Undermount vs. Drop-in Sinks: Which One Is Better?

Undermount vs. Drop-in Sinks Which One Is Better

When picking the best sink for your kitchen, you need to consider several factors, such as cost, style, material, etc. There’s certainly no shortage of options, regardless of what you’re looking for. Whether you need a small sink for a compact kitchen or a massive sink for a sprawling kitchen, there’s something out there for you. 

So, as you sift through your options, weeding out models you’re uninterested in, you’ll find a few parallels across several brands. Every major brand offers sinks in two primary configurations: undermount and drop-in. 

If you’re on the fence about deciding between the two, there are a few things to consider. We’re here to break it down for you, so keep reading to learn more!

Undermount Sinks

Kraus KGU-413B Undermount Single Bowl Granite Kitchen Sink, 31 Inch, Black

An undermount sink is precisely what the name implies – it’s installed underneath the countertop. A slight rim is attached underneath the countertop, giving the counter a seamless, cohesive appearance.

If you need every precious square inch of counter space (you take all you can get in cramped kitchens), an undermount sink is a great idea. Since there’s no lip resting on the countertop, you get an extra inch or two of counter space. 

Depending on the material, installing an undermount sink can be tricky. If you do it wrong, you might have all sorts of issues, considering the sink is suspended underneath the countertop. Generally, installers secure an undermount sink to the underside of the counter using a two-part epoxy adhesive and silicone caulk for sealing. 

In some cases, the sink might come with special clips to secure the sink to the underside of the countertop. Alternatively, you can use brackets to secure the sink in place. 

The design of the undermount sink can be tricky for certain countertop materials. If the material isn’t waterproof, you run the risk of water damage on the exposed lip of the countertop. For example, wood or raw-edge laminate countertops are susceptible to water damage since nothing covers the exposed, unsealed edge. 

This opens Pandora’s box, leading to all sorts of mold, mildew, and bacteria issues.  

Pros And Cons

As you weigh your options, it’s essential to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each. Here are a few of the notable pros and cons of undermount sinks:

Pros 

  • Diverse array of options: Undermount sinks come in various materials, colors, shapes, and sizes. They’re available at varying price points, too, so there’s something for everyone.
  • Seamless appearance: If you want a kitchen sink that blends into the space, an undermount sink is a great choice.
  • Easy to clean: Since there isn’t a raised lip on the countertop, these sinks are easy to clean. Food bits don’t get caught on the sink and can be easily swept into the sink. 
  • Optimized counter space: Kitchens with limited counter space need a sink that won’t consume the dwindling counter space. Since there isn’t a lip resting on the counter, you don’t lose any precious space. 

Cons

  • May require additional support: Undermount sinks can be heavy, and the adhesive might not cut it. So, you might have to install extra support underneath the sink to help bear the weight, as there isn’t a lip resting on the counter to help support the sink.  
  • Consumes extra cabinet space: These sinks sit lower than drop-in sinks, so homes with limited cabinet space might not be compatible. They’re usually only a few inches lower than a drop-in sink, but sometimes, they might be too large.
  • Installation can be complicated: Securing an undermount sink to the bottom of the counter can be tricky. If you don’t do it right, the sink might abruptly pull away from the counter and fall, causing all sorts of issues. 
  • Requires a clean sink cutout: With these sinks, it’s essential to make a clean cut in your countertop. If you cut a jagged line for the sink cutout, it will be on full display when the sink is installed. So, this can make it tricky to install these sinks, especially with certain countertop materials. 

Drop-In Sinks

33 Kitchen Sink Drop In - Lofeyo 33" x 22" Gunmetal Matte Black Stainless Steel 16 Gauge Topmount Ledge Workstation Single Bowl Drop In Kitchen Sink Basin

These sinks are known for their easy-to-install nature. Drop-in sinks feature a surrounding rim that rests on the countertop. This supports the sink, making installation much easier than some of the other options out there. 

In some cases, clips might be necessary to secure the sink down to the countertop. Heavier sink materials usually don’t require clips since they’re hefty enough to stay in place. Once the sink is in place and secured with the clips, installers apply a bead of silicone caulk around the rim. 

The caulk helps create a watertight seal that prevents water and dirt from seeping into the cabinet below. Given the straightforward installation process, it’s no surprise that these sinks are one of the most popular types available on the market today. 

Pros And Cons

Like undermount sinks, drop-in sinks have a few advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Pros

  • Easy to install: These sinks are easy to install, even if you need to install securing mounts underneath the countertop. Whether you’re a seasoned DIYer or someone who’s never tried installing a sink, the process is doable. 
  • Affordable: These sinks tend to be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, although it hinges entirely on the sizing, brand, and material. 
  • Variety of options: Drop-in sinks come in various shapes, sizes, colors, materials, and price points, so there’s usually no issue trying to find the perfect fit.
  • Easy to recaulk: When the caulk wears out, and it’s time for a new application, the process is easy. You simply need to peel away the dingy old caulk and apply a fresh bead around the perimeter.

Cons

  • Somewhat harder to clean: The lip on the countertop can make cleaning somewhat tricky. Food bits may get caught on the lip as you wipe them into the sink, even if there’s caulk.
  • Might not offer a luxurious look: If you’re after the elegant, seamless looks typical in high-end kitchens, a drop-in sink might not be your best bet. The lip resting on the countertop disrupts the seamlessness, and although they look fine, they don’t offer a luxurious appearance. 

Which One Is Better?

These two sinks hold ranks as two of the most popular types for a good reason. They each offer a range of benefits, although there are a few drawbacks. However, the choice is yours. Every scenario is different, so one type isn’t always the best.

For example, if you have a small, compact kitchen with limited counter space, an undermount sink might be the logical pick. On the other hand, if you have limited cabinet space but plenty of counter space, a drop-in sink might be better. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Drop-In Sinks Outdated?

Drop In Sink

Nowadays, kitchen trends lean towards clean, modern lines. This aligns better with undermount sinks since they offer a seamless look. In this sense, drop-in sinks are outdated. Their resale value isn’t much, but they’re still a popular pick due to the affordability, flexibility, and ease of installation. 

Is An Undermount Sink A Good Idea?

Undermount sinks can be a good idea in some scenarios but a terrible idea in others. It depends on your particular scenario. For example, they’re a great idea if you want the clean, seamless looks typical in modern kitchens. 

However, if you don’t have any experience installing sinks and are set against outsourcing the project, an undermount sink isn’t a good idea.