Many people find choosing a kitchen sink really hard because there are so many factors to consider. Generally we find that the more research someone does on kitchen sinks online, the more confused they will get because they'll start to find out options that they didn't even know about. We also recommend you look at the visual guide to familiarise yourself with different kitchen sink types.
So we're going to try and break down the difference between an undermount sink versus a topmount sink.
What Is the Difference between a Top Mount Sink and Undermount Sink?
The main difference that differentiates a topmount or undermount sink is where the lip is located compared to the benchtop.
A topmount sink has the lip ontop of the benchtop and you will be able to see the lip edge of the kitchen sink. The lip of the sink rests on the benchtop and holds the sink up on the benchtop.
There are several types of topmount sinks, they can either be pressed sinks or handmade sinks. Stainless Steel Sinks or Granite Sinks.
An undermount sink is where the lip is below the bench top, so instead of sitting on top of the bench top it's doing the opposite and it's hanging onto the bench top.
These days undermount sinks require more planning because the cabinet maker would have to create a substrate for the sink to sit on, so then the sink lip would be sandwiched between the bench top and the support substrate.
Then after that's complete, the stone mason would then have to get the sink and create a cut out for the exact size of the sink. This would need to be done with precision.
What Do I Need to Know About Topmount Sinks
Topmount sinks protect the bench top's edges: This is more important on stone bench tops because over time the knocks of pots and pans that happen on the stone bench will eventually weaken the stone and over a decade or so the stone could eventually chip. If you've top mounted the sink the edge is stainless steel and it is less likely to get damaged over time.
Topmount sinks are easier to install: The reason it is easier to install is because you don't require the same precision as you get in an undermount installation. that means that someone can measure up and then use a jigsaw to cut the hole for the sink, it doesn't need to look nice but the hole needs to just be big enough to fit the sink but small enough to have the lips sitting on the bench on all edges of the sink.
Topmount sinks are CHEAPER to install: We mentioned above that it is easier to install a topmount sink, this is also reflected in the costs, because it is easier it's also cheaper to install.
Be careful of pressed sinks: Topmount sinks are usually made as pressed sinks, which are a cheaper style of sinks that builders love because of how cheap they are. Pressed sinks are made by having a thin sheet of steel and then a hydraulic press is used to press or punch it into shape. They can still be used, but not as durable, significantly noisier and not as stylish.
Topmount sinks are easier to replace: Generally speaking if you have a normal size sink, if you ever need to replace your sink it's a little easier. The reasons people might change their sink is wanting to change between a single bowl vs double bowl or wanting to change from granite sink to stainless steel. You just need to find a sink that can fit a hole that's bigger than the current hole, whereas if you wanted it undermount it'll be much harder to find a replacement sink for that size.
Less gunk build up: Because with topmount sinks you've got access to the entire sink and it's edges it's easier to clean and you won't have hidden build up around the stone since you should be able to see it all.
Topmount sinks have a variety of names: For some reason topmount sinks are named different things depending on the supplier, builder or salesman. They're also often known as a drop in sink or an overmount sink.
What Do I Need to Know About Undermount Sinks
Undermount sinks look sleeker: Undermount sinks are a more premium installation because it allows you to maximise your bench top and it makes it appear that the bench top flows into your kitchen sink, rather than being two separate pieces of items in the kitchen. It has a more integrated look and feel and is definitely the more preferred method.
Undermount isn't recommended for laminate or wooden bench tops: If you have a laminate benchtop or wooden benchtop we would generally recommend that you don't try and undermount your sink because the the edges of your benchtop would be constantly exposed to water which over time would cause damage.
Undermount sinks are mostly handmade: Handmade stainless steel sinks are made in thicker steel, and most undermount sinks these days are hand made, there are still some sellers that will try and push you to get a pressed sink because it's cheaper they'll convince you it's better value but it's actually because it's a lower quality.
Undermount sinks require more planning: If you're getting an undermount sink it'll generally require more planning because your cabinet maker will need to make a substrate to hold the sink up, and then your stone mason will need to know exact measurements of the kitchen sink bowl so that they can smoothen the edges of the stone around the kitchen sink. So make sure you choose and purchase your sink nice and early so it's ready to go for both parties.
So Which Should We Choose?
There's no better sink type for each person, instead you would look at your uses or the styling of your kitchen and you would choose based on what suits your lifestyle more. Here are some points to consider and some direct recommendations regarding them.
Pots and pans: If you're always cleaning pots and pans and you've got a large family so there's a lot of them, then we would recommend you considering topmount because the number of knocks you might get on the edge of the sink over time may chip
Beauty in the benchtop: If you've selected a beautiful benchtop and chosen a nice stone that you want to show off then you would choose an undermount sink. This will allow you to show off more of the benchtop and not have the kitchen sink shown in direct sight. The downside to this is that you've got to be more careful around the kitchen, especially on the edges of the sink.
Hate cleaning: If you're someone that hates cleaning and you'd rather just get out of the kitchen as soon as possible, then we would recommend you look at getting a topmount sink. This is because you don't need to be extra careful while cleaning, you also don't need to regularly check the joins of where the sink and benchtop meet in an undermount sink which might need regularly cleaning and over long periods of time you might even need to re silicone the joins to prevent water from getting in.