Undermount sinks bring a sophisticated ambience to any kitchen. Getting to know them better is the key to deciding if an undermount sink is the right choice for your kitchen remodeling project.
What is an Undermount Sink & When is it Used?
As the name implies, these sinks are installed below the countertop. There is no rim that rests on the counter. All of the support comes from beneath, and this makes installation somewhat more complicated and expensive.
Because there is no rim on the counter, the faucet and accessories must be installed through the countertop or in the wall. This significant design difference must be considered as you plan your kitchen.
Your undermount sink options include:
- Single, double and triple undermount sinks (which we cover in a set of guides for each)
- Widths ranging from less than 20” to more than 40”
- A nice choice of materials including stainless steel, copper, granite composite, glazed metal, porcelain and fireclay
- Prices to fit any kitchen remodeling budget
The reasons to choose an undermount sink are both stylistic and practical. The look is cleaner, some would say more elegant, than topmount sinks. Since the sink is installed below the countertop, it is one to two inches lower than a topmount sink, so less visible.
Practically speaking, when there is no rim resting on the counter, there’s no place for food debris and water to accumulate. They can be brushed directly into the sink for speedy, sanitary cleanup.
Waterproof Countertops are Best Suited for Undermount Sinks
With this type of sink, the edge of the countertop surrounding the sink is exposed. For this reason, kitchen designers shy away from using laminate with undermount sinks. The problem is that there are seams where the laminate pieces are joined. When they get consistently wet, the water gets into the seams and causes separation of the laminate from the subsurface. Because of the amount of moisture the counter edge is exposed to, wood countertops aren’t an ideal fit for an undermount sink either.
The bottom line is that undermount sinks are a better choice for waterproof/sealed countertop materials such as solid surface, granite, porcelain, glass and concrete.
How Much of the Sink Edge Should you Reveal?
As the name implies, the reveal of the undermount sink is the extent to which the rim of the sink shows. You’ve got three options:
- Flush or zero reveal: The rim meets the underside of the counter to make the side of the sink flush with the edge of the countertop
- Positive reveal: The sink opening is cut slightly larger than necessary to show/reveal the top of the sink sides
- Negative reveal: The sink opening is cut slightly smaller than necessary, so the counter overhangs the sink by ¼” or less
A positive reveal or a flush reveal make it easier to thoroughly clean the area where the sink and countertop meet. There’s no overhang where mold can grow out of sight. A porcelain, cast iron or granite composite undermount sink with a rounded rim looks very smart with a positive reveal.
The downside to a positive reveal is that the silicone sink caulk is more visible, and it will eventually stain. The top of the sink might become stained too, because food debris tends to accumulate there.
Finally, the fabrication of the countertop for a positive reveal must be nearly perfect so that the reveal is uniform all the way around. Expect your countertop company to want to have the sink your planning to install as they make the counters in order to cut the opening more precisely.
A negative reveal has the downside mentioned – it presents an ideal place for mold to grow when water and food are splashed on the overhang. It can be difficult to clean too. The reason to consider a negative reveal is that the overhang makes it very easy to brush food and water from the counter into the bottom of the sink without it clinging to a sink rim or side. It also hides the caulk better than a flush or positive reveal.
It is no surprise that kitchen designers recommend flush reveal the most followed by a negative reveal – an overhang. Few like the idea of a positive reveal unless the sink is of a material and style to make it attractive.
Top Undermount Sink Brands
While most sink manufacturers make undermount sinks, these are the highest rated brands for them:
- Kohler Kitchen Sinks
- Blanco Kitchen Sinks
- Franke Kitchen Sinks
- Elkay Kitchen Sinks
- Menards Kitchen Sinks
- Ticor Kitchen Sinks
- Kraus Kitchen Sinks
- Vigo Kitchen Sinks
Advantages and Disadvantages of Undermount Kitchen Sinks
Consider these undermount sink pros and cons as you research the other options available. All of our sink guides include pros and cons that allow you to compare sink types with one another.
Undermount kitchen sink advantages – Undermount sinks:
- Create a sophisticated, European and/or modern look that appeals to many homeowners
- Don’t have a rim resting on the countertop, so crumbs and water can be easily swept into the sink
- Are available in a good range of styles and materials to complete your kitchen design with
Undermount kitchen sink disadvantages – Undermount sinks:
- Have the potential issues discussed above with the negative and positive reveal
- Are slightly deeper, so reaching to the bottom of the sink takes more effort
- Must be correctly installed and sealed to prevent leaks
- Are slightly more expensive than topmount sinks
- Cost more to install because the sink requires more support without a rim resting on the counter
- Cause higher faucet installation prices because the faucet and accessories must be installed though the countertop or the wall
Undermount Kitchen Sink Style
These sleek sinks offer a minimalist feel, and they work best in European, contemporary and modern designs. You’ll find attractive undermount sinks with one, two or three bowls to fit the way you intend to use the sink.
Undermount Kitchen Sink Prices
This is an overview of sink prices for undermount models. For a comprehensive report of current prices broken down by your material options, see our Undermount Kitchen Sink Price Guide.
- Starting price of an undermount kitchen sink: About $100
- Price range for most undermount kitchen sinks: $350-$800
- High-end undermount kitchen sinks: $3,500-$6,000
Exactly how much you pay for your undermount sink will be determined by its size, material and style.
Is an Undermount Sink Right for your Kitchen?
After researching sink styles and the pros & cons, does an undermount sink fit what you’ve envisioned for your kitchen? If so, start shopping for specific models you think will work, and view them alongside, even if just in pictures, the countertops and cabinets you’ve selected. This will help you make the final decision of whether or not to choose an undermount sink.
Also, if you’re installing an upscale countertop – one that is very water resistant – and you don’t want its beauty obscured by a sink rim, then an undermount style will prove to be a good choice.
Your next considerations involve the number of bowls and the material the sink is crafted from.
Undermount Kitchen Sink FAQ
This brief undermount sink Q&A covers additional topics you might be interested in.
Is DIY installation possible with an undermount sink?
If you’re an experienced DIY homeowner, installing an undermount sink should be something you can do. Stick to the manual’s instructions. It’s also a good idea to talk to your countertop supplier to find out what type of support should be included to take weight stress off the countertop.
What care and maintenance tips do you have for an undermount sink?
If you have a negative reveal, the important thing is to keep the underside of the overhang clean. Use a mild bleach solution to sanitize the area at least twice a month. If you have a positive reveal, you’ll want to clean the exposed sink rim on a daily basis. See our sink guides on specific materials for detailed information on cleaning and caring for stainless steel, copper, granite composite, porcelain and other sink materials.
I’ve heard it’s harder to work in an undermount sink. Why?
Depending on the thickness of your countertop and the depth of the sink you choose, items in the bottom of an undermount sink will be several inches lower than they would be in a topmount sink. For those with back issues, bending over those extra inches can cause back stress and discomfort.
Related Content in this Series
View other guides in this series which you may find useful.