Fireclay sinks- any problems?

marvelousmarvinJuly 18, 2013

Any potential problems if I install a undermount fireclay sink?

Since they're fired at a higher temperature, I thought they were supposed to be stronger and more durable.

But, I know that there have been problems of cracks with fireclay farmhouse style apron front sinks. What caused the cracks- did problems arise because those sinks were fireclay or because those sinks were apron front sinks?

If the problem is with all fireclay sinks, then I'll stay away from them. I'm looking at a Franke by Villeroy & Boch undermount fireclay sink so if the problems were only for apron sinks, then I shouldn't have any problems with that sink, right?

Normally, I wouldn't have considered fireclay sinks because of the cost. But, I found a fireclay sink on clearance for a really good price. Between that and the increased cost in Ticor stainless sinks, it'd still cost more than stainless but it wouldn't be crazy expensive.

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 2:59

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SS, cast iron, and copper apron front sinks don't crack.

Potential problems from cracking come from over tightening the garbage disposal to the sink or pouring boiling hot water into the sink on a very cold morning.

Then there is chipping. Porcelain can chip also. And stain.

SS shows water spots and can scratch and Copper in anything but a natural finish can scratch. But some people don't like the patina and changing colors of natural copper.

Various acrylics and plastic type sinks look like .... well plastic.

If there was a perfect material for sinks most people on this board would have one material.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 3:42AM
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I have a Franke by Villeroy & Boch fireclay apron sink. It's been about 3 1/2 years since I installed it and I've had no problems with it. I do have a SS sink grid on the bottom of it though.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:47AM
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I think a lot also depends on your point of view. I think to your average kitchen consumer, fireclay sinks are extremely durable. Other people are bothered by every scratch, chip, crackle, crack whatever.

I am tough on my stuff, and admittedly wouldn't notice the majority of the things that would be considered a flaw to others.

I don't plan to baby my sink, nor my countertops, nor my wood table. Then again, my home is rustic and that aesthetic certainly lends itself more to the "distressed" look than an ultra-modern, contemporary kitchen might.

I think any good quality, durable material (including, certainly, fireclay) will go a great job. Now if you're looking for something that will look fresh out of the box 10 years from now - I can only tell you to maybe use paper plates and only use the sink to fill your water glass. ;)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 8:14PM
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I don't think the average consumer would consider a sink that can chip with a lodge cast iron pan or crack with boiling hot water to be durable much less extremely durable.

Nor does the average consumer consider any sink more expensive than your average priced sink at Home Depot or Lowes.

People buying fireclay are very much above average income(they don't care if it needs to be replaced) or a Totally Kitchen Obsessed(plan to baby the sink) or have a Shabby Chic type kitchen ( distressed/used look fits right in)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 9:12PM
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But, if you dropped a lodge cast iron pan onto any sink, wouldn't that cause significant damage regardless of the material? If I dropped something as heavy as that lodge cast iron pan onto a stainless sink, it might not chip but wouldn't it leave a pretty big dent?

Has anybody ever dropped anything that heavy onto their sink? What did that do to the sink?

And, I'm confused about how much I should be concerned about pouring boiling water down a fireclay sink because Rohl claims that that won't be an issue for their fireclay sinks.

Does this mean all fireclay sinks are safe from that concern, if its just that company's sinks that are safe from that, or if Rohl is engaging in some puffery about the durability of their products. .

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Sun, Jul 21, 13 at 21:39

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 6:25PM
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I have a Whitehaus apron front fireclay sink that we installed in 2007, and after 6 years it looks 98% as good as when we installed it. The only issue after 6 years is, around the drain, it will get gray marks if you are scrubbing pots in it and pressing down. But the marks rub off with elbow grease. When I first got it, I was scrupulous about putting a silicone bumper grid in the bottom, but that wore off ;-) The sink gets lots of hard use, it is huge and I love it b/c I can wash (submerge) stove top grates, garbage cans, etc. in it--plus we are fairly heavy-duty cooks, and have had no problems. As far as cracking due to hot on cold, we live in Saskatchewan (-40 winters) and the sink is on an outside wall, and our Franke Little Butler hot water tap (water temp just under boil) flows into this sink--and we have never had a problem. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one again. I will also say, the reason I bought it is that I'm originally from New Orleans, and while we fared very well in Hurricane Katrina, some friends of ours who were badly flooded had 2 things survive the hurricane in their kitchen: their fireclay sink, which just needed a cleaning, and their Subzero fridge (b/c the motor was on top and above the waterline).

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:07PM
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Here's an interesting perspective about fireclay sinks:

"Fireclay is really just another name for vitreous china. The manufacturing process is the same. Real fireclay is used to make highly fire-resistant materials like bricks used to line fireplaces and clay crucibles to hold molten steel. Obviously, no sink is ever going to need such incredible resistance to heat. In reality fireclay is just a marketing term, adopted from England where vitreous china is commonly called fireclay when used to make kitchen sinks...Anyway, if the sales clerk tells you that a particular sink is more expensive than a regular porcelain enamel sink because it is fireclay, you can tell him or her than you are on to that particular con."

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 4:19AM
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I hate to say it and jinx myself, but my Rohl Allia is 12 yrs old and has two tiny chips. It's extremely durable. I'm much happier than scrubbing scuff marks off of an enameled sink.
Now the layout of the the Allia can be argued, especially the predrilled holes that were the only option 12 yrs ago. I'd have much preferred moving my filtered water faucet on the other side of the basin. Today's Allia may be an entirely different layout.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:46AM
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I pour boiling water into my Franke fireclay sink all the time and I have never had any cracks from it. I don't have a cast iron pan, but even if I did, I don't think I would be dropping it into my sink. :)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:31PM
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Do you remember how you got those two chips on your Rohl Allia sink? And, how noticeable will a fireclay chip look? Does it stand out where anybody will notice it, or is one of the things where only you notice it?

Since the Allia is an undermount fireclay sink, I guess this means that its the fireclay material that makes those sinks vulnerable.

Although, most of the complaints about fireclay sinks seem to come from owners of undermount fireclay sinks which could be mean:

1) most fireclay sinks are apron fireclay sinks so that's why most complaints about apron fireclays


2) apron fireclay sink style is actually more vulnerable to damage than a undermount fireclay sink, although I can't really imagine the mechanism why this would be true.

I know some have said to be careful when installing a garbage disposal in a fireclay sink, but its not like you're tightening anything when you're installing a apron fireclay sink vs a undermount fireclay sink.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 3:07AM
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It's been 4 years since my undermount Rohl fireclay sink has been installed with a garbage disposal. It has held up without chips or stains or cracking. It is the cleanup sink with a stainless steel sink grid. It still has that wonderful shine that I don't have with the Kohler prep sink.

It cleans up easier and looks nicer than the prep sink that is a Kohler enameled cast iron sink. I wanted another fireclay for the prep, but could not find one that would fit my space.

In my old kitchen, I had a Kohler enameled cast iron sink that was stained and scratched and really looked pretty bad. I will not use anything that might scratch the new one, as I fear it will look like the old one (I had used cleanser on that one).

So far just a nylon pad and little elbow grease cleans up the sinks. Anyone else find a cleaning product that won't harm their sinks?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 3:41AM
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I've had my Rohl fireclay apron sink for 5+ years now. No chips, no cracks, no staining. I regularly pour boiling hot water into that sink with no negative consequences. I've never tried dropping any of my cast iron pots into the sink to see what happens but I've occasionally banged a cast iron pot against the bottom or sides of the sink. Again, no negative consequences. Durability has just not been an issue. As for looks and function? It's the prettiest, roomiest sink I've ever had. I highly recommend it!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 10:53AM
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I have had our Shaw's (Rohl) single bowl farm sink for 8 years and love it! I have never used a protective grid, so I do have a couple of chips from heavy cast iron pots. Color is the same throughout, so not a big deal. I do clean with Barkeepers Friend or Bon Ami, especially after pots have left gray marks. Only con is the pitch, I have to rinse and chase food bits down always. I have not had any staining, and it is in heavy use, 3 boys and hubby who cooks.

We are about to begin a remodel and are adding a second sink. Can anyone tell me if they have the rc1515 sink and if it is too small to be practical? Or if another brand Fireclay in a bigger size will match the Shaw biscuit color? Thank you.

This post was edited by jhol on Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 15:29

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Sorry, just seeing this thread now. My chips are really small, DH wasn't even aware that they had occurred. As stated above, the color is the same below the surface, so they're really not noticeable. The sink is an undermount and I'm not sure how they happened. Perhaps the cast iron or a careless housekeeper...?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:36AM
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My Shaw's double fireclay sink has been in for 2 months now and is pitting, although Rohl says it is chipping due to impact. I purchased this sink because it was so beautiful, knowing that I would have to be more careful, so I am extremely disappointed that my sink already looks old and beaten up. I have remodeled 7 kitchens over the past 20 years and have never had a sink perform as poorly as this one.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:28PM
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MarvelousMarvin, did you end up with the Villeroy and Boch fireclay sink?
I hadn't heard of them until beginning my research here on GW, and I'm totally intrigued now.
I've been trying to decide between a Kohler enameled cast iron and Silgranite. I've had Kohler and am leary of how they look after several years because the finish does scratch. And I don't love the Silgranite out of the box, so really that's out.
I'm seriously considering the Franke fireclay right now - I don't want an apron sink, just an undermount. I'm curious as to what you may have chosen.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Whoever is out there claiming the Shaws Fireclay sinks are extra durable must not use theirs. I do relatively little handwashing, so my sink has not been used unusually hard; but it has a couple of sizable chips and numerous scratches all over the bottom. Eight years old and people regularly ask if it's an antique. I've had every kind of sink over the years, including relatively inexpensive porcelain ones, and never had this happen. I would NOT buy again.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:31AM
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I couldn't agree more with webb585. Mine is only 3 months old and is already chipped. While I do cook and hand wash a fair amount, I was aware this might happen so I've been extremely careful, and still, chipping and staining!
Rohl suggested I repair the chips with Porcafix, why bother if the sink is going to continue to wear as badly as it has! Very disappointing as this was to be a centerpiece of my kitchen!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:25AM
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mine has been in for ~ 2 years now. i use a sink grid, so far so good. it is a beautiful sink and i love how big it is!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 9:09PM
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Has anybody replaced a Shaw apron front sink? I have one that is crazing and Rohl has agreed that it is defective and will replace it. It is only 2 years old. I am wondering if I should just live with the crazing. I am having difficulty in finding someone to pull and replace it. Should I live with the crazing, I am reading that this is difficult to do and may risk damaging my granite counter.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 9:14AM
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