Outdoor Bar & Sinks FAQ
Let’s face it: bar centers may not be quite as glamorous as grills, and sinks certainly aren’t. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn everything you can about them before making a purchase. In fact, that’s the very reason you’re here, isn’t it? You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers — more specifically, answers from our experts who’ve been working with these products for more than 20 years! If you have a question about outdoor sinks and bar centers that isn’t listed here, give our outdoor living experts a call at 1-877-460-3488!
Have a question about outdoor refrigeration appliances instead? Then allow us to direct you to our outdoor refrigeration FAQ.
Common Outdoor Bar Questions
How do I integrate an outdoor bar with my existing outdoor kitchen?
This is highly dependent on your personal style and the available space. If space isn’t an issue in your outdoor kitchen, we recommend integrating your outdoor bar center as the focal point of an entertainment zone. In outdoor kitchens where space is at a premium or you’d just like to keep your cooking and bar areas separate, you can simply install your outdoor bar center and related appliances into a separate island that serves as a stand-alone entertainment area.
Which appliances should I install in my outdoor bar?
Great question! A bar center or cocktail station should be the centerpiece of your outdoor bar, but kegerators, outdoor wine coolers, beverage centers, and ice makers are all excellent additions that deserve a place in your backyard pub. And don’t forget about bar furniture! To make sure you don’t skip over a must-have component, pour a drink and study up on the essential appliances for an outdoor bar.
Do I need to purchase an outdoor sink in addition to an outdoor bar center?
No, many bar centers actually come with a sink attached. A notable exception: if you desire a larger sink for washing dishes separately from your cocktail station or simply want a handwashing sink near your cooking zone, then you should consider purchasing a separate unit.
Are ice bin coolers refrigerated, or more like coolers?
No, they aren’t refrigerated. Despite being insulated to keep ice cold for longer, they’re generally designed to drain water as the ice melts to make room for fresh ice from your ice maker. Just think of ice bin coolers like big ice buckets.
Do I need an ice bin if I have an ice maker?
Not necessarily, but this pairing helps with large events. If you entertain often, an ice bin cooler can function as extra storage space for ice or even an open-faced beverage cooler for guests passing by.
Do ice bin coolers have a drain?
Yes, ice bin coolers include a drain to remove water as the ice melts. Just like with a sink, you must take drainage into consideration when planning to install an ice bin cooler.
How long will ice last in an ice bin cooler?
This depends heavily upon the ambient temperature outside as well as the insulation provided by your ice bin cooler. As a result, melt time varies by product and climate.
How far from my grill should I locate an ice bin cooler for best results?
Your ice bin cooler should be located as far away from your grill as possible. You should leave at least 4 feet of space between hot and cold appliances, though 6 feet is your best bet. This rule of thumb applies to any outdoor refrigeration appliance.
Do I need to install the appliances into my outdoor bar all at once?
Yes, all appliances should be installed at the same time. Anything that needs to be installed through the countertop must be present when the countertops are being laid down — after they’re in place, it becomes much more costly and difficult to change your outdoor bar layout or add other appliances. Fortunately for you, any contractor or mason worth their salt will make sure all appliances are present before cutting stone for the countertops.
General Outdoor Sink Questions
What type of sink should I install in my outdoor kitchen? In my outdoor bar?
The type of sink you should select depends on how much space you have. Bar sinks, such as a 15-inch handwashing sink, are best suited for small spaces or outdoor kitchens where saving countertop room is crucial. The downside is that bar sinks have smaller drains than kitchen sinks, meaning they aren’t compatible with garbage disposals and are therefore lacking when it comes to washing dishes. Outdoor bars, on the other hand, benefit most from insulated sinks that can keep ice cold in a pinch and serve doubt-duty as a sink or ice bin. Need something a bit bigger? Kitchen sinks allow you to wash dishes, pots, and pans, plus their large drains can easily accommodate garbage disposal for messier cleanups.
What’s the difference between a drop-in and an undermount sink?
The main difference is what holds each sink in place. Drop-in sinks rely on gravity — the rim sits along the countertop, while the faucet mounts to the top of the rim and is then fastened in place. Contrast this with undermount sinks, which have hidden rims and are secured by brackets attached to the bottom of the countertop. With an undercounter model, the faucet is installed on the countertop itself and doesn’t necessarily connect to holes in the rim of the sink.
What is a dual-mount sink?
Dual-mount sinks can be installed as either a drop-in or undermount sink, depending on your preference. If your dual-mount sink is a drop-in model, you’ll need to match the number of holes to those of your faucet.
What material is best: stainless steel, copper or composite?
In general, stainless steel is the most desirable material for outdoor sinks. Its longevity, ease of cleaning, and aesthetic that matches most outdoor appliances make it a relatively easy pick. That being said, copper and granite composite have their positives, too.
Copper is antimicrobial, meaning it kills most harmful bacteria on contact. It’s also self-healing in nature because it develops a patina over time, in turn hiding any scratches it may pick up. This green-brown hue adds a touch of warmth to your outdoor space but will ultimately take over the original color of your sink. Granite composite, meanwhile, is the strongest of all these materials and won’t chip, crack, or scratch unless dropped from a considerable height. This composite material comes in a wide variety of finishes, giving outdoor living enthusiasts more design options than copper or stainless steel.
Can I connect a garden hose to the faucet, or does a plumber need to make the connection to the water line?
Though this type of connection is possible, you’ll encounter a problem with drainage — the water needs to go somewhere, after all. A licensed plumber is your best bet for hooking up water lines and proper drainage. If you take a DIY approach, make sure you install drainage for water running from the sink. Another garden-hose-to-faucet consideration: unless the hose delivers hot water, you’re probably better off with the typical plumbing connection.
Does an outdoor faucet use cold and hot water, or just cold?
It depends on the faucet you select. While some faucets produce only cold water, the majority give you both options. To access hot water, the sink must be linked to your home’s existing water lines to pull from the water heater. Otherwise, you’d need to use a dedicated water heater. Small water heaters (about 10 gallons at most) are available for less than $500, while point-of-use mini-tanks run a bit cheaper. Just keep in mind that dedicated water heaters must be drained if used outdoors during the winter. Hot water in an outdoor kitchen is something of luxury, but it’ll make washing dishes much easier and more hygienic.
Do I need to drill holes in the sink for the faucet?
Whether you need to drill depends on the type of sink you choose. Take for instance drop-in sinks, which come with holes that have already been drilled and cut. (Note that drop-in sinks and faucets purchased separately must have the same number of holes — a 4-hole faucet needs a 4-hole sink, and so on.) Undermount or dual-mount sinks, meanwhile, don’t have pre-drilled holes because they’re typically held in place by brackets on the underside of the countertop. Then there are farmhouse sinks that slide into place and are usually secured by side screws. No matter what type of sink you pick, always refer to your owner’s manual for specific installation instructions.
Can I use a garbage disposal with an outdoor sink?
Yes, as long as the drain opening is wide enough. Garbage disposals generally follow the standard kitchen drain size of 3½ inches in diameter. Additionally, you must connect the outdoor garbage disposal to your home’s waste water system.
How do you clean an outdoor sink?
Cleaning an outdoor sink is no different than cleaning an indoor sink. Regular cleaning is necessary to keep your sink hygienic and bacteria-free — and, in the instance of stainless steel, prevent discoloration over time — but be sure to use only those cleaners and tools that won’t scratch the material. The only special consideration for outdoor sinks applies to homeowners who live in areas that regularly freeze. When a freeze is coming, you should drain the sink and disconnect water lines that run to it to prevent pipes from bursting.
What diameter drain pipe do I need for an outdoor sink?
Pipe drain sizes are as follows:
- 1½ inches for a standard bar drain
- 3½ inches for a standard kitchen drain
Still be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding installation and the proper diameter for your unit’s drain pipe.
If a sink is pictured with a faucet, does that mean the faucet is included?
On the BBQGuys website, sinks pictured with faucets include that faucet. You’ll also be able to find individual parts listed on the item page for each sink and faucet.
View on BBQGuys.com