Let’s chat about a practical kitchen design trend I’m predicting will be on the rise in the coming year… drip rails. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s a-ok. I’m about to explain and profess my love for the drip rail because I have one in our newly renovated kitchen and am loving it (from a practicality AND aesthetic perspective). I’m not certain if I’m noticing more of them because I have one of my own now, or if more designers are incorporating these into their kitchen design plans. Regardless, I am SO on board. Click through for the latest Trend Alert post, learn about drip rails, and get lots of incredible inspiration for incorporating one into your own kitchen.
I first decided I wanted a drip rail in my kitchen after seeing the above space by the incredible Jean Stoffer. She is a true innovative design queen and I love every single thing that lady does! I really liked the look of a contrasting piece that made the farmhouse sink feel more intentional and helped to break up the millwork and cabinetry.
Now… it doesn’t always have to be in contrast with the cabinets. Above, Studio Mcgee uses a drip rail in the same material and finish as the surrounding inset cabinets. It does add depth, but I’d say in this case- it’s more for function. So what exactly is the purpose and function of a drip rail?
The drip rail does exactly what is sounds like. When water spills or drips down the front edge of your sink, rather than running down the face of the cabinetry, the rail catches the water or diverts it. In our first kitchen (which was white), I remember the lower sink cabinets always getting icky and dirty from the sink water. I sure wish I would’ve known then to add a drip rail because it would’ve made the space look better (and saved me some cleaning time) on the day-to-day.
While it does have a practical purpose, I mostly love the way it looks. Remember when I talked about millwork giving you a sense of security and stability? I feel like the drip rail does that for the kitchen sink. Although it’s not a structural piece, it definitely makes the sink vignette feel more secure and balanced. A farmhouse sink can often feel too heavy (visually) for the cabinets beneath it, and this “ledge” gives the sink an aesthetically pleasing architectural element that makes it feel supported.
I’m a big fan of wood toned drip rails, that add warmth to surrounding paint grade cabinetry. It’s like adding a wooden dish brush to the edge of the sink on the countertop… that little organic element feels inviting and designerly.
I’m a details person and this is one classic, easy detail I absolutely love in the kitchen! If you’re planning to renovate or update your space, definitely keep it in mind. I’m sure I’m going to be asked where to buy a drip rail, and unfortunately- this isn’t an item you can easily find online. It’s often a custom cabinetry add-on or hack. We added ours after the cabinets were in place, and it was extremely easy to make. It took Emmett and I under an hour to cut one, radius the edge, stain it, and install.
So what do you think? Are you into this trend? Have you been noticing more of these lately- or is this a totally new idea to you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
PeggiAugust 26, 2019 at 4:52 am
I’m into it. Even with all the gorgeous detail in your kitchen reveal, my eye noted the drip rail. On the painted cabinets, I like the hit of wood warmth. On the wood cabinets, I definitely feel the “sturdy factor.” So interesting. Thanks for the educational post; now my eye will be searching for drip rails!
And I agree that Jean Stoffer kitchens are dreamy! Happy Monday.
SarahAugust 26, 2019 at 10:56 am
Jean Stoffer is aspirational for sure… everything she touches is incredible. I’m a big fan girl over here! I’m with you- wood tones for the win :) Have a great week Peggi!
KimAugust 26, 2019 at 6:27 am
I’ve never seen a drip rail before. I like the look of it but I’d prefer one that wasn’t wood. If it’s to catch drips, it seems like the material should be one that won’t be harmed if water sits on it. Like marble, granite, quartz, etc.
SarahAugust 26, 2019 at 11:00 am
You could definitely use any material… stone would be pretty, but I like the wood to offset the “hard” surface of the kitchen sink. As long as the wood is treated, it shouldn’t be an issue! We’ve had hardwood flooring in two of our kitchens and it held up beautifully against water. Now you’ve got me dreaming of what a marble one would look like :) I don’t think I’ve seen one of those yet!
MelisAugust 26, 2019 at 2:28 pm
Yes! We’re in the process of finishing our new build and I’m doing a stone apron front like the queen, Jean Stoffer. I’ve been wondering about drip rails too and so glad to see all these good examples in one place. I definitely want to add one to our cabinets too. Love that it’s a fun detail AND functional!
SarahAugust 27, 2019 at 8:34 am
That sounds insanely beautiful!! Congrats on your new build :)
VickieDecember 11, 2020 at 6:38 am
I’m also doing a drip detail under our farmhouse sink. It will be out of same stone that’s on island surface above the sink. Now we are trying to figure how far out this drip edge should extend out.
SharonDecember 18, 2020 at 8:07 am
Vickie/Sarah, is there any guidance on how far the drip rail should extend out? What did you go with an do you like it?
SarahDecember 21, 2020 at 9:17 am
Hi Sharon, ours extends about an inch past the sink front. I like it!
BetsyAugust 26, 2019 at 3:26 pm
I’ve never seen this in real life before, but honestly I don’t know many people in real life with farmhouse sinks – and I notice all the kitchens in this post have a farmhouse sink! (confession: I’m an undermount sink girl.)
SarahAugust 27, 2019 at 8:34 am
Great point, Betsy! It definitely only applies if you have an apron front / farmhouse sink… not undermount.
AshleyAugust 31, 2019 at 8:24 am
How do you maintain it not getting gunky on the drip rail? It doesn’t appear to be a clear seal beteeen the sink and the drip rail and looks like a catch where it could get gunky if that makes sense? Even a little bit of trapped water over time would create that. I love the look but now I’m focused on how to clean the drip rail and keep that from getting yucky. Maybe I’m not seeing how it sits properly?
SarahSeptember 3, 2019 at 9:24 am
We really haven’t had an issue with it getting gunky or gross. Just like water running down the face of a sink, I just wipe any excess water. It sits flush and tight at the bottom of the sink, so there are not odd nooks to clean or areas for water to rest / mold. Hope this helps to answer the question!
MichelleSeptember 1, 2019 at 11:04 am
Just wrapped my kitchen reno and I have a big farmhouse sink and no drip rail. This is probably something you can’t do after-the-fact but I’m wondering how you maintain a drip rail and where it diverts the water? Are you just trading gunky cabinets for a gunky drip rail???
SarahSeptember 3, 2019 at 9:27 am
You could definitely add one after-the-fact :) That’s actually what we did! It’s literally zero extra maintenance. Rather than bending down to wipe the face of your lower cabinets, you can easy swipe the drip rail with a cloth. It doesn’t get gross or gunky, and helps protect your cabinetry.
Kirstain McArdleSeptember 13, 2019 at 4:44 am
Does a wood drip rail need to be custom made or are they available for purchase? My contractor and cabinet company aren’t all too familiar with them. We are starting our kitchen soon and would love to add one!
SarahSeptember 13, 2019 at 8:53 am
They need to be custom made. Unfortunately, I think it’s a new idea so I wasn’t able to find any “readymade” options for purchase. We made our own. Hope this helps :)
Jan PerrettApril 2, 2020 at 3:07 am
Hi, we are on the home stretch with building our home. I am loving a drip edge! Our countertop fabricators will be installing over the next couple of weeks. I am wondering if this is something they can easily attach to the face of the cabinet under the sink? (Or, we are using a good amount of cypress through, and our builder could make one.) But mostly I am wondering just how it is installed? No hole cut for it in the cabinetry, just attached to the facing?
SarahApril 2, 2020 at 12:41 pm
Yes- you can attach it after the cabinets are installed easily (as long as you have enough negative space for it)! It attaches to the face frame and is siliconed after to prevent water from seeping in between after installation :)
Jan PerrettApril 3, 2020 at 8:49 am
Do you know how someone would go about attaching a stone one? Our countertops will be installed next week. They are cutting a piece for a drip edge, but aren’t sure how to go about attaching it. Said it would need bracing…
SarahApril 3, 2020 at 9:06 am
Since stone is super heavy, you’d definitely need bracing and to design that into your sink cabinet prior to installation… I don’t think a stone drip rail would be easy to install after the fact. Sorry Jan!
NancyMay 20, 2021 at 9:47 pm
I’m also wondering about this. I’m wondering how it would be installed with bracing into the cabinetry. Would that require custom cabinets, or do you think it could be accomplished with semi-custom? But even with custom, seems like it would be tricky to have a nice finished cabinet edge around both the rail and the sink. Check out Shea McGee’s drip rail in her home’s kitchen. It’s marble but doesn’t look like it extends into the cabinetry underneath the sink. But it’s hard to tell.
LisaMay 6, 2022 at 10:26 pm
I realize that this is an old post, but I just ordered my countertops this evening and they were unaware of the drip edge. I read that stone can be placed under the front of the sink, and remnants can be used along the sides to level it rather than wood that might swell if water should get under there. Also, it was also suggested that it have a slight slope so that the water runs off and over and not seep under the sink. Also, route a groove on the underside which causes the water to run off and not under the drip edge. This is the same concept as exterior window sills on many older homes. Hoping to do mine in the same quartz as the counter top, but I could do oak to match floors. I wanted Carrara marble counters but am settling for white quartz. I told my hubby that I could get a scrap of Carrara for my drip edge…lol.
NettyMarch 29, 2021 at 2:14 am
I think it would be great to get a “drip rail” tutorial… ;)
SarahMarch 29, 2021 at 9:33 am
The next time we install one, I can definitely photograph and share a tutorial… I’m just not exactly sure when that will be, as we don’t have any kitchen renovations planned anytime soon. It’s on my list though! :)
LisaMay 6, 2022 at 10:35 pm
True. I’m guessing that there are different ways to install. I read to go under the front of the sink. My cabinets are custom, which means that they can cut the base cabinet to allow for a drip edge under the sink and still have the sink align under the counter correctly. The rest of the sink must be braced with wood, or stone if that is your material of choice so that the sink is level. I SO wish I was able to have my beloved Carrara for the counters and drip edge, but no slabs available in my area.
Jessica MorrisApril 24, 2021 at 5:02 pm
A little off topic, but do you prefer a single or double sink bowl?
SarahApril 26, 2021 at 7:01 pm
My preference is single basin :)
RyanFebruary 23, 2022 at 12:08 pm
Does it bug you (bump your legs) while doing the dishes? Guessing if it comes out only an inch, you would not rub against it when standing next to the sink…and I am not hearing anyone mention this as a downside.
SarahFebruary 25, 2022 at 8:53 am
I’ve never had the issue of bumping the rail, Ryan. That’s a great question though!