D ear Ed: In my kitchen, I have very old tile countertops with an undermount cast-iron kitchen sink that is leaking. It looks like the best option is to replace the sink and tiles and start new. I’m looking into new sinks, and my question is: What is the difference between undermount cast-iron kitchen sinks and tile-in cast-iron kitchen sinks?

— Pete, Rhode Island

Dear Pete: I receive a lot of questions about older kitchen sinks, and in many cases it is a good idea to start fresh.

Today’s undermount cast-iron sinks have a wide, flat rim and are designed to mount beneath your kitchen countertop. These sinks are best used with solid surface and stone countertops.

Now, if you’re planning to reinstall tile for your countertop, a tile-in cast-iron sink is a good choice. A tile-in sink is specially designed to be installed in a tile kitchen countertop. It has a square rim with a straight flat edge made to the thickness of most tiles. Your countertop tiles butt right up to the edge of this rim. Basically the sink is like a big tile.

Bottom line: If you plan on installing a tile kitchen countertop, a tile-in kitchen sink may be your best laid plan.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is author of “Ed Del Grande’s House Call,” the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit

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