How to Remove and Install a Kitchen Sink Strainer

Sink strainer, plumber's putty, locknut wrench, and basket wrench.
Tools and materials used to replace a kitchen sink strainer.

Tools and Materials Needed to Install a Sink Strainer

Depending on how your sink strainer attaches to the sink, the tools needed include:

  • Sink strainer
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Pipe wrench and/or strainer locknut wrench
  • Needle nose pliers or basket strainer wrench

Plumber’s putty, which has the consistency of modeling clay, is used to provide a waterproof seal between the sink and strainer.

Different sink strainers use different methods of attaching securely to the sink, and the tools needed may vary depending on the method used. The most common strainer to sink attachments are:

Sink strainer with bell washer attachment.

    • Bell Washer Attachment Sink Strainer: These strainers have a large cup shaped metal bell washer that fits over the bottom of the strainer and presses against a rubber washer on the bottom of the sink. The bell is held in place by a nut that threads onto the strainer drain which is tightened using a pipe wrench or large adjustable wrench.

Sink strainer with locknut attachment.

    • Locknut Attachment Sink Strainer: These strainers have a large ring type locknut that threads directly onto the strainer housing which presses against a friction washer and rubber washer against the bottom of the sink. Tightening the locknut requires either a large pipe wrench or better yet a special locknut wrench.

Sink strainer with locknut and screw attachment.

  • Locknut Strainer with Screw Attachment: Some strainers have a locknut with screws threaded into the bottom of the locknut. To install, you tighten the locknut up against the sink bottom by hand and then tighten the screws to apply more pressure without the need for a pipe wrench or locknut wrench.

When installing a new sink, it’s much easier to attach the sink strainer(s) before setting the sink with the sink turned upside down.

The type of sink strainer we will be installing has a locknut attachment. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to install it.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I removed excess putty from the bottom of the sink opening and strainer. However as I tightened the locknut washer some putty eventually came out between the sink and the top of the rubber gasket… when I used less of the putty (an earlier attempt) there wasn’t enough and water eventually leaked from that area. This might fail, too. Frustrating.

    • Katherine,
      Plumber’s putty should squeeze out all around the sink strainer when you tighten up the locknut. A little of the putty may continue to ooze out for a time, but it can be easily wiped off.

  2. Yes, I understand the putty squeezing out around the top of the strainer, but should any come out under the sink, around the gasket(s)?

    • Katherine,
      Putty didn’t squeeze out around the gasket under the sink when I replaced mine, but it should still seal OK if it does.

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