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Good afternoon. In the process of installing new cabinets this weekend, I discovered that I did not do enough research on how to install an apron front sink in a sink base cabinet, and how the two fit together. Here is the short list:

  • Sink must be supported by something besides just the cabinet box
  • This is generally 3/4" plywood spanning the full width of the cabinet, supported on each side
  • The installer must cut all apron sink bases on site, due to variation in apron sink size and design
  • It is preferred that the sink base cabinet is 3" wider than the sink itself

My problem is with the width. I have designed around and already installed a 36" wide sink base. I would like to put a 36" wide apron sink on top of it. There are photos online that show this situation, but I haven't had any luck finding a how-to for this exact situation - everyone else did their homework and got a narrower sink than cabinet. Does anyone have experience putting an apron sink on top of a cabinet of the same width?

(this is a photo from the web, not from the kitchen I am installing, but shows the width situation)

Similar installation, from Wayfair

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I followed the steps outlined above, and was able to very successfully set up the sink/cabinet this way. Here are a couple details to think about if you're considering this:

  • Apron sinks can be heavy, especially when full of water. I built a hardwood support inside the cabinet that supports the bowl of the sink, rather than just the outside of the sink that sits on the cabinet box. While it may work without this, it only took a few minutes to do.
  • Don't install the brace described above till after the countertops are in and the sink is fastened to them. The countertop install will dictate some shimming of the sink, and this is best done between the sink and the cabinet box. Once that is all set, remove the doors from the cabinet, slide your frame in, prop/clamp in the correct location to support the sink bowl, and screw from the inside to the outside of the cabinet, through the support, fastening it in place. Just remember to be very careful with screw length, to make sure you don't penetrate the boxes of the adjoining cabinets.
  • If you can't do the process above, get the brace as close as possible to the right position (before countertop install) shim as required, and go back and fill in the space between the sink bowl and support with rock putty. This is what I ended up having to do, and while not ideal, it worked fine.
  • Caulk the sink to the face frames of the cabinets around it. This is to prevent water from running down the face of the sink, across the bottom, and into the bare wood left from where you cut the cabinet off. These caulk lines will be largely hidden by the finished install.
  • Read the cabinet manufacturer's drawings for your sink base. We ended up using a normal apron sink base (rather than a "deep apron sink base"), even though the manufacturer's directions said otherwise. The "deep apron sink base" would have left a 4" gap between the top of the doors and the bottom of the sink. Our current setup has a 1/2" gap in that space, with the narrow section of the face frame above the doors reinforced with a length of 1-1/2" steel angle, painted and epoxied to the back of the face frame. This is a much nicer looking solution than the large gap. I wouldn't recommend going this route unless you're going to follow through and reinforce that face frame, because it is a weak portion of the cabinet without it.
  • Be careful as you're cutting off the cabinet box. There are likely pocket screws holding it together, or metal staples in the corners - locate these before you cut.

Thanks for the help!

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I have installed a number of this type of sink, and yes, the cabinet was bigger as you referred to.

In the case of the picture you offer, the cabinet here looks as though the cabinet is simply short enough to keep the sink supported on top of the cabinet. If there is any gap to the neighboring cabinet, for what little will show, a filler can be added to either side to cover the gap, attached to the cabinets on either side.

Stainless steel sinks are the easiest to set, sinks made of ceramic are an entirely different matter. This sink in the picture looks like it fills the space pretty good between the cabinets, not needing anything other than the correct height cabinet to set it on.

  • I think this actually offers an advantage, as I won't need to scribe the outline of the sink onto the front of the cabinet - I'll be able to cut the cabinet off clean at the correct height. Any suggestions for the best way to cut the face frame cleanly? I'm concerned, because that cut edge will be somewhat visible beneath the sink, won't it? – Aeronneous Apr 18 '16 at 1:21
  • If the cut is too ragged, it will show. The projection of the sink front and line of sight will help hide potential issues. To cut a cabinet not intended already for this type of use (i say this since cabinets are already made to do this with little or no cutting for this type of sink). Protect the face of the cabinet with blue tape at the least since you will have no choice but to cut this from the face side. Set the tape OVER the cut line. Score your cut line with a razor sharp knife. Set a guide for your circular saw and cut slightly away from the line, say 1/32" away. – Jack Apr 21 '16 at 1:14

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