There are many options out there when it comes to kitchen sinks, but the two most popular are definitely the drop-in sink and the undermount sink.
When undermount sinks first hit the scene, they were seen as tough to install—not to mention expensive. But now that professionals are just as well-versed in installing them as they are installing drop-ins, their price has lowered, and now they can more adequately compete with drop-in sinks.
But this similarity in price only makes the decision more difficult when you’re trying to choose which type of sink is best for your kitchen. To help you make an informed decision, we put together this guide in order to explain the details of both.
Drop-Ins and Undermounts: The Basics
The most common type of kitchen sink is the drop-in sink. This type has a visible lip around the perimeter that rests flat on the countertop, and a basin that drops right into the cutout. That lip around the perimeter holds everything in place, and these sinks are secured by metal clips hidden under the countertop, along with a bead of silicone caulk under the edge of the sink.
Undermount sinks are mounted to the bottom of the countertop and held in place by heavy-duty clips, caulk, or adhesive. Undermount sinks have rims, but they are not visible because they rest against the bottom of the counter. The edge of the countertop that runs along the cutout of the sink is exposed, which is why undermount sinks should be used with solid countertop materials—like solid surface, natural stone, or quartz.
There is an aspect of undermount sinks that can get troublesome when it comes to cleaning. There is a gap filled with silicone caulk at the top of the sink where it joins with the counter, but it’s not usually filled to the surface. Because of the depression that remains, food can build up there. To combat this, dig out the caulk and replace it every three to five years—but this is something that not everyone wants to do.
Buildup is possible in drop-in sinks as well, just in a different place. There’s a small seam formed by the lip and the countertop where gunk can get caught. The plus side is that it’s more easily accessible than the gap of an undermount sink and therefore easier to clean.
Countertops with undermount sinks installed are much easier to clean—in fact, this is why many people choose undermount sinks in the first place. There is no lip obstructing the sink, meaning you can sweep food particles directly into the basin without them getting caught.
That doesn’t mean countertops with drop-in sinks are difficult to clean, though. Some have rims with a lower profile than others, which makes food sweeping almost as simple.
As long as the installation calls for a one-for-one replacement, homeowners can install drop-in sinks on their own. All it takes is cleaning off old caulk, laying down a bead of new caulk, setting the sink in the hole, centering it, and securing it with clips.
Undermount sinks require more expertise during installation. They must be fitted in place and supported temporarily as the clip locations are marked. Then, the pros drill careful holes into the countertop and install the clips before caulking and mounting the sink.
As we stated in the beginning, the cost of these two types of sinks is relatively similar, with undermount sinks coming in a bit higher—but only about fifty to seventy dollars more than drop-ins. If you install a drop-in sink yourself, though, you’ll be able to save some money—but the pros can guarantee no errors, unlike an amateur installation.
No matter your skill level, we don’t recommend installing undermount sinks on your own. If you make a mistake, the quality of your countertop is in danger.
Undermount vs. Drop-In
What type of sink you choose depends on personal preference and the style of your kitchen. To learn more about undermount and drop-in sinks, contact Sanford Granite today.