What is a farmhouse sink?

You may have heard the term "farmhouse sink" thrown around quite a bit lately, especially if you're exploring the possibility of a kitchen renovation or perhaps buying a new home.

This is actually one of several terms used to describe a particular style of sink that is under-mounted (sits underneath the kitchen countertop) and often exposes the front of the sink itself instead of being covered entirely by cabinets.

Those terms I mentioned include the following:

  • Farmhouse sink
  • Farm sink
  • Apron sink
  • Apron-Front sink
  • Undermount sink
  • Fireclay sink

Here's a picture of a fully-installed and functional farmhouse sink:

Farmhouse Sink Example

A farmhouse sink is installed on top of kitchen cabinets but beneath the countertops. Flickr Commons image via ArchCityGranite

Let's get into more specifics about some of the features and what you can expect if you're in the market for purchasing a new farmhouse sink.

Common Features of a Farmhouse Sink

We've already touched on a couple of the defining features of a farmhouse sink. However, there are a few more that should be mentioned. For starters, I'll list all of the most notable features and then we'll talk a bit about each one individually.

Farmhouse Sink Characteristics

  • Undermount installation
  • Usually larger than a traditional sink
  • Often made of fireclay
  • Usually leaves front panel of sink exposed
  • Usually a soft white or lighter color

While not all of these are true of every farmhouse sink, the bulk of them should be well-represented regardless of which brand or model you're referring to.

What does undermount mean?

The feature that technically defines a farmhouse sink is the way it's mounted or supported. Farmhouse sinks use an undermount setup, which means they're not resting on the countertop at any point. You'll notice that the counter is cut around these sinks, but the lip of the sink itself is underneath the counter.

Here's a picture of a one mid-install:

Farmhouse Sink Installation (undermount)

Farmhouse sinks are defined largely by how they're installed with support from the bottom. This is a picture of an undermount installation. Flickr Commons image via Stately English Manor

In this setup, essentially all of the sink's weight is supported from the framing beneath, which means contractors and installers need to take extra care to be certain the framing is strong enough to support the sink

How big are farmhouse sinks?

While there are many different models and sizes to choose from, farmhouse sinks are traditionally larger than the typical stainless steel sink we've seen in the past. Seeing a bowl size of 33 or 36 inches is not at all unusual. The added size and weight is partly why these sinks need the undermount support.

Farmhouse sinks are typically a bit larger than traditional stainless steel sinks.

An Exposed Front or "Apron" Front

While you can have a farmhouse sink without an exposed front, it's more common to have it setup this way, as we've seen in the pictures used thus far in this article. This is where we get the term apron-front sink and it's huge part of the design trend that has made farmhouse sinks so popular.

Farmhouse Sink

Exposed front or "apron-front" of a farmhouse sink.

At the same time, you can have a farmhouse sink that is undermounted but with the front panel covered behind cabinets as in the following kitchen:

Covered Front in an Undermount Sink

In this particular sink, it's undermounted but the front is covered by cabinets instead of exposed.

Are Farmhouse sinks always a lighter color?

Most farmhouse sinks are made of a fireclay, which means they'll usually be a white or soft and neutral color.

However, you can also get farmhouse sinks that are made of stainless steel, granite, or copper. 

Here's what the copper might look like with an apron front:

Farmhouse Sink Made of Copper

A copper farmhouse sink by Sinkology. Shop this sink via Amazon.

You can also have farmhouse sinks that are darker, sometimes made of granite or a dark colored (usually black or charcoal gray) copper. Black onyx granite is another common option for a darker color.

Though again, the bulk of these sinks will be white, just because lighter colors are a big part of the current design trend, at least for kitchens.

Conclusion

To conclude, farmhouse sinks are most clearly defined by an undermount installation and by the material used to construct them. 

The exposed apron-front - though not a requirement to be considered a farmhouse sink - is also a huge part of the design and appeal. If you're looking for a farmhouse sink, make sure you consult with a contractor for installation and take the time to size everything to fit your cabinets, whether they're new or existing.

My wife and I love the farmhouse sink we had installed when we redid our kitchen and still consider it one of the best purchases of that entire project.

Questions and Comments

If you have questions about our experience with our own farmhouse sink project or something else, feel free to leave it in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.

Additional Farmhouse Sink Resources

How big are sinks? Typical Kitchen Sink Dimensions
How big is the typical kitchen sink?This is an article for those looking to install a kitchen sink and want[...]
What is the easiest sink material to clean? (three most common)
For thosein the market for a farmhouse sink, one aspect worth consideration is how easy the sink is to keep[...]
9 Tips for First-Time Farmhouse Sink Buyers
Flickr Commons image via LuminaryPhotoProject Farmhouse style sinks may be all the rage but if you are new to this[...]
5 Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Sink Clean
You may have heard that a kitchen sink is likely home to more bacteria than a toilet seat, and if[...]
Should you caulk a kitchen sink? Undermount and Drop-In
Is it smart to caulk around your kitchen sink? Flickr Commons image via Ian HaycoxCaulk is a fabulous little invention[...]
Proper Outlet Distance fom Kitchen Sink: Simple Answer
One of the more boring aspects of being a DYI home renovator is dealing with codes. Obviously, we all know[...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *