What You Need to Know About Undermount Kitchen Sinks

Kitchen sink.

Struggling with pooling water, grime, and buildup around your sink? Tired of fighting with countertop crumb disposal? Undermount sink installation can deliver these cleaning woes with a one-two punch.

An Underhanded Blow to the Competition
Compared to their drop-in or over-mount sink competition, which rests atop the counter with a big lip, under-mount sinks install from below. Though under-mount sinks do have a rim, it remains invisible below the countertop, allowing for a smooth, continuous surface from countertop to sink.

Lean Mean Fighting Machine
The sleek look of an under-mount sink appeals to a growing obsession with seamless design. Banishing raised edges or lips atop the counter to maintain the smooth, uninterrupted lines of your kitchen design, under-mount sinks provide a cleaner look – and cleaner function. Wipe food scraps right into the sink, add a bit more counter space, and step-up the look of your kitchen with this increasingly popular sink style.

Only for Heavyweights
Not for lightweights, under-mount installations require professional attention. Proper installation is crucial to avoiding headaches, later. Faucet and water lines must be installed first or moved as necessary for attachment to the countertop or wall. Sinks should be installed not only with the right epoxy and silicone caulking adhesives but also with clips or straps to ensure adequate support. (Imagine a sink full of dishes suspended only by caulk - BOOM!) In addition, under-mount sinks require water-resistant, weight-bearing countertop materials: Granite, marble, soapstone, and concrete will work. Laminate, tile, or anything else on top of a wood or particle-board core will not work with an under-mount sink. The inside edge of the hole through the counter is exposed and the water would interact with the exposed wood and both damage it and create unsanitary conditions.

The Old Switcheroo
Can you have your old over-mount version swapped out for an under-mount sink, given the right existing countertop material? It is theoretically possible, but unlikely – and risky. Hard surface countertops are typically installed with an adhesive that makes them next to impossible to remove in one piece. If you were to remove the sink without damage to the counter, you would then find a ring of adhesive residue that’s difficult to completely remove. You would either need to live with the ring, replace the counter, or re-install the drop-in sink. Also, going back to the original installation, if they knew the plan was to install a drop-in sink, it’s quite possible the inside edge of the hole through the counter is unfinished (not polished) and this would be another reason to bail on the conversion from a drop-in to under-mount configuration.

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