Kitchen Sink Spotlight: Pros and Cons of a Butler Sink

February 25, 2021

Choosing the perfect sink for your new kitchen can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on kitchen sinks to help you make an informed decision. In this post, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of a butler sink. If you’re more interested in undermount or inset sinks, we’ve published articles on each of those, too. 

If you’ve already decided on how you want to fit your sink, check out some of the other pieces in our Sink Spotlight series. We’ve covered topics like choosing the perfect kitchen tap and our top tips for hiring a reliable plumber. Click on any of the links below to learn more:

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Pros and Cons of a Butler Sink


  • elegant and stylish
  • impressive feature in any kitchen
  • large enough to hold plenty of dishes
  • available in many materials and finishes


  • expensive to install  
  • hard to DIY install due to size and weight
  • very heavy

Butler Kitchen Sinks

Butler sinks are kitchen sinks with large basins that originated in farmhouses. They were built to reduce the strain of leaning over the counter to use the sink, which is why they feature an apron-like front. As time went on, they began to appear in butlers’ pantries across the country. Thus the name “butler sink”. Their size is due to the need to clean everything (including children) in the same sink. Over the years, the sink evolved and maintained its popularity.

The Butler Sinks’ UK Roots

In the 17th century, a smaller form of apron front sink began appearing in wealthier homes in the United Kingdom. These sinks, called butler sinks, appears in butlers’ pantries. From this development, two main types of sinks evolved. The first, called the London sink, came from London and featured a shallow design with no overflow meant to conserve water. The other, the Belfast sink, hailing from Northern Ireland, had a deep basin with a built-in overflow. This kitchen sink design was due to the abundance of water in Belfast during that time and the need to clean small children in the sink.

The Belfast and London sinks are still popular today. Many consider the Belfast sink to be the best variation on the butler sink due to the built-in overflow and deep basin. They look great in any style of home and can be found in a myriad of materials and colours.

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The French Farmhouse Sink

The apron front sink then made its way to the rest of Europe, and the French Farmhouse sink emerged. This broad apron front sink was made of white clay from Limoges, France, and is still popular today. French Farmhouse sinks today are made of clay and feature linen covering the base of the sink. These kitchen sink units look great in traditional farmhouse kitchens and are often made of wood.

French Farmhouse Sink

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Installing a Butler Sink

Given their size and shape, butler sinks work best with custom cabinetry and worktops. You’ll also need to install your faucet in your worktop or on the wall behind your sink. These factors make installing a farmhouse sink quite expensive, but most say that the result is worth it. A butler sink creates so much visual interest in your kitchen in a simple way and is an instant focal point in any kitchen.

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