Learning CenterBar Sink Buying Guide

Bar Sink Buying Guide

Add to the style and functionality of your kitchen with the best bar sink for your space.

Round gray undermount bar sink, silver faucet, popcorn and sodas.

The average kitchen sink is in high demand, and when it’s occupied, a small bar sink helps to avoid the pile-ups and waiting lines if a dish needs rinsing or table scraps need to run through the garbage disposal. A bar sink, or a prep sink, adds useful accessibility to the open spaces and corners of the kitchen that might be too far from a faucet. There are many uses for a second sink in the kitchen, and if your kitchen has the space for a bar sink, there are few reasons not to install one.

What Is a Bar Sink?

A bar sink is also known as a prep sink, a wet bar sink, or an entertaining sink. These secondary sinks are available in many shapes and size specifications, but they are all most easily recognized by their smaller dimensions. While your standard kitchen sink sizes are somewhere around 22” by 33” wide, a bar sink will range from only 9 ½” to 18” at most on the widest side.

Bar sink in kitchen island across from regular kitchen sink.

Prep sinks are designed to allow for multiple tasks to happen simultaneously in the kitchen, making them ideal for family kitchens with multiple cooks, or when hosting guests. They are a good place to do a quick wash or rinse of a drinking glass, or install a hot water dispenser out of the way and easy to reach. 

For entertaining, fill the bar sink with ice to keep drinks cool and quick for guests to grab. Most bar sinks are installed near an open countertop space, such as a cutting board, or the island, or stove top. This makes the prep sink an easy place to sweep away food prep debris when the sink is paired with a garbage disposal system.

woman rinsing cocktail glass with pull down bar faucet in gold finish.

Because prep sinks are smaller, their footprint requires a different bar faucet than the standard kitchen sink. Bar sink faucets have a narrower profile than most standard sink kitchen faucets but are available in all the same styles and finishes so that the bar sink blends well with the other fixtures in your kitchen suite. Look for a prep or bar sink faucet with a single hole installation, or a three-hole faucet with a smaller spread and narrow escutcheon plate if needed.

Bar Sink Styles

The size of the bar sink allows for a variety of shapes and a customized appearance to the final installation. They require a hole cut in the countertop, so look for the sink size options and shape that matches the sink you are replacing.

The best kitchen sink is the one that meets the configurations to match how your household uses the space. Wet bar sinks are available in different styles to help your kitchen work smarter, not harder, while still looking sharp. One of the first choices to make then is the bowl configuration.

The most common bowl configuration for a prep sink are single bowl sinks, which are usually found as a narrow, single basin sink. These can be fit easily into kitchen islands between appliances, alongside the kitchen sink, or even in the home bar in the den or outdoor kitchen. Popular entertaining sinks, also called entertaining troughs, are long and narrow, shallow, channel-shaped sinks for catching scraps, liquids, or ice. 

Oval sink in white finish, bl

The most common shapes for prep and bar sinks include:

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Square

There are also more custom shapes, such as the entertaining trough, which can be found as a rectangular sink, or a longer oval shape, and found in straight forms or curved.

Prep Sink Materials

Prep and bar sinks are designed to be discrete, even easily hidden under a cutting board. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t made to look as stylish and perform as reliably as a standard sized kitchen sink. Choosing the right basin and bar sink faucet materials means coordinating them with the style of the other fixtures in the room to help ensure a cohesive look for the whole kitchen. 

Concrete round sink in ash stone look. Copper prep sink and black faucet.

The more popular types of prep sink materials include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Porcelain, ceramic, and fireclay
  • Cast iron
  • Natural stone
  • Brass
  • And more!

A bar sink can be found in all of the usual finishes and materials as a kitchen sink. It’s a good idea to get a prep sink that matches the finish and style of the kitchen sink.

Bar Sink Installation Options

There are multiple mounting methods when installing a bar or prep sink, and each produces a different look for the countertop. The different mounting options require different styles of the sink, and may even influence the placement of the bar sink faucet you choose, so it’s important to know what type of sink you need before you buy.

Drop-in Bar Sinks

Square drop-in prep sink in a beige finish. Black countertop.

Also called self-rimming sinks, drop-in prep sinks are designed to be installed from the top down, or to drop into the cutout hole in the countertop. These hang off the countertop edge via an extended lip of the sink that rests flat on all sides, though the upper edge of the sink has a rounded lip and is not flush with the countertop. Drop-in bar sinks are generally easy to install as do-it-yourself projects.

Undermount Bar Sinks

Gray countertop with undermount stainless steel prep sink. Tile backsplash.

An undermount bar sink is affixed to the underside of the countertop, using ledges installed to the underside of the countertop, just inside the cut-out hole in the countertop. The sink sits on the shelves it creates and the sink edges are glued or secured into place. Professional installation is recommended due to the weight of the sink.

Apron Front Sink

Apron bar sinks with decorative leaf pattern and gold fronts.

Apron front sinks, or farmhouse sinks, often require professional installation due to their design. With only three sides available to connect to the countertop, their weight must be supported from below. They are not as common in the small dimensions of a bar or prep sink, but there are some designs that come in under 18” and qualify as bar sinks.

Prep Sink Accessories

Another advantage to prep sinks are the many accessories that are available to customize the experience. For instance, look for prep sinks that can be fit with draining racks, or cutting boards that can be placed solidly over the sink basin to make flat, useable counter space over the bar sink. It is a good idea to install a garbage disposal in a prep or bar sink, if your plumbing system can handle them.

Hands using soap dispenser. Water dispenser with wat

Install soap dispensers or side-sprayers in the countertop near a bar sink, similar in design layout as a standard sink. Another common accessory option with prep sinks is to install a dedicated water filter or a hot water dispenser over the sink. These are all easily installed under the sink and out of the way, while still offering useful and style-friendly kitchen must-haves.

Outdoor kitchen with BBQ and outdoor sin

Prep sinks are also accessories themselves, as they can be installed as part of a three-sink layout by incorporating different sink sizes side-by-side. Outdoor bar sinks can even be installed on the back deck, either as part of an outdoor kitchen or a patio bar, or even in the greenhouse. Look for bar sinks when replacing or updating RV or travel trailer kitchen sinks, due to their useful smaller size.

 Wet Bar vs Dry Bar Considerations

Wet bar with round bar sink and silver faucet. Book shelves and glasswear.

The main appeal of installing a wet bar is to have a place to entertain and socialize with guests, without having to spend time in the kitchen for drink preparation or clean-up. Wet bars are often found outdoors, such as on the back patio, or in another room of the house such as a dining room, den, or basement. The sink will require all the same plumbing connections as a standard kitchen sink, regardless of the location of the wet bar.

In contrast, a dry bar can include all the same shelving options and counterspace as a wet bar, without the need for plumbing. A dry bar is so named because it does not include the bar sink, which means it does not offer the benefits of running water or drains, which can limit the serving options or make the clean-up complicated for messy drinks. 

Beverage center, wine cooler, faucet and sink. Man pouring beer from tap.

The amenities of a wet bar and dry bar otherwise often include the other essentials to entertaining, such as shelving to store barware and non-perishable drinks and appetizers. Other common wet and dry bar ideas include beverage centers, wine coolers, and kegerators. These appliances can be installed without requiring plumbing for draining.

Bar sink with white bar faucet. Wine cooler, ice machine and kegerator.

Keep in mind that a small bar sink will require plumbing connections. Even some common bar appliances, such as a built-in ice maker will require access to plumbing in order to drain excess water without damaging the home. Installing a bar sink in a kitchen can be relatively easy when the plumbing is already available nearby, while other rooms of the house may have more complex plumbing requirements. It’s a good idea to consult with a contractor when building a wet bar into an area of your house that doesn’t otherwise have the plumbing already easily accessible.