The Great Debate: Top-mount or Undermount Sinks?

Decisions when undergoing a kitchen renovation or producing your own kitchen – each time you make one you are faced with two more, as if you’re Hercules cutting off the many heads of the menacing Hydra. Unfortunately, we’re not here to provide you an encyclopedia that will inform your conclusions for each and every decision that you will have to make in this overbearing task, but this latest blog instalment by QN Designs will bring you the insight to hopefully make one of those decisions just that little bit easier. Here’s all that you need to know about making the choice between style and convenience, between trend and budget: the choice between having an undermount or a top-mount sink.

What is a top-mount sink?

Top-mount Sink

Typically, when you buy a sink you will find that you have the inset bowl as well as a lip lining the edge or outline. For top-mount sinks, if you drop them into a cutout hole within a benchtop, the lip will save the sink from falling straight through and clanging onto the ground. Hence, top-mount sinks are also commonly referred to as drop-in sinks. You may also hear them being called overmount sinks and rimmed sinks for the similar reasons.


What is an undermount sink?

Undermount Sink

While a top-mount sink sits jovially above the benchtop, an undermount sink is holding on for dear life underneath the countertop. Due to these circumstances, an undermount sink must be specially installed through methods including sandwiching the sink lip between the underside of the benchtop and a support board, bonding the sink to the benchtop using a glue-like epoxy or merely bolting the sink underneath the counter. It altogether allows for a comparatively more streamlined look on the surface where there is no visible lip but instead sports a smooth benchtop surface across the whole space. If you want to stay up to date in terms of kitchen fashion and trends, then undermount sinks are generally considered to be more marketable and in style than your traditional drop-in sinks whom have been around for eras.

How much do they cost?

When considering the price of these two sinks, you must be sure to take into account both the cost of supply and the cost of installation. For the aspect of supply, an undermount sink is going to be more expensive than an overmount sink of the same shape and material.

In terms of installation, undermount sinks are also pricier in comparison and this is quite evident when we consider all the work needed to keep these bodies from losing its stick and falling to the floor while smashing all the plates within. It includes the price of extra materials needed for the job as well as the price of external labour if you are having a third party do the work. In addition, undermount sinks are strongly recommended to be partnered with a sturdy benchtop such as engineered stone, meaning that there is also polishing to be done on the inside edges of the cut out to smooth out any coarse surfaces.

Top-mount sinks are more cost-efficient

Which is easier to clean with?

Flush Mount Sink

Well, in terms of surface cleaning the undermount wins in this regard because you can easily sweep water, crumbs and any other dirties right off the edge and into the sink. The top-mount on the other hand has this blessing obstructed by the lip which acts like a barricade for the things you want to brush away. However, an alternative style of sink – which technically is also classified as a top-mount – is the flush-mount sinks. These sleek-looking sinks have a groove etched around the edge of the cutout where the sink is meant to slip into. This means that when it’s dropped in, the lip sits on the same elevation as the benchtop so you can do all the sweeping and clearing that you want into the sink. However, flush-mount sinks are indeed more expensive due to the extra work to the benchtop before installation so that needs to be accounted for

However, what about other sorts of cleaning? What about the gunk that builds up around the joins connecting the metallic sink to the bench which is not as easily visible to the casual gaze? In a rimmed overmount sink, the silicone seal around the edge may overtime lose its look and need replacing but this is easily more notable, meaning that we will know right away when it starts looking nasty. The same, however, cannot be said for undermount sinks, where all sorts of grime and filth will build up underneath the benchtop as water and food scraps is splashed up against the small ledge overhang next to the sink join.

Undermount wins in countertop cleaning, but loses in the gunk build-up

What about in terms of storage and space?

Integrated Sink

For under the sink storage, we can visualize that undermount sinks will take up more space than a top mount sink would, though the difference may only be a couple of cutting boards. However, if we have a miniscule kitchen and find extreme value in having as much counter top space as we can, then undermount sinks take the prize in this fashion. Without a lip being an annoyance for laying your chopping boards flat and hanging over the sink, undermount sinks allow you to have those extra centimetres that can, in some instances, make all the difference.

Let’s turn our attention to another distinguished consideration in the sink game; integrated sinks. These are what you would expect from a renowned artist’s home with full-windowed walls and concrete floors. Partnered with these niche features, you have a sink that is basically just an extension of your benchtop. Generally made with stone countertops, it allows for the patterns of a marble or granite look to continue even into the dish-washing zone. It’s a lustrous and beautifully fluid look that saves you on many of the hygienic and spatial issues that are associated with your traditional sinks.

Top-mount is superior in terms of under the sink storage, but undermount dominates in countertop space

Which is better?

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Although undermount sinks usually have better marketability than our fellow top-mounts, the latter field should not be discounted either. There can be a range of factors that may influence your decision for a kitchen sink which may include budget, color suitability, durability and more; if that’s the case come down to QN Designs Malaga showroom (1914 Beach Road) where our qualified consultants will help you to refine your choices and assist you in making a better informed decision, or otherwise feel free to contact us directly at 9249 9492.

By Jacky Lu, QN Designs Kitchens