For years, only one debate has dominated the kitchen world: marble vs. granite vs. quartz countertops.
Recently, though, another debate has taken over the kitchen space: undermount vs. drop-in sinks. Some homeowners swear by the undermount sinks, while others would rather stick with the more conventional drop-in sinks. All in all, it’s a debate that’s worth the while.
If you’re on the market for a sink, you might be asking yourself which side of the kitchen sink debate you should fall in.
To help you make a wise decision, we’ve prepared the following guide pitting the two most popular kitchen sinks head-to-head.
First Things First, The Basics
Before we delve into the comparison part, it’s crucial that you understand the basics of the drop-in and undermount sinks and what exactly they entail.
Also known as the rimmed or top-mount sink, the drop-in sink is perhaps the more popular of the two. From its name, you can easily guess that this sink drops into an opening on the counter. It also has a noticeable rim or ledge with a width varying from 0.5 inches to 2 inches surrounding the sink. This rim sits on top of the counter and helps hold the sink in place.
As for the undermount sink, it lacks that rim that sits on top of the counter. Rather, this sink mounts under your countertop and stays in place thanks to extra durable calk, metal clips, or adhesive. You must install these support clips during installation to ensure your sink mounts safely beneath the counter.
Now that you’ve got a rough idea about these two competing sinks let’s go ahead and compare them.
Drop-In Vs. Undermount Sink: Shoulder To Shoulder Comparison
In this section, we’ll compare these two styles of kitchen sinks based on some key aspects. By the end of it all, you’ll get a clear mental picture of which one best matches your needs.
One key thing to keep in mind when choosing between the undermount and drop-in sink is which one will work with your countertop material.
Rimmed sinks work well with all countertops. Whether you have a granite, marble, or soapstone countertop, a drop-in sink will go in without any hiccups.
Undermount sinks, on the other hand, work well with all countertop materials except custom tile and laminate tops. In the case of these two, the underlying MDF or particleboard fails to hold the clip fastener in place, making the installation less durable. Also, both laminate and custom tile tops are extremely vulnerable to water damage.
Ease Of Cleaning & Maintenance
Since the drop-in sink has its rim on top of the counter, it gathers more food crumbs, making its cleaning and maintenance a little hectic.
As for the undermount sink, cleaning is way easier as there’s no rim between the countertop and the rim. All you need to do is wipe the food crumbs down the sink. You also don’t need to worry about gunk buildup along the sink rim.
Unfortunately, the mounting point just below the counter has become a spot where debris can accumulate. That’s why it’s advisable to replace the caulk once every three years.
Ever wondered why drop-in sinks are popular to date? Well, that’s because they don’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, they can save you a considerable chunk of money in total costs (purchase price + installation expenses).
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of undermount sinks. They cost a pretty penny, approximately 50-100% more than their rimmed counterparts. And because they’re a bit daunting to set up, their installation costs are also high.
One of the things you’ll consider when shopping for a new bathroom or kitchen sink is the looks. No doubt about that.
The drop-in sink has a rather traditional, timeless look. This means it can fit right into any countertop, no matter the kitchen style. For example, if you have a classic-style kitchen, you can get porcelain or enamel cast iron drop-in sink to complement the overall look.
In terms of appearance, the undermount sink takes things a notch higher. It comes in a clean, streamlined, modern look that goes well with contemporary kitchen styles. And if you need the effect to be a little stronger, simply pick the same material as your countertop.
Ease Of Installation
When it comes to ease of installation, the drop-in sink wins by some distance. Why? Well, the clue is in the name! Like we mentioned earlier, all you need to do during installation is drop the sink into the hole on your countertop.
Conversely, installing an undermount sink is a pretty challenging task. It needs to be installed below the countertop, so you need to have a complete understanding of the right techniques, methods, and tools. Not to mention the sink itself is quite heavy, which means you’ll most definitely require a professional hand during installation.
Countertop Space Saver
Due to the presence of a rim in a drop-in sink, you’ll obviously lose a bit of space with this option. While it may seem like a minor drawback, it can feel major if you’re already running out of space.
Luckily, there’s a type of drop-in sink that can help you make the most of your space, and that’s the drainboard sink. It comes fitted with a drainboard and/or food preparation area extending up to 10 inches beyond the side of the sink basin.
Comparatively, undermount sinks require less countertop space than their drop-in countertops. As such, if your kitchen counter or bathroom vanity is short on space, the undermount sink can afford you slightly more surface area. It also allows you to draw more attention to your countertop material.
Can You Replace A Drop-In Sink With An Undermount?
Of all the questions that Louis Ville, MO, homeowners ask regarding kitchen sinks, this one is perhaps the most repeated. So we’ll just answer it to provide clarity.
We won’t sugarcoat the truth here. Replacing a drop-in with an undermount sink is difficult, and in most cases, the result is unsightly. Let us explain why.
An undermount sink typically pairs up with solid surface countertops (quartz, granite, etc.), and if you have a drop-in sink, most likely you have a tile or laminate countertop. In short, you cannot have either of those materials with an undermount sink since the edges of the material that supports the countertop will be exposed.
If you’re going to replace a drop-in sink with an undermount, it’s prudent to replace the countertops altogether. That shouldn’t scare you, though, as there are many kitchen countertop materials out there within your budget range.
Drop-In Vs. Undermount Sinks: Pros & Cons
Before we draw the curtains on this kitchen sink debate, it’s only fair if we quickly summarized the pros and cons of each style of sink.
Drop-In Sink Pros:
- Comes in a wide variety of materials
- Easy to install
Drop-In Sink Cons:
- Harder to clean and maintain the countertop
- Takes up a lot of the counter space
Undermount Sink Pros:
- Increases countertop space
- Outstanding modern appearance
- Easier to clean and maintain the countertop
Undermount Sink Cons:
- Harder to clean the sink edges and sides
- Challenging to install
At the end of the day, there’s no outright winner. It’s all about which one you find more appealing. Just remember to keep your budget in mind when choosing between a drop-in sink and an undermount sink. All the best in your renovation journey!
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