Undermount vs Drop in Sink

There are various kinds of kitchen sinks. At least, there are ten basic types of kitchen sinks, but there can be even more various designs and modifications in each group. However, in general, most homeowners who want to remodel their kitchens usually narrow down the choices to just two: undermount or drop in sinks. These two types of kitchen sinks look nice and elegant, and are suitable for solid countertops, but they indeed have different characteristics.

Are you confused in choosing between undermount and drop in sinks as well? No worries! Below, you can find the comparisons between under mount and drop in kitchen sinks to help you decide based on several aspects. Depending on your budget and preferences, either undermount or drop in sinks will be more suitable. But, first, we should understand better what exactly undermount and drop in sinks are.

What is a Drop In Sink?

At one time, drop-in sinks were the only choice available for any kitchen. Even today, drop-in sinks are the most familiar and also the most popular type of kitchen sinks. They are sometimes also called self-rimming sinks and top-mount sinks. Drop-in sinks have a distinctive characteristic, which is the visible lip that rests on the countertop around the perimeter. A drop-in sink is put straight into the countertop cut-out, and the lip is the part responsible for holding it vertically in place. Usually, metal clips are also used to clamp the sink to the counter to prevent horizontal movement.

What is an Undermount Sink?

Unlike drop-in sinks, which are installed from the top, undermount sinks are installed from the bottom of the counter. You can tell an undermount sink by the lack of lip around the perimeter. It actually has a rim, but the rim is not visible because the rim attaches to the bottom of the counter. This way, the rim hangs to the counter instead of sitting on the top. It creates a continuous flow from the countertop into the sink.

Undermount vs. Drop In Sink: Countertop Compatibility

Before we go any further, we should make sure first that your choice of sink is actually compatible with your countertop material. If it is not compatible with your countertop, the installation will be easy to break.

If you are worried about your countertop’s compatibility, a drop-in sink is the safest route to go. It is compatible with all types of countertops, including laminate. This is because the lip sits on the countertop. It resists the gravitation well, and, since it is clinging to the countertop, it is very unlikely to fall down, even with a considerable load inside.

On the other hand, undermount sinks are only compatible with solid countertop materials, such as soapstone, granite, concrete, and marble. They are not suitable for laminate and tile counters, because such counters have weak points along the seams and the grout lines and thus are not strong enough to support the weight of the sink.

Undermount vs. Drop In Sink: Price and Installation

If your budget is very limited, it is better for you to choose a drop-in sink. Drop-in sinks are typically cheaper than undermount sinks, though the material also contributes as a factor to the price. The prices of drop-in sinks may range from $50 to $350. Meanwhile, the prices of undermount sinks may range from $250 to $800. If you pay someone else to install the sink, the labor cost of installing a drop-in sink is also slightly cheaper than an installing an undermount sink.

And that’s because installing a drop-in sink is easier. If you already have a pre-cut hole in the countertop, all you have to do is put the sink inside, clamp the clips, and caulk around the rim to provide a water seal. All can be done within an hour. So, drop-in sinks are also more convenient for do-it-yourself projects.

Installing an undermount sink is quite more difficult. If you don’t know what you are doing, you should get some professional help to install it. You have to install it from the bottom of the counter. Usually, a two-part epoxy adhesive is used to attach the sink to the counter, and you seal around the perimeter with silicone caulking. Proper installation and sealing are crucial to prevent breaking and leakage – a full sink of dishes is very heavy, and you don’t want the sink to pull apart from the counter can crash to the floor.

Undermount vs. Drop In Sink: Appearance and Countertop Space

Depending on the model you choose, both undermount and drop-ink sinks can look cool and stylish. Undermount sinks are generally considered elegant because they give smooth transition from the countertop to the sink. However, well designed drop-in sinks made from nice materials actually look elegant, too.

Obviously, undermount sinks do a better job at preserving the countertop space. They don’t take any surface area at all. So, if your countertop is quite narrow, you may want to opt for an undermount sink.

If your countertop is quite narrow but you still want to get a drop-in sink, make sure to get one that has an extended lip instead. There is a drop-in sink model that has the lip extends 8” – 10” on one side to act as a drainboard, cutting board, or food prep area.

Undermount vs. Drop In Sink: Cleaning

An undermount sink would make it much easier to clean the countertop. You can simply wipe down things from the countertop into the sink. Very convenient, isn’t it? On the other hand, a drop-in sink wouldn’t let you do the same thing because of the lip.

When cleaning the sink, the most difficult part is cleaning the gap between the sink and the countertop. Both undermount and drop-in sinks are not free from such problem. It is very easy for the gap between the lip of a drop-in sink and the countertop to catch and collect build-up. An undermount sink also has a similar gap, but in the inner side of the perimeter.

Conclusion

Undermount and drop-in sinks have each own advantages and disadvantages. In general, drop-in sinks are the way to go if you are on a tight budget or if your countertop is not solid, i.e. tile or laminate. Drop-in sinks are cheaper and much easier to install. On the other hand, undermount sinks can be your choice if your countertop is solid and you want to enjoy the ease of cleaning your countertop just by wiping things down into the sink.


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