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Undermount vs. Drop in Sink: Which Is the Superior Choice?

Did you know that there are at least 10 different types of kitchen sinks alone? No wonder planning a remodel can be a challenge!

Whether you're looking to upgrade or build a new bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, one question remains paramount: Should you install an undermount sink or a drop-in model?

While there are advantages to each, one is easier to maintain and more functional than the other. Today, we're tackling the undermount vs drop in sink debate head-on, delivering the details you need to know to make an informed decision. 

Undermount vs Drop In Sink: What's the Difference?

Before we let these two sinks battle it out for space in your home, let's explore the technical details that set undermount and drop in sinks apart.

First, what is an undermount sink?

In short, it works as its name implies. This type of sink mounts directly to the bottom of your countertop. It's held in place by different mechanisms, which can range from special clips to heavy-duty anchor posts. 

While an undermount sink does have a rim, you can't see it because it's hidden by the bottom of the counter. This means the countertop edge is completely exposed around the sink cutout. These sinks are designed to let the countertop take center stage.

On the other hand, a drop-in sink has a visible lip that runs the length of its perimeter and sits on top of the countertop.

These are also called self-rimming or top-mount models. Once you cut out your countertop, these sink basins drop straight into it. Like undermount sinks, drop-in models are also held in place by special clips, caulk, or adhesives.

One easy way to tell them apart? Imagine scraping a pile of crumbs into your sink basin. If you have to scrape the crumbs over a lip before they fall into the sink, it's a drop-in model. Conversely, if they move seamlessly from the countertop to the basin without encountering a lip, it's an undermount version.  

Optimized Countertop Space

As you might imagine, undermount sinks require less countertop space than their drop-in peers. As such, if your bathroom vanity or kitchen counter is short on space, an undermount sink can afford you slightly more surface area. These are also ideal when you want to highlight and draw attention to your countertop material.

With an undermount sink, the countertop is free to extend all the way to the sink, unencumbered. In some models, it even extends slightly into the sink.

Understandably, you'll lose a little counter space with a drop-in sink, due to the lip. While it might seem like a minor drawback, it can feel major if you're already short on space.  

Simplified Sink Cleaning

It's critical to keep the inside of your sink basin clean of germs, debris, and other grime. To this end, both drop-in and undermount sinks have their strengths and drawbacks.

At the top of an undermount sink, where it joins with the counter, you might find a slight gap. At initial installation, this gap will be filled with a bead of caulk, yet there's usually a space that remains, which can encourage food buildup.

At the same time, there's a bead of caulk that holds a drop-in sink to the counter below. This area can also harbor gunk, turning black as it fills up with sediment and mold.

As such, whichever model you choose, keep a close eye on your caulk, replacing it as necessary. Ultimately, the absence of a lip makes an undermount sink easier to clean and keep sanitary. 

Easier Countertop Cleaning

Of course, you want to keep your sink clean on the inside and the outside. 

When it's time to clean your countertops, you'll be glad you opted for an undermount sink. In fact, many homeowners replace their drop-in sinks for undermount alternatives for this very reason.

As mentioned, you can scrape food particles directly into an undermount sink without dodging a bulky lip in the process. While you might find that some undermounts sit lower than others, this simple clean-up action alone is enough to convince most homeowners to make the switch.  

Variety of Countertop Options

With a drop-in sink, the outer rim hides the edge of the hole in the countertop. This means you can use a wide variety of materials for your counter, including:
  • Stone
  • Engineered stone
  • Metal
  • Laminates with plywood cores 
If you invest in an undermount sink, the countertop rim is exposed along the perimeter. For this reason, most homeowners opt to install these sinks on top of solid countertop materials, such as:
  • Quartz
  • Natural stone
  • Solid surface

While it might seem that your options are more limited with an undermount sink, consider the wide variety of solid surface materials available today. These are three of the most common types, and you'll have a vast variety to review. 

Higher Resale Value

Even if you never intend to sell your home, an undermount sink can help improve its resale value. In this way, it's akin to real hardwood floors, solar upgrades, and extra bathrooms.

Note that while an undermount sink can't raise the value much on its own, it does deliver a clean, streamlined feel that most modern homeowners prefer. Undermount sinks are elegant, sleek, and designed to outlast any current design trend currently influencing the market.

While they might cost more at the onset, undermount sinks deliver a high return that makes them worth the investment. They're undeniably luxurious and high-end, showing great attention to detail.  

Replacing Your Sink? Let Us Help

Are you ready to transform your kitchen or bathroom? If so, you'll have plenty of choices to make.

As you weigh the pros and cons of an undermount vs drop in sink, keep the above considerations in mind. Between the two, an undermount model is more streamlined, versatile, valuable, and easier to maintain.

When you're ready, feel free to browse our wide variety of sink types.

We offer drop-in, undermount, and farmhouse models, all waiting for the perfect project. Along the way, contact us to learn more today. 

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