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  • Writer's pictureJalin Coblentz

How to Replace Your RV Sink and Countertop

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

There are many great ways to breathe new life into your RV or travel trailer. One of the best, however, is replacing that old kitchen sink and countertop with new ones. While this might seem like a tall task that only a carpenter or plumber can handle, anyone with the right tools and instructions can do it.

To replace the sink and countertop in your RV, you must remove the old sink and countertop. Next, cut an appropriately sized sink hole into the countertop, or have someone do it for you beforehand. When you're ready, install the countertop before installing the sink and faucet. All in all, this job can take anywhere from several hours to a full day.

As you can see, when you break a sink and countertop installation into individual parts, it doesn't seem so daunting. However, you must follow the proper procedures and do things in the correct order so that you don't run into trouble. This article will explain exactly what that order is and provide all the information you need to install a new sink and countertop in your RV.

Installing a New Sink and Countertop in Your RV: The Complete Guide

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to replace the sink and countertop in your RV. It could be because the original materials are inferior or inadequate, because you damaged your current sink or countertop, or simply because it's time for a change. Regardless of the reason, however, you can follow the tips and instructions in this article to get the job done.

It's also important to note that you can use the instructions in this article to replace either the sink or the countertop in your RV. However, I'm combining them into one topic because I believe it makes the most sense to upgrade both pieces simultaneously since they're connected to one another. After all, replacing both at the same time will save you a ton of time compared to if you do one now and the other later.

Remove the Old Sink and Faucet

The first thing you'll want to do is remove the sink and faucet. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Turn off the water to your RV.

  2. Loosen the hot and cold water lines where they attach to the faucet underneath the sink.

  3. Unscrew the nut that connects the portion of the faucet above the countertop to the bottom of the countertop. You'll need a set of channel locks and wrenches for this step.

  4. With the faucet and any adjoining handles out of the way, you can now remove the sink.

  5. If you have an under-mount sink, remove it by loosening the screws that attach it to the countertop.

  6. A drop-in sink will likely be fastened to the sink from above by a strip of caulk. Use a hammer to hit the sink from below to loosen it or a screwdriver from above to wedge the sink free.

  7. If leaving the countertop in place, be careful not to damage it when removing the sink. If you're removing the countertop along with the sink, you can leave the sink in place if you cannot loosen it.

Remove the Old Countertop

Once the sink and faucet are out of the way, you're ready to proceed to the countertop. In most cases, RV manufacturers will use screws or tiny nails to attach the countertop to your kitchen cabinets from below. You'll need to examine the countertop from below to find out which method they used. If you don't see any screws where the countertop attaches to the cabinets, there's a good bet that they used nails to make the attachment.

To detach the countertop from the cabinets, use a hammer to gently tap the outer bottom edges of the countertop in an upward motion. If you don't see the countertop slowly loosening, tap harder until it does. You can then use a prybar to completely remove the countertop.

With our countertop, most of the top was attached with nails, but there were a few places where they used screws instead. Therefore, if you're prying at a certain spot on the countertop, but it isn't budging, check below for screws. If you continue prying and remove the countertop with the screw unloosened, it will damage your cabinets.

Select Your New Countertop

If you haven't done so already, it's time to pick out a new countertop to replace your old one. We decided to use butcherblock countertops rather than marble, granite, linoleum, and other materials. Butcherblock is heavy-duty enough to be long-lasting but not so heavy that it will potentially weigh down the camper.

We also chose butcher block because, unless you purchase a custom countertop, you will have to cut it to size. If you have enough time and room in your budget for custom countertops, that's the best option. However, if you want to save money or are on a time crunch, you'll need a material you can cut and install yourself.

Select Your New Sink and Faucet

Next, if you're replacing your sink and faucet along with the countertop, it's time to pick out their replacements. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a new sink for your RV.

  • Measure the space below your sink to ensure your new one isn't too deep, wide, or long. Most RVs have limited space below their kitchen sink area, so you must be careful not to choose an oversized sink.

  • If you want to maximize your countertop space, choose an under-mount sink.

  • Choose a drop-in sink if you prefer an easy installation and the option to cut the sink hole yourself.

If you don't want to use your old faucet, now's a great time to replace that as well with a new one!

Cutting the Hole For Your Sink

One of the biggest dilemmas we faced when replacing our sink and countertops was the issue of finding someone to cut the hole for our sink. This is an issue because if you choose an undermount sink, the hole has to be perfect because every part of it will be exposed. With a drop-in sink, however, you have some wiggle room because the outer edges of the sink will hide slight imperfections with the sink hole.

Ultimately, we decided to go with a drop-in sink for the above reasons and because it's easier to install. We also didn't feel like a few extra inches of countertop space was worth the hassle of using an undermount sink.

Hole For an Undermount Sink

If you choose to go with an undermount sink, you're best option is to purchase custom countertops and have the builder cut the hole for you. To do this, they will need the sink you plan to install when cutting the hole. They will also need to know the exact placement and location of the sink in the countertop.

Hole For a Drop-In Sink

With a drop-in sink, you have more options. Your first option is to purchase custom countertops and have the builder cut the hole for you. Or, you can install the countertop and cut the hole yourself post-installation. Finally, you have the option of having you or a third party cut the hole before installing the countertop.

We went for option three. We did this by finding a local furniture repair shop we hired to cut the countertops to size and the hole for the sink. The total cost to do this was $70, but I felt like it was worth it to have perfectly straight countertops and a perfect sink hole. Additionally, the furniture shop we hired had all the tools necessary to do the job, including a table saw, router, a skill-saw, and a straightedge level.

If you want to cut the hole for the sink yourself, your best option is to do it after you install the countertop.

Installing the Butcherblock Countertop

Once you have your butcherblock countertop cut to the appropriate length and width, you're ready to install it. Overall, this process is surprisingly easy, and here's how it works.

  1. Set the countertop in place and position it right where you want it.

  2. Apply a thin bead of silicone to the bottom of the countertop, where it connects to the top of the cabinets. You'll need to slightly lift the countertop to get the silicone in place.

  3. Use a drill to drive one screw through the cabinet and into each countertop corner from below.

  1. The screws simply hold the countertop in place while the silicone dries. You'll want to give the countertop room to shift and move, so using too many screws isn't a good idea. Silicone, on the other hand, is flexible and can shift with the countertop.

  2. Use a rag or paper towel to wipe up any excess silicone around the edges of the countertop and cabinet.

Installing the Sink

With the countertop in place, you're ready to install the sink. If you waited until now to cut the hole for your sink, here's what you need to do.

  1. Place the sink upside down on the countertop exactly where you plan to install it.

  2. Remove the sink and apply painter's tape around the perimeter of where the sink will be.

  3. Put the sink down, once again, in the correct position, but this time on top of the painter's tape.

  4. Use a pencil to outline the perimeter of the sink.

  5. Remove the sink and measure the width of the lip.

  6. Draw a second line on the painter's tape inside the original outline. The goal is to make an outline for a hole large enough for the sink to fit into but not so large that the sink's outer lip won't cover the hole.

  7. When you've done that, use a skill saw or saw-zal to cut the hole for the sink.

  8. Remember, it's better to cut the hole too small rather than too large. You can always make it bigger, but you won't be able to make the hole smaller.

Once the hole is cut, remove the excess painter's tape and examine your work. If the hole is good to go, apply a thin bead of silicone to the bottom edge of the sink perimeter. Drop the sink in place and wiggle it around slightly to work the silicone until it is flat against the countertop. Hold it in place until the silicone has time to dry and adhere to the countertop.

If installing an undermount sink, use appropriately-sized screws to fasten the sink to the countertop from below. You may need a second person above to hold the sink straight as you fasten it to the countertop. You have the option of first applying a thin bead of silicone to the top lip of the sink, where it attaches to the countertop. Keep in mind, however, that if you do this, it will be extremely difficult to loosen the sink if it's ever necessary.

Pro Tip For Cutting the Hole For Your Undermont Sink

You have two options if you decide to install an undermount sink but don't want to splurge on custom countertops where the builder cuts the hole for you. You can either risk cutting the hole in the sink yourself, which is very difficult because it has to be perfect or hire a local CNC routing company. I would recommend hiring a routing company to ensure the hole is perfect.

Installing the New Sink Drain

In most cases, your new sink should have instructions accompanying it saying how to install the sink drain. If it doesn't, however, here's what you need to know.

  1. Add a small bead of silicone or plumbers putty to the bottom edge of the sink drain.

  2. When you set the drain in place and fasten it from below, make sure to hold the drain perfectly centered in the hole.

  3. Use a paper towel or rag to remove excess silicone as it oozes between the drain and the sink.

  4. Be sure to securely tighten the drain in place, but not to overtighten it and strip the threads.

Installing the Faucet

Whether you decide to keep your old faucet or purchase a new one, you'll have to install it as if it were brand new. Here's how to accomplish that task.

  1. Start by drilling the hole for your faucet.

  2. You'll need a drill bit large enough for the bottom of the faucet to stick through but not so large that the top of the faucet will also stick through. In most cases, this means using a 1.25 to 1.5" bit.

  3. You'll need either a hole saw bit or a wood drill bit.

  4. I went with the wood drill bit since it was compatible with my impact drill. However, hole saws are the more professional option.

  5. You'll want the faucet hole perfectly centered with your sink so that the spigot is over the center of the drain.

  6. Mark this position on the countertop, and drill the hole.

  7. Follow the instructions that accompany your new faucet to complete the installation.

  8. These instructions should include how to fasten the faucet tightly in place, reconnect the water lines, and install any additional features, such as a soap dispenser or faucet handles.

  9. We installed a single-hole faucet with a drop-down sprayer so that we only had to drill one hole. In addition to an easy installation, the end product was much sleeker and cleaner than having multiple holes and attachments.

Reconnecting the Drain to the New Sink

I was shocked to discover that the most difficult part of the entire project was when I went to reconnect the sink drain to the new sink. Thanks to my former plumbing experience, I thought this would be one of the easiest components. However, the problem was that the new sink's stopper and drain weren't compatible with the existing drain line. I was also going from a double sink to a single, which further complicated matters. As a result, I had to resort to simply making it work.

In my situation, I used a flexible PVC reducer coupling with stainless steel clamps to do the trick. I found a coupling large enough on one end to fasten to the existing sink drain but small enough on the other to fasten to the new sink's drain connector. While the result likely isn't what you'll find in a new home or RV, it got the job done and was much easier than reworking the drain line or sink drain.

Perform a Test Run

To quickly recap, you should now have your new countertop, sink, and faucet installed and your drain and water lines reconnected to the sink and faucet. If so, you can turn the water on and give your new sink a practice run! However, make sure to wait for at least one hour if you applied silicone to the sink drain. Otherwise, it may not have dried and could result in a leak.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, although installing a new countertop and sink in your RV is a tall task, it's one that you can handle with the right tools, resources, and instructions. It's also an update that will do wonders to spruce up and liven your RV's interior. If you want another great way to breathe new life into your RV, painting your RV walls, ceiling, and cabinets should be next on your list!

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