Is a Drainboard Sink Right for Your Kitchen?

  • Drainboard Sinks Mean Cleaner Counters and Less Waste

    Drainboard Sink
    Drainboard sinks keep your countertops drier by channeling water straight into the sink. Nicholas Free/Getty Images

    Drainboard sinks are not trendy, but perhaps they should be. Long popular in Europe, this staple of budget kitchen remodels, apartments, condos, and other diminutive homes has made a comeback in recent years, and for good reason. These sinks, with their built-in drainboards, do a fantastic job at keeping countertops dry and clean.

    Drainboard Sink Basics

    • Drainboard sinks are sinks that have an attached apron usually on one side but sometimes on both sides. This apron overlaps part of the counter. This apron (the drainboard) is grooved and slightly angled down so that water will drain directly into the sink.
    • Most drainboard sinks are drop-in or self-rimming. The reason is that drainboard sinks are inherently self-rimming. In order to create the drainboard or apron section, it must extend above counter level.
    • Though most drainboard sinks are self-rimming, a few undermount sinks with attached drainboards can be found.
    • Most drainboard sinks are constructed of stainless steel, though a few can be found in ceramic or acrylic.
    • Drainboard sinks tend to be either small, shallow drainboard sinks for apartments, condos, and RVs or large, expensive premium sinks for high-end homes or restaurant kitchens. Not many mid-range drainboard sinks are available.

    Pros

    • Drainboard sinks free up the second side of twin-basin sinks. Instead of using up one perfectly good basin of a large or double-basin sink for a plate dryer, you can locate the dryer on top of the drainboard. 
    • Since electric dishwashers are energy vampires, it makes eco-sense to avoid using them whenever you can. With a neat and orderly place to set wet dishes, you will find yourself hand-washing dishes more often.  
    • Drainboard sinks keep your countertop clean and dry because they contain the water and channel it straight into the sink and down the drain. The drainboards can even be used for collecting food scraps. As long as the adjoining basin has a garbage disposer, you can push the scraps straight into the basin.

    Cons

    • Though drainboard sinks free up a sink basin, they gobble up valuable countertop space. And unlike other items that take up counter space, like microwaves or blenders, drainboard sinks are permanent fixtures.
    • Because drainboard sinks are a specialty item, they tend to cost several times more than conventional sinks. Plus, they are more difficult to find in stock and on the shelves of major home centers.
    • Since they are so unique, drainboard sinks do not always return the best resale value.

    Notable Drainboard Sink Manufacturers

    Not all sink companies manufacture drainboard sinks. Absent from the inventories of some major sink companies such as American Standard and Moen, drainboard sinks can be found with these manufacturers:

    • Elkay: The Blanco Axis series sink, with its attached cutting board, solves the problem of lost prep space. Another collection of note is Elkay's consumer-level sink with attached drainboard, in the silky stainless steel finish that Elkay calls Lustertone. Lustertone sinks are found at Home Depot and other major retailers. Swanky and modern, Elkay Gourmet series drainboard sinks for premium residential or commercial properties includes drainboards on both sides.
    • Oliveri: Some manufacturers merely dabble in drainboard sinks. Australia-based Oliveri practically specializes in these products. An overwhelming majority of their sink collections include drainboard sinks.
    • Reginox: Most drainboard sinks are made of stainless steel because this material is strong when thin. Translated, this means that the apron section can lay flatter on the countertop when made of stainless steel than when made of other materials. However, if you do not mind a higher drainboard, there are a number of ceramic products. The Dutch company Reginox has quite a few sinks of this type, one being the Reginox RL304-CW (also available in black). In addition, Reginox carries a stainless steel series called Lyon.
    • CorStone: Are there any drainboard sinks that are reasonably priced? CorStone, based in Greenville, Alabama, offers drainboard sinks that are moderately priced and well within the reach of the average homeowner. Constructed of acrylic, these self-rimming sinks range from their big 48-inch Wakefield model, on down to their 33-inch wide Shoreham model with a built-in recessed shelf. If you want the look of ceramic with the ease of acrylic, CorStone drainboard sinks might be the right fit for you.