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For the vast majority of kitchen sinks they will be fitted with one of two types of waste outlets. At one time most kitchen sinks were simply fitted with a brass or chrome on brass outlet hole and a rubber or plastic plug to block the hole when you wanted to fill the sink, some kitchen sinks are still fitted with this layout and it is not that uncommon to see it on the half bowl of a bowl and a half sink. The other method utilises a larger outlet hole with a strainer type plug. This combination is usually called a basket strainer waste and is the most common type of outlet used on kitchen sinks today. The sink manufacturer usually includes wastes for the sink, if not, or you wish to choose a different style of waste outlet, you may find the following useful.
A typical plug type waste outlet arrangement
A typical basket strainer type waste outlet
When it comes to basket strainer there are a bewildering amount of different combinations of styles, finishes, materials and and colours, often a single manufacturer will offer a range of styles. Most are designed to fit a 90mm (3 1/2 inch) sink hole but there are also "mini". basket strainers to fit a 50mm (2 inch) sink outlet hole.
Before you decide on a style that appeals to you there are a number of important considerations. Firstly, does your basket strainer waste need an overflow attachment ? The picture on the left shows the outlet for an overflow, this is the type fitted to most sinks. The basket strainer without an overflow is usually fitted to a half bowl of a double sink, if you are looking for a matching pair of strainers for your bowl and a half you will most likely require one with and one without overflow outlet.
However if you not require an overflow on your basket strainer you can usually just use a blanking plug. If your basket strainer does not have an overflow and you need one you can buy an adapter to screw to the outlet. This may cause a problem with piping that will need to be remedied, especially for bowl and a half sinks. as it will alter the position of outlet from the trap.
Often a blanking plug comes with the basket strainer. The blue plug on the left is shown fitted before the locking plastic screw cover is applied. The blue item on the right is a temporary wrench, supplied to fit the centre screw.
You can use a spigot adaptor in place of an overflow outlet (sometimes called an appliance adaptor as it can also be used for appliances) on your strainer waste. Remember it will alter the height of your trap so the pipework may have to be adapted.
If you have an appliance outlet on your trap you could fit it with a "Y" piece adapter and connect it to the adapter. Or you could just incorporate a "T" piece in your pipework, fit an appliance outlet and use that to connect your overflow. Both these methods may require you extend the overflow pipe from your sink.
Remember ! Your plumber may have his own solution.
Another important consideration is the material your sink is made of. A basket strainer designed for a stainless steel sink will more often than not be unsuitable for a thick walled material like ceramic, stone or wood. This also may cause overflow problems (see overflows below.) The main problem you are likely to encounter is due to the length of the retainer screw (sometimes called fixing bolt or centre bolt.) If the threaded screw is too short it will not have enough length to reach the waste body.
The diagram opposite shows the detail of a basket strainer for stainless steel. The sink fits between the top and bottom parts of the waste assembly. In this case there is only 18mm before the screw arrives at its mating thread. For a thick material like ceramic it's extremely unlikely have enough length of thread to tighten the two pieces of the waste together. Remember the 18mm distance would also have to include any seals.
You often can but it's not that straightforward. Take care. For a start, as well as the different lengths they also come in slightly different diameters and a number of different threads. As if this was not enough to contend with, the screw is bored to accept the pin of the strainer plug. The bore of these screws can also be of a different size, so even if you find one to fit the waste you may find that it is too lose to hold the strainer plug or too small for it to fit. The strainer plugs also come in a number of slightly different designs so replacing the screw and matching a strainer plug may not be an easy option. If you need to buy a longer screw it is strongly advisable to purchase a screw made by the same manufacturer of your strainer. Buying a single screw can also be costly adding to the cost of your original purchase.
Basket strainer retainer screws come in a number of different lengths, diameters, threads and bores. Some makes are interchangeable but some are not. The first picture shows a "Lira" type screw fitted on Franke and Some other sinks. It is slightly thicker and uses a finer thread than most other manufacturers. A finer thread is slightly less likely to come unthreaded by use and a coarser thread is easier to locate and less likely to damage by cross threading. Both fine and coarse threads seem to perform adequately on a basket strainer waste.
Notice there are a number of different finishes depending on the exact material used. Depending on the specific strainer they can be chrome on brass, stainless steel, copper, bronze, plated with nickel or even gold, sometimes even black or white on stainless steel for use in a coloured strainer.
If you have a basket strainer made for a ceramic sink it will most likely fit a metal sink such as stainless steel. Try "dry" fitting it first. If the retainer screw bottoms on the thread before the parts are fully tightened this means your retainer screw is too long. If your basket strainer screw is too long you can simply cut it to length, take care as not to damage the threads. Some base housings have a brass threaded inserts others just have the plastic threaded. Take care when screwing in the retaining screw not to cross the threads.
Having decided on which type of basket strainer you require you can now proceed to choose the style. Depending on your sink material there can be a bewildering amount of choice. Obviously if you have for example a gold or copper coloured sink and wish to match the waste, your choice would be far more limited.
One last detail. Many of these basket strainers were designed for openings in imperial measurements and are manufactured to the nearest converted millimetre. For example 90mm for 3 1/2 inches and 113mm or 114mm for 4 1/2 inches, . This makes no difference on the vast majority of sinks but if you buy a hand made sink, a thick wall American sink or a basket strainer waste from an imperial country, there can occasionally be a problem with holes slightly too small or obtaining a completely snug fit. This is rare and even if found, can usually be overcome with a little reworking of the sink or strainer.
Basket strainers come in a large range of colours and finishes.
Some sink manufacturers have their own range of basket wastes and plugs. As well as making quality sinks, Shaws have a unique ceramic button in the centre of their plugs and are often used by smaller, specialists sink companies as well as being available to individual consumers. They also do a range of finishes such as gold, bronze and nickel.
Swiss sink manufacturer Franke, style the pull button into the body of the plug.
A deep recess strainer waste
A Bristan style, basket strainer waste.
A removable basket type strainer waste. Note this type of waste is attached by a nut on the underside of the sink.
There are even "mini" basket strainers for 50mm and 60mm waste outlets.
Basket strainer wastes can come with a cable, pop up waste plug. The first is a proprietary waste with a turn mechanism, The second, an Astracast push button waste with a Contemporary, square body, basket strainer waste.
When it comes to a conventional waste sysem your choice is very much limited to the finish off the outlet and the type of plug you decide to use.
Most plugs come with a chain attached, they can also come with a handle.
Plugs can come in plastic or more robust and effective, solid rubber.
If you wish to upgrade you can get a brass on chrome plug with a rubber "O" ring seal.
For convenience or just handy to keep in the kitchen, a universal plug fits all sizes.
Some old sinks can have some unusual sizes for example some old Belfast sinks can have a 2 inch plug. Sink plugs are still available in 1 inch, 1 1/4 inch, 1 3/8 inch, 1 5/8 inch, 1 7/8 inch, 2 inch, 2 1/4 inch, 2 3/8 inch and 2 1/2 inch.
You can often use a standard plug in your basket strainer waste. Take care, sometimes the 2 inch refers to the pipe size but the actual plug measures 2 1/4 inches. This will fit most strainer wastes but if you have a Franke/ Lira waste you will actually require a plug with a 2 inch diameter.
Conventional waste outlets can be slotted or unslotted. If you are fitting it to a Belfast sink with weir type overflow you must fit a slotted waste or the overflow will have nowhere to drain.
At one end of the scale a gold plated, brass outlet, at the other a contract pvc and pressed stainless steel waste. Waste outlet can vary considerably in quality and style.