Undermount Sink Vs Top Mount: What Makes The Actual Difference?

by Hari Won

Countertops, of course, come with the territory. But have you ever worried about what to do once you install the countertops? Then it’s time to install the sink. But all the sinks are not alike.

When it comes to remodeling of the sink, most of the house owners prefer either of the two. Whether it's an under-mount or a top-mount sink. Though at first, the drop-in type was the only game in the residential consumer market. But nowadays under mounts have become more competitive.

The difference between the two is with respect to their appearance and usability. So that you can decide which one is perfect for your kitchen, let’s know the differences first.

Undermount Sink Vs Top Mount: What Makes The Actual Difference?
Undermount Sink Vs Top Mount: What Makes The Actual Difference?

What Is A Top-Mount and Under Mount Sink? Definitions


Under-mount sinks are installed from the underneath of the counter. A rim attaches it to the bottom of the counter and that’s why the rim is invisible.


 A top-mount sink straightly drops into the cut-out of the countertop. It’s also known as a drop-in or self-rimming sink. There’s a visible lip around the perimeter which sits flat on the counter.

Actually, a portion of the sink overlaps the countertop. This overlapped portion is the lip. This lip holds the sink vertically in its place. Some hidden metal clips clamp the sink to the counter. Thus the horizontal movement of the sink is restricted.

Countertop Space- Which One Preserves More?

The answer is the under-mount sinks.

It’s because the countertop can extend around all the sides of the sink with an under-mount sink. That’s how it preserved more space. So if you need to be tight on room space, under-mount is the type you want. It allows you to use every inch possible of the counter estate.

There’s another type of sink, drain-board sink which is basically a top-mount sink. This type proves to be more economical regarding space as you add more seam to the sink. Thus, if you have to be strict on the counter space, you can go for this counter space intuitive move.

Under-Sink Storage- Which One Comes With This Facility?

Surely you can understand, it’s the top-mount sinks.

Under-mount sinks also have some space under them. But a top-mount provides more wiggle room.

Cleaning- Which One Can Be Cleaned More Easily?

The answer is a top-mount sink.

It’s because all the areas you need to work of the drop-in sink are visible and easily accessible. Though the seam that’s formed by the countertop and the lip is small and visible, it can still build up grease. However, the accessibility and visibility provide you better cleaning facility.

On the contrary, with the under-mount sink, there’s a gap between the top of the sink and the counter i.e. at the joint of the two. Usually, silicone caulk can’t fill it up completely. There still some gap remains which acts like a magnet that attracts food to build up. This isn’t easy to clean up.

To clean it up, you have to dig out the caulk. Experts recommend doing this in every 3 to 5 years. Otherwise, your sink will turn into a house of bacteria.

Cleaning Of The Countertop- Which One Makes It Easier?

In this category, the winner will surely be the under-mount sinks.

Under-mount sinks yield smoother finish. Therefore, it’s easy to maintain the sanitation.

The absence of a lip in the under-mount sink is, in fact, the absence of an obstruction. This gives you the freedom to swipe the food directly into the sink after it swiping off the counter.

But with the top-mount sinks, the rim is too high that it doesn’t allow this. Apart from this, the angle between the countertop and the rim encourages building up of gunk.

Countertop Materials- Which One Gives You More Options?

It’s the top-mount sinks. But here under-mounts give it a quite tough competition.

You can attach one to almost all types of countertops regardless of materials. Especially, where the countertop is of natural stone, under-mount sinks are common there.

But there’s an exception for the laminate. Not because it’s the material but because it’s the base of MDF that underlies. MDF is not so strong to hold fasteners without backer arrangement like bolt, nut, washer etc.

However, top-mount sinks fit all types of materials.

Installation- Which One Is the Easier For Do-It-Yourself?

The better of the two is the top-mount sink!

A drop-in sink can be installed within one hour. As the cut-out is already in place, the only thing left to do is to place the sink in there.

Cost- Which One Is Cheaper?

Of course, it has to be the top-mount sink!

The top-mount sinks are cheaper in terms of both labor and materials. As already mentioned, its installation is easier.

On the other hand, under-mounts are for a designer kitchen. Yielding Smoother finish is not cheap. Again, under-mount sinks need braces or stands as they don’t have any lip support. Moreover, they also need additional fittings. All these facts are cost-intuitive.

Wrapping Up!

Drop-in sinks are mostly used and cost-effective. Though under-mounts are less seen but more attractive. Both of them have some good sides and downsides. Which one you want for your kitchen is completely your choice. But whichever you choose, don’t forget to weigh the benefits and costs.

If you are still confused, just talk to a professional and get some ideas. Also, remember, the resale value of your house won’t much vary for a single top-mount or under-mount sink.

All you want is a sink that looks great in your kitchen and does its job best.

About Hari Won

Hari has been a close friend with Josh since kindergarten. Her place is right around the corner from Josh’s.
She claims they are only friends. Hari also loves to drink. By accident, she tried her first taste of beer in middle school; felt in love with them since then.
Life has been up and down lately for Hari. She and/or other friends often meet up with Josh for a few packs. They may drink through the night, while taking turn to tell their life stories.
Hari received her BS degree in biochemistry from University of Phoenix. She hoped to become a great brewmaster someday...

Thoughts on "Undermount Sink Vs Top Mount: What Makes The Actual Difference?"