To upgrade the backyard’s design and convenience, getting to know essential outdoor sink ideas is an important step. The life of an avid gardener, outdoor cook, handyman, or pet enthusiast, can become so much easier with this simple addition.
An outdoor sink installation improves plenty of backyard sections, including the garden, the outdoor kitchen, and the outdoor wet bar. Outdoor sinks come in a variety of materials, sizes, plumbing & style options. Cost depends on the chosen option and is $100 – $1000+.
There are plenty of things to consider before choosing and installing an outdoor sink. Function, style, location, plumbing, budget – there is a lot to get to know before installing one in your backyard. Below you’ll find general outdoor sink ideas, as well as specific ones depending on the function and location.
General outdoor sink ideas: where to start from, what to look for?
The first thing regarding choosing the best outdoor sink for your needs is picking the solution that fits them best. You probably know what irritates you most now, but maybe there is something extra you’re looking for.
Below you’ll find a table with basic jobs that can be enhanced with the outdoor sink. It usually is a specific solution, though, as there are various sizes, styles, and plumbing options.
|Outdoor sink purpose||Plumbing option||Water temperature||Cost|
|Handy jobs support||Simple / Comfortable||Cold + Hot||$$|
|Outdoor kitchen/ bar||Simple / Comfortable||Cold + Hot||$$|
|Washing animals||Simple / Comfortable||Cold + Hot||$$|
As you can see, the least expensive option is a garden sink. There are two reasons for that. First of all, to wash planting containers or garden produce cold water is most often enough. This means water connection is simpler and very often can be done with a hose. Second of all, without food particles or detergents, water is not polluted, so it can often go back to the ground with simple plumbing solutions like a dry well.
There are obviously more pluming options for an outdoor sink. If you’re interested in getting to know them, you can use a compendium I created here.
Even though a dry well is an amazing solution for outdoor plumbing (as it is simple and inexpensive), it will not work well with grease, food particles, and regular detergents. In fact, pouring such greywater into the ground is going to pollute it. The extra effect is very often a stink from decaying food pieces.
The more comfortable the outdoor sink gets, the more pricy the project becomes, but this extra comfort level is a must for some purposes. Cleaning greasy hands or pots with cold water is rather frustrating and not effective. Adding a hot water line might be an expensive project, though.
The price of an outdoor sink can vary greatly, as it can be low key (1) or premium (2). This is why an outdoor sink’s average price is $300, but it can cost up to $2000 if new plumbing is needed (new plumbing solely can be $1700)? Multiple factors influence the final budget:
- distance from the lines (for drain connected to sewer/ septic),
- permit cost (if required),
- type of sink,
- type of plumbing,
The distance from existing lines is actually a crucial factor for the budget. There are 2 reasons for that:
- If lines are not in place, most people will have to employ a contractor (unless you’re a man-of-all-work).
- Adding lines usually requires a permit.
To avoid the cost of adding lines, it is worth checking where the existing lines are and trying to design an outdoor sink where they’re located. As mentioned before, plumbing costs can get pretty high (an average project budget with labor is $1700). On average plumber costs $100/h, but the price depends on the location. A permit shouldn’t be more than $500.
Luckily an outdoor sink can add a lot of style to the backyard, so sometimes exposing it may transform your backyard and create a new quality. Just take a look at the sink below. Is there anything that says rustic more?
There are plenty of sink types used in the backyard. Not only their purpose vary, but also size and material. The width of an outdoor sink starts at 14″, which will be fine for an outdoor bar and a small outdoor kitchen but is definitely not going to be enough for a utility sink or washing a dog. A utility sink width can easily reach 36″.
Outdoor sinks can be as cheap as $50 for a portable plastic version up to $2000 for 32″ of 18 gauge stainless steel. You can buy them online or at the local store.
Usually, the most comfortable outdoor sink plumbing is drain connected to sewer/ septic. It is worth remembering, though, that working with lines will easily add $750+ to the budget.
So if less comfort is acceptable to you, going with either a bucket under the sink (10$) or a self-contained lift station ($400+) that has to be frequently emptied/filled is a great option. For garden sinks, dry wells ($30) work well.
Not only do installation costs vary, but also each type of outdoor sink costs are different. Below you’ll find a table with several outdoor sink types and a minimal budget for specific solutions.
|Garden sink types||Cost|
|Outdoor sink station||$400|
|Outdoor sink table||$250|
|Outdoor sink and counter||$250|
|Outdoor utility sink||$150|
|Outdoor portable sink||$70|
|Outdoor sink with hose holder||$50|
|Outdoor freestanding sink||$100|
|Potting bench with sink||$150|
It’s worth knowing that some of the solutions require only assembling, so no plumbing costs will be added to the budget.
Now you know many solutions and their indicative costs. It’s time to dive a bit deeper into each solution’s features.
What material works best for an outdoor sink?
Outdoor sinks have to take a lot, including cleaning not only garden produce and hands but also BBQ crates, planting containers, and animal paws. They’re outside when it’s raining and freezing; therefore, material outdoor sinks are made of matters.
What are the top choices? This really depends on the goal you wish to achieve. Just take a look at the gallery below.
As you can see, plenty of materials can be used. Stone, wood, concrete, stainless steel, or even porcelain. Each can be used in the design, but choosing a non-standard solution needs to have a goal. Otherwise, choosing the recommended option is a better solution.
Saying stainless steel or stone is the best is really not saying enough. Not every stone can withstand the elements and not every stainless steel is durable.
Some time ago, I researched types of stone that work best outdoors, and the results are available here. If your material of choice is stone, I strongly recommend you read it. There are stone types that, for example, stain easily, like basaltina, sandstone, and marble. Some stones are far less resistant to etching and scratching. What is most important, though, some require regular sealing.
What I found is the best stone for outdoor locations are granite and quartz (not quartzite). Soapstone and slate can be considered as well.
If the stone sink is only part of a bigger structure with a countertop, it is especially worth performing a test on it, showing if the picked stone slab contains calcite and is absorbent. The test description is available here. It is crucial to check the slab you’re going for, as they differ.
Choosing the best type of stainless steel is a bit easier, as there is only one worth mentioning: 304.
The best, and only really, type of stainless steel for outdoors is 304, which is resistant to corrosion. As there are plenty of stainless steel types, it is crucial to be careful while shopping. Other types of steel are unlikely to last more than 5 years outside.
Stainless steel is a great material for the outdoors but has its flaws too. It reflects light, which can be disturbing for some people. It is also pretty easy to scratch and makes a dent. If you’re looking for perfection, it might get on your nerves. But there is a way to avoid it.
Hammered brush nickel texture not only helps in maintenance but also looks so much more interesting!
While choosing material for outdoors, it is always worth considering the effect elements will have on it. Copper is not only aging with grace but also a trending material. If you don’t want to go with something different, copper is an excellent choice.
Outdoor sink station – a simple solution for a backyard
An outdoor sink station is a widespread solution for a backyard. It comes in multiple variants as well as budgets. It can easily match a backyard style, as it comes in a wide range of styles. The option worth considering for plumbing is a self-contained lift station.
Why is a self-contained lift station one of the most tempting outdoor sink ideas? It basically has the advantages of the sink connected to water and septic, without the fuss of getting permits, building lines, and spending a lot of $.
What are these advantages? You can basically use such sink as an indoor one, so for:
- washing vegetables,
- washing meat,
- washing hands,
- washing dishes and pots,
If you decide to go with a self-contained lift station, you can also use a regular detergent and do not care about food parts getting into the drain. The price of such a solution is $400 + (depending on finishes).
A self-contained lift station is not the only plumbing option available. A sink station can work excellent with a dry well (french drain), drain hooked into septic, or even a bucket under the sink. All options are available depending on the owners’ needs and budget.
A sink station is an excellent solution when you need a sink to wash your hands from dirt, but it’s not going to be convenient to cook or wash after cooking, as it usually has no counter space. It’s usually not a perfect match for cleaning greasy elements or pets, as sinks used are usually not too deep.
Outdoor sink table
An outdoor sink table is a multipurpose solution that works well in plenty of locations. It can be used as a working counter for so many jobs, including potting and food preparation. The table is a universal form that fits plenty of styles and can add a lot to some, like rustic.
The counter space makes the whole solution truly multipurpose. It can be used to wash veggies as well as to clean your hands and pots. It is a super-convenient option that can be upgraded with storage and created in various budgets and styles.
As you can see, not every outdoor sink needs to be connected to plumbing, but there are things important to know if you’re about to choose other options.
If you want to run your water to the ground, it is important to check the code in your area (as it may be a violation of it). It also requires using plant-friendly soaps that are safe for greywater irrigation. The last thing to remember is to avoid putting down the drain food parts, as they’ll rot and smell.
Potting bench sink
A potting bench with a sink is an amazing addition to any garden. With mounted hose reel, it improves the use and storage of gardening hose. It also helps with keeping the order of gardening tools and pots. An outdoor sink brings this solution to another level of convenience.
The first solution is basically a countertop with a container. Potting bench brings gardening to another convenience level, so even this option makes owners life a bit more comfortable.
Potting bench sink and running water is just another way to utilize the space. Here is a superb example of a DIY potting bench sink. What was done in the first option sink can be easily performed on the countertop, and excess soil can fall through holes (that can be covered up, while messy jobs are not performed) to the container below.
With a potting bench, plumbing for a sink shouldn’t be a big issue. Usually, hot water is not needed there, and nothing that can rot falls down the potting bench drain. The easiest way to make a potting bench sink plumbing is connecting the faucet to the garden hose and placing a tub under the sink. It is also an excellent spot for a dry well (look here for instructions).
The great advantage of the no plumbing option (a tub under the sink) is very easy winterizing. The only thing you have to do is cut of water. The second option requires more attention.
Outdoor utility sink
An outdoor utility sink is an all-in-one option that is an excellent solution for handy jobs, gardening, cleaning animals, and even cooking. Utility sinks are distinguished by:
- lower mounting height, so it is easier to put heavy objects in,
- greater depth, to accommodate bigger objects.
A utility sink as a versatile solution can suit most of the needs pretty well. The only concern here is cooking, and as if the sink is mounted low, it may not work its best here.
Does the utility sink need hot water? Hot water access may become handy while washing grease off, but utility sinks are usually not connected to a hot water source.
As a utility sink is a place that can create polluted water, it is recommended not to create plumbing for it that is sending it back to the ground. The main reason is polluted water pollutes the ground. Plumbing types that are going to work very well with utility sink are:
- a bucket under the sink,
- a tank in the self-contained lift station,
- drain connected to septic.
The most convenient solution is a drain, but it is the most expensive one too. A self-contained lift-station and a simple tub under the sink are going to work well too. The disadvantage of cheaper solutions is a bit of inconvenience, as they require emptying.
A complete outdoor utility sink with pull out faucet and sprayer spout can be bought for $150. This type of sink will experience a lot in its lifespan, so it is crucial to choose one made from proper material.
Outdoor patio sink
Patio outdoor sink is a solution used for plenty of purposes, like:
- cleaning hands,
- pans, pots, and even grill crates,
- food preparation,
- garden tools.
It is usually connected to plumbing lines, often equipped with a water heater. It can also be equipped with a garbage disposal.
The great advantage of such a solution is cleaning yourself well before entering the house. So no dirty handles and walls anymore.
A patio, actually, is a great spot for an outdoor sink. There are plenty of reasons for that. First of all, you can clean your hands before entering the house after gardening/ barbecuing. Second of all, utilities are usually in place, so even with a moderate budget, you can launch a running water sink with proper plumbing.
Adding a water heater makes using the sink outside as convenient as the indoor one. This means washing after BBQ parties in the backyard, not in the kitchen. To enable washing not only dishes outside, but also BBq crates, buy a bigger sink. The farmhouse sink is just amazing for such purposes, if only it fits your patio style.
Like with any location, a patio sink comes with a few challenges too. First of all, such a sink needs to suit overall patio looks or be separated. Second, connecting a drain to septic is not the cheapest solution available, but the most wanted in such a location.
A patio is often a space integrated with the inside of the house for a much-wanted indoor-outdoor experience. It can get pretty fancy, and even if not, it is desired to be chic. An out-of-nowhere sink is rather not going to add much. Making one that looks good might require a bit of thinking and money. It is possible, though.
If a sink is simply not going to fit a patio style, it is worth considering a screen or a flower wall to hide it behind it. For such a set-up, all plumbing options are available, as the hidden sink is not visible.
If you’re able to fit your outdoor sink where it will be visible; connecting it to water and sewage/ septic lines seems to be the most desired option. It is the most elegant and convenient solution. Plumbing can be done otherwise, too, but will reduce both the patio outdoor sink’s usability and comfort levels.
You can also bring the patio outdoor sink to a new level, with a patio outdoor tub!
Outdoor sink kitchen
The outdoor kitchen sink is an essential part of the outdoor kitchen. It adds a lot of function to the outdoor kitchen area. There are single or double basin sinks available (width 14″ – 30″). An outdoor kitchen sink can be connected to cold or cold and hot water.
When an outdoor kitchen sink is the best solution? Basically, if you already have or are planning to build an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen is a backyard construction that consists of the countertop space, the grill, and additional appliances. It is a space that allows convenient barbecuing. A sink adds a lot of function to the area. Not only is prepping food easier, but also cleaning after a BBQ feast.
Adding a sink to an outdoor kitchen is usually an excellent idea. It requires additional space and budget, though.
How much space? An outdoor kitchen sink width is between 14″ and 30″. It needs an additional 18″ of free space on both sides. All in all, it is 50″ – 66″ of countertop width. All the needed numbers are available here (this is a full guide about outdoor kitchen dimensions).
How much budget? This one really depends on the plumbing option you’ll choose and the finishes price level. It can add from $100 – $1000+ to your budget. The cost varies a lot depending on the outdoor kitchen placement. If an outdoor kitchen is located next to the house, utilities can be already in place, so no or little job has to be done by the contractor. On the other hand, a more distant location is usually more expensive ($750+).
It is important to remember that drain hooked into a sewer is not the only plumbing option available. An outdoor kitchen sink can also be a part of a self-contained lift station or have a french drain (dry well) or have a bucket for greywater in the cabinet below. All the options are well described here (an entire post about outdoor kitchen sink plumbing).
Does an outdoor kitchen sink need access to hot water? It depends on your needs. If you cook a lot and want to clean afterward outside, the sink with hot water will make a difference.
Outdoor sink for a wet bar
Adding an outdoor sink for a wet bar has two goals adding a source of water and a space to clean glasses. For this purpose 15″ sink is big enough (width can be reduced to 13″). Most often, wet bar sinks have only cold water access. They can be equipped with a filtering system.
There are many solutions for hosts who like to entertain, and the sink is not the only option. Have you heard about bar centers? These are ready to use modules that can give you features of a sink and are equipped with ice storage bin, removable condiment trays, bottle shelf, and more. Such a solution takes more space – about 30″ of a counter width.
The prices of the two options vary a lot. Simple small outdoor sink with a faucet can cost as little as $150. The bar center, which is an exclusive option, is $1,000+.
I hope this article helped you a lot in choosing the proper solution for your needs. I wonder which sink is most popular among my readers. Which one are you about to add to your backyard?