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Renovation on the horizon? New home in the works? It is at times like this when you can (and should) pay special attention to an element that is critical to your day-to-day in the kitchen, and which you can’t just pop out and replace on a whim: the sink. Let’s find the best undermount kitchen sinks!
See also: You’ll need a reliable dish rack to go with that new sink you’re installing! Check out our best extra large dish drying racks for some inspiration.
What makes an undermount so special? Mainly, how it is installed. This type of sink is attached to the underside of your counter instead of sitting over it, as the more common overmount units do. As there is no exposed rim, the sink blends right in with your counter; you also get to sweep any food scraps or spills straight into the bowl. However, such a setting doesn’t happen easily: there are several factors to take into account before even starting to shop around. What makes the best undermount kitchen sinks?
Undermount Sink: Not For Every Kitchen!
As attractive as they are for their sophisticated look, committing to this type of sink is no simple matter: it is important to take a hard look at your counter and decide if this truly is the right fit for you.
DIY, yay or nay?
Unless you happen to be a professional with plenty of experience on this specific type of installation, the answer to this one is nay! While a conventional unit needs only be dropped into the counter slot and then hooked up, an undermount requires thorough attention to detail. You really, really don’t want to wing it! Aside from having to create special holes to install your faucet, weight is much more of an issue, which brings us to the next point.
Is my counter strong enough?
If it is tile, laminate or similar, then the answer is no. Sinks are heavy, especially when loaded with dishes, and materials that are not solid enough will be easily defeated by gravity’s pull. Can you imagine your sink and your favorite dinnerware set, crashing down on the floor? That would get very, very messy!, which is why it is important to pay attention to your pick of material. If you’re choosing your counter’s make as we speak, go for granite, concrete, or marble. This is the sort of resilience you want if you are seriously thinking of getting an undermount sink into your kitchen.
Is There Enough Space?
An undermount sink will be sitting about an inch lower than a drop-in, which means the bottom will also be lower, and so will be anyone who works on it once installed. It is a good idea to do measurements prior to putting the sink in, so as to be sure there will be enough maneuvering space.
Can I afford it?
This is a big factor! Undermount units tend to be more expensive than overmount; same goes for marble or granite counters. Installation is more complicated too: your sink must be secured very firmly, no room for error; and special holes must be made on your counter or wall for your faucets. All of this doesn’t come cheap! Better to be sure that your budget can take the hit before you take the plunge. The best undermount kitchen sinks won’t be cheap, but they’re definitely worth it!
There is one more thing you should remember: given how thoroughly they are affixed to the underside of your counter, and since the installation holes are custom made for your model, replacing a sink of this type can get complicated! Once you go undermount, you can’t easily go back.
What Sets One Sink Apart from the Other
So you’ve done the numbers and taken the measurements. You’ve talked it over with your partner and/or family. Undermount is a go, and shopping can begin. Here are the ways in which a sink is different from the rest, so you can make the best choice for your taste and needs.
Bowls: Number and Size
Besides the well known 1 and 2-bowl choices, there is a not so known difference: proportion. The most common version is 50/50 —that is, bowls are of equal size. There are, however, 60/40 and 70/30 options. If you regularly find yourself dealing with larger pans or baking sheets, you might want to choose a sink with one bowl that can fit your bigger items comfortably.
Divide: Full or Low
Full divide is what most of us are used to seeing: the barrier separating the bowls is as high as the outer walls. Low divide, standing only half as tall, is a relative newcomer. An obvious drawback is, you can’t fill up the bowl to properly soak your larger items, and water from one bowl can easily splash into the other; some, however, like being able to work with larger pans across the whole sink, while retaining the ability to soak medium and small items in the two bowls. The choice here comes down mostly to individual taste. But when it comes to the best undermount kitchen sinks, there’s more to consider.
Material: Weight, Noise & Durability
Undermount sinks are made in a variety of materials, and with every material come individual perks and challenges. Stainless steel is quite durable and comes in different degrees of thickness, measured as gauge (the lower the number, the better). Thinner is cheaper, and also noisier; you might want to consider a unit that includes deadening pads or undercoating, as every contact between your pans and the sink could get very loud.
Cast iron is also very durable. Copper has a very unique look that many find attractive and which even changes with use, but it comes with a potential risk of copperiedus, or copper toxicity. Fireclay is fairly resilient and can even take high temperatures, but it can crack if not used with reasonable care. And composite granite is among the fanciest-looking options you can find, but it is also remarkably heavy, and it can develop cracks if it takes too many hits. The aesthetic you have in mind, as well as your particular needs, will be relevant when settling or a particular material.
Finish will play a part here as well: Your sink gets a lot of friction on daily use, and the longer it stays without scratches, the better!
Bonus! Format: Conventional Or Farmhouse
For those who love echoes of the past, farmhouse style is inspired by the large sinks needed on those days when there was no running water and the sink had to hold a big quantity. A sink of this type can be quite a head turning feature on your kitchen, and a massive boon to certain design themes. Their size, however, is their main downside: farmhouse sinks remain a bit of an oddity and most counters won’t be designed with them in mind. The best time to plan for a farmhouse sink is when laying out the kitchen.
Now that you know their defining features, let’s take a look at our selection. Just don’t forget to measure your counter first!
If you like imports, raise your hand! This sink is made in Italy, and its composite granite construction allows it to withstand temperatures up to 536°F, as well as most household chemicals. The best undermount sink is the one that fits best. Its midnight black surface is treated to resist stains, bacteria and mildew. Its drain opening is a standard 3.5”, which will fit any garbage disposal set. Comes with basket strainer, drain assembly and mounting clips. Cutout template and installation guide are included.
- Quite fashionable, thanks to its natural stone finish and matching color accessories.
- Long lasting and resilient.
- Easy to keep clean.
- Hardware and guides included make installation easier.
- Heavier than other alternatives.
- Best left for hefty budgets.
Within its 2-bowl configuration, this option offers variations in proportion and shape that you might find interesting. Its 16-gauge T304 stainless steel body comes with sound dampening pads, and non-toxic undercoating to prevent condensation. Aside from bottom grids, basket strainers and drain assembly, this unit comes with mounting hardware and cutout template. The maker has even thrown in a kitchen towel for good measure.
- Variety of sizes and design options to pick from.
- One of the strongest units available.
- Plenty of added value.
- Fairly affordable depending on what you pick.
- Finish scratches off easily, prone to stains.
- Doesn’t drain properly, must wipe constantly to prevent water buildup.
While it only comes in single bowl version, this sink offers variety with 10 colors to pick from. Its quartz sand body can take temperatures up to 535°F, won’t chip or scratch easily, and it is rather easy on the eye. If you’re looking for a no-frills option at lower cost, then this one might be worth your time.
- Plenty of options to find the right color fit.
- Naturally quiet.
- No accessories included. Drain assembly must be bought separately.
- Prone to stain, and blemishes are hard to remove.
- The white option is not a pure color, which may interfere with some aesthetic visions.
Now isn’t this an uncommon sight? This 70/30 comes with a cutting board which will create extra space for you, or cover your dirty dishes when not in use. Made in 18-gauge T304 stainless steel, with 3-mm thick sound dampening pads and undercoating to prevent condensation. You can install a garbage disposal set on its 3.5” drainage hole and, aside from the cutting board, it includes: bottom rinse grid, to protect your sink from scratch; colander and rollup rack, to help you with washing and drying; drain assembly, and secure clips.
- 3 sizes available.
- Tough and long lasting.
- Loaded with useful features and accessories.
- Modern look.
- All this convenience doesn’t come cheap.
- Its looks might not match certain design themes in the kitchen.
If your intent is to incorporate some copper into your kitchen, then this might be for you. At 16-gauge, you won’t have an easy time finding a thicker sink. The drains are offset to the rear, to provide you with maximum space to use, and its finish is applied by hand. You can get it with care kit or with drain set, depending on your personal preference.
- Solid and easy to clean.
- The eventual patina will make its look even more unique, which can greatly boost some kitchen themes.
- Offers only one option for size, bowl number and proportion.
- Its price is not for everyone.
As mentioned before, your mileage will vary when it comes to low divide. If you have tried it before or you like the additional space it offers (such as, when soaking large pots and pans with long handles), then this option might be worthy of your consideration. Its cast iron body and enamel coating allow it to take temperatures as high as 1000°F. Between its design and the 10 colors you get to choose from, you might find this an aesthetic bonus for your kitchen. Be aware, however, that this sink comes with a rather hefty price tag. Is it the best undermount sink for your kitchen? Probably not, but it might be just what you’re looking for.
- Quite a looker, with colors for any taste.
- Solidly built, long lived and easy to clean.
- Deep basin.
- Particularly heavy. Especially important to have it installed by a professional.
- Somewhat bare offer: no drain assembly or accessories included.
- Enamel can crack easily if it takes a hit.
If you’re going big, then you might as well go strong with this unit, made in 18-gauge T-304 stainless steel. Its drain is standard, 3.5”, and it comes with drain assembly, dish grid and removable basket strainer, all made in stainless steel. Its stone guard coating keeps the bottom free from condensation, and its brushed nickel finish adds resistance to corrosion, scratches and dents. As always, remember to measure your counter to be sure you have enough space.
- Strong, resilient and durable
- Soundproof padding makes it silent to work with
- A decently priced farmhouse alternative
- Slope is not enough, keeps catching food scraps and it is hard to sweep them into the drain.
- Does not include installation guide nor mounting hardware.
Low divide? Check. Ample space? Check. Faucet included? Check! This unit is a strong one, made in 16-gauge T304 stainless steel. The bottom’s non-toxic undercoating prevents condensation, and its soundproof pads allow you to work without excessive noise. Aside from 2-function pull-down faucet, it also comes with bottom grids to protect the sink from scratches and keep dishes higher for fast, thorough draining. As undermount sinks go, this is not a common offer… which you will likely see reflected in its price tag. Is it the best undermount kitchen sink? No. But it has a lot going for it.
- Large solid and well equipped
- Packed with extra value
- Modern look
- With so many features, its price might be difficult to bear.
- Known to present rust after a few months use.
Another one for the fans of granite, this unit is able to sustain temperatures of up to 536°F and is inherently resistant to scratches, stains and household chemicals. The bowl is large enough to accommodate one main area to do the washing, and a second level to provide space for drying and draining. The stainless steel mesh colander it includes, is useful to rinse fruit and produce while you occupy your hands on something else.
- Color selection to suit a wider range of kitchen themes.
- Rather eye-catching and functional layout.
- It can crack or even break if put under excessive strain, or if it takes a hit.
It doesn’t get much more old fashioned than this. Made in 17-gauge copper, this farmhouse sink is both solid and visually striking. Its finish is specifically chosen to give it an appearance straight out of the days of yore, and its sound pads help reduce noise in everyday use. Includes a matching strainer drain, in case you don’t have a garbage disposal unit.
It’s worth remembering that a patina will develop on it over time, this is normal; it might be better to look elsewhere if this is not something you desire.
- Antique look, perfect for country or rustic inspired kitchens.
- Naturally easy to clean.
- No additional accessories, such as basket or bottom grids.
- Does not come with cutout template, installation guide or mounting hardware.
- Out of reach for lower budgets.
Our pick: Kichae 28W*18D*9H Workstation
Stainless steel is king in the kitchen, and for good reasons: it is affordable, versatile, resilient, easy to clean, you name it! As long as you are not going for a specific design style, you get much added value with this unit’s extra work surface and included mounting hardware and accessories. It is among the most solid builds you will find nowadays, it gives a markedly modern look to your space, and at 3 sizes, you have more maneuvering room to pick the right fit for your counter’s size. It may be a bit more expensive than other units, but it is definitely worth it.
Now, you’re ready! Onward with the renovation!