Countertop vs. Built-In Dishwashers: Pros and Cons

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So, you’re curious about the big decision between Countertop and Built-In Dishwashers, right? It’s like choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream – both are great, but one might just hit the spot better for you!

Picture this: You’ve got a cozy kitchen, but not a lot of room. That’s where a Countertop Dishwasher jumps in, like a superhero in a small package! They’re super for small spaces, easy to install, and don’t gobble up too much energy. Plus, if you move a lot, it’s like having a dishwashing buddy that travels with you.

On the other hand, Built-In Dishwashers are the kings of their castle – your kitchen. They’re tucked away, handle a big load of dishes (great for large families or if you hate doing dishes every day), and can be sleek-looking, adding a touch of style to your kitchen.

But hey, let’s talk price and maintenance. Countertop models are usually friendlier to your wallet both upfront and down the road. They can be a bit more energy efficient and water-savvy too.

Built-ins, though, they’re like a long-term investment. They might need more upkeep, but they’re built to be part of your kitchen’s family.

In the end, it’s all about what works best for you. Do you have a small kitchen or love moving around? Go for the countertop! Or, if you’re settled and have a busy household (or just really, really dislike doing dishes often), a built-in might be your kitchen’s new best friend.

Remember, it’s your choice, like picking your favorite ice cream flavor – there’s no wrong answer, just what makes you happiest!

Countertop Dishwashers

If you’re looking for a compact and portable dishwasher, a countertop model might be the perfect solution for your kitchen. With countertop dishwashers, you get several benefits that make them a popular choice for smaller households or those with limited kitchen space.

One of the biggest advantages of countertop dishwashers is their affordability.

Countertop dishwashers are generally more affordable than built-in models due to their smaller size and simpler installation process, which also means you save on installation costs.

Another benefit is their flexibility. Countertop dishwashers are easy to move and plug in anywhere with access to water and an outlet. Some models even provide additional countertop space.

Countertop dishwashers are available in smaller sizes, making them suitable for limited kitchen space or smaller households. They also do not require professional installation, which saves you money and hassle.

However, countertop dishwashers have some drawbacks to consider. Their capacity is generally smaller than that of built-in models, meaning they can only hold a limited number of dishes per load.

They can also be louder due to their compact design. Frequent movement of the dishwasher can cause damage to hoses and water connections, which may lead to leaks or other issues.

Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable, flexible, and compact dishwasher, a countertop model is an excellent choice.

Built-In Dishwashers

If you have a large family or tend to cook frequently, built-in dishwashers might be the best option for you. These dishwashers have a larger capacity and can accommodate more dishes and larger cookware.

With built-in models, you get better performance, thanks to powerful wash cycles that result in improved cleaning results. They also operate quietly, allowing you to carry on with your activities with little to no disruption.

Built-in dishwashers blend seamlessly with existing cabinetry, creating an integrated look that enhances the overall aesthetics of your kitchen.

They are typically more durable, built with higher-quality materials, and have a longer life expectancy. With these dishwashers, you do not have to worry about wear and tear as they can withstand the test of time.

To top it off, you get to enjoy the convenience of having a larger dishwasher that can handle more load, reducing the number of times you wash dishes in a day. Plus, their sleek and modern design gives your kitchen a sophisticated look.

Built-In Dishwashers Table Comparison

 Built-In Dishwashers
  • Larger capacity
  • Better performance
  • Quieter operation
  • Integrated look
  • Durability
  • More expensive
  • Require professional installation
  • Occupies countertop space under the cabinet

Choosing a built-in dishwasher ensures better performance, larger capacity, and quieter operation. They are also more durable and have a sleek integrated look that enhances the aesthetics of your kitchen.

However, they tend to be more expensive and require professional installation. When making a decision, consider your personal needs and preferences based on your kitchen layout, budget, and dishwashing habits.


When it comes to buying a dishwasher, affordability is a primary consideration. Countertop dishwashers are generally cheaper than built-in dishwashers, as they require simpler installation and materials.

A countertop model’s compact design, smaller size, and lightweight construction allow for lower production costs. In contrast, built-in dishwashers, with their complex installation requirements and higher-quality materials, tend to be more expensive.

However, it’s important to note that affordability goes beyond the initial cost of the appliance. You should consider long-term expenses, such as water and energy bills, as well.

Energy Star labels and information provided on dishwashers’ estimated annual energy use can help make an informed decision on long-term savings.

Furthermore, long-term value should also be factored in. With a longer lifespan, built-in dishwashers are an investment in the long run. However, if you’re looking for a more affordable and flexible option that fulfills your daily needs, a countertop dishwasher might be a better match.


Countertop dishwashers offer unparalleled flexibility, making them perfect for renters or those with temporary kitchens. Unlike built-in models, they can be quickly and easily moved and plugged in anywhere with access to water and an outlet.

You can use them in any room in your house and change their location as needed. Not only do they save you space, but they also offer you the freedom to be creative with your kitchen’s layout, without the worry of being limited by permanent installation.

For instance, if you decide to rearrange your kitchen at any point, you don’t have to worry about removing or reinstalling the dishwasher. A countertop dishwasher gives you the flexibility to adapt to any situation without losing any functionality or convenience. You can also use them as a secondary dishwasher in a basement or outdoor kitchen.

Countertop Space

One advantage of countertop dishwashers is that they can provide additional counter space when not in use. This feature can be especially beneficial for kitchens with limited countertop space.

Unlike built-in dishwashers, which require space under the cabinet, countertop dishwashers do not take up any permanent counter space and can even be placed on a separate table or cart. This extra bit of counter space can be useful for food prep, storage, or other kitchen activities.

Compact and Convenient

If you live in a small apartment or have a tiny kitchen, countertop dishwashers can be a great space-saving solution. They are available in smaller sizes, making them suitable for limited kitchen space or smaller households.

Countertop dishwashers do not require professional installation, saving you money and hassle. Being able to move and plug in a countertop dishwasher anywhere with access to water and an outlet provides a lot of flexibility. Plus, they’re generally cheaper than built-in models, which can be a significant factor for those on a budget.

Size options

Countertop dishwashers provide size options for households with limited space or small kitchens. Smaller in size than built-in models, they can fit on top of counters, providing flexibility and portability. They are perfect for renters or those who do not want to commit to a permanent installation.

On the other hand, built-in dishwashers may not be suitable for very small kitchens that have limited space under the counter. Consider the size of your kitchen and the number of dishes you need to wash when deciding between the two options.

Countertop DishwashersBuilt-In Dishwashers
Smaller in sizeLarger in size
Portable and flexiblePermanent installation
Fits on countertopOccupies space under the counter

No Installation

If you’re looking for a dishwasher that does not require professional installation, a countertop dishwasher might be the right fit for you. No installation means that you can simply plug it in and start using it right away, without the added expense or hassle of scheduling an appointment with a technician.

With a countertop dishwasher, you can save time and energy on cumbersome installations and focus on the tasks that matter most to you, like cooking and spending time with your loved ones.

Moreover, not having to install your dishwasher means that you can pick the perfect spot for it according to your preference. You won’t have to worry about how your kitchen is wired or arranged, or whether your dishwasher will match your current design. Enjoy maximum flexibility and convenience with a countertop dishwasher.

Pro Tip: Make sure to measure your countertop space to choose a countertop dishwasher that fits perfectly without taking up too much room.


When it comes to choosing between countertop or built-in dishwashers, one aspect you need to consider is capacity. While countertop dishwashers can offer excellent convenience, they have a limited capacity compared to their built-in bret en. This can affect the size of loads and the types of dishes you can clean at one time.

Typically, countertop dishwashers can handle a load of around six place settings or 10-inch plates and cookware up to eight inches in diameter. In comparison, built-in dishwashers can accommodate 12-16 place settings or larger dishes and cookware, making them a better choice for larger families or those who entertain often.

If you have a lot of dishes to wash or larger items that need cleaning, a built-in dishwasher may be able to handle all of it in a single load. But if you have limited space or a smaller household, a countertop dishwasher may be the perfect choice.


Built-in dishwashers generally offer better performance than countertop models. They are more powerful and offer a wider range of wash cycles, resulting in improved cleaning results.

If you have a large household or frequently cook meals that involve heavy soiling, a built-in dishwasher may be the better choice for you. Built-in models generally have stronger wash cycles, higher water and energy efficiency, and larger capacity.

They also come with additional features like adjustable racks, sanitization cycles, and soil sensors, further enhancing their performance.


A Quick Comparison:

 Built-in DishwashersCountertop Dishwashers
InstallationRequire professional installationCan be easily plugged into an outlet and used anywhere with access to water
CapacityLarger capacity, accommodating more dishes and larger cookwareSmaller capacity, suitable for limited kitchen space or smaller households
PerformanceBetter performance with more powerful wash cycles and improved cleaning resultsLess powerful wash cycles with smaller capacity
NoiseQuiet operation due to insulated designCompact design may result in louder operation
AestheticsBlends seamlessly with existing cabinetryMay not harmonize well with existing cabinetry

Overall, when considering performance, built-in dishwashers are a great option if you value better cleaning results, customization, and a permanent kitchen fixture.


When it comes to noise levels, countertop dishwashers tend to be louder than their built-in counterparts. Due to their compact design, they often produce more noise, which can be disruptive to your living space.

On the other hand, built-in dishwashers are designed with noise reduction in mind, with insulated cabinets that keep their noise levels to a minimum. This is especially important if you have an open-plan layout or live in close proximity to your neighbors.

If you’re sensitive to noise or often run your dishwasher during sleeping hours, a built-in model might be the better option for you. However, if noise isn’t a significant concern, a countertop dishwasher may still be a viable choice for its affordability and convenience.


When choosing a dishwasher, it’s essential to consider how it will integrate with your kitchen’s aesthetics. If you prioritize harmony and seamless design, built-in dishwashers are the best choice.

They blend discreetly with your cabinetry, forming a cohesive and consistent look. If you have an eye for beauty and enjoy a polished kitchen look, built-in dishwashers are your perfect match.

Countertop dishwashers may not blend in as well with your kitchen decor as built-in models, although they sometimes offer a charming vintage appearance. They may take up additional space on your countertop or clutter an overcrowded area.

If you enjoy a unique mix of aesthetics and convenience, countertop dishwashers may offer a quirky appeal that fits your personality and lifestyle.

Ultimately, your choice between a built-in or countertop dishwasher depends on your preferences for how well it will blend in with your kitchen’s aesthetic.

Portability Drawback

While countertop dishwashers offer portability, it comes with a downside. The frequent movement of the appliance can lead to wear and tear on hoses and water connections. This drawback should be taken into consideration when deciding on the portability aspect.

Instead, it may be worth considering a durable built-in model or finding a permanent location for your countertop dishwasher.

portability drawback


One of the downsides of built-in dishwashers is the need for professional installation, which can increase the overall cost and inconvenience. The installation process involves a significant amount of work, requiring specialized tools and expertise.

You will need to hire a qualified contractor to ensure proper installation and avoid any issues. Before purchasing a built-in dishwasher, be sure to factor in the installation cost and time frame.

If you’re looking for a more accessible option, consider a countertop dishwasher, which does not require professional installation. This type of dishwasher can save you money and time, as it can be easily moved from one location to another without any complicated installation process.


Countertop Space Loss

One downside to built-in dishwashers is their impact on countertop space. Because they are installed under the cabinet, they occupy counter space, potentially reducing the available surface area.

This can be a concern for kitchen layouts that prioritize countertop space or for those who frequently use the countertop for meal preparation.

Bonus Talking Points

When deciding between countertop and built-in dishwashers, it is important to consider factors beyond just the pros and cons of each option. Some additional factors to keep in mind include:

Water and Energy Efficiency

Both countertop and built-in dishwashers can vary in their water and energy efficiency. Be sure to compare models and look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure your chosen dishwasher is environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run.

Special Features

Depending on your specific needs and preferences, certain special features may be more important than others. Examples include sanitization cycles, adjustable racks, and stainless steel interiors. Research different models to determine what features would be most beneficial for your household.

Personal Needs and Preferences

Finally, your decision should take into account your personal needs and preferences. Consider your kitchen layout, budget, and dishwashing habits to determine which option would be the best fit for you. Ultimately, the choice between a countertop or built-in dishwasher comes down to what will work best for your lifestyle and household needs.