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Drop in vs Undermount Sink – Which Is Your Best Bet?

drop in vs undermount sink
Written by Jenny Molin

Kitchen sinks are an important aspect in the kitchen for both utilitarian and decorative purposes. When designing our kitchen we want the very best sink choice that our budget can buy, that suits both our practical needs and aesthetic expectations. The biggest choice in differentiation comes in when choosing between top mount and undermount sinks. Each of these has its merits and drawbacks and suits different scenarios and situations. Let’s discuss the good, the bad, and the details of each, so you can make a more informed buying decision.

Differences Between Drop in and Undermount Sinks

What Is a Drop in Sink?

drop in vs undermount sink

A drop in sink is the traditional sink most of us are familiar with. It is installed by cutting a hole in the countertop in dropping it in from above. It has an over-edge lip that keeps it up and fixed to your countertop.

i. Pros

The biggest pro regarding a drop in sink when thinking drop in vs undermount sink is the versatility associated with it. There is no limitation to the countertop material it is compatible with. Regardless of your kitchen counter material, this sink is installable. Another great upside is the cost. These sinks are considerably less pricey than undermount sinks. Another benefit to note would be the simple installation with this sink type. There are no complicated steps in installing this sink and as such any capable DIY enthusiast can, well…DIY!

ii. Cons

The most obvious drawback of the overmount or drop in sink is the lip it is required to impose on your countertop. This lip makes cleaning the counter more of a headache and less hygienic as it creates a little gap for old food, dirt, and bacteria to hide that is hard to reach. If your undermount sink vs overmount dilemma stems from a hygiene orientated point, the overmount sink is not exactly winning any awards. These sink types are also generally considered less aesthetically pleasing and a bit “old fashioned” so to speak. The look created by the lip is also a more obtrusive one and can be an eye-sore to those who have seen the streamlined and simplistic look of a countertop with an undermounted sink in it. It’s also worth considering that the reason these sinks are cheaper is because they are often of a slightly lower quality.

iii. Cost

Your cheapest drop in sink will cost you south of 50 bucks and your most expensive could go north of 800. Most are purchased in the mid-range of 100 – 300 USD though. Always remember that where quality is concerned, you get what you pay for.

iv. Installation

The installation of an overmount sink, as I mentioned, is very simple. With a bit of handy DIY knowledge you could easily install this yourself. It simple requires cutting a hole in the countertop to the right measurements, dropping the sink in until the lip of the sink catches and rests on the countertop edges, and then connecting the plumbing. There are plenty of easy-to-follow YouTube guides out there to give you more specific guidance if you are fixing to do this one yourself.

What Is an Undermount Kitchen Sink?

drop in vs undermount sink

An undermount sink, as its name hints, is a sink that is fixed in from underneath the countertop. Instead of relying on a lip that rests on the countertop, the fixture is fastened underneath your sink and out of sight. This creates a very streamlined look with no obtrusive lip. It indeed serves to look very modern and savvy.

i. Pros

The reason the argument goes ”undermount vs overmount sink” is because some of the specific opposite differences between these sinks are what create what we would consider to be a pro or con. For example, the undermount sinks biggest benefit is the fact that it has no lip. This is in stark contrast to the overmount or drop in sink type. There are a number of reasons to consider this a benefit. The first being that your countertop is suddenly much easier to clean. The freedom to simply sweep whatever nonsense is on your counter straight into the sink without any being caught behind lends itself to greater hygiene and cleaning ease. A second reason would be the aesthetic seamlessness of your countertop. These sinks are designed for avid kitchen lovers and as such are also of a higher quality.

ii. Cons

The most noticeable downside to this sink is the price. It tends to be much heavier on the pocket unfortunately. Another stark contrast to the top mount sink, and a possible non-starter for you, is the fact that these sinks can only be installed with certain countertop material types. Granite, soup stone, limestone, and other hard materials like this are ok but materials like laminate are a no-go, limiting your choice of countertop material, or your ability to successfully install this sink. The undermount sink also comes with a slightly more complicated installation process, generally demanding the need for a professional who charges extra installation costs.

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iii. Cost

The cheapest you will find one of these bad boys is around 75$, while the most expensive are upward of 1000$. The average mid-range would be between 280 and 450 dollars though. The difference in prices is decided by factors such as brand, quality, material type, and even where it is purchased.

iv. Installation

As previously stated, the installation process with these sinks is a bit more complicated than that of a top mount sink and as such often requires professional help. Unless you are extremely confident in your handiwork I’d suggest getting a pro in to ensure everything is done right the first time. Keep in mind that the materials of countertop these sinks, such as stainless steel, cast iron,  porcelain, copper, and fire clay are not easy to cut into and extremely expensive to fix if mistakes are made.

So Which One Is Suitable for You?

If you’re looking to refurbish you kitchen and have bumped into the dilemma of undermount sink vs top mount, there are a few key questions to ask yourself that will quickly bring your best choice into clarity. The first question is what is your budget? If you are looking to spend as little as possible, drop in sinks are invariably a cheaper option. Another question is what is your priority with regards to aesthetics and practicality? Are you looking for the best looking sink you can find to compliment your kitchen? If so an undermount sink would offer you this without a doubt.

Do you get annoyed with sweeping dirt against a lip and seeing grime build up on it? Again, the undermount sink is your friend here. Or perhaps you’re looking for a sink you can easily install yourself without too much hassle. The top mount would serve you best if that is the case. The final question to consider is, what material is your countertop made from? Bear in mind if it isn’t a hard marble-like material then you probably cannot install an undermount.

In truth, the answer to which is better and which suites best is really dependent on your particular situation, expectations, and goal. I hope I have clarified everything enough for you to have a solid idea about what to consider and what might suite you best!

About the author

Jenny Molin

Interior Design Artist

Hello, I’m Jenny. I’ve been an interior design artist by profession since my B.S. in Interior Design. I’m a minimalist and prefer to save space when choosing fixtures, sinks and fittings. My style tends to make the most out of the least amount of space. The idea behind every interior design project is unique and it reflects personal style, taste and tradition. I’ve learned more when working than I ever did while I was studying in college. I worked in more than 12 hundred households all across the US and got positive feedback. I’ve been working with FaucetsReviewed as one of the founding members and regularly contributing to the site via testing and reviewing various interior fittings and fixtures.

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