Recessed Drainers & Drainer Grooves – Pros, Cons & Advice

When it comes to kitchen design there are lots of questions to answer and options to decide on at every stage of the project. And when it comes to worktops (countertops) a question I always ask clients is, would you like a recessed drainer or any drainer grooves?

But what exactly are recessed drainers and drainer grooves?

In this post, I’ll explain what recessed drainers and drainer grooves are, their pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.

Let’s get into it!

What Is A Recessed Drainer?

A recessed drainer (sometimes called a sunken drainer) is a drainboard that is cut into your worktop at the time of fabrication.

Unlike a traditional, external dish drainer that sits on top of a countertop or beside the sink, a recessed drainer is built directly into the countertop material itself.

The recessed drainer area is slightly lower than the rest of the countertop surface, usually positioned adjacent to the kitchen sink.

The surface of this area may have grooves or sloping designs that lead water back into the sink, preventing water from standing or spreading across the countertop.

Recessed drainers are usually made from the same material as the countertop for a seamless look.

Common materials include granite, quartz, marble, or composite materials that are resistant to water and easy to clean.

Recessed Drainer in Quartz Worktop
Recessed Drainer in Quartz Worktop- Photo by Ogle, luxury kitchens, Bathrooms & Stonework

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What are Drainer Grooves?

Drainer grooves are a feature that’s cut into a solid surface worktop to help water drain off the countertop down into the sink.

Several grooves are milled into the worktop’s surface, serving as a permanent drainboard.

Drainer grooves grew in popularity along with the expansion of quartz and solid-surface kitchen worktops.

Drainer grooves vary from a recessed drainer as only the grooves are carved out of the countertop, rather than an entire area.

You keep a flat worktop. Only the grooves serve to guide water down in the sink. You can put a glass down on the top of the grooves to let water escape and it won’t tip over.

Drainer grooves on either side of a kitchen sink
Drainer grooves on either side of a kitchen sink

Pros of Drainer Grooves and Recessed Drainers

  • Seamless and Uncluttered Worktop Appearance: Today’s kitchens are trending towards pristine worktops devoid of appliances, coffee mugs, and knife blocks. The drain grooves help to achieve this design goal.

  • Always have a Spot Available for Wet Dishes and Food: You never have to search in a cupboard to grab the drainer with your hands full of wet apples or clean glasses.

  • No Need to Store a Separate Drainboard: There is no need to purchase or store a drainboard. Which makes one less thing you have to keep clean.

Cons of Drainer Grooves and Recessed Drainers

  • Difficult to Keep Clean: Unlike a plastic or silicone drain mat, drainer grooves rarely dry completely out. This can lead to the build-up of mould and stains – especially limescale in hard water areas.

  • Unable to Add them to Standard Laminate Worktops: They are not a universal option for all types of worktops. You may need to invest in an all-in-one sink and drainer combination.

  • Takes Away Valuable Workspace: You may not be able to use that space for chopping veggies or air frying your supper. A traditional drainboard can be stored while you make full use of your smaller kitchen worktops.

How deep should drainer grooves be?

The groove starts at just 2 mm on the shallow end and becomes deeper, up to 7 to 10 mm where it meets with the edge of the sink.

It must be sloped to allow for the drainage of water. You may not be able to have drainer grooves if your countertop thickness is too thin.

The slope typically runs between 350 and 450 mm long, depending on how much worktop you want to dedicate to your grooves.

Some fabricators are offering to retrofit grooves. They use a template that creates even and straight grooves. It can take just an hour or two to add this to your existing solid surface worktop.

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Can You Have A Recessed Drainer And Drainer Grooves?

Yes! If you really want to make sure any water from your dishes makes its way down into your sink and prevent any puddles from forming on your countertop you can opt for a recessed drainer with drainer grooves.

The whole area will be chamfered and sloped down towards the sink by the recessed drainer. As well as adding drainer grooves to help any standing water run down into the sink as well as prevent any mugs or glasses from getting sealed against the countertop.

The added grooves give that little bit of an air gap to help the crockery drain and dry out fully. Especially if you’re not using a separate drying rack.

Kitchen sink with recessed drainer and drainer grooves cut into the countertop on both sides
Recessed drainer with drainer grooves – Source: Stone Smart Houzz UK

Are drainer grooves a good idea?

While it looks like drainer grooves are a great upgrade for your worktop, they are not always the perfect solution.

Water will always collect at the lip of the groove and slowly evaporate. If you have hard water, it will leave white drops of limescale. If your kitchen has no natural light and poor ventilation, it can cause mould.

Some thinner granite and quartz worktops cannot have grooves added as they can crack the stone.

You will pay a premium for the custom upgrade. Look to add £250 to £500 to the total price.

On the other hand, there is no need to invest in a separate drainboard that takes up space and creates a cluttered look in your kitchen.

Right now, drainer grooves are a very popular choice, however, I’m hearing that worktop manufacturers are seeing customer complaints that indicate this design feature may not be for everyone.

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Can you have a recessed drainer or drainer grooves in quartz?

Yes, quartz is well suited for the recessed drainer or drainer groove design.

While quartz is a manmade material, it has the same composition throughout the entire thickness of quartz. You can cut grooves or have a sunken recessed drainer area straight in the countertop to give a sleek and trendy kitchen design.

Can you have a recessed drainer or drainer grooves in granite?

Yes, in fact, the recessed drainer and drainer groove trend first appeared in granite worktops.

Just like quartz, granite is a solid stone throughout the entire piece of worktop. It can be carved and shaped with just grooves or have an entire sloped drainboard cut into its surface.

Can you cut drainer grooves in a laminate worktop?

Most laminate worktops cannot have drain grooves cut into them.

The laminate top is just 2 mm thick before you hit the particle board used for its structure. You would end up soaking the worktop with the first use resulting in total failure.

You can opt for a recessed drainer that is part of a stainless steel inset sink. This can be retrofitted for many existing laminate worktops.

The other option is to use a compact laminate worktop. This is a type of laminate worktop that is constructed in such a way that it doesn’t have a particle board structure and can have drainer grooves cut into its surface.

Which side should the sink drainer be on?

This is entirely up to the person who uses the sink, what their preferred workflow is and what makes the most sense for the kitchen layout.

The grooves can be cut on either the left or right side (or both) of the sink. You will want to think about how the sink will function.

Do you set the dirty dishes on the left and leave them to drain on the right? Perhaps you only have a few inches on the right side due to the presence of a wall or corner. Make sure to discuss the details with your worktop fabricator before placing your order.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about recessed drainers and drainer grooves for your kitchen countertop.

Whilst drainer grooves and recessed drainers are certainly very popular, they might not be to everyone’s taste and needs. What should be a helpful countertop design feature may actually cause more nuisance and cleaning, especially if fabricated poorly.

Have a think about how much countertop space you have free and if a permanent draining area cut into the worktop would be useful for you or not.



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.