Choosing the ideal sink material for your home comes down to several factors. Stainless steel, copper, enamel, fireclay, stone, composite, solid surface: the list of available sink materials is lengthy. Whether renovating your kitchen or starting fresh in a brand new house, choosing a kitchen sink material is a critical step.
This article will compare fireclay and stainless steel sinks to help you determine which is suitable and which, if either, is better.
Fireclay is often used to create farmhouse sinks and is composed of a ceramic clay mixture, including raw kaolin, clay, and quartz. The clay is dried at high temperatures, then sent through a kiln at even higher temperatures. A porcelain enamel glaze hardens onto the clay during the drying process in the kiln. In total, the sink is fired for over 28 hours.
The final result features a smooth and fluttered side, allowing you to choose which design you’d like to face forward. These sinks are customizable, although options are limited. You can select several finish options, like matte black, matte white, and gloss white. Some fireclay sinks are available with a unique swirl or pattern adorned on the front of the apron.
Unlike stainless steel, fireclay sinks are relatively quiet. Water flow doesn’t bounce around the sink as it does with stainless steel, which may irritate some people.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are fireclay sinks shiny?
Yes and no. The gloss on your fireclay sink depends entirely on which finish option you choose. Matte black will be a flat black color, while gloss white will have a distinct shine to it. With proper maintenance, it will remain shiny (if that’s how it started) for many years.
Can fireclay sinks crack?
Although fireclay sinks are more prone to cracking than other sink materials, such as cast iron or granite, the likelihood of them breaking under regular (gentle) use is reasonably low.
Do fireclay sinks scratch easily?
Given the extremely high temperatures that the composition process entails, fireclay sinks don’t typically scratch easily. After some time, the finish may begin to wear off, causing the sink to be prone to chipping. However, the finish on high-quality fireclay sinks tends to last considerably longer than most finishes.
Can I pour boiling water down my fireclay sink?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s usually best not to pour boiling water down your fireclay sink. If you have to pour boiling water down your sink, run cool water simultaneously. Allow hot pots and pans to cool before setting them in the sink unless you have a sink grid to protect the bottom of the sink.
Is a fireclay sink durable?
Fireclay is heavy and dense due to its nonporous nature, making it quite durable. Its solid composition, which makes it very heavy, can make it hard to install. Generally, it takes at least two people to install the sink safely.
Special cabinetry is necessary to support the excessive weight of fireclay sinks, and it may require special installation.
Fireclay Sinks Pros And Cons
- Resistant to acid, alkali, and scratching
- Somewhat chip resistant
- Quieter than other sink materials
- Limited color and size options
- Susceptible to stains without proper care
- May chip after finish wears off
Caring For Fireclay Sinks
Like all things, fireclay needs routine care to maintain its beauty. Fireclay sinks only require light maintenance at regular intervals. To preserve its original state, rinse out the sink daily after washing dishes or whenever it gets dirty.
After you finish cleaning it, wipe down the sink with a soft, dry cleaning cloth, like a microfiber cloth, to prevent the development of water spots. Once a month, coat the sink in a thin layer of liquid wax to encourage efficient drainage.
For stubborn buildup, use a mildly abrasive cleaning product or baking soda. Apply it with a soft, damp sponge, then gently scrub the sink until the mess lifts. Daily cleaning shouldn’t harm the finish.
Sink grids are a great way to protect your fireclay sink further. They help protect the bottom of your sink from hot pots and pans, impacts from dishes dropped in, and the like. It will help prevent cracks, scratches, or stains from attempting to take hold in your beautiful sink.
Stainless steel is a go-to sink material due to its affordability and durability. They are resistant to bacteria and stains, further increasing their popularity. On top of that, they’re easy to clean.
Generally, stainless steel sinks feature a gauge range from 18 to 22 inches. However, some sinks will be 15 to 24 inches. If less noise, minimal dents and scratches, and durability are what you’re going for, a heavier gauge sink is the better choice.
These sinks are available in numerous different styles and widths to suit the needs of a wide variety of kitchens.
Stainless steel sinks can be noisy, so some manufacturers have worked to combat the issue by integrating sound-absorbing rubber pads. Unlike other sink materials that come in a wide range of colors, stainless steel sinks are limited to silver. However, they come in a few different finish options, such as satin/brushed or a mirror-like, highly reflective finish. The satin finish tends to prevent general wear and tear better.
Unfortunately, stainless steel sinks will sport water spots quickly, so you’ll need to wipe them down after each use to avoid the development of such. However, they are heat resistant, which is an excellent feature.
Stainless Steel Sink Pros and Cons
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean
- Crack and chip resistant
- Numerous available options
- Scratch easily
- Can be noisy
- Solely come in silver
- Watermarks can ruin the glossy appearance
Stainless Steel Sink Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use abrasive sponges on my stainless steel sink?
No, don’t use abrasive sponges on your stainless steel sink. Since scratches are a common problem with stainless steel, only use soft sponges. Avoid using steel wool or steel scrubbies.
Are stainless steel sinks challenging to install?
Due to their relatively lightweight composition, stainless steel sinks are easy to install. Unlike other sink materials, such as fireclay, that require several people for installation, stainless steel sinks can usually be installed by a single person.
Stainless Steel Sink Care
Routine care is imperative to keeping your stainless steel sink sparkling clean and scratch-free. To avoid water spots that mar the appearance of the sink, rinse and wipe the sink dry after each use. If water spots develop, use a microfiber cleaning cloth to buff out the imperfections.
If you have issues with hard water that stains your sink or leaves deposits, clean them away with vinegar. Once you’re done with the sink for the night, clean it out, then rinse it with vinegar. Wipe it dry. Doing this daily or weekly will help keep your sink clean. For an additional shine, rub a small amount of olive oil into the sink with a soft cloth.
Add a sink grid to the bottom of the sink to protect it. This helps prevent scratches while still effectively allowing water to drain away.
Avoid cleaning the sink with steel wool, which can scratch the sink and leave behind particles of iron that will cause the sink to rust. Instead, use a soft scouring pad, scrubbing in the direction of the grain, to remove tough messes.
Which Sink Material Is Better?
Choosing the best sink material comes down to your personal preferences, so neither sink material is better than the other. If you’re working with a limited budget yet need a classy, durable sink, stainless steel is an excellent option.
On the other hand, if you are working with a large budget and prefer the timeless elegance of fireclay sinks, they’re also a great option. Both sink types are relatively easy to maintain and are reasonably durable, making them excellent sink materials.