How is your fireclay sink holding up?

UT_CowgirlNovember 23, 2011

Hi there! Long time lurker, but first time poster. We are deep into a whole house rennovation (foreclosed home) and making progress on the kitchen right now. I am planning to install a fireclay apron front (farmhouse) sink but can't seem to find any remarks on durability.

Those of you who have fireclay are they holding up? Any chips? Stains? Scratches?

What brands did you consider? Ultimately choose? Does the weight of a sink correlate with its durability?

Thanks in advance for your responses!!

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Mine was installed only a few months ago but so far so good. I was advised to get a sink grid which I did. I have a 30" shaws.

I will say that if I were to do it again I am not sure I would do a farm sink given the risks of breakage and challenges of install. I made the commitment to buy before I was aware of some of the issues with the sink. Each one is hand made and irregular - there were adjustments during install that had to be made to accomodate. It is a lovely sink and I love it - nice and deep and big but i worry about it breaking and the nightmare to deal with a repair. Think I would do stainless undermount or white next time.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 1:02PM
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I installed my 30" linen white Whitehaus in Jan 07. It holds up very well. Early on I put a pinhead-sized chip on an inside corner cleaning the heavy steel grille-grates from my range, but it hasn't spread. No scratches or stains because the fireclay glaze is impermeable. My second sink, a Franke(?) has nary a mark of any kind, because it's a vegie prep sink, no heavy use.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Circus Peanut

I too installed a fireclay Whitehaus apron sink a few years ago, in the summer of 08.

It has one chip on the bottom where someone (who shall remain nameless) dropped a heavy cast-iron pan from a height, but the chipout is also white so it's not visible. Otherwise it's been stellar. It doesn't stain, although it can get a slight discolored cast that cleans right up with Barkeeper's Friend.

Think of your classic porcelain bathroom sink: same material, and just as hard to stain or chip.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 1:25PM
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Just be aware of the danger of cracking upon installation.

You may not have this problem. If you do, Rohl's will generally replace, it seems, but getting it out again is no mean feat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search for useful threads

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 2:15PM
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marcolo, that is not a cracked sink, it is a defective glaze that has crazed. If you see a weblike crack pattern or frequent crack pattern it is usually crazing. It is only in the glaze on the surface, the clay body of the sink is not cracked and is still functional. You can buy wall tiles with cracked appearance that are intentionally crazed and they are perfectly watertight. Note: crazed mugs, plates, and such are not food safe and should be discarded.

Crazing is caused when the glaze is not formulated to match the thermal expansion properties of the clay. When the item is fired to high temperatures the glaze and clay melt and fuse. When it cools it shrinks. If the glaze shrinks more than the clay it will crack (craze). Often the cracks will take time or a drastic temperature change to appear (i.e. dump boiling water in the sink).

Plumbing code mandates that plumbing fixtures be tested for crazing. The test is to submerge it for a while in liquid above boiling (110C) and then dunk it in an ice water bath. This is much harsher than anything you should be doing with your sink. So if it meets plumbing code it should hold up to normal kitchen use.

I have had to deal with rohl on this issue recently. They made a bad batch in 2008 but new ones should be fine for residential use according to the person I talked to at rohl. They say you should have no problem dumping boiling water in new sinks.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 2:38AM
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Boiling water is 212 FWIW. Rohl doesn't actually make those sinks. They are from Shaw's of Darwen in the UK. Mine is going on 8 y.o. and doing fine. No crazing despite lots of spaghetti draining.

Here is a link that might be useful: Original Shaw's sinks

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 11:08AM
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My shaw 36" firesink is crazed to death. Just examining it. How timely. Not sure what the heck to do as I don't like blotches and flaws...:-) Mine is 6 years old. And I am very careful.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I think Justin means some liquid other than pure water must be used to test those glazes, to achieve 110 Celsius.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Oh, and: we have a Porcher fireclay sink, not nearly as weighty as the Shaw's, which we had to return because of the pinkish color of their "biscuit" glaze -- and so far we have had no problem with the sink.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I have a Villeroy & Boch fireclay from England. We've been in our home about 6.5 years. I am careful with the sink, but don't over-baby it. There is one chip on the divider - ceramic dog bowl. :( I do use white plastic coated sink grids to protect the bottom and we never pour hot water from the stove in to the sink.

Here is a link that might be useful: our kitchen

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 3:19PM
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Have the Herbeau 30" but it isn't installed yet.

Learned from my research that it's more fragile than the cast iron I'm used to, but that a pumice stone can clean off the marks that cast iron pans often leave. I already use one called "Pumie Heavy Duty Scouring Stick" to clean the toilets, so I'll use the same (brand, not stick ;-) ) for the sink.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 4:07PM
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Justin, you are 100% wrong. I don't care what you think the photo looks like. It is in fact a photo of one of several GWebbers' sinks that cracked upon installation of the disposal flange, which is a known and documented issue. As was explained in the link below the photo.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 5:19PM
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Rohl replaced my Shaw's sink. Install went fine but then the marble installer hit the sink to try to move it slightly. I was actually surprised when Rohl said they would replace it and that it was a thermal crack. I sent Rohl a photo-- it was their call to replace. The new sink has been in since April and it is just fine.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 7:02PM
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I installed a Franke Orca fireclay clay sink in 2007. I usually use a grate on the bottom. The sink is easy to clean a little barkeepers friend has it looking like new. I have one tiny chip in the bottom of the sink caused by a LeCrueset 7 qt dutch oven falling. The chip is the same color as the sink so I hardly notice it. Before having the fireclay I've owned cast iron and stainless steel sinks. I prefer the fireclay and would buy it again if it was in my budget.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 9:30PM
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Here is a photo of my crazed shaws sink. The cracks are hard to photograph so its a little hard to see them. Marcolo, I still say its crazed. Mine started cracking around the disposal the day it was installed. The weight from the disposal was enough to destabilize it and start the cracking. It was not overtightening as many think. The cracks spread throughout the entire bottom of the sink. After a month there was a crack was present in every square inch of the bottom. Rohl was quick to agree it was defective and offer replacement once I told them it was crazed and it was a glaze defect and sent pictures. It should at least fall within their 10yr stain warranty as all of those cracks stain quickly. The problem is known to them (if you talk to the right person) and supposedly only affected some 'small' fraction of sinks made in 2008 according to Rohl. I don't think its still a problem in shaws sinks as it was a due to a bad batch of materials. Drainage problems still seem to exist with Shaws sinks since they have a flat bottom with little slope to the drain. But thats another matter that may or may not bother you. If you get one test its slope by putting a 2' straight edge across the bottom of the sink to make sure it is pitched towards the drain. Test it immediately when you get it and send it back if it is pitched away from the drain.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 9:59PM
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No. I said no before. Your problem may have been crazing. The other problems discussed here were cracked sinks. You weren't even part of those discussions, so you don't know what you are talking about.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 12:55AM
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18 months with our shaw 30" and still looks new. I did get the grid b/c I was a little paranoid.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:02AM
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I was going to go with a 30" Whitehaus firelcay farmhouse sink but was concerned with the cracking/chipping issue. Then I heard about custom copper sinks made by Rachiele in Florida and I was sold. I'd always loved the idea of copper but was put off by all the maintenance requirements. That isn't the case with the Rachiele copper sinks. After tons of research and looking, I know this is the right sink for me. My new 36" copper sink is scheduled to be delivered sometime next week and I can't wait to see it. Now I'm on to obsessing about the faucet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rachiele copper sinks

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:56AM
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My 30" whitehaus fireclay sink is 10 months old, holding up beautifully and I lOVE it!!! One of if the most favorite part of my kitchen reno!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:06PM
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We had a Shaws sink for 8 years in our last house. (it's still there but we are not) Outside was perfect. Inside chipped and scratched a little on bottom. I was never careful at all but it didn't bother me and it certainly wasn't noticeable. When the marks on the bottom started to show I'd put a couple of inches of water with a little bleach in it and let it sit. Looked white and great again in no time.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Haha - thanks for posting a pic of my infamous (previous) Shaws sink, Marcolo! ;) What a NIGHMARE that was!

Anyway - KNOCK ON WOOD - our second one that Shaws replaced for free (though labor wasn't free) is still going fine. I've lost track of time - not sure how long we've had it in now. We may have had the new one reinstalled last Spring maybe? I don't pamper it. We shall see. My only regret now is just that I didn't bother doing something a little more unique. Almost everyone in the whole world has a Shaws farm sink eh? But if you want one that's truly vintage/period looking, as I did, a more accurate one will be too shallow OR will be over-mounted which I definitely didn't want. There just don't seem to be a whole lot to choose from! Anyway aside from how ubiquitous they are, they are pretty.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:07AM
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hello everyone ! this my first time on here, and i am hoping someone will be able to help me out. i have a old fired clay sink at least i think it is, i cant find out anything about it like who made it what kind of sink it is, etc.. or what it might be worth if anything. i posted some pics of it. appreciate anyones input. thanks

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:05PM
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I have the Rohl Allia sink in white that came highly recommended from a local plumbing fixtures store. Just last night noticed a small chip in the bottom. So frustrated! I haven't used a sink mat as I thought these things were pretty tough. Guess not! I had a Kohl cast iron sink for last 13 years without one problem. I am so disappointed. Would not even consider myself a heavy user (no cast iron, haven't used Le Creuset in there yet). Guess I would say if you're going to get this sink definitely get a sink mat or grid. There is no mention in any of the marketing materials that it is needed or required. Now I get to find out if this chip can be repaired.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I also have a Rohl Allia fireclay sink and have had it since February of 2005, so almost 9 years! I wish I had heard of a sink grid when our sink was new, because the bottom of our sink is pretty scratched and stained from the heavy use it has seen over the years. My husband and I both cook and bake a LOT, and use a lot of cast iron, though I don't necessarily think the cast iron has been the issue. I think it's just the general wear of lots of pots and pans being cleaned in the sink.

I absolutely love the size of the sink, but am disappointed at how grey and scratched the bottom is. It just looks like the shiny finish has worn off and now the bottom is porous and stains very easily. I have only used sponges and microfiber clothes to clean it, occasionally giving it a good scrub with vinegar and baking soda which I then rinse off thoroughly.

I've been thinking about it recently and wondering how other sinks have fared as we're thinking about re-doing some parts of the kitchen (cabinets), but I like the counter tops and size and placement of the sink so I'm torn as to whether or not to keep it in spite of the worn look of the bottom. If it weren't so scratched up it would be a no-brainer as it is an awesome sink other than the wear/staining. I wanted to post this for anyone else thinking of installing this type of sink. Maybe a grid would have prevented the heavy wear, but it's too late for my sink. I am wondering if there is any way to "refinish" an installed fireclay sink... If anyone has done so or has any information I would love to hear about it!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 7:45PM
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I've got a Kohler Gilford, which is vitreous china. Not sure if that is the same as fireclay--I've read different opinions on that. I've had this sink since 2006 -- I guess I am careful, having grown up with cast iron and was taught how to place things in a sink to avoid chips. It probably is a good idea to use the racks that came with it, but I rarely do. the sink is perfect, and I'm a little surprise to hear that I may have problems down the road. That'll be a mess....

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:37PM
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