How To Install Kitchen Sink Drain

How To Install Kitchen Sink Drain

Installing a new kitchen sink drain is a straightforward do-it-yourself project that can be completed in a few hours. Properly installing a kitchen sink drain ensures your sink will drain quickly and efficiently for years to come.

In this guide, we will walk through the complete process of how to install a kitchen sink drain step-by-step from start to finish. We will cover removing the old drain, preparing the sink, installing the new basket strainer and drain assembly, connecting the drain pipes and trap, sealing leaks, and testing the new drain.

Choosing the Right Kitchen Sink Drain Components

Having the right sink drain parts on hand will make installing or replacing your kitchen sink drain much easier. Choosing compatible kitchen sink drain components prevents leaks and alignment issues down the road.

Here are the key components needed for properly installing a kitchen sink drain:

Strainer – This installs in the sink drain opening to catch food waste. Most strainers incorporate a stopper mechanism to seal off the drain when needed. Choose a finished strainer that matches your sink’s style and material.

Tailpiece – The tailpiece is a short, threaded tube that extends down from the strainer to connect to the drain piping. Most tailpieces are 1 1⁄2 inches. Make sure the length positions the strainer properly.

Slip nuts – Slip nuts slide over the tailpiece to connect it to the drain pipes. Always use the right size slip nuts. Oversized nuts won’t secure the joint.

P-trap – The p-trap creates the u-shaped curve that holds water to prevent sewer gases from entering through the drain. Buy a p-trap sized to match your sink pipes.

Drain pipes – Rigid plastic or flexible corrugated pipes connect the tailpiece to the p-trap. Use the same diameter pipes as the sink tailpiece.

Elbows and couplings – Elbow joints transition from vertical to horizontal. Couplings join two pipes. Use slip-joint elbows and couplings.

Plumber’s putty – Used to seal stainless steel sink strainers to the sink. Do not use on other sink materials. Apply a rope of putty around the drain hole before installing the strainer.

Teflon tape – This tape wraps around pipe threads to seal connections. Apply to the tailpiece and trap joints during assembly.

Choosing compatible sink drain parts with proper fit and seal helps prevent leaks and future drain clogs. Always have extra slip nuts, washers, and plumbers putty on hand for adjustments during installation.

How To Install a Kitchen Sink Drain: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Turn Off Water Supply and Remove Old Drain

Before starting any work, locate the shutoff valves for both the hot and cold water supply lines under the sink and turn them off. This prevents any water from accidentally spraying out while you are working. Unscrew the supply lines from the faucet using a wrench or pliers.

Place a bucket under the old drain to catch any water left in the pipes. Unscrew the nut that connects the p-trap to the drain tailpiece using pliers or a basin wrench. Detach the p-trap and set it aside.

Unscrew the mounting assembly nuts under the sink that secure the old basket strainer. Pull the strainer out from above. Thoroughly clean the sink basin and surrounding countertop to prepare the area for the new drain installation.

Step 2: Prepare the Sink

Examine the drain hole on the sink to see if the new basket strainer will fit properly. Older sinks may have a larger drain hole that requires using an expanding rubber gasket. Newer sinks are standardized to fit modern 1 1⁄2” or 1 1⁄4” drains.

On stainless steel sinks, apply a 1⁄4” thick rope of plumber’s putty around the underside lip of the drain hole. Use enough to create a watertight seal between the strainer and sink. Do not use putty on enameled cast iron or composite sinks, instead use a thin layer of silicone caulk.

Step 3: Install New Basket Strainer

Position the new basket strainer in the drain hole, with the rubber gasket facing up to the underside of the sink. Insert the threaded tailpiece through the strainer hole from below the sink.

Slip the rubber gasket over the tailpiece and press it evenly against the bottom of the strainer. Add a metal backup flange over the gasket, followed by the mounting nut. Tighten the mounting nut securely using pliers or a basin wrench to press the strainer evenly against the sink.

Wipe away any excess plumber’s putty that squeezes out from around the strainer using a damp rag. Remove excess putty completely to ensure a proper seal. Let putty dry completely according to manufacturer’s recommendations before using the sink.

Step 4: Connect Drain Pipes and P-Trap

If the old drain pipes can be reused, simply slip them back over the drain tailpiece and tighten the slip nuts. For a complete drain replacement, use 1 1⁄2” plastic or metal pipes with slip-joint compression fittings.

Attach the tailpiece to the trap arm piece, securing with the slip nut. Connect a 90-degree elbow fitting onto the trap arm. Attach the straight section of the p-trap onto the elbow. Connect the other end of the p-trap to the sink drain pipe in the wall, secured with the slip nut.

Use adjustable metal or plastic couplings if needed to get a tight fit between pipe pieces. Use pipe joint compound or Teflon tape on all threads to help tighten the joints. Snug all slip nuts securely using pliers or a wrench, but be careful not to overtighten.

Step 5: Seal Leaks and Test Drain

Leaks most often occur at joints. Check for leaks by pouring water into the strainer and examining pipe connections underneath. Tighten any loose slip nuts. Apply pipe joint compound or thread seal tape if leaks persist.

Remove the drain stopper or strainer cap and run water into the sink, starting slowly. Look for leaks and tighten joints if needed. Increase water flow gradually. Verify there are no leaks or water collecting under the cabinet once fully draining. Plug the sink and fill halfway with water. Unplug to confirm water drains completely.

Your new kitchen sink drain is now successfully installed! Proper routine cleaning will keep it flowing smoothly for years of use. Be sure to call a plumber if you have any sign of persistent clogs or leaks.

Connecting Pipes and Installing a P-Trap

Connecting the sink drain pipes and installing a p-trap is the most important step to creating proper drainage below your sink. Following a precise sequence and using the right techniques will ensure your p-trap fits correctly and makes watertight seals.

Here is the proper step-by-step method for connecting pipes and installing a p-trap:

  1. Attach tailpiece to trap arm – Slide the short end of the tailpiece over the stub of the trap arm drain in the wall. Slip on the slip nut and tighten.
  2. Install trap arm elbow – Add a 90-degree elbow fitting onto the straight end of the trap arm piece in the cabinet.
  3. Measure and cut p-trap to fit – Measure from the elbow to the drain stub in the wall. Cut the p-trap pipes to length with a hacksaw.
  4. Assemble the p-trap – Slide the slip nuts over both ends of the p-trap. Attach the p-trap to the elbow and the drainpipe stub. Tighten the slip nuts.
  5. Check alignments – Verify the p-trap assembly is aligned straight with no kinks or angled connections.
  6. Tighten all joints – Hand tighten all slip nuts first, then use tongue-and-groove pliers to tighten them an additional 1⁄4 turn.
  7. Add thread sealant – Apply Teflon plumber’s tape to the threads on the tailpiece, elbow, and drain stub. Screw pieces together tightly.
  8. Test for leaks – Pour water into the strainer and check underneath for any water droplets at the slip nut connections. Tighten any leaking joints.

Following these exact steps helps ensure your p-trap assembly is positioned at the proper height and drainage slope. Taking time to get alignments and seals perfect avoids leaks and future drain clogs.

Additional Tips and Considerations

  • Dealing with Garbage Disposals: If you’re installing a garbage disposal, the process will differ slightly. You’ll need to attach the disposal unit to the drain outlet and ensure proper drainage.
  • Sink Material: The installation process can vary slightly depending on the sink material. Stainless steel sinks and porcelain sinks may have different requirements, especially concerning sealing and tightening.
  • Plumber’s Putty vs. Silicone Caulk: While plumber’s putty is commonly used, silicone caulk can also be used, especially for certain types of sinks like ones made of granite or other stone materials.
  • Adjusting Drain Height: In some cases, you might need to adjust the height of the drain outlet to ensure proper flow. This could involve cutting pipes or using different fittings.


Installing a kitchen sink drain is a manageable DIY project that can save you the cost of hiring a plumber. By following these steps and ensuring all connections are secure and leak-free, you can successfully install a kitchen sink drain. Remember to always turn off the water supply before beginning any plumbing project and never hesitate to consult a professional if you encounter difficulties.

With this guide, you’re now equipped to replace or install a new sink drain, enhancing the functionality and appearance of your kitchen. If you’re opting for a complete kitchen remodel in Metro Atlanta area, contact Pinnacle Building Group today!

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