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Are Kitchen Island Sinks a Good Idea? 14 Pros and Cons

If you’re designing a new kitchen, you might consider putting your sink in the kitchen island.

But is it the best approach? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

In this guide, you’ll learn the pros and cons of a kitchen island sink. I break down all aspects of this option, including how it impacts entertainment space, cleaning, accessibility, cost, and more.

You’ll also learn what kitchen design experts say about this topic and get answers to the most frequently asked questions.


Use the links below to navigate the guide:


Pros of a Kitchen Island Sink

There are several benefits to building your sink into the kitchen island. Let’s explore each advantage in detail.

Opens Up Main Countertop Space

Installing a kitchen sink on your island opens up space on your main countertop.

You can use that extra space for preparation and storing small appliances like a toaster and blender.

Kitchen island with a sink

Keeping small appliances on the main countertops under the upper cabinets makes your kitchen more efficient and creates a tidy appearance. Since you wouldn’t store these appliances on the island, you save room in your cabinets and pantry.

Opens the Sink to the Room

A counter sink often faces a wall or window but putting the sink in your island opens it up to the rest of the room. So, an island sink is ideal if you prefer to look out on the rest of the room or your family or guests while you clean up.

This is a major perk if your kitchen is at the center of your house and doesn’t have windows to gaze out of while washing dishes.  

Greater Accessibility

A sink in your kitchen island also makes it accessible from multiple directions. For example, you could reach over the island and place a dish or glass in the sink without getting up or getting in the way of another person using the sink or countertop.  

Additionally, putting the sink in the island lends itself well to the kitchen triangle, also referred to as the working triangle or the golden triangle. If you’re unfamiliar, the kitchen triangle is the design theory that states the sink, stove, and refrigerator should be positioned in a triangle, with each leg between four and nine feet apart.

Kitchen triangle between sink refrigerator and stove
Kitchen triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stove

This layout allows you to access the three most essential functions of your kitchen (the sink, stove, and refrigerator) quickly and easily. When the sink is on the island, the cooktop and refrigerator should be positioned behind the island, creating a triangle.

Improved Lighting

A sink in the kitchen island will get more light than a sink that faces a wall, which can make it easier to see stains or stuck-on food while you’re washing your dishes and help you clean more efficiently.

Bright lighting above a sink and kitchen island
Bright lighting above a sink and kitchen island

Less Crowded Kitchen Alleys

The kitchen is often the busiest room in a home. If you put your sink in the kitchen island, multiple people can work in the kitchen without getting in each other’s way — one person at the main counter and another using the sink. 

Option for a Larger Sink

The trend for having a larger sink, such as a butler’s sink, has increased the number of people who opt for kitchen island sinks. If the sink is the only thing you’re putting into your island, it can typically accommodate a larger sink better than your main countertops — depending on your kitchen layout.

Kitchen island with a sink

That being said, you need at least a 24-inches landing area on one side of the sink for dishes or a drying rack and a minimum of 18 inches on the other.

Cons of a Kitchen Island Sink

Undoubtedly, there are benefits to kitchen island sinks, but it’s not all good. There are several downsides to consider, too.

Less Entertainment Space

A kitchen island is an ideal space for entertaining. You can present dishes buffet-style, and your family or guests can gather around the island. A sink in your island cuts down on the available entertainment space, and a pile of dirty dishes right where you’re hanging out can ruin the vibe.

There’s not much room to entertain on the island pictured below.

Kitchen island with a sink

But there’s plenty of space without the sink (assuming there’s room for the sink elsewhere).

Kitchen island without sink

Wasted Prep Space

A kitchen island sink can also reduce your food preparation space. Kitchen islands provide a large surface useful for tasks that need a lot of space, like rolling out dough, preparing and cooling homemade cookies, or making homemade ravioli. So if you need a large, open prep area, an island sink can get in the way.

Immediate Cleaning

As mentioned, a kitchen island sink is open to the rest of the room, which means everyone can see it. Most people don’t want a pile of dirty dishes in the center of the room and may feel pressure to clean up immediately. This pressure can delay your meals or keep you from your guests while you clean. 

Dirty dishes are less of an issue if you have a separate dining area. But if you often sit on stools and dine at the island, a pile of dirty pots and pans is not the most appealing sight to look at while you’re eating.

Island Clutter

Sinks usually have a variety of supplies around them, such as soap, dishcloths, and scrubbers. If your sink is in the island, these supplies create more visible clutter.

Most people use these supplies every day, so you may not want to have to get them out of a cupboard and put them away for every use.

Unfortunately, there are few good places to store wet cloths and sponges where they won’t get moldy.

Water Splatter

Even the neatest people tend to splash water while they’re washing dishes. With island sinks, you need to keep things far enough away from the sink so they won’t get wet.

For example, if a family member is doing work or homework at the island while you wash up, you need to make sure not to splash soapy water on their school materials. 

Dishwasher Positioning

Most people like positioning their dishwasher next to the sink for easy clean-up and logical plumbing. If you want to install both in your island, it will require additional plumbing work, which can be costly.

On a related note, fitting your dishwasher into your kitchen island would decrease any larger cabinet space that you might have in your island. 

Installation

Installing a sink and any additional plumbing in your island is a professional job. It is not a DIY project.

The average cost to install a kitchen island sink is $400, in addition to the price of the sink. Depending on your plumbing needs (location of the water and drain pipes and their condition), the costs could even be much higher.

Price

Kitchen island sinks are usually more expensive than countertop sinks. Not only are they more costly to install, but many people opt for larger, more expensive sinks for their islands.

Exact prices vary depending on the model, where you buy it, plumbing supplies, and installation costs.

To estimate the total cost for your project, compare sink prices on Amazon and HomeDepot.com and get free no-obligation quotes on installation costs from local contractors on HomeAdvisor.com.

What Kitchen Design Experts Say

I connected with several kitchen design companies to get their expert advice on this subject. When I talked to each company, I asked:

What are the pros and cons of putting a sink in the kitchen island? What are the main factors to consider?

Kitchens Baths & Beyond, a kitchen remodeling company in South Carolina, said, “If you’re deciding between putting a sink or a cooktop in the island, a sink is the preferred and more cost-effective option. Newer sinks are much deeper than older sinks, so you can fit more dirty dishes without them piling up and creating a mess in the middle of your kitchen. Also, most islands have a 12-inch overhang where you sit, so you won’t be too close to the water or mess in the sink.”

Lincoln Design Studio, a kitchen design firm in Chicago, Illinois, said, “Putting the sink on the island is a good idea, but it’s most important to practice the kitchen holy trinity. That means you organize the kitchen so that the refrigerator, cooktop, and sink are in a quick and easy triangle and accessible to each other.”

Dean Cabinetry, a company based in Connecticut, is not a fan of sinks on islands. They don’t like that sinks attract clutter like dirty pots, pans, and dishes. When the sink is on the island, your guests will be looking at food scraps in the sink, which is not appealing.

Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, a premier kitchen and bath showroom in Long Island, New York, has a different opinion. They think island sinks are ideal because you can use them as an ice bucket during parties and fill them with wine, beer, and other beverages. They recommend adding a second dishwasher if you’re concerned about dishes being in the open.

FAQs About Kitchen Island Sinks

Below are answers to the most frequently asked question about putting a sink in the kitchen island.

Where should a sink be placed in a kitchen island?

Most of the time, sinks are positioned at the center of the island to create symmetry on both sides. However, if you want a large, uninterrupted space for entertaining or preparing meals, you can position the sink toward one side.

Keep in mind that there should be at least 18 inches of counter space on one side of the sink and at least 24 inches on the other.

You’ll also need to consider the positioning of the plumbing and other key preparation and cooking functions. Most importantly, the sink should be between four and nine feet from the stove and refrigerator.

Is it better to have a sink or cooktop on an island?

If you have the choice, putting the sink on the island is a better idea. Cooktops make it difficult to use the island for anything other than cooking because the splattering oil, hot burners, and hot cookware create a messy and potentially dangerous situation. Plus, cooktops require a ventilation hood or downdraft. Vent hoods can be an eye sore in the middle of the kitchen, and downdrafts usually don’t vent as effectively.

How do you vent an island sink?

Venting (and plumbing) is more complicated when the sink is in the kitchen island. There are a two main options, including an island vent and air admittance valve, but there are pros and cons to each, and you’ll need to consult a professional plumber to find out which is best for your situation.

How big does an island need to be for a sink and dishwasher?

Most dishwashers are 24 inches wide, but sinks vary in size. They could be as small as 25 inches and up to 36 inches or wider. So a kitchen island needs to be at least six feet wide to accommodate a sink and a dishwasher (plus landing zones next to the sink).

I calculated that by adding 18 inches for a landing zone next to the sink, plus a 25-inch wide sink, plus a 24-inch wide dishwasher (the dishwasher needs to be beside the sink, not directly under it), plus a few extra inches for space around the dishwasher.

However, a six-foot island with a sink and a dishwasher won’t provide much room for anything else. If you need space for storage, seating, or a sink wider than 25 inches, you’ll need a seven-foot island or larger.

How big should an island with a sink be?

The size of the island depends on the size of the sink and the amount of room you need for storage, seating, and preparation.

At a minimum, a kitchen island should be 67 inches wide (5.6 feet), which includes an 18-inch landing zone on one side of the sink, a 25-inch sink, and a 24-inch landing zone on the other side. However, I wouldn’t recommend putting a sink in an island under seven feet wide.

You also need to consider depth. You’ll need at least two feet of depth to fit the sink, plus another foot or more if you want to put seating in front of the sink.

Is it possible to move your sink to the kitchen island?

You can install a sink into an existing island, but it’s a significant project. You’ll need to cut the countertop, run plumbing through the floor, and install the sink. This video walks through the steps.

Should you put a prep sink in the island?

A prep sink is a smaller, secondary sink designed to make food prep more convenient. You should position it where it will be most convenient based on the task you’ll use it for most often. For example, if you’re planning to use it as a pasta pot filler, position it near the stove; for beverages and cocktails, place it near the bar or liquor storage; put it on the island for general food prep.

The advantages and disadvantages I covered in this guide apply to both primary and prep sinks.

Bottom Line: Is a Kitchen Island Sink a Good Idea?

Kitchen island sinks have plenty of pros and cons. But is it the best place to put your sink?

Before I share my opinion, let’s quickly recap.

Pros of a Kitchen Island Sink:

  • Frees up the main countertop space
  • You can face the room when you wash dishes
  • The sink is accessible from multiple directions
  • Lighting is improved
  • Less crowding in your kitchen alleys
  • Islands can accommodate larger sinks

Cons of a Kitchen Island Sink:

  • Reduces your entertainment space
  • Wastes prep space
  • Creates clutter; dirty dishes, soap, and sponges are more visible
  • Water can splatter where people are reading or doing work
  • It affects dishwasher placement
  • Routing plumbing to the middle of the kitchen can be expensive

In my opinion, an island without a sink, cooktop, or any other appliance is preferable. The large uninterrupted surface allows you, your family, and guests to spread out and enjoy the space without having to navigate around dirty dishes, wet cleaning supplies, or other clutter.

However, if the island is the most efficient place based on the location of your dishwasher or space limitations, a kitchen island sink is not a bad idea.

And, if you have to choose between an island sink or an island cooktop due to space limitations, the sink is a safer and better idea.

Find out how much a kitchen island sink will cost by comparing sink prices on Amazon and HomeDepot.com and get free no-obligation quotes on installation costs from local contractors on HomeAdvisor.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s studied consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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