How to Install a Kitchen Sink Drain

Installing a new kitchen sink drain is a straightforward home improvement project that can update the look and function of your kitchen. With some basic tools and plumbing parts, you can replace an old drain with a new assembly in just a few hours. Learning how to choose the right drain size and style, disconnect existing plumbing, and connect new drain pieces will help you successfully install a kitchen sink drain on your own.

Choosing a New Kitchen Sink Drain

When selecting a new kitchen sink drain, you’ll need to match it to the size of your sink basin and consider the look and functionality you want.

Measure Your Sink

The most important factor is choosing a drain assembly that properly fits your existing sink. Start by measuring the diameter of the drain hole in the bottom of the sink basin. Standard sizes are 3.5 inches for a single bowl sink and 4 inches for a double bowl. You may need a tape measure and a flashlight to get an accurate dimension. This measurement will determine the drain size you need to match.

Select a Drain Style

Once you know the correct drain hole size, decide if you want a standard exposed drain with a visible popup stopper mechanism or a sleeker drain with no exposed parts. Popup drains have a control rod and plunger that seals the sink when not in use. A popup allows you to fill the basin with water if needed. For a cleaner look, select a drain with no exposed popup parts.

Finish and Features

You’ll also want to choose a finish that matches your faucet and other fixtures. Common finishes include chrome, stainless steel, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, and matte black. Additionally, look for a strainer basket that catches food waste and is easy to remove and clean. Many drains also include a gasket and mounting ring.

Purchase Compatible Parts

When shopping, buy a drain specifically marketed as a “kitchen sink drain” and look for one labeled as all-in-one. This ensures you get compatible components needed for installing the new drain. Purchase a drain assembly kit that includes a strainer basket, mounting ring and gasket, tailpiece, and if applicable, the control rod and stopper.

How to Remove the Existing Kitchen Sink Drain

Once you have all the necessary replacement parts, you’re ready to remove the old drain and install the new one. Shut off the water supply lines before beginning.

Disconnect Supply Lines

Locate the hot and cold water shut-off valves below the sink and turn them clockwise to shut off the water. Turn on the faucet to release any pressure. Disconnect the flexible supply lines from the faucet inlets. You may need an adjustable wrench to loosen any compressed fittings.

Unfasten the Tailpiece

The tailpiece is the curved pipe that connects to the drain stub-out in the wall behind the sink. Unscrew the nut holding the tailpiece to the drain bottom with pliers or a wrench. Detach the tailpiece and set it aside.

Remove Popup Plunger

For sinks with exposed popup mechanisms, remove any control rod, clevis, and plunger pieces. You’ll need to twist off the clevis from the plunger under the sink. Pull up on the plunger to detach it from the drain body opening.

Unfasten Mounting Assembly

From inside the sink basin, twist off the mounting ring holding the strainer basket. Pull up on the basket and surrounding gasket to remove them. Unscrew the large nut around the drain flange below the sink to fully detach everything. Thoroughly clean the sink basin if needed.

Install New Kitchen Sink Drain Assembly

With the old drain fully disconnected, it’s time to install the new replacement assembly. Follow all the manufacturer’s specific instructions included with your drain kit.

Apply Plumber’s Putty

Take a small handful of plumber’s putty and roll it into a rope long enough to outline the drain flange above the sink. Press the putty onto the rim of the drain opening to seal the new assembly in place.

Insert New Drain Body

From below the sink, push the threaded drain body up through the sink hole. Make sure the gasket properly lines up with the bottom of the sink. Add the backup mounting ring and tighten by hand from below until snug.

Attach Tailpiece

Screw on the slip nut to connect the curved tailpiece to the bottom of the drain. Tighten with pliers or a wrench, but don’t overtighten. You want this joint to have some wiggle room for adjustment. The tailpiece should line up centered with the drain stub-out in the wall.

Connect Popup Mechanism

If your new drain has an exposed popup assembly, insert the control rod through the sink opening and attach the clevis. Connect the clevis to the plunger and insert the plunger into the drain body. Make sure the plunger seals the opening when engaged.

Install Strainer Basket

Place the basket strainer into the sink drain opening, followed by the gasket and backup mounting ring. Tighten the mounting ring firmly from above the sink with your hands or channel locks. Remove any excess plumber’s putty.

Reconnect Water Lines

Reconnect the flexible supply lines to the faucet inlets and hand tighten. Turn on both shut-off valves all the way to restore water flow. Check for leaks below and turn on the faucet to check for proper drainage.

Tips for a Successful Drain Installation

Follow these tips to ensure a smooth installation when replacing a kitchen sink drain on your own:

  • Always shut off water supply lines and disconnect electrical power before beginning.
  • Follow the detailed instructions included with the specific drain kit you purchased.
  • Make sure to get a tight seal with plumber’s putty between the drain flange and sink.
  • Don’t overtighten connections – snug is tight enough to avoid leaks.
  • If necessary, cut the tailpiece to fit properly or use a flexible extension.
  • Consider replacing deteriorated supply lines or shut-off valves while completing the project.
  • Keep a bucket or towels handy to catch any water in the lines during installation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Kitchen Sink Drains

If it’s your first time installing a new kitchen sink drain, review these common FAQs to help your project go smoothly.

Do I Need Any Special Tools to Install a New Drain?

You can install most standard drains using basic tools like wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, channel locks, plumber’s putty, and emery cloth or sandpaper. Always have a bucket and towels on hand.

What is the Most Common Drain Size for Kitchen Sinks?

The majority of kitchen sinks have either a 3.5-inch diameter drain opening for a single bowl sink or a 4-inch opening for a double bowl sink. Always measure before buying replacement parts.

How Do I Know If My Sink Has a Garbage Disposal?

If your kitchen sink is equipped with a garbage disposal, it will connect to the drain just above the trap bend under the sink. The disposal twists onto the bottom of the sink drain.

Can I Convert My Sink From a Popup to No-Popup Drain?

Yes, you can install a sleeker no-popup drain assembly in a sink previously equipped with a popup stopper. The drain body will thread into the existing opening.

What is the Easiest Kitchen Sink Drain to Install?

A no-popup drain with all parts included in a kit is the easiest for DIY installation. This style requires no additional control rods or clevis assemblies to connect.

How Do I Clean a Sink Drain Basket?

Remove the basket strainer and gasket periodically and rinse them out in hot water to clear food debris caught in the basket. You can scrub with an old toothbrush if needed.


Installing a new kitchen sink drain is a relatively quick and easy plumbing project you can tackle yourself in just an afternoon. Following the steps to remove your old drain, choose compatible components, and properly install the new pieces will ensure you get years of service from your updated drain assembly. Paying attention to details like precise sizing, leak-free seals, and secure connections will lead to a successful installation.