The Farmhouse sink (commonly known as an apron sink) originated to reduce trips to the well or other water source and can hold large quantities of water. While we may not have that same demand in our modern-day society, due to how well it allows for stock pots and pans to sit inside, along with its sheer durability and good looks, the style is still incredibly popular.
A common question people have when deciding which farmhouse sink is right for them, is whether they should opt for a fireclay or cast iron model. To answer this question and just about any others on this subject, keep reading because we are here to fill you in!
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What is Fireclay? (& How Is It Made?)
Fireclay’s a pretty cool name for a material made by heating up a clay-based ceramic at very high temps inside a kiln. As this is happening, it creates a protective type of glaze which attaches to the clay. This makes the fireclay incredibly strong yet lightweight. Not only that, but they're less expensive than cast iron and tend to be much easier to install! In terms of durability, fireclay is much less vulnerable to rusting and chipping.
It's not perfect, though. For example, it can scratch from being hit too hard with a pot or pan. It can also stain, so you have to be careful what you're using and leaving in it. Lastly, there aren't quite as many color options with fireclay.
What is Cast Iron? (& How Is It Made?)
Cast iron is incredibly durable and is made by taking iron and coating them in a tough enamel. This enamel comes in just about any color you want and is more resistant to stains than fireclay is. Just remember that in terms of general style, you’re quite limited.
The downside is that the upfront cost is notably higher than fireclay. As you can probably imagine, cast iron is very heavy, and this demands undermounting support so it doesn't cause it to fall through the countertop. Lastly, if the enamel ends up chipping or wearing off, it can be vulnerable to rusting.
Fireclay vs. Cast Iron: Which is Best for a Farmhouse Apron Sink?
Durability & Longevity
While both are incredibly durable, fireclay does hold a bit of an advantage here due to how well it keeps over long-term usage. Over years of continuous use, cast iron will eventually start to show signs of wear and tear, like scratches. However, the good news is that if you do scratch a cast iron sink, you won’t notice it much as the material under the top layer is the same color.
When it comes to choosing a color, you have more options with cast iron. Fireclay still has a nice variety of options, but you won’t find anything too outrageous. However, with the design/shape you do have more options with fireclay, so it all comes down to what exactly you're looking for.
Ease of Fitting & Installation
Installing a cast iron sink isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, you’ll most definitely need at least one other person helping you, or go ahead and call up a professional to install it for you. As the cast iron is so heavy and challenging to move around freely, it’s dangerous doing it solo. You may also have to undermount the sink as well to be able to adequately support the sink’s weight and save your countertops.
Maintenance & Cleaning
Fireclay sinks are generally easier to clean than cast iron due to the fact that the latter can only be cleaned with non-abrasive substances. This is because the enamel coating is vulnerable to damage. Fireclay doesn’t require anything special and is overall just simpler to maintain.
Cost Comparison: Which Is More Expensive?
Cast iron is occasionally more expensive upfront, but if the enamel doesn’t scratch or wear off, it can last even longer than fireclay. However, both types range widely in cost depending on the model, brand, and other factors.
Cast iron has a slightly larger price range than fireclay, and you can realistically find something for around $200 if you’re really on a tight budget. They tend to get up to around 6-700 bucks at the high end, while the low end of fireclay sinks start around this point and can get up to about $1000!
Just remember that you’re likely going to spend less time and money on maintaining a fireclay sink than a cast iron, so work that into your budget as well.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Do fireclay sinks crack or scratch easily?
Fireclay isn’t very likely to scratch and tends to hold its structural integrity and good looks over the years. However, it’s more vulnerable to cracking than any other sink material out there.
How do you whiten a farmhouse sink?
Easy: get out some hydrogen peroxide, apply it with a soft sponge or cloth and leave it to sit overnight. You can also create a simple solution of baking soda and vinegar to get rid of any mineral deposits.
Are farmhouse sinks hard to install?
Not usually! While they may look a bit challenging, they’re made to work with already-existing kitchen sink cabinets. Of course, there will be a bit of modification needed in most situations, but it’s not typically a difficult process. If you want a comprehensive guide on just how to do so, check this out.
Can you use bleach on a farmhouse sink?
Definitely avoid using bleach on your farmhouse sink. Instead, opt for vinegar and baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. It’s really easy to use bleach the wrong way, and both of the options we just mentioned are healthier.
Now that you know all about fireclay versus cast iron farmhouse sinks, have you decided which type is right for your household? While both are top-rated options, what’s most important is that you find the correct type for your needs. We hope our guide has been able to answer that question and any others you may have.
Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.