Fireclay vs Cast Iron Sink: What is the Difference?

Choosing the perfect finishing touch for your home can be tricky, especially with all of the options on the market. Both fireclay and cast iron sinks are excellent options, but each brings individual pros and cons to the table.

If you’re looking to purchase a farmhouse style or apron sink, you may be wondering what the available options are. Today, we will look at cast iron and fireclay sinks to better understand the differences and help you make an informed decision.

What Is A Fireclay Sink?

For a charming, classic farmhouse appeal, fireclay sinks are a perfect choice. Fireclay sinks are made up of a type of clay that is resistant to high heat. The clay is an ordinary mud that contains higher amounts of aluminum. It is much whiter in color than other types of clay.

Fireclay is molded at very high temperatures, and then while it cools and dries, it solidifies. Porcelain enamel may be applied to help strengthen the sink.

Is A Fireclay Sink Durable?

Although fireclay sinks are made of a clay-based ceramic material, they are incredibly durable. The scorching temperatures that the sinks are fired at lends to their strength. Fireclay sinks don’t scratch or chip easily, especially in comparison to other types of sinks. 

Can Fireclay Sinks Crack?

Although it is unlikely, fireclay sinks can crack. Several different things may cause the faults. If the sink is poorly made, it is more susceptible to cracks. The same goes for if a plumber overtightened the drain or sink collar during installation.

If you are careless with throwing dishes and other heavy cookware or utensils in the sink, it is possible that the sink may crack in several places.

Can You Pour Boiling Water Into A Fireclay Sink?

Can You Pour Boiling Water Into A Fireclay Sink

As a general rule of thumb, it is best not to pour boiling water into a fireclay sink. If you have to dump boiling water in the sink, run cold water while pouring the boiling water into the sink. Grids or baskets that rest in the bottom of the sink can help protect the sink from piping hot pans.

What Is A Cast Iron Sink?

Cast iron sinks are solid and durable sinks. They are made by melting down iron, which is then cast into a mold. A porcelain enamel coating is usually applied to these sinks to help strengthen them. They are available in various options, which can provide a pop of color to your kitchen’s color palette.

The enamel coating tends to be more susceptible to showing damage, especially when chips and scratches go deep enough to display the iron beneath the enamel. To avoid scratching or chipping the enamel, refrain from using any abrasives to clean the sink.

Cast iron sinks are pretty resistant to stains due to their enamel coating. Regardless of whether it’s pasta sauce, coffee, teas, or other materials that are prone to staining things, the enamel holds up quite well.

What’s The Difference?

The primary difference between fireclay and cast iron sinks lies in their composition. While fireclay sinks are made up of a type of clay composite, cast iron sinks are made of iron, as the name implies.

Both types of sinks are incredibly durable and can handle decades of use when well taken care of. However, they have their differences that can help you determine the best fit for your home.

Pros And Cons

When choosing the right sink for you and your home, you need to thoroughly evaluate each sink’s pros and cons. Below, we’ve compared each sink type on several different things. Each of these materials comes with benefits and disadvantages.

If you are looking for a quick pros and cons list of each type of sink, jump down to the bulleted lists below.

Installation

Fireclay sinks tend to be much lighter than cast iron sinks, which makes for easier installation. Cast iron sinks may require several people to install them, given the weight. The heavier composition also may need additional under-mount support to be installed safely.

Pricing

Due to their extensive manufacturing process, fireclay sinks typically cost much more than cast iron options. While cast iron sinks start between $200 and $300 and can range up to $700, fireclay sinks usually start at $600 and go up from there.

The price of both may vary based on the size, brand, and model of the sink. Both types of sinks can cost well into the thousand dollar range, but for the most part, fireclay sinks cost more.

Rust Resistance and Durability

 Kitchen Sink Durability

When it comes to rust resistance and durability, there is a clear leader. Although both types are relatively similar in levels of durability, fireclay sinks are more rust-resistant than cast iron sinks. The enamel coating on cast iron sinks helps protect the sink from rust, but rust may become an issue when chips and scratches expose the iron underneath.

Fireclay is considerably more resistant to chips and scratches than the enamel coating on cast iron sinks. It tends to hide deep chips much better than cast iron because the underlying material is the same color as the exterior, whereas the cast iron tends to be much darker than the enamel surface.

Maintenance

Maintaining a fireclay sink tends to be easier than cast iron. Since scratches and deep chips are noticeable on cast iron sinks, it is good to repair the problems as they occur. You may need to invest in various repair kits, epoxy, sandpaper, and other materials that will help you restore and maintain your cast iron sink.

With fireclay, you just need to give the sink a thorough wipe down at the end of the day to keep it looking nice. Avoid harsh cleaners and refrain from dumping boiling water down the drain without running cool water, and you should be good to go.

Cleaning

Cleaning these sinks is not complicated by any means. However, cast iron sinks require cleaners that aren’t abrasive. Rough brushes or scrubbing may cause scratches in the enamel of cast iron sinks, so it is best to stay away from those as well.

Fireclay sinks, on the other hand, are much easier to clean. Although you should still steer clear of abrasive cleaners, the fireclay usually holds up well, making them much easier to maintain.

Color Availability

Cast iron sinks come in many different colors, making finding a sink that compliments your kitchen much easier. Fireclay sinks don’t come in very many colors, and for the most part, come in white. If you aren’t sure if white will work with your kitchen’s color scheme, you may have a tough time making the sink look nice.

Fireclay Sinks

For ease of comparison, here is a quick list of the pros and cons of both sink types.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Will not scratch or chip easily
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to install
  • Rust resistant

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • Limited color palette

Cast Iron Sinks

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Variety of color options
  • Tend to be more affordable

Cons:

  • Can be tough to install
  • Susceptible to rust
  • Need to be careful with cleaning

Which Is Better: Cast Iron Or Fireclay?

Which Is Better Cast Iron Or Fireclay

Choosing the kitchen sink that is right for your home ultimately comes down to your preferences. Both products come with their own benefits and drawbacks, so it is up to you to determine which type of sink will work best for you.

If you are looking for an affordable, durable sink that will withstand the test of time and heavy use, cast iron sinks are a great choice. However, the enamel may chip if you were to drop sharp or heavy objects in the sink, which puts the sink at risk for rust.

You will need to be careful what kinds of cleaners you use on the sink, as abrasive options may damage the enamel.

On the other hand, fireclay sinks are also an excellent option if you are looking for a high-end and durable sink. They can create a vintage farmhouse feel in your kitchen while still maintaining a clean and sleek appearance.

Fireclay farmhouse sinks are typically more expensive than cast iron sinks, but they are easy to install and reasonably durable.