They say history repeats itself, and I find that this is especially true when it comes to home style trends. Take fireclay sinks: they’ve been around and around for a couple hundred years now, with roots in French country kitchens, but they’ve started making a comeback in a big way in recent years. There are more than a few reasons fireclay sinks have withstood the test of time, and a couple that they’re coming back in vogue now specifically, so if you’re in the market for a traditional but on-trend kitchen sink for your next remodel, read on!
What Is Fireclay?
Fireclay sinks are sinks made of a very specific type of white clay found only in certain regions of the world. If you’re buying one today, there’s a good chance that it’s coming from either Italy or Israel, or in the case of this Shaws Original Single Basin sink, from the Limoges region of France. What’s unique about this particular clay, though, is that it can withstand extremely high firing temperatures – temperatures exceeding 1515 degrees Fahrenheit, to be specific – which makes for a finished product with extremely unique characteristics, even among other ceramic or porcelain sinks.
Browse Rohl Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
First, fireclay sinks like this Shaws Original are very, very hard. Being fired at such high temperatures causes the clay material to fuse together with itself and with the glaze to produce an incredibly durable surface. Unlike some porcelain-coated sinks, fireclay sinks won’t chip, scratch, or mar, and can hold up to an impressive amount of abuse. You just get a smooth, traditional, glossy white finish that’s surprisingly able to handle modern day wear and tear. After all, these sinks were originally made to handle intensive farmhouse cooking and washing.
Not only is fireclay incredibly hard once it’s fired, the glossy glazed surface is also quite inert. It’s resistant to hot, cold, acid, and alkali, and won’t rust the way some ceramic or porcelain sinks will. In fact, that’s another byproduct of the high heat – the clay and glaze are raised to such a high temperature that the resultant sink is completely non-porous, so it won’t stain or discolor, either, making it an excellent material for a utility sink. If you like the look of a porcelain sink but hate the care and maintenance of it, a fireclay sink like this Reversible Farmhaus Sink from Whitehaus is a much less persnickety alternative.
Browse Whitehaus Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
But why now? If these fabulous sinks have been around so long, what’s the big catalyst for their comeback? Simple: the green revolution is in full swing, and fireclay sinks like this Quatro Alcove Sink make a nice addition to an eco friendly kitchen. Because they’re made out of all natural materials, are totally lead-free, designed to last as long as your house, and can be completely recycled even if you do decide to replace it, fireclay sinks are not only highly functional, they’re also about as environmentally friendly as they come.
Browse Alfi Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
But Wait! What About Style?
It is possible to get fireclay sinks in a variety of different designs, but the majority of the one’s you’re going to find are going to be farmhouse style apron sinks. Whether this is tradition, practicality, or what, I honestly can’t say, but while there are some bathroom-destined undermount basin style sinks, and a few kitchen drop-ins, the vast majority are more like this Luveron Sink from Herbeau, with a simple or lightly designed apron that sits inside a notch in your counter top.
That’s Great, But Do You Have It In Black?
Because fireclay sinks are made out of white clay, you aren’t going to find any really authentic fireclay sinks in any color other than white or slightly off-white. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large you’re looking at a white sink. That said, you can find fireclay sinks with some pretty lovely decorative aprons. Since fireclay sinks are made of pressed clay, you can get just about any design on the front face. You can even find some with hand painted or etched designs on the apron, like this gorgeous Tidings Sink from Kohler, for a more old fashioned look.
What About Bowls?
Though the vast majority of fireclay sinks are apron style sinks, that doesn’t mean they don’t come in a variety of styles. You can easily get single or double bowl fireclay sinks, and as with any other kind of kitchen sink, even there there’s a little variety: the size and depth of the bowls and the height of the wall between them. I really like this Shaws Original from Rohl, which has one large bowl and a smaller prep bowl on the side, which is great if you’re trying to prepare different types of food at once.
So if you have plans to do an eco-friendly kitchen remodel (or a rustic cottage style makeover!), you really can’t beat a farmhouse style fireclay apron sink for utility and style. What do you want out of your next kitchen sink? What do you like about fireclay sinks? Anything you’re wondering that I haven’t mentioned here?