Drop in Sink vs Undermount Sink – Which Is Better?

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The common bathroom sink is one of the most utilized and perhaps underappreciated fittings in your home. When it comes to renovating your bathroom, you’ll discover that there are a lot of different types of bathroom sinks to select from.

The placement of the sink is the first choice to make when selecting a new one, with the basic choices being drop-in, undermount, and farmhouse sinks. This selection is based on both design and utility.

Drop-in sinks, which have been around for hundreds of years, are an improvement on the old sink designs, whereas engineered quartz and synthetic countertop materials brought about the development of undermount basins.

While an undermount bathroom sink is typically associated with a higher-end and considerably more elegant design, it isn’t appropriate for every type of countertop. Then there’s the fact that an undermount sink is more expensive and more difficult to install than a drop-in sink.

When undermount sinks first appeared on the market, they were costly and considered difficult to install. However, now that professionals are just as at ease installing undermount sinks as drop-ins, and the cost of undermount sinks has lowered, the decision is that much more difficult.

Undermount Sink

The Undermount sinks are installed directly on the counter’s underside rather than resting on a lip. These sinks are secured to the underside of the counter with silicone adhesive and brackets, which are fastened from below. The mounts of the brackets are secured by bolts or high-strength epoxy glue.

With an undermount sink, the hole in the countertop is readily visible and exposed to water. Undermount sinks are frequently installed within solid materials like marble or granite that may be polished and sealed so that they do not perish from too much exposure to water.

Drop-in Sinks

Cheviot Products Inc. Manhattan Drop-In Sink

Drop-in sinks, also known as top-mount or self-rimming, are still the most popular type of bathroom sink. The surrounding rim of a drop-in sink, slightly wider than the sink opening in the countertop, distinguishes it from Undermount sinks.

The sink basin drops straight into the countertop cut-out, and the perimeter lip keeps everything in place when it’s installed. The sinks are secured with concealed metal clips under the countertop and a bead of silicone caulk around the sink’s edge for protection against water and dirt.

However, not all drop-in sinks need clips to secure them in place. Because some cast iron drop-in sinks are considerably heavier and utilize the weight of the sink and caulk to make the seal, they do not require clamps. In certain situations, two people are required for installation.

Undermount and Drop-In Sink Materials

AMASHEN 21" x 14" Self-rimming Bathroom Sink Undermount
Cheviot Products Inc. Manhattan Drop-In Sink

Sinks come in a variety of materials, and they can also be paired together. Both drop-in and undermount sinks are available in several materials, and they can be mixed and matched. A copper drop-in sink may be put into a wooden countertop, or you may prefer a composite countertop with a solid granite sink.

With so many materials to select from, you have many design and style options for your sink/counter unit. You are only limited by your space and imagination.

Because of the installation method, under-mount sinks require high-quality material that is not too heavy while still being durable-so not all materials are compatible with this installation method. Undermount sinks are available in stainless steel, cast iron, solid surface materials, and copper. 

Differences between Undermount and Drop-in Sinks

MEJE #202F -20.9 Inch Porcelain Undermount Bathroom Sink, Rectangle Lavatory Vanity Sink
Ruvati 33 x 22 inch Drop-in Topmount Granite Composite Single Bowl Kitchen Sink Slope

What are the major differences between undermount and drop-in sinks? From living with them on a day-to-day basis to installation and costs.

Installation Considerations

If the installation of a drop-in bathroom sink is a one-for-one replacement, it’s a simple Do-it-yourself job that homeowners can do on their own. Once the old sink is removed, clean away any old caulk and lay down a bead of new caulk before setting the sink in place and securing it with clips below the countertop.

If the new sink is very similar in dimension to the old one, it is generally easier to fit yourself. However, there are things to take into consideration. If the old sink has been securely installed, you could harm the countertop while removing it. The sink’s depth must also be factored in. You may need to alter the plumbing drain connections below the sink to make things fit.

The most significant differences between an undermount sink and a drop-in sink are the objects around the basin. Undermount sinks require considerably more attention during installation; the countertop must be prepared differently for each.

They must be placed in position and temporarily supported while the clip locations are marked. The countertop must be drilled (very carefully) and the clips installed. Then the sink must be caulked and secured, with barely any margin for error. Undermount sinks will require a greater level of finish on the hole sides of the countertop. The faucet and accessories, too, necessitate access holes drilled into the countertop.

These are the reasons why it’s rare, though not impossible, to convert between the two mounting systems during a renovation.

Aesthetics

Undermount sinks offer a beautiful touch to any property. They’re concealed from view by the installation technique, giving your bathroom a more sleek and contemporary look.

The undermount sink, as one of the most important elements of a high-end designer bathroom, may be described as adding greater value to potential customers than a drop-in sink.

Due to their ease of installation, Drop-in sinks can be constructed from just about any material available. Common materials include Fireclay, Stainless Steel, Composite Granite, Cast Iron, Quartz, Natural Stone, Porcelain, and Copper.

This versatility allows for the possibility of many combinations of materials with the bathroom worktop. Available in many configurations of sink shapes and sizes, these sinks are much more accessible to all budgets.

Maintenance/Cleaning differences

The undermount sink is the clear winner in terms of countertop cleanup. The ease of cleaning is one of the major selling features of the undermount design. Because there is no lip to cause a blockage around the sink, you can easily wipe food particles straight off the work surface and into the sink.

Drop-in sinks come in a variety of styles and have varying rims, some of the styles making it easier to swipe from the counter into the sink. However, it is still nothing like an undermount installation. For the lowest rims on a drop-in sink, choose a stainless steel sink. However, enameled cast iron sinks will have a tall rim that you have to swipe around, not over.

The material of the sink, rather than the mounting system, determines how often it needs to be cleaned. A stainless steel drop-in sink, for example, is cleaned in the same manner as a stainless steel undermount sink.

The space between the counter and the sink is one of the most inconvenient elements of undermount sinks. While this gap is filled with a bead of silicone caulk at the transition between counter and sink, it’s usually not filled flush to the surface. As a result, food builds up naturally to keep dirt build-up at bay and clean the gap between the sink and the counter regularly.

With drop-in sinks, all working areas can be accessed and cleaned easily. However, grime can accumulate behind the lip and beneath the countertop edge. The only difference is that you have better access and more visibility when cleaning the drop-in sink.

Cost differences

Undermount sinks are more expensive to install, but the countertop rather than the sink itself determines the price. Undermount sinks themselves cost roughly the same as drop-ins. It is the solid body countertop construction that they are fitted with that associates them with higher-end bathrooms.

Some sinks are advertised as “dual mount,” which means they may be used as a drop-in or undermount and fulfill your design needs. (Most dual-mount sinks do not come with predrilled holes for the faucet and accessories and will require the holes to be drilled if they are used as drop-ins.)

If you install a drop-in sink yourself, you may save considerably more money. Because countertops are easily damaged and very costly if you make a mistake, performing the installation yourself is not advised.

When purchasing a sink for your house, you must consider the entire bathroom as a whole. A sink, of course, is critical, but there are other features to think about, such as your fittings and appliances. Consider your budget carefully before selecting a sink.

Pros and Cons of Undermount Sinks

1181CBW White Rectangular Porcelain Undermount

Pros

Undermount sinks add a touch of elegance to any bathroom. Their presence is hidden, which can make your home seem more attractive. Here are some of the advantages that undermount sinks may provide.

Easy to Clean Counter Top

Due to the sink being below the countertop, cleaning it is much easier. In comparison to a drop-in sink, which hides a section of the counter, an undermount sink’s surface is more accessible and can be cleaned with relative ease. Because the countertop has no joins or seams, any food waste or dirt may simply be wiped or pushed into the sink, where it can be disposed of.

Aesthetics

Undermounts were designed to take advantage of the beauty of polished stone worktops, and they look wonderful with a variety of countertop materials. It frees up more countertop space. There isn’t a rim, so there’s a little but useful amount of extra working room on the counter.

Higher Resale Appeal

Undermount bathroom sink is associated with higher-end and considerably more elegantly designed bathrooms. In other words, these bathrooms will likely be more desirable to potential home buyers in the future, as most people prefer an undermount sink over a drop-in sink. This could lead to a higher resale value for your property.

Cons

Despite the benefits, there are some drawbacks to an undermount sink. The most significant disadvantage of an undermount sink is the method used to install it. It is far more complicated to install than a drop-in sink, and because of this, the materials that this model may be manufactured from are also limited.

Installation Restrictions and Costs

With the installation of the sink underneath the countertop, the method requires expertise in the correct bonding process and the agent required to make sure you can attach the sink to the countertop securely. This is why it is advised to use a professional to assist with installation.

As the edge of the countertop overhangs the sink and is left exposed, you can’t use an undermount sink on a countertop with plywood or MDF core, which includes laminates and tile. Moreover, you can’t install a heavy undermount on a countertop made from a material that can’t support it. Because of these constraints, the number of materials that can be used to construct an undermount sink is restricted, as it is not compatible with all countertops.

The countertop opening needs to be perfectly cut and aligned with no room for error, as this will frame the sink. Secondly, the countertop requires holes to be cut for the accessories.

Maintenance

When cleaning, it is harder than a drop-in sink as all of the sinks is below the countertop. Secondly, when installed, there will be a gap between the countertop and sink that will be filled with silicone caulk to seal the gap. However, there will still be a slight depression. After usage, this space may accumulate debris over time and need to be cleaned. It is recommended to dig out the caulk and replace it every 3 to 5 years.

More Costly

Undermount sinks are more likely to cost more than drop-in sinks. They require a lightweight material of a higher quality that is more durable. This will essentially mean you pay more upfront, however, you receive a durable and aesthetically pleasing finish.

Pros and Cons of Drop-in Sinks

American Standard 0476028.020 Aqualyn Countertop Sink, White

Pros

Typically drop-in sinks are set within a structure and then secured. The installation procedure is uncomplicated, and this allows the sinks to be made of any material.

Cost

One of the main reasons for the popularity of drop-in sinks is that they are a more affordable option. As they can be manufactured from many types of materials, these sinks are available for all designs, tastes, and budgets.

Ease of Installation

When installing a drop-in sink, the countertop opening does not need to be perfect as the sink will cover the recess, and no gaps will be visible or open to the water. These sinks can be installed by anyone willing to attempt the Do-It-Yourself installation due to their simplicity. The lack of a need for a professional to install the sink saves money also.

Maintenance

Drop-in sinks are generally easier to clean and maintain on a daily basis. They do not have any hard-to-reach areas. When the silicone caulk around the edges becomes dirty or has food deposits it is easier to remove and replace.

Material Selection

When choosing a drop-in sink there are no limitations on the number of materials you can use. This allows for a multitude of combinations with the countertop. This works in favor of anyone who has a tight budget or for the more discerning who have a larger budget for their remodeling.

Cons

Drop-in sinks have evolved over the years and even though they are the easier option for installation and maintenance, they do have some drawbacks.

Countertop Space

As drop-in sinks have a rim around the top that sits protruding, they take up valuable countertop space. The amount of countertop space you lose to that rim will depend on which type of drop-in sink you go for. Stainless steel drop-ins will have the lowest profile rims, with enameled cast iron and ceramic sinks having a much taller rim, which you will have to wipe around and not over.

This may be more inconvenient compared to undercounter sinks, considering it will be an action you may be doing a few times every time you’re using your bathroom.

Cleaning Issues

As the rim always protrudes, when cleaning the rim it will get in the way and with use, there will be a buildup of food gunk around the edge of the sink. The silicone caulk will deteriorate and may discolor or grow mold. For this reason, we recommend removing and replacing the silicone caulk every 3 – 5 years or whenever you see it getting dirty.

Aesthetics

Drop-in sinks are not as desirable as their undermount counterparts. As such they will not be as appreciated if you are looking to sell your house in the future. Most new homebuyers will prefer undermount sinks as drop-in sinks are less unique.

What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sink

The sort of sink you buy is determined by a variety of factors. The sink’s material is going to affect the type of sink you will be able to fit. The materials used in Undermount sinks are rather restricted. Drop-in sinks may be created from a variety of materials, including ceramic, stainless steel, and even cast iron. Take into account your area before making a decision.

Another thing to consider is functionality. Would you like the ability to wash dishes while rinsing vegetables on the side? A double bowl arrangement might be ideal for you if you are a multitasker. Perhaps your family is larger than the normal family or like to throw dinner parties, where you will undoubtedly accumulate many dirty dishes. Then it may be more useful for you to have a larger single bowl design.

Aesthetics may not be the most crucial consideration, but they are still important. Undermount sinks were originally designed to draw attention to the beautiful countertops around them. A drop-in sink will jump out and draw attention to itself if your workstation is less than ideal. It may, on the other hand, jump out when used with a visually delicate stone like marble or granite. In this example, the smooth design of an undermount sink would be more inconspicuous, allowing the counters to take center stage.

F.A.Q.

Which is better: an undermount sink or a drop-in sink?

Undermount sinks are ideal for people who want to highlight their solid-body counters with a stylish, contemporary look while also considering resale value. Drop-in sinks are ideal for individuals who prefer the traditional look, need to manage their money carefully or have a laminate countertop.

Are drop-in bathroom sinks outdated?

Drop-in sinks are a sink design that is cost-effective, versatile, and the installation is straight forward. While Drop-in sinks are unappealing aesthetically and don’t fetch a good resale price.

Do undermount sinks leak?

Regardless of whether you installed the sink yourself or had it done by a professional, leaks are common after just a few days or weeks following installation.

Can you replace an undermount sink with a drop-in?

When replacing an undermount sink, you may be able to choose between a drop-in or an undermount sink. The only problem is that you’ll have to fill in any holes in the countertop or redo some of the pipes.

Can you put a new sink in the existing granite?

Yes, it’s technically possible to recut granite to make room for a larger sink. If the shape of your new sink requires your countertop to be recut, some contractors may be willing to extend the sink cutout while it is installed. Others will demand that you take your granite to a shop where a milling machine may be used to complete the job.

Wrap Up

Your budget will be an important factor when choosing which sink you will be going for, followed by your style preference. Drop-in sinks are a type of sink that is cost-effective, flexible, and simple to install. On the other hand, they add a little wow factor to your property and are aesthetically out of date.

Another aspect to consider is the material makeup of your current or new countertops. If you’re planning on going with plywood or MDF (including laminate and tile), a heavy undermount sink will be unable to support the weight of the counters.

By comparison, undermount sinks require more of an investment upfront, but they are much more popular with homebuyers, aesthetically pleasing to live with on a day-to-day basis, and they add the wow factor to your home as your bathroom will look and feel contemporary and modern.

Ultimately which sink you go for will depend on a few different things. If you are replacing an existing drop-sink, then you will most probably want to stick with that unless you are going to remodel your bathroom. It may be an idea to splurge on an undermount sink if you are tight on space in your bathroom, as it may have a major impact on the functionality of your work area and improve your quality of life in your home.

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