14 Fireclay Sinks Pros and Cons

If you are thinking about a kitchen renovation project, then a fireclay sink might be the perfect addition to your design. You will find this material tends to be available with the farmhouse-style sink, providing you with distinctive features that can provide a unique look and more value to your home.

Fireclay is a special material which gets fired in a kiln with glaze to create a material that looks and feels like ceramic, but offers more practical benefits because of its production method. It is a trendy choice for the modern kitchen because it serves as a focal point for the room while offering a fun conversation piece for your visitors. It can be an undermount or overmount design and includes a finished apron that makes it easier to reach to the bottom of the basin.

This sink option is not anything new. Homes throughout Europe jumped onto this trend over two centuries ago. Farmhouses around the world have always featured this design because it offers so many ways to multitask in the kitchen. It is practical, resilient, and sensible for a high-traffic area.

These are the pros and cons to consider if you want to add a fireclay sink to your home soon.

List of the Pros of Fireclay Sinks

1. It provides you with a reversible design option to take advantage of two looks.
The best fireclay sinks which are available today offer homeowners a reversible option to create the perfect look for their home. This product is finished on all four sides if it provides this feature, then gives you a smooth or fluted side to create a specific décor addition to the kitchen. Some models will give you the choice of having squared or rounded corners displayed outward. Although there is a cost element to consider with this item, the value of what it offers in this area is a definite advantage.

2. You can still use a garbage disposal with fireclay sinks.
Although you must purchase a garbage disposal that is compatible with a fireclay sink, you will still get to take advantage of this kitchen appliance in your home. The reason why you must pay attention to the design of the disposal is due to the depth and thickness of the sink design. A standard unit will not work, so you’ll need to select a product with an extended flange that can pair with a strainer basket or stopper to fit your needs. Since a hole is not usually provided for faucet mounting, you’ll need to counter-mount it or use a wall as part of your design.

3. A fireclay sink doesn’t take up a significant amount of space.
You will need to measure the inside of the base cabinet, and then subtract three inches to determine what the maximum sink size is that your setup can support. If you have a 37-inch base cabinet, then it can hold a 34-inch fireclay sink. The two most common sizes are 24 inches and 36 inches, but there are several different sizes available through a variety of manufacturers today. As long as you don’t need something above 40 inches, then you should be okay to use this design with your current kitchen.

4. These sinks are handcrafted, even if they are mass produced.
You will want to work with a kitchen designer who is familiar with fireclay sinks to ensure that you have an effortless installation experience. This product is usually handcrafted, even when there are high levels of production involved, because of the nature of the work. You will discover small variations in size and shape even with the same model, so expecting a perfect match is sometimes unreasonable. Since there are a variety of installation options from which to choose, you will discover that the design works well with any kitchen that offers a custom touch.

5. It is resistant to higher heat levels than some other sink materials.
Fireclay sinks come from a combination of ceramic clay and minerals to forge a product which is naturally resistant to heat. You will have more space with which to work because you’re not forced to use trivets on the counter or leave items on the stove while working in the kitchen. Most manufacturers over a single or double bowl design as well, which means you can have whatever level of variety that you need for your installation. Although there are limitations to the positioning of your faucet, the overall versatility of this historic sink makes it a worthy addition to almost any home.

6. Fireclay sinks are very easy to maintain.
There can be some issues with spotting, staining, or scratching with fireclay sinks, but their maintenance and upkeep is still manageable. It is a non-porous surface, which means stains struggle to take hold. If something does become a problem, a simple wipe down will often take care of the problem. You will need to use non-abrasive cleaners to clean the sink and limit the use of steel wool, but following the best practices of this material will create the opportunity to have a sink of superior quality that lasts for a lifetime.

7. These sinks handle high traffic situations.
If you are in the kitchen baking or cleaning frequently, then the premium nature of today’s fireclay sinks will provide you with a durability advantage. It can withstand daily wear-and-tear over an extended period without gaining prematurely. The thickness and weight of the product reduces dings, dents, or chips that other materials struggle to match. It may cost a little more to purchase and install this option, but it is usually worth the investment.

List of the Cons of Fireclay Sinks

1. You will need additional supports to install your new sink.
The weight of a new fireclay sink is extensive, which means most homes must include additional supports for the structure in their kitchen. That is why a professional installation recommendation usually comes with this product. This issue necessitates a specific inclusion method as well, so you must use a counter-mounted or wall-mounted faucet to complete the project.

Most kitchens need to have their cabinets reinforced to support the extra weight of the sink, which can sometimes necessitate a change to how the plumbing routes to that spot. If your kitchen cannot support the structure of the weight, then you cannot use this material to finish the project.

2. There are limited designs, colors, and sizes available.
Almost all of the fireclay sinks that you will find on the market today incorporate the farmhouse-style design, which means you have a deep frontage area that creates a basin to use. If your setup requires a double basin or a size other than rectangular, then you’re going to be out of luck with this material. Most manufacturers offer a limited number of color choices with this option, and there may even be size limitations to consider too. If you must have a custom product for the space you have at home, then this product will be almost impossible to use.

The two most common colors that you will find are white or off-white because of the composition of the clay. Some alternative finishes thanks to changes in the glazing process include blue or black with some manufacturers.

3. It can be prone to chipping and damage over time.
Because you are using a kiln-fired product for your kitchen sink, the glaze that infuses into the clay to create a usable surface begins to degrade over time. Although the surface is very hard and durable, providing a look that is almost identical to cast iron, the longevity of fireclay sinks is not comparable to other materials. It can crack and chip over time as part of its normal wear-and-tear, which means the integrity of your kitchen sink could be called into question over time. You must repair any damage immediately to reduce the risk of leakage coming from the basin.

4. The cost of a fireclay sink puts it out of reach for some homeowners.
There are several different production steps that a fireclay sink must progress through to have it become a usable product. That means there is more labor and energy put into the process, causing the price of the final product to be much higher than a standard stainless steel sink. A basic model using this material and design might cost $300, but it is not unusual to see costs well above $1,000 when careful craftsmanship is considered. You’ll receive an excellent product in return for this expense, but finding a way to afford it can sometimes be a challenge.

5. The fireclay can be unkind to your dishes and glasses.
You will notice right away that the fireclay sinks tend to be a little deeper than the standard metal options that are found in many kitchens today. That depth can cause damage to your dishes and glasses if you’re used to tossing them in the sink while they await cleaning. This design can also cause more splashing to occur when you’re working in the kitchen, even if you just have the faucet running.

You can avoid many of these issues by being careful with your dishes, but it is still a problem that you will want to consider before finalizing this investment.

6. You may have more bending and reaching to do with a fireclay sink.
Because of the depth of the sink, many homeowners find that they have more bending to do to reach the bottom of the basin. Although this problem is minimal for most kitchens, it can be an issue for some children who need a stepping stool to reach this fixture. When you add in the fact that the apron can stick out from the rest of your cabinets with its size and design, there could be some problems with use that you will need to counter when completing this project.

7. This sink material can pick up water stains rather easily.
The most common problem with staining that occurs with a fireclay sink happens when water stays at the bottom of the basin. If you do not wipe out the sink after each use or clean any stains that form with a mild abrasive cleaner, then they can become a permanent part of this fixture. You will notice that the finish begins to wear off over time and some foods or beverages can leave stains after a brief contact. Proactive maintenance can often reduce or eliminate problems in this area.

The pros and cons of fireclay sinks are important to consider when you are creating a new kitchen or remodeling an existing space. This popular option provides high-traffic support with improved durability over some models, but it can also encourage more damage and be prone to chipping or stains under certain conditions. If you can afford the additional cost of this material, then you will join most homeowners in agreeing that this timeless décor option is the perfect addition to the home.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.