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).
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
3 1/2" Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Assembly with Ring Nut and Basket
3 1/2" Premium Double Cup Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Assembly
3 1/2" Polypropylene Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer with center screw for easy assembly
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.
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
Strainer Assembly Fig. S
Applying Putty to Strainer Basket Fig. P
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.
Attaching the lock nut to the base of the strainer basket. Fig S3
Tightening the lock nut on the strainer assembly. Fig S4
Holding the basket in place Fig. S5
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.