Undermount Sink vs. Drop-In Sink


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Under mount sink and drop-in sink with cabinet

Choosing the right type of sink for your bathroom can be tough as you will need to consider several factors such as aesthetics, price, and resale value. If you are new to this market, you might also be surprised by the number of different available sink options. Keep in mind that the different basin types are not compatible with all countertops and interior aesthetics. In addition, some of these sink types are pretty specific as to where they can be installed appropriately. 

Drop-in sinks are generally the most popular and commonly used due to their simple installation and lower price. However, undermount sinks have proven to be quite popular and are slowly catching up thanks to the enhanced aesthetic and higher resale value they can provide. 

For this article, we will be taking two of the most prominent types of sinks used in most homes: the drop-in and undermount sink. Both of these basin types have their own unique merits, and it is vital to understand the advantages and disadvantages to make an informed and best decision. 

What are the Key Differences Between Undermount and Drop-In Sinks?

Clean granite sink in bathroom of model home

A glance at the names of these two basin types will give you an idea of their main difference – that is, with the installation process. 

A drop-in sink is the standard basin type and is also called a top mount and self-rimming sink. The drop-in basin installs to countertop from the top lowers onto the opening. This type of sink has a visible lip on its borders that typically take up as much as 2-inches of width. While this tip can break the aesthetics of the countertop, it is a crucial part of the basin as it supports and holds the sink in place.  

Bathroom interior with white sink and faucet

As for the undermount sink, its key difference is the installation from underneath the countertop. This installation method means that the undermount basin will not have a visible lip and will provide a seamless transition from the countertop to the washbasin. 

The Installation Process

The chances are that you have a drop-in sink at home. Also called a top-mount sink, these are the simplest to install and can be typically attached to the countertop yourself if you have some basic knowledge about the task. 

Installing the drop-in sink generally use metal clips and caulks to accomplish. However, the more robust and heavier iron drop-in sinks typically don’t need the pins as it just uses its significant weight and caulk to deliver the appropriate seal.

On the flip side, we have the undermount sink, which typically requires the assistance of a professional to install correctly. The undermount basin also has a lip. However, instead of being visible from the surface, it is affixed from the bottom. 

Since the undermount type screws to the countertop from the bottom, it requires a significantly sturdy foundation. Hence, this type of basin is generally used with countertops made from granite or quartz. 

Different Types of Countertop

To help you figure out which type of sink is best suited for your countertop, we have compiled a list of countertop options below. 

Countertops for Drop-In Sinks:

New luxury bathrooms with rich color wooden doors, natural beige

  • Laminated Plywood
  • Metal
  • Stone
  • Engineered Stone

Countertops for Undermount Sinks:

Bathroom vanity quartz countertop with white rectangular sinks

  • Granite/Natural Stone
  • Quartz

As you can see, the options for undermount sinks are relatively limited compared to drop-in sinks. This downside is due to the fact that undermount basins require a sturdy and solid counter to provide optimum support to their weight. 

Advantages in Disadvantages of Undermount and Drop-In Sinks

To further help clarify the distinctions between the two bathroom basin types, we listed down all the pros and cons that both basins offer. This summary will help give you a clear-cut answer to which of the two will best suit your kitchen or bathroom. 

Drop-In Sinks

Kitchen sink. Tap water in the kitchen. The interior of the kitc

Flexibility and variety are two of the main aspects that drop-in washbasin can provide. It comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is also made from different materials such as stainless steel, cast iron, porcelain, ceramic, natural stone, and engineered stone

Pros: 

  • Drop-in basins are generally the most affordable option and will cost as low as half of a similarly sized undermount sink.
  • This type of sink has a rudimentary installation process that two individuals with a basic knowledge of construction can handle.
  • Drop-in sinks are pretty versatile and are compatible with generally all types of countertops. 

Cons:

  • Due to drop-in sinks having a lip, the small gaps between the basin and countertop can collect grim and develop molds over time. While applying caulk can avoid this issue, keep in mind that caulks degrade over time.
  • Due to the lip rim typically taking up 2-inches or spaces, a drop-in sink can take up a considerable amount of countertop surface space. 
  • The lip can also make cleaning a bit harder as some drop-in sinks feature rimmed lips that help prevent debris and water from spilling directly into the basin. 

Undermount Sinks

Two sinks on white countertop with plant beside tray of cotton and soap in jars

 

The undermount sink is gaining popularity thanks to its excellent aesthetics and high resale value. That said, this stylish and contemporary basin has its fair share of pros and cons, which you will find below.

Pros:

  • Undermount sinks have a rather distinct elegant aesthetic that seamlessly blends with the countertop. This appearance is due to this type of basin not having a visible lip or rim. So if you are looking for a sink that would spruce up your kitchen or bathroom, the undermount sink is the way to go. 
  • Undermount basins can also significantly boost resale value, the fact that house flippers should keep in mind when renovating homes. 
  • The lack of lip or rim surrounding the basin not only looks elegant but also helps provide that extra space on your countertop. That extra space saved can be pretty significant in bathroom vanity countertops.
  • Also, the lack of lips around the rim can make cleanups considerably faster and easier. There won’t be any risk of mold and hard water buildups on the edges when appropriately installed. 

Cons:

  • A standard undermount sink can be quite expensive. Although prices have come down,  it can cost quite a bit more than a similar drop-in basin that features similar dimensions and style.
  • The installation process is also considerably more complicated and will require expert hands. We highly recommend hiring a professional to do the installation as one mistake can lead to costly repairs. You can also add this to the overall expenses you will need to shell out for this modern basin. 
  • Due to being installed underneath the countertop, an undermount basin requires a solid surface to support its weight. As such, this sink will work best with concrete stone surfaces like granite but not so well with wooden countertops. 
  • While cleaning will be generally quick and easy, there might be problems in the future concerning the dirt buildup underneath. In addition, since the lip attaches from below, there is a chance that grime and mold will spread undetected.
  • Finally, undermount basins require specific countertop measurements, which limits the options available. You might also need to add or buy deck faucets as undermount basins do not feature faucet attachments.

Which Should You Choose?

Choosing between the two is much more straightforward than you think. A drop-in sink is best suited for those working within a tight budget or who prefer versatility in design. On the other hand, the undermount basin, while expensive and more complicated to install, offers an eye-catching splash of style that can enhance any interior décor.  

Overall, as long as you consider key factors such as countertop material and measurement – either of these two basin types will deliver what you need and want. 

In Summary

The primary difference between the two all revolves around the presence of the rim or lip. A drop-in sink will feature the lip edge on the surface of the countertop. Thus, making it quite visible and a prominent feature of the basin and countertop.

The undermount basin’s lip installs from the bottom, which means the lip doesn’t break the aesthetics of the countertop as a whole. It also makes cleaning the counter and sink easier. 

Installation is also more straightforward with the drop-in sink, and it is considerably cheaper. That said, the unique, sleek, and elegant aesthetics of an undermount basin can easily counterbalance the downsides.