in PVC plastic, Stainless Steel and a variety of plated finishes like brush nickel, oil rubbed bronze and brass.

Generally the price will range from $15.00 to $150.00  each.  

Installing a Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer

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Strainer Assembly Fig. S


Applying Putty to Strainer Basket Fig. P


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Applying Plumber's Putty Fig. P2

Installing a kitchen sink Basket Strainer is generally pretty simple. The first thing you will want to do is to remove the strainer from the packaging and disassemble it so that all the parts are individually available, as shown in diagram Fig. S.  

Next, you will want to apply plumbers putty to the underside of the lip of the strainer basket as shown in diagram Fig. P .  You will need to roll the plumbers putty into a small rope approx  1/4" to 3/8" of an inch in diameter and place it around the lip of the strainer. 

Plumber's putty never gets really hard and because of this makes a very good seal.  

Caulking: I know some people will think, why don't I just use silicone caulking? Caulking will work just fine, but it's difficult to clean off and makes it additionally difficult to remove the basket if you ever have to change it, plus the caulking creates an uneven surface on which to mount a new strainer. 



Some people prefer to apply plumber's putty to the edge of the sink, rather than on the rim of the strainer basket Fig P2. If you prefer to do it that way, that's just fine, either methods work as well.  



Inserting the strainer basket into sink Fig. S1


Fastening the Strainer Basket  Fig. S2

Now,  insert the basket into the sink drain hole, and press it down into the putty, but not too firmly, you will want the basket lock nut, to pull the basket down evenly, to assure a perfect seal.  


Now you will have to flip to the underside of the sink, you should see the sink basket along with some excess plumber's putty oozing out from around the basket. This is all good, nothing to worry about. 

Next we will fasten the sink basket to the sink.  First, you will need to insert the rubber washer, directly against the bottom of the sink (see Fig. S2).  Then, place the cardboard, paper or nylon washer next to the rubber washer so that it's between the rubber washer and the lock nut. The cardboard washer is only there to keep the rubber washer from being twisted by the lock nut when it's being tightened, it basically acts as a lubricant.  


Tip:  If you don't have a paper or cardboard washer you can make your own from any piece of cardboard such as a cereal box, I have done this a few times and it works just fine.  

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Attaching the lock nut to the base of the strainer basket.  Fig S3


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Tightening the lock nut on the strainer assembly. Fig S4



Holding the basket in place Fig. S5


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Tools available for this job Fig. S6



Once you have everything in place you will need to insert the lock nut, (Fig S3) to hold everything in place.  





There are many special tools available to help you do this job, but if you are like most DIY Homeowners you won't have a tool box full of these, so you may need to improvise. Use a large pair of channel lock pliers to help you do this job.  






You can also use a second pair of channel lock or pliers to help you hold the strainer in place, provide you have someone else to help you from above.  (See Fig. S5)






There are a number of very good plumbing tools (Fig. S6),  available to do this job, if you are like me and like to have the right tool for the job, you might want to purchase some of these before you begin this project.  

Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Tailpiece

Plumbing Brass Tailpiece

Brass Kitchen Sink Tailpiece

Tailpieces come in a variety of materials and length. The plastic ones cost the least and seem to work just as good as the metal ones that cost more.

 If you're not sure what length you will need, just buy a longer one and cut it down to the required length at the time of installation.   You can also purchase a flexible tailpiece, if your drain doesn't quite line up with your drain opening, this will save you having to purchase new drain pipes and fittings or having to move the drain pipes around.  

Flexible PVC Kitchen Sink Tailpiece , Trusted E Blogs

PVC Flexible Kitchen Sink Tailpiece

This is an example of a flexible PVC, 1.5" kitchen sink tailpiece. This can be very useful when you encounter a situation where your sink drain pipe doesn't quite line up with your kitchen sink drain basket and tailpiece.

There many different types and lengths of tailpiece, so I won't try to talk about all of this here. Just be aware that you have many options open to you when it comes to lining up your kitchen sink drain. 

Kitchen Sink  Brass Tailpiece with dishwasher attachment

This image shows an all brass kitchen sink taps with a dishwasher drain attachment stem, so you can easily attach your dishwasher drain.  

Various lengths are available, but they can also easily be cut down to size using a fine tooth hacksaw or a miter saw with a metal cutting blade.  

Kitchen Sink Plastic Tailpiece

Here we see an example of a black polypropylene kitchen sink drain tailpiece.  These are also available in white plastic and in a variety of different lengths. 

Tailpiece washer

Tailpiece washer2

Tailpiece Washer Fig. B 


There are a number of tailpiece washers, available and most do a good job. However, the one shown here, often referred to as a top hat washer, because it resembles a top hat, is the most commonly used.  To the best of my knowledge these come in 1 1/2" only.


The proper way to install this tailpiece washer, is to insert it, small side down, into the top of the tailpiece as shown in Fig. B, so that  the flat (top) portion of the washer rest against the bottom of the kitchen strainer basket.


Here we can see how all the pieces fit together, first you have the strainer basket that has been attached to the kitchen sink. Then you have the tailpiece, slip nut and tail pieces washer.

The tailpiece washer fits into the top of the tailpiece as illustrated and the slip nut which slips over the tailpiece is used to attach the tailpiece to the kitchen sink basket strainer assembly.  

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  1. I have a basket where the shaft has a ball bearing to grip it in to block the drain.

    But on the dunk part the hole has a brass(?) ring part that came out. I am not sure what it’s called or how to register, it’s not threaded.

    • Hi Rick, Thank you for your comment. I’m a bit confused about what it is that you are asking me. When you say register are you referring to registering it for the warranty or something else? If you could be a little more specific or maybe send me some photo’s maybe I will be able to answer your question?


      Yvan Labbe
      Trusted E Blogs

  2. you obliviously don’t know that if you live in a mobile or manufactured home the odds are that the kitchen sink strainers are of the 3″ variety and not the 3 1/2″ that you state ALL strainers are. Like most everything in a mobile home its not standard they have their own way of doing things, in the future it would pay to research your topic a bit more before stating ALL

  3. Where can I find a high quality replacement sink strainer basket with a post? All I can find for any sink strainer basket in a hardware store or online are cheap $5 ones where the post is plastic covered in a metal look. And they break and do not last. Ive had two tenants somehow lose the original baskets so far.
    Thank you!

  4. Hi Yvan! I purchased a soapstone farmhouse sink and the base fits a standard drain, but it has a 4″ lip above and around the drain hole. (I’ve tried attaching pics.) My plumber hasn’t seen this before and doesn’t seem to think that a standard drain will work. Any advice is greatly appreciated! /Users/Cal/Desktop/44135002_510114859399165_2632768141599440896_n.jpg/Users/Cal/Desktop/44183981_238155223522674_8509639194853769216_n.jpg

    • Hi Cal,
      Unfortunately, I was unable to open the picture you sent. However, before saying that the standard Kohler drain won’t work I would try it out, if it does not work you can always return the drain assembly to the hardware store. If everything else fails, try giving Kohler a call and see what sort of suggestion they have. To the best of my knowledge, the regular size drain should work. Let me know how you make out.

  5. Are there any Kitchen strainers that are slightly wider than the standard 4.5″ top and 3.5″ threaded part. My Cast Iron sink hole (opening) seems to be wider. I have tried a couple of times centering the strainer, and reattaching, but invariably I get a leak on one edge or another. I’m putting a lot of plumbers putty, and am using the rubber ring underneath, and carefully tightening so that the rubber ring does not bind up but stays flat. However, the outside diameter just isn’t enough apparently. Is there a wider rubber ring and threaded ring assembly that could solve this issue? Other suggestions?

    • Hi Scott,
      I have been asked this question a few times before, I don’t know how old your sink is, but this has been a problem with older sinks. Kohler used to make a strainer assembly that was slightly larger than the norm, however, it’s been a while since these have been available. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing on the market with a larger diameter than the standard 3.5″. If need be I would go to a machine shop and get them to make me a thin washer in the correct size and I would silicone it to my basket assembly then use plumber’s putty between the sink and the basket and try it. Unfortunately, I don’t know what else to tell you. Good Luck

  6. It’s simply not true that “all kitchen sink drains openings (hole) are a standard 3 1/2″ in diameter”. Originally kitchen sink drains were smaller — the same size that is still used for bathtubs and bar sinks. All the 1920’s houses I have owned that had the smaller kitchen drains.

    • You are absolutely right Michael, I guess I should have said that for the present time, kitchen sink drains are a standard size of 3 1/2″. As a matter a fact you can still buy drain assemblies that are bathtub size, I know that Lowes’s sells them. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t make kitchen sinks that have less than a 3 1/2″ sink drain in them. Thank you for pointing that out.

  7. Can someone please help me. I have a Kohler Bannon wall mount cast iron utility sink . The drain size in the sink is 3 1/8″, NOT the standard 3 1/4″ opening. I’m having a real hard time finding a 3″ strainer for this sink. Kohler has a monster brass fitting which is about $100. Trying not to go there.

    • Hi Mark,
      Unfortunately, I have been through this before with Kohler, they seem to have some different size drains than most other manufacturers. Although I think they now have the standard 3 1/4″ throughout their line. I don’t know of any other way of getting the right size drain than to spend the $100.00 for one of their drains.

  8. I have a question that is only partly related to your article. My problem is not the plumbing, but having a sink strainer that catches everything my kids dump down the sink.

    The pipe under our house was not installed at the right angle. It’s kind of horizontal, so any food that gets down there will eventually settle somewhere along the pipe and not get washed out into the septic system, so about once a year he has to go down there with a strong hose and force everything out and it takes a lot of effort. So, we’re trying to completely trap any food from going down the drain.

    I have a fine-mesh sink strainer like the one on this Amazon page:

    But, there are 2 problems. The first problem is that it doesn’t sit perfectly flat against the bottom of the sink, so small bits of food go right underneath the rim of it and go down the sink. Is there some sort of product I could use to “stick” the strainer to the sink, like plumbers puddy or ?? But then I still need to be able to remove it daily to empty it.

    Besides food getting by “underneath” the strainer, the second problem is that the food gets through the strainer. I need the mesh to be very fine so it will trap even sand particles. Do you know of any better products out there or is there any way I can create something on my own, like using cheese cloth or ?? I don’t know.

    Thanks for any help or advice you can give me!

    • Hi Traci, nice to see you, I wish more people would put up a picture of themselves like you have. I don’t think there is going to be an easy solution to the problem that you outlined here. However, I have a couple of suggestions apart from digging up the sewer pipes and properly sloping them. As a quick solution for your strainer, you could try wrapping it with a fine cheesecloth or well pump foot valve sock. They are quite a fine filter, available at Lowes. As for the problem with the seal against the sink, I would try getting a large lead fishing tackle weight and attaching it to the bottom of the strainer with light fishing line. Let me if this works, should you try it.

      Another thing that might work is a hair salon sink, hair trap, they look a bit like a conventional sink trap, but they trap the hair before it goes down the drain, you can remove them and employ them and simply reattach it till the next time. Some of them are made of clear plastic so you can see when you need to empty them. I will add them to my Plumbing E Shop website, under Kitchen sink strainers, if you would like to take a look at them.

      Your situation is really a unique one so I would really appreciate if you would let me how, you managed to solve the problem, and by the way, feel free to contact me again with more questions if you have any? Have a nice day Traci.

  9. Hi Ivan,
    There seems to be several different strainer depths, some shallow, some deep with a little basket in them to catch food. Do you have any thought on which depth / model work best for a sink where we won’t be using a disposal? Appreciate any insight. Thanks!

    • Hi Brian,
      Thank you for asking this question, I have to deal with this question a lot everyday, it seems people are really confused about kitchen strainers. I have people who spend hours trying to find an exact match to the strainer they have because they think nothing else will work. If you purchased a new sink and it came with a strainer you would simply install the strainer that came with it and would thinks no further about it. But if the sink came with five different strainers you would have a dilemma, which one should you use. The answer is, it does not matter, they will all fit and they will all work. The reason for all the choices it that many manufacturers, want to get into this lucrative market, but can infringe on someone else’s design, so they have to come up with something unique and different, that’s why there are so many designs.

      Now to answer your question about the depth, the depth will depend on how much room you have to work with and the location of the drain. The most common type of drain is the one that exits through the wall, so you don’t want to have your kitchen drain too long if the drain pipe is located fairly high in the wall, but, if the drain pipe is located in a lower position having a long drain basket will not matter.

      To give you an example, just the other day I had someone who had a very long drain basket and a very high discharge into the wall; because water always seeks its own level, the water would not discharge and any lower than the exit through the wall, so, there always was water in the bottom of the drain basket and the drain pipe. Unfortunately the only way to fix this problem is to lower the drain in the wall or install a discharge pump under the sink.

      In short you can use whichever drain basket you like best, provided there is enough room to install it.

  10. I am trying to replace two sink baskets on a old cast iron double sink. There was no rubber washer on the leaking side with the old, ‘newer looking’ basket. I soon found out why. The old sink has a boss about 1/4″ thick and there is not enough thread length to engage all the parts, even with out using the rubber washer! Are there sink baskets made today with a longer threaded neck. The older looking basket on the non-leaking side looks like it had a longer threaded body. It has a rubber washer between sink and strainer lock nut.

  11. Hi, Maybe you could help me. When we installed our new sink we notice that the tailpipe washer is blocking the drain holes of the strainer. Is this due to the style of the strainer or did we do something wrong?

  12. Wow, great info, perfectly presented! Taking out my disposal this weekend and putting in basket strainer. After reading this, I have no doubts I can do it successfully! So just wanted to say THANKS!

  13. Thanks for a very useful article. My problem is that our basket no longer lets water through; it doesn’t seem to have an ‘up’ position anymore. Do I need to replace the whole assembly, and why has this happened in the first place?

    • Hi Dave, you didn’t say how old your sink drain is, like many other things, sink drains have rubber parts that wear out with time as well as from certain chemicals like bleach that are sometimes used as cleaning agents. The solution is to replace the drain basket with a new one, provided you can find the exact match. If you are unable to find an exact replacement you will have to replace the complete basket assembly, it’s a fairly easy task, see my article “How To Install Or Replace A Kitchen Sink Strainer“. The complete assembly doesn’t cost a lot and if you can’t find the right one at your local home improvement store, you can get one on my store site at: Let me know if you need more assistance and how you made out. Thanks again for using Trusted E Blogs.

  14. Hi there we have just moved into a new place and our plug is stuck in, it lifts up enough to drain water but will not come all the way out so we can use the waste disposal unit. It feels like there is a lock but I don’t see a release switch anywhere and have tried everything I can think of. Any advice would be great

    • Hi Rich, It could be that the plug is stuck due to grease or syrup or other substance. I would try running some very hot water on it for a few minutes. If this is the problem, it should melt whatever is holding the cover in place. Then try turning the cover counter clockwise, you may that to apply a little force to get it loose. If this does not work, let me know and I will try to come up with another possible solution.

  15. Hello – I was wondering if it’s possible to just find the center screw/like thing that holds the parts of the basket/strainer together? The center of mine broke off where it screws into the base of the basket/rubber flangey thing. It’s made of brass, but I can only find stainless steel full basket replacements in stores and online. Do you know if anyone sells just the inner bolt/screw part that you hold on to when you pull the strainer out of the sink? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your inquiry. To the best of my knowledge, you cannot purchase individual parts for a strainer, you must purchase the entire unit. It’s because most of them are imported from China. You can take a look on my strainer page and see if you would like to get a new one from there. You can also refer to my “How to Install a Kitchen Sink Strainer“, page, to see simple instructions on how to install a new one. Let me know if I can be of further assistance Amy.

  16. The kitchen sink I purchased said it has a drain opening of 3.75. I cannot find drains at 3.75″ on the market, most say 3.5″ – would the same be true for my sink, that standard drains should fit it?

    • Thanks Lp,

      From my experience that should not be a problem, you need a bit more space to allow the strainer to fit in the hole. Kitchen sink holes and strainers have been standardized for decades. You should not have any problems here.

  17. My problem is that the tailpiece on the strainer assy. is too long. It needs to be about ½”shorter to raise the tee that connects to the disposal drain to make it line up so both ends os the tube will seal. . They don’t seem to publish a depth (or heighth measurement. Do you know how to get this info

  18. Hi Scott, I’m curious about something. My girlfriend and I recently moved in together, and she is in the habit of leaving the strainer basket out of the sink when not washing dishes. She basically only uses it as a stopper to keep water in the sink. I grew up in the habit of never letting anything go down the drain, if at all possible. We’ve already had a clog once, and now we have fruit flies around the sink. Is there food getting stuck in the trap that’s attracting them? Is it necessary to keep a strainer in the sink or is it no big deal? I figure there must be a reason all sinks come with them. It drives me crazy, but I want to know if I’m freaking out over nothing. There isn’t much info online about it… Thanks in advance!

  19. Thank you so much, Scott for this detailed description of how to install a sink strainer basket. I have just had a plumber do this in a double sink, and both sinks are leaking from around the rim of the washer for the second time. This is a very old but good quality sink. The outer rim measurement is slightly wider than the old one and the rim is sitting a little higher in the opening. However , the cup is 3 1/4 ins wide and there is no apparent gap between the rim and the putty. I can also forcibly move the strainer up and down from underneath. Is there a possibility that the new strainer doesn’t match the old sink? I appreciate your insights. Thanks, Scott

  20. Was hoping you could help. I bought an industrial looking cast iron sink. It did not come with a sink basket assembly. The problem is that the “hole” where the sink basket is placed measures 3 inches. Can you recommend a 3 inch sink basket? Thank you.

    • Hi Ron,

      It would be nice if you could send me a picture. I have done an extensive search and found nothing in a kitchen sink strainer basket that comes in 3″ only 3.5″ which is the complete assembly the basket and the strainer. If indeed the hole in the basket assembly is only 3″, I would try to find the manufacturer, and ask them if they can supply the correct strainer. If this sink is really important to you I would take it to a machine shop and see if they can enlarge the hole for you. Let me know how you make out.

  21. Trying to order a new basket for my sink. Thank you so much for this helpful information!!
    There should be more good people out there like yourself helping others who are clueless like me.

  22. Hello. I’m doing a home project and I’m looking for a straight tail piece thats 2 inch in diameter and 8 inches length wise. I’m having a hard time finding this on the internet, don’t know if they make 2 in. IV seen plenty 1 1/2 but that’s it.
    Thanks a lot

  23. Very useful information for my project today but it kind of left me hanging, i dont find how tight to tighten the lock ring and do i trim off the squeeze out of the putty top and bottom and if so how long does it need to set up ? Thanks scott.

    • Hi Scott, Thank you for your feedback and sorry for taking so long to get back to you, but I was away on vacation. I do show a couple of methods for tightening the lock ring on my blog about half way down the page As you can see, you can use a large pair of channel lock pliers or an especially design wrench which is made solely for that purpose. (I will add a link to this product to make it easier).

      As for the plumbers putty, you should clean off any excess as soon as you are done with the installation on both the top and bottom of the sink. This stuff never hardens so you don’t have to worry about curing (set up) time, it will be good to go as soon as you are done with the installation.

      Let me know how you made out.