Nowadays, sinks come in various shapes, colors, brands, designs, mounting styles, and materials. There are sinks designed for multiple applications, including bathrooms and kitchens. Fireclay and porcelain are two popular sink materials.
Although they share various similarities, a few differences create a clear divide between the two. This article discusses the two sink materials and their differences, so keep reading to learn more!
In This Article
Fireclay, often associated with farmhouse sinks, is a sought-after sink material for various reasons. These sinks are composed of clay and glaze that are fired at incredibly high temperatures (1,600 to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit). Due to the manufacturing process, fireclay sinks are extremely durable.
In addition to their impressive durability, fireclay sinks are nonporous, making them easy to clean. They’re also scratch-resistant, ensuring the same elegant looks for many years to come.
Due to their exceptional durability, fireclay sinks were commonly used in farmhouses. However, despite the association with farmhouse sinks, fireclay sinks are available in various other styles and designs. The color palette is somewhat limited, as they’re usually available in black, gray, blue, or white.
Pros and Cons
Fireclay sinks offer multiple benefits and drawbacks. A few of these include:
- Resistant to acid, alkali, and scratches
- Somewhat chip-resistant
- Prone to staining without proper care
- May crack or chip over time
- Hard on dropped dishes (fragile dishes will break if dropped into a fireclay sink)
Porcelain is a popular sink material, particularly in bathrooms. However, porcelain is also a common material in kitchen sinks. Porcelain is usually made of kaolin, a type of silicate-based clay material. In some cases, the porcelain is molded around steel for extra strength and structure.
Sinks composed solely of porcelain are sculpted to the desired shape, coated in a glaze, then fired at a high temperature. Porcelain sinks may be solid porcelain or porcelain enamel coated, indicating another material beneath the porcelain, like steel, iron, or fireclay.
You may also hear porcelain sinks referred to as ceramic or vitreous china sinks, particularly in reference to bathroom sinks. The material is fairly inexpensive and somewhat durable. Since it’s a nonporous material, it’s extremely easy to clean.
These sinks are available in various configurations and colors, including most of the color scope. You can find porcelain sinks in white, black, gray, brown, teal, yellow, blue, etc. Due to the versatility in color, there’s sure to be something to meet nearly any aesthetic preference.
Pros and Cons
As with any sink material, porcelain sinks feature their fair share of pros and cons. A few of the major things to keep in mind include the following:
- Holds up well with regular care
- Wide variety of color options
- Low maintenance
- Available in various mounting options
- Relatively inexpensive
- Susceptible to staining
- Prone to chips and cracks
- Fairly heavy, can complicate the installation process
Differences Between Porcelain And Fireclay
Fireclay and porcelain share numerous similarities, especially considering they’re both made of clay, which is fired at a high temperature. However, despite the fundamental common ground, a few differences separate the two.
In terms of durability, fireclay sinks are generally more sturdy than porcelain. Fireclay is fired at extreme temperatures, leading to high levels of durability. Porcelain isn’t fired at as high of temperatures, which means it’s more prone to chips, scratches, and discoloration than fireclay.
There may be similar durability levels if we consider a fireclay sink and a porcelain enamel-coated steel sink. However, it’s important to note that porcelain is prone to chipping. With porcelain enamel-coated sinks, chips can expose the metal underneath, allowing rust and corrosion to take hold (which is a nightmare in itself).
Both materials are relatively hefty, although the weight of a porcelain sink hinges on its composition. With a steel frame inside, the sink will likely be heavier. This can make installation problematic, as you may need several people to help heave the sink into place.
Number Of Options
Porcelain surges above fireclay when it comes to the number of options. While fireclay sinks are available in a restricted array of colors and designs, porcelain sinks are available in a diverse range of colors, styles, and brands.
For the most part, porcelain sinks tend to be less expensive than fireclay sinks. Of course, pricing hinges entirely on various factors, including the brand, style, and specific material composition (solid porcelain vs. porcelain enamel).
Fireclay sinks can be pretty pricey, but considering the exceptional durability and sturdiness of the sinks (providing it is good quality), many people don’t mind forking over the extra money.
If you like the looks of a farmhouse sink, but can’t afford the price of a fireclay sink, consider a porcelain sink. The overall looks are strikingly similar to fireclay, although the material is nowhere near as durable. However, if you’re on a budget, it may be something to consider.
Caring For Porcelain And Fireclay Sinks
The care measures for both porcelain and fireclay are very similar. With both options, you need to avoid using abrasive cleaners or caustic scrubbers. They can leave noticeable scratches and marks on the sink’s surface, both of which can be tricky to fix.
A mild cleaner is best for both materials. You don’t need a slurry of chemicals to clean the sink, just a bit of mild dish soap diluted in water. Use a non-abrasive cloth. Once you’re done, wipe the sink dry with a soft towel to prevent water stains.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is fireclay better than porcelain?
Yes, in terms of durability, fireclay is better than porcelain. Porcelain is prone to chips and scratches, which can expose the metal underneath (as applicable). This can cause rusting and corrosion, which affects the overall look of the sink.
Is fireclay the same as porcelain?
No, fireclay isn’t the same as porcelain. The two are made up of different types of clay and fired at different temperatures. Fireclay is usually fired at a higher temperature than porcelain, which boosts its strength.