Build Your Own Outdoor Utility Sink
By: Julie Day
If you enjoy finding new uses for old stuff, then here’s a project for you. Maybe you finally got that new kitchen sink, and you’re wondering what to do with the old one. Or, perhaps your neighbors are remodeling, and there’s a perfectly good sink in the trash pile that you just can’t resist! Either way, those old sinks can have a great new life in the potting shed, backyard, or garage as a utility sink.
Utility Sink Hook-Up Options
The great thing about this project is that you can tailor it to fit your needs, with as much (or as little) plumbing work as you want. The sink in the photo uses cold water from the hose, with the waste routed into the drain for the outdoor shower behind it. Your main decision is whether your sink will be:
- Garden Use Only Sink: If you’re only rinsing off dirty tools and flower pots, you can simply use a garden hose as the water source, and route the drain water down into a French drain or lawn drainage pipe, or collect it in a bucket for watering your plants. No complicated plumbing needed!
- Full Utility Sink: If you’re more ambitious, you can run hot and cold water directly to the sink faucet (hopefully also salvaged!), and route the drain into your home’s sewage system or septic tank. Then you can use the sink for food prep, washing dishes, cleaning fish, or scrubbing oily grilling tools.
Utility Sink Base Options
As for the sink cabinet or cart, you have as many options as you have scraps of lumber in your garage! In fact, this project lends itself to continuing the recycling spirit – you can insert the sink into most any base, including:
- Scrap lumber: Leftover treated lumber from a deck project is perfect! Build a simple box with or without wheels, like the one shown here, using scrap plywood for the top. You can also salvage lumber from old shipping pallets or construction tear-outs. It can be any size or shape you like, but standard kitchen dimensions are 36” high by 24” deep, or at least 6” wider than your sink (to allow 3” of clearance on each side). If the lumber isn’t treated, keep in mind that it will eventually be damaged by the water. You can prolong the life of the wood by painting it with leftover exterior latex paint or water-resistant sealer. Be sure to caulk the sink edge to keep water from seeping under it.
- Kitchen Remodel: Often, in those roadside remodeling scrap piles, I see kitchen sinks still attached to the old countertop, sometimes even with the old faucets still installed. Jackpot! If you’re remodeling your kitchen, you can even save a section of kitchen cabinet to go with it.
- Furniture or Workbench: The base can be salvaged from old furniture, including kitchen tables, dressers, and cabinets. You can also use or make a standard potting bench for the sink base. Another easy idea is to use inexpensive folding sawhorses or a workbench, either salvaged or put together from a kit, as the base.
- Creative Sink Base: Let your imagination run wild! Creative sink bases, like this one made from a wine barrel, turn trash into a real conversation piece. For a truly eco-friendly option, use a rain barrel (or install a valve at the bottom of a salvaged barrel) so that you can water your plants with the waste water! This is only recommended for garden-soil sinks, not for sinks that will be used to wash away paint and other chemicals.
If you’d like help designing or building an outdoor garden sink, plans and instructions abound. Here are a few:
- Potting Table with Sink (instructables.com)
- Building a New Potting Bench (growingthehomegarden.com)
- Build an Outdoor Sink! (homebrewtalk.com)
- Potting Bench (digital.net)