Do You Need A Prep Sink In Your Kitchen?

The old saying, "...everything but the kitchen sink" refers to everything imaginable, but when it comes to actual kitchen sinks, imagine just two — sinks, that is. Every kitchen needs a main sink -– one that's a large basin and is designated for cleanup. Also, a small secondary sink, often referred to as a prep or bar sink is a desirable addition to almost any cooking area.

The kitchen is a natural hub of family life and modern entertaining, so its design needs to be conducive to traffic flow and must provide high functionality during meal preparation. Having a prep sink adds convenience and versatility to a busy room, and according to Cardigan Kitchens and Baths, these are among the most requested features by clients. But as with any new addition to your home, you'll want to consider the pros and cons such as impact on meal prep, entertaining, kitchen function and flow, and extra cost before installation.

Pro: Makes meal prep a snap

A small secondary sink is known by many names –- bar or wet-bar sink, entertainment sink, or prep sink. Whatever you call it, this small addition offers big advantages when it comes to meal prep. While the primary sink handles the main cleanup of kitchen duty, a prep sink is a champ for helping you get through all the small but necessary tasks.

Need a clean place to wash your hands (but the main sink is filled to the brim with soiled pots and pans)? How about rinsing produce or poultry (but the big sink has dishes soaking)? Need to fill a pot with water to boil some pasta (and you want a shorter trip to the stove to prevent water from sloshing onto the floor)? Per Custom Home Group, the versatility of a prep sink is valuable because it offers a non-cluttered space to keep food prep moving along without needing to move dirty dishes out of the way. It simply adds simplicity where it's needed most.

Con: Eats up valuable counter space

It's wise to evaluate the need for a prep sink before installing one. Whether a kitchen is large or small, countertop space is valuable real estate, as noted by Striking Remodels. Every kitchen needs a sink ... but does every kitchen need two? This is a great question, especially in regards to small kitchens where space is already at a premium. Prep sinks are small and shallow, and while there's no doubt that adding one can increase the functionality of a kitchen, it still has to make sense.

Most second sinks are placed in a central location such as an island, but some kitchens don't have these extra counter areas. Will the sink be used enough to justify the space it takes up –- not just on the surface but in the cabinet space below as well? And also consider the cost of the sink itself, plumbing parts, and installation.

Pro: Improves kitchen flow and function

Traditional kitchens follow a triangle design pattern when laying out the placement of the sink, range, and refrigerator. According to Expert Kitchen Designs, adding a prep sink changes that up a bit because it changes the role of the primary sink, making it no longer necessary for food prep as it becomes the place for cleanup.

Prep sinks are placed strategically in order to provide the most convenience in a kitchen. Often, they are placed nearest the cooking and food storage areas and have extra counter space on at least one side. Whether you're baking a cake or simmering a sauce, having a second and centrally located sink will increase efficiency by reducing the number of steps you'll take across the kitchen. This can increase the flow of kitchen traffic and make it easy for multiple people to work in the kitchen at once.

Con: Limited use despite adding versatility

As handy as one can be, a prep sink is indeed still small, and that means there are limits to its functionality. Per Build with Ferguson, most prep sinks are less than half the width and length of primary sinks. And with a much shallower basin than a regular sink, they aren't meant for soaking or washing dishes (although quick rinsing is fine).

Keep in mind that one great feature of a prep sink is to create multiple workspaces in the kitchen — but not every kitchen will function better with this addition. Ample workspace next to the prep sink is crucial for increasing its usefulness. Having an immediate counter area to quickly set washed meats, fruits, veggies, and herbs is ideal. If the kitchen is lacking adequate counter space, adding a second sink could make things more cramped, and that will ultimately squelch its practicality.

Pro: Attractive and promotes better entertaining

Design-wise, prep sinks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and according to Build with Ferguson, the installation can be customized to fit any style. Who knew you could wow your guests with a kitchen sink? Well, you can! Although prep sinks are small, they don't need to lack in style. The options are plentiful –- from fancy hardware, apron, mounting, materials, and more. They also aren't just for the kitchen. Prep sinks can be a useful and attractive feature to outdoor food prep areas or other places where guests gather as well. And, you can customize the accessories to meet your typical entertainment needs -– from a hot water tap for easy, steamy beverages to a cutting board top mount that covers the sink entirely when not in use, to garbage disposals and draining racks.

Ultimately, the convenience of a prep sink when entertaining is to eliminate the time spent away from guests and even to encourage greater interaction, wherever that may be. If you can plumb it, you can add a versatile prep sink to your gathering area.