Does A Sink Have to Be Centered in The Cabinet?

Whether you are remodeling your kitchen or building a home from the ground up, you’ll likely be split between a centered and off-center sink.

The centered sink is the default sink in modern kitchens.

But, Does A Sink Have to Be Centered in The Cabinet?

Not at all. You can choose between the two in consideration of an array of factors, including:

  • Need for symmetry
  • Size of the kitchen
  • Kitchen layout
  • Need for future customization
  • Functionality

In the following situations, the sink should be at the center of the cabinet:

1. The Cabinet Is Centered On Your Window

One of the reasons why centered sinks are so common is that most kitchens come with a cabinet central and directly below the window.

There’s no way you’d opt for an off-centered sink with such a cabinet.

You want natural light to light up the sink area during the day.

You also want to have awareness of the events taking place outdoors.

2. The Sink Material Is Heavy

Heavy sinks such as those made from ceramic require more support.

It wouldn’t be a great idea to put them close to one extreme end of the cabinet.

In such a case, not only do you need to choose your cabinet a little more carefully but will also have to place it at the center of the cabinet.

Those made from lightweight materials like aluminum can sit anywhere on the cabinet.

3. You Don’t Want Water On the Floor

Another major reason why sinks are placed at the center of the cabinet by default is the need to avoid spilling water on the floor.

With such a sink, all the water spilling from the dishes falls on the sides of the countertop from where it can be wiped off.

4. Organization and Plumbing

Perhaps the main reason why sinks are placed at the center of the cabinet by default is that, oftentimes, the cabinet is positioned on an exterior wall with a window.

The window also happens to be the position of the drain plumbing.

Trying to install your sink far from the center may mean more plumbing to link with the main drain – it can be both hard and costly.

Extra plumbing can also make it difficult to clear blockages. You want the wastes to take the shortest route into the main drain.

5. When There’s Need to Line Up the Sink with The Hood

In situations where the sink is close to your range hood (let’s say you have a kitchen island), the sink should line up with the range hood.

This will force you to position your sink at the center of your kitchen island because the hood is normally centered directly above the island.

6. The Sink Is Round

The shape of the sink can have a say on where you should put it on the cabinet.

Round sinks don’t look pretty on the edge of the cabinet, so you’ll settle for the center. Square sinks can fit anywhere.

7. You Think Your Sink Is Beautiful

An eye-arresting sink can serve as a visual center (a functional center even) of the cooking area.

It just doesn’t make sense to purchase a costly ceramic sink and hide it in a corner.

Also, if you start by choosing a contrasting color for your sink, you’d rather place it at the center than in a corner.

What If The Sink ISN’T Centered?

An off-center sink would be a perfect alternative in these situations:

1. When Functionality Is a Priority

Off-center sinks make it easier to work in your kitchen and even multitask compared to centered sinks.

With one, you will find it easier to prepare food on the large space left on one side as your dishes soak/dry in the sink at one extreme end.

So, if you plan to multitask or make your cooking space as functional as possible, this is the perfect style of the sink for the job.

2. If Your Kitchen Is Small

Ask any kitchen expert and they’ll tell you a combo of a tiny kitchen and centered cabinet is a bad idea.

With an off-center sink, a large part of the countertop is left for any purpose you can think of.

If you want to understand just how a space-saver an off-center sink is, look beneath any centered sink.

You will realize that much of the cabinet space directly below the sink is taken up by the drain plumbing. You want to utilize every nook and crevice in your tiny kitchen.

If you go for an off-center sink, the drain is likely to be at the edge of the cabinet, leaving behind a large storage area

3. Need for Future Customization

Off-center sinks are easily customizable.

If you choose a sink with 2 bowls, you have an option to install them at an angle.

You may have noticed that the market offers more size and shape options for off-center sinks than centered sinks.

This means you don’t need to look hard to find the right match for your kitchen.

4. You’re Looking for Something Unique

As stated earlier, off-center sinks are not common hence unique. This might as well be the reason why you’d go for one.

Again, your kitchen layout will have a bigger say on whether you should opt for this style of sink.

5. The Cabinet Is Part of an Island

It’s better to resist the nudge to center everything when dealing with a kitchen island.

Don’t get it wrong – it’s perfectly OK to have a centered sink in an island only that it may make your work a little difficult especially if you are more than one cook.

A centered sink increases the chances of bumping into your assistant as you move around picking and moving things.

6. You Want Room for Garbage Disposal

Imagine your garbage disposal close to your sink.

It may sound a bit unorthodox if it involves a garbage bin as you might worry about germs creeping back in the sink.

However, garbage disposers are often installed directly under the sink.

An off-center sink is easier and more practical to pair with either a garbage bin or disposer. Unlike centered sinks, you won’t need to carry wastes to the garbage bin.

Wait! How Central Should Be Your Centered-Sink?

Sometimes “center/central” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘exactly at the center.’

There are two parameters:

  1.  the permitted distance between the center of the sink and the nearest wall and
  2.  distance from each extreme end of the cabinet to the sink.

15 – 20” Is About Right

Local building codes in most areas recommend a distance between 15” – 20″ between the middle of the sink and the closest wall.

That’s to provide sufficient clearance for the faucet and dishes.

One Cabinet From The Extreme Edge

When it comes to the second parameter, a sink should be about the length of one cabinet off the extreme end of the countertop.

At least 2” should be left in front.


To summarize everything, the sink must not be at the center of the cabinet.

Whether it should or shouldn’t is your choice.

Both centered and off-centered sinks come with pros and cons, you just need to understand your needs before settling on one.

However, there are more reasons for a centered sink, and that’s probably why it’s the default style in modern kitchens.