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Vessel vs Undermount Sinks – What’s the difference?

vessel sink example.
by Badeloft | August 30, 2020

There are many sink options available today on the market and choosing the right one will require a balance between style, cost and resale value. So today we will be discussing two popular styles: vessel and under-mount. Both of these sinks are fairly popular, but they have their differences and are each suitable for different homes and styles. So let us discuss vessel or “counter-top” sinks and under-mount sinks to see which sink is the right fit for your home. 

The Key Differences between a Vessel Sink and an Undermount Sink

The primary differences between a Vessel sink and an Undermount Sink are the appearance and installation. A vessel sink is a basin that sits above the countertop or vanity. An under-mount is a sink that is installed below the countertop, providing a sink that is flush with the rest of the counter. Because of the installation, a vessel sink has a more unique aesthetic and stands out whereas an under-mount sink blends seamlessly with the rest of your countertop.   

The Pros and Cons of a Vessel Sink

A vessel sink is a sink comprising of a basin or bowl that sits above the countertop. This style is meant to emulate the washing basin of ancient times. Common vessel sink materials include Ceramic, Glass, Natural Stone, Marble, and Wood. 

vessel sink example.

Pros of a Vessel Sink:

Vessel sinks provide a breath of fresh air to any bathroom. These sinks are aesthetically unique and provide a few benefits to any bath space. 

  • Stylish-The largest benefit of a vessel sink is that it is unique and stylish. The design is immediately attractive and plainly noticeable. The material that goes into vessel sinks also helps to lend a more visually attractive finish than a traditional sink. 
  • Affordable-Commonly, vessel sinks are constructed from ceramic and glass. This keeps the cost of these sinks down and makes them actually quite affordable compared to more traditional sink variants. 
  • Easy install-Since the design of the vessel sink is so simple, it is very easy to install. You simply require one hole for the drainpipe to install a vessel sink. 
  • Flexible-Vessel sinks are essentially the vessel or bowl, providing a larger degree of flexibility in terms of replacing the sink. If something breaks, you can simply swap out the vessel fairly easily without hiring a professional to replace it. 
  • Increased Counterspace- Since the vessel is generally smaller than a space of normal sinks, you are afforded more counter space compared to other sink variants.
  • Variety of Sizes – Vessel sinks come in a large variety of sizes and can fit in most bathrooms; they can add a touch of modern design to any small or large bathroom. Continue to learn about sink sizes here.

Cons of a Vessel Sink

For the visual wonder that they are, vessel sinks also come with a few drawbacks. Here are some negatives that the design will bring. 

  • Cleanliness-The area where the basin meets the vanity or countertop is difficult to clean. This space attracts dirt and other debris, much like the gap between a drop-in sink and the countertop. To ensure stability and longevity in your vessel sink, it is important to clean this area to ensure that mold doesn’t accrue.
  • Durability-Perhaps the largest negative to a vessel sink is its durability. Many vessel sinks are constructed from glass and ceramic, making them very prone to chipping and sometimes shattering from high impacts. Vessel sinks cannot take heavy punishment and should be used with care.
  • Overflow-Overflow is an issue with vessel sinks as they are the size of a bowl. This bowl will usually overflow quite easily, resulting in small flooding in your bathroom. In addition, vessel sinks also have a great deal of splashback, so you have to use them with care to avoid leaving your bathroom floor covered in water.  
  • Stability and Accessibility-Vessel sinks are only secured at one point whereas other sinks are secured along the entire perimeter. This causes stability issues and often times a vessel sink might displace, either damaging the sink itself, spilling water over your bathroom or both. Conversely, the rim of these sinks tends to be much higher than your average sink, which might prove problematic for shorter individuals or children. 

The Pros and Cons of an Undermount sink: 

An under-mount sink is a sink that is installed below your countertop or vanity. This provides a sink that is flush with the rest of your countertop, providing a more seamless look. Because of the installation method, under-mount sinks require higher quality material that is also not too heavy-limiting the materials it can be constructed from. Common under-mount sink materials include stainless steel, cast iron, solid surface materials and copper. 

undermount sink example.

Pros of an Undermount Sink

Undermount sinks provide great aesthetic value to any home. Their installation method hides them from view and thus, makes the rest of your home appear more attractive. Below are some of the benefits that an under-mount sink can bring. 

  • Easier to clean countertop-Because the sink is installed underneath the countertop, cleaning the countertop is much easier. Since the countertop is seamless, you can simply wipe or push any dirt or filth into the sink and dispose of it.
  • More Popular Style-Vessel sinks provide a unique and natural centerpiece to your bathroom. Conversely, under-mount sinks provide a more popular and modern style to your bathroom as their installation allows your counter or vanity to stand out more. Without the sink stealing the spotlight, your bathroom looks more neat and modern with the sink flush with the rest of your counter or vanity. 
  • Better Resale Value-As stated previously, under-mount sinks are much more popular than vessel sinks. Vessel sinks are affordable, easy to replace and install, limiting their resale value greatly. This translates to better resale value for under-mount sinks as home buyers are more drawn to sinks that require a greater install cost. 

Cons of an Undermount Sink

For the positives that an under-mount sink can bring, there are a few negatives that come with it as well. Perhaps the biggest drawback to an under-mount sink is the installation method. Compared to a vessel sink, it is much more difficult to install and as a result, it’s installation method limits the material that this style can be available in as well. 

  • Hard to Clean-With the majority of the sink installed below the countertop, it becomes a greater hassle to clean the edges and sides of the actual sink. Also, since some areas are not openly visible, they can collect dirt and other debris in the space between the countertop and the sink which can be difficult to reach and clean.  
  • Difficult to install- An under-mount sink is installed underneath the countertop. This installation method requires a deeper knowledge of how heavy the sink is and the necessary bonding agent to hold it to the countertop and secure it. Compared to a vessel sink that is secured at one point and simply requires a drainpipe hole, an under-mount sink is a much greater ordeal and might require professional help to install. This installation method also limits what materials an under-mount sink can be constructed from as some materials are not compatible with all counter-tops.
  • More expensive-Undermount sinks tend to be more expensive than vessel sinks. This is because the material that they are constructed from cannot be too heavy. The material that an under-mount sink is made from requires a great deal of quality and durability, which ultimately provides a high-quality sink that is both durable and aesthetically-pleasing, although you may have to pay for it upfront.

Overall, which is better: Vessel or Undermount sinks?

When choosing between a vessel or under-mount sink, it will ultimately come down to personal taste and preference. A vessel sink provides a sink that is unique, with a mixture of modern and contemporary design and feel. Alternatively, an under-mount sink provides a more modern and sleek design that blends well with almost any bathroom. Although an under-mount is more costly upfront, it makes for greater longterm investment as it’s popularity only grows alongside its resale value. That being said, a vessel sink is still a great alternative as it is easy to install, easy to replace while still providing your bathroom with a unique centerpiece. 

What other factors to consider when choosing a bathroom sink:

There are a few additional factors to consider when choosing the right bathroom sink. Below are some other considerations to keep in mind before purchasing the right one for your home.

  • Budget-Although it may be tempting to splurge on the sink of your dreams, it is important to manage your budget. When choosing the right sink for your home, it is key to balance the cost of your sink with the rest of your bathroom. As important and attractive as it may be, a sink is just a small piece of your bathroom and you should consider the cost of other important elements such as your bathtub or toilet.  
  • Style-Style will differ greatly from person to person, but it is important to match your home’s general style and themes. For both resale value and personal aesthics, it is key that you keep your house within the same style and balance your budget accordingly.
  • Resale value-If you are looking to renovate your home, it is important to consider resale value for your additions to the house. As stated previously, an under-mount sink has a much greater resale value than a vessel sink. So, if you are renovating your home, you should consider what is best for increasing the value of your home. 

Both vessel and under-mount sinks provide great additions to any home. But which is appropriate for you will depend on your budget, style and the resale value of each sink. So as always, do the proper research to discover which sink is the right fit for your bathroom.  

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