a question for owners of undermount sinks

lisapoiSeptember 28, 2011

I would like an undermount sink in my yet-to-be-built new kitchen, but my husband is dead set against it. I don't like the 'gunk' that seems to collect in the crack between my current drop in sink rim and the laminate counter. My husband insists that even more gunk collects under the counter with an undermount sink, but you just don't see it. His contention is that at least with the top mount sink you can see the gunk and clean it. I'ver NEVER heard anyone complain about this issue with the undermount sink, but I thought I would ask people who have definitely had more experience with this than we have . . . is this an issue with an undermount sink? (By the way, our new kitchen counter will either be corian or granite).

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Your DH is wrong. An undermount is easier to clean too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:10PM
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ditto above

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:15PM
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I may get some pics for you tomorrow, but my undermount sink has been in this house since 1986 and, while showing its age, it does NOT have stuff collecting under it. It is caulked all the way around like your shower or bathtub. Yes, the caulking can get yucky, but nothing some deep cleaning cannot fix and there isn't "stuff" in it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:34PM
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OK-just got some pics for you. I have TILE countertops, so grout was used, not an epoxy type that would be used with corian or granite. Again-this is the original sink installed in 1986.
Showing top right corner of the sink

Closeup of corner

As you can see, there is nowhere for stuff to GO! Yes, the grout itself is discolored, but show me grout that isn't after 25 years!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:55PM
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If you go the corian route, they make those integrated sinks so you don't have any crevices at all for gunk to get into, so that may be a good compromise for you. On an undermount sink, I think you actually get less gunk because as you wipe the counter down toward the sink everything falls into the sink (usually on a trajectory other than straight down) and so nothing gets trapped around the edges. With a top mount sink, as you wipe the counter down, you do run a high risk of getting gunk buildup in the crevices/joints because the edge of the sink is actually stopping the trajectory of the crumbs/dust/etc. and they get caught there.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:58PM
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How would you and he feel about a "positive reveal"? This is when the cutout for the sink is LARGER than the sink, so you can see the seam between sink and countertop. Seems like this might work for both of you. (I linked to a relevant thread below.)

A question: If you go with Corian, wouldn't you be happier with a continuous, built-in Corian sink?

Here is a link that might be useful: Revealing thread

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 10:21PM
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I have negative-reveal undermount sinks in my bathrooms and a SS undermount, slightly positive-reveal sink in my kitchen. I am a neatfreak and a germaphobe and I find that that both types of undermount sinks are MUCH easier to clean than my old top-mount (aka, drop-in) kitchen sink.

If it makes DH feel better to "see the gunk", get a positive reveal.

Also note that there will never be as much gunk in an undermount situation as with a drop-in because if you have drop-in, the prep detritus continually gets sponged or wiped right into the "crack" when cleaning, whereas with an undermount, the prep detritus gets sponged or wiped straight into the sink and need never even touch the "crack" or meeting place between sink and counter material.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 10:34PM
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I had the same debate in my house. The undermount sink is a million times easier to keep clean than the top mount. I am also pretty neat and it matters to me to have the countertops and sink clean. (I do most of the cleaning.)

It's also a million times easier to keep the surrounding counter clean because I just sweep crumbs into the sink, instead of working it toward the sink only to have it stopped by the "lip," which is what happened with the overmount. Also, I no longer have a narrow area between the back of the sink and the backsplash that collects "gunk" and is difficult to clean.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Thanks so much for all your replies! And thank you Bahacca for the photos . . . I think they'll be hugely helpful in persuading my husband to change his mind. I really don't like my current top mount sink!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 5:49AM
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you are all able to articulate various points in favor. I admire the clarity.

My undermount is a year old. My counter overhangs a lot. No problem that I care to call a problem.

Before installing it I did read somewhere about gunk. I posted about this, wondering how there could be "a problem". The responses were not as clear as these. Some people do get some wipable gray moldy gunk. They wipe it off. Not a big deal.

I wanted large counters so I extended the counter to overhang the sink. It worked out very well for me.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Circus Peanut

I will say that I used to have a stainless undermount with a negative reveal (the counter hung over the sink) and I DID find that gunk collected under there, mainly because I couldn't see it thus wasn't totally diligent about cleaning it. I had granite and the unpolished rough underside of the countertop contributed to my feeling of yuck under there (stuff would cling to it.) I don't like dark damp places in the kitchen that I can't see without pulling Houdini-like contortions. ...do I sound like your husband yet?

Both of my current sinks are also undermounted, but with a positive reveal (the lip of the counter is showing), and I find this to be the best of both worlds. Crumbs etc get swept into the sink and if any remain hanging on the lip (rarely) you just do a second swipe. I suspect this installation will make both you and hubby happy.

One of mine:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:38AM
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Oh circuspeanut, I want to weep every time I see your beautiful copper counters!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 11:13AM
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Circus Peanut

anenemity, so do I, but likely for very different reasons.

viz.: "Will kitchen remodel make you a better housekeeper?" thread. ;-)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 11:22AM
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I'm a little confused about how your DH thinks the gunk will get under the sink in hidden places...there's a good bead of caulk between the counter and the sink preventing gunk--and more importantly water--from seeping between the sink and counter.

I'm no sink expert, but I think If you're getting gunk, I think you'd know it, because you'd have a lot of water seepage, too.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 12:19PM
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i think the term Gunk is too vague. This is the cause of the confusion.

A normal amount of droplets splashing back will give rise to something there. There is enough to become "something" but not enough to be anything worth writing home about.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 1:09PM
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No gunk.

I do not understand the praise for a positive reveal. I had a greater negative reveal in my old place and everything looked much cleaner.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 1:18PM
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Circus Peanut

Madeline, I think he's referring to the underside of the countertop rim that hangs over the sink in a negative reveal installation.

People have argued this issue for years on this forum. Honestly, I think it's just about where you prefer your gunk to be. Some are more grossed out when it's not visible, some the other way around. We all want to avoid gunk, and we all choose the sink install that will help us do so most effectively according to our own habits.

In short, your gunk choices:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 1:25PM
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good photos and good comments!

in the first two cases, one cannot clean the gunk.
(some will say it never amounted to much at all, when they uninstalled their sink.)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 3:28PM
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My feeling is that less gunk collects with a negative reveal since wiping the counters into the sink go over the edge of the counter and into the sink and rarely defy gravity and travel under the rim. However stuff can splash up and under the rim so it does need to be wiped down once in a while. But I have a good deal of caulking under mine so it is fairly easy to keep clean.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 4:03PM
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I must be the only one with gunk on that lip. It drives me nuts. I've got a negative reveal, and stuff gets under there all the time...and I can't figure how. It is really disgusting! I flood with water, use microfiber cloth, etc...I have to clean it constantly. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 8:30PM
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We have an undermount with negative reveal. Every few days, I fold a paper towel and run it around the edge under the counter, and it comes out with a little bit of gray gunk on it. It's pretty easy to live with this.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 7:23PM
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Any votes for a zero reveal?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 8:48PM
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there is no such thing. Every sink has a slight rounded edge at the top. Matching the rounded curved top edge is impossible. Any cutout will either show some of that rim or hide it too much to be considered absolutely flush. It is also possible (but easier said than done) to pretend the rim is NOT there and try to match the sink walls, which are not perfectly vertical (they are slanted). In all cases, some eyes will see the rim as "exposed" and some will not. Furthermore, nobody has eyes as wide set apart as a sink width, so you will always have some angle of side view onto the rim. ONly in a web simulation image will an installation hide all this and make you drool.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 9:05PM
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They did our sink with a minimal positive reveal. davidro1 is correct that it can't be a zero reveal, but ours is about as close as it can be, on the positive side, since the granite comes to the exact point where the sink's downward curve starts. They did a nice caulking job using a clear product.

To us, this method is the best compromise for cleanliness. It gets wiped down when I wipe out the sink. I don't see any problem as long as the caulking stays in good shape. I prefer it for that aspect alone over our old top mount sink.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 2:17AM
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You must do whatever it takes to win this battle, lol
~undermount for the win!!!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:25AM
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capecodder, sounds like you might have some mold growing there. Hit it with some bleach and see if that helps. You might have to recaulk if it doesn't.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 11:53AM
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Every time the sink gets cleaned at our house (at least once a day after loading the DW) you just wipe under the edge.

It is a kitchen, not an operating room.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:45PM
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We just had our sinks installed with a slight positive reveal just like wpdoit...If something is dirty, I want to be able to see it and clean it. I have never had an undermount sink so hopefully this will work well for us...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 10:19PM
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Love, love, LOVE the series of gunk photos. Genius! I've had an overmount, a negative-reveal undermount and a positive-reveal undermount and I think there is the least amount of gunk to clean with the negative, then the positive (in both cases because you can wipe directly into the sink without the gunk getting held up by any lip) and lastly the overmount has the most annoying gunk problem. My preference from both a cleanliness standpoint and a looks standpoint is for either undermount. But... really I think all of the gunk issues are manageable, it just boils down to which "look" you prefer.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 12:43AM
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