A fireclay farmhouse sink has been around for centuries, in fact, its origins date back to Britain in the late 17th century before running water even existed. They were extremely popular in London and were raved about for their aesthetic appeal, functional design and practical use even in the very high-traffic kitchens of the time. The sink was used for almost everything from washing dishes and clothes to bathing small children and pets.
It's no surprise that due to its functional design and timeless and elegant appeal that the fireclay farmhouse sink has made a resurgence among homeowners in America too. Thanks to Joanna Gaines, the fireclay farmhouse sink has gained added popularity and has become a favorite feature in new home kitchens today.
A Comprehensive Guide to a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink:
- What is a Farmhouse Sink?
- What is a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink?
- Fireclay Farmhouse Sink Size, Color, and Configuration
- Pick Your Style: Modern and Contemporary or Vintage and Traditional
- Important Tips Before Installing a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink
- Farmhouse Kitchen Faucet Considerations
- Maintaining a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink
What is a Farmhouse Sink?
A farmhouse sink is also called an apron sink, apron front sink farm sink, or farmer's sink and is essentially a wide deep basin sink with no lips protruding out at the corners. It usually has no pre-drilled holes that can be used to install faucets and other accessories (the faucet holes would have to be drilled directly into the countertop). Its defining feature is a finished front that remains exposed after installation. Because of the depth and width of these sinks they can hold many pots and pans making washing dishes a breeze. These sinks are loved for their large size, visual appeal, and ergonomic functionality.
Traditionally, farmhouse sinks were made in fireclay. Today, farmhouse sinks come in many materials, colors, configurations, and styles to meet the needs of every kitchen! There is now a farmhouse sink for every home, be it a traditional farmhouse or a contemporary modern loft.
A Farmhouse Sink makes a stunning statement in homes and is a conversational piece in every kitchen!
What is a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink?
Fireclay farmhouse sinks are extremely popular these days and understandably so. The original farmhouse sink was made in fireclay which is an ultra-durable material making it a good choice for a kitchen sink. It is a resilient and versatile material that is classy yet trendy. Furthermore, the clay used to make the sink, is found in only certain regions in the world making each sink pretty unique.
How is a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink made?
Fireclay is a type of ceramic that is made when clay and glaze are fused together at extremely high temperatures (most brands bake their sinks at over 2000 degrees F).
- First, the clay is poured into molds based on the shape and size desired
- It is then left to dry in a mildly heated room for up to 2 days.
- Once the clay is dry, porcelain enamel is applied by hand before putting the sink inside a kiln to bake!
- The temperature is cranked up to over 2000 degrees F for almost 24 hours, and this is when the magic happens!
- The high temperature fuses the enamel to the ceramic making the sink extremely non-porous, durable and heavy-duty.
The fireclay farmhouse sink is born and it is hard and resistant to chips, cracks, stains, and rust. Fireclay sinks have a handcrafted quality to them and that's what makes them all the more special.
For an upscale and luxurious interpretation of the classic fireclay farmhouse sink, one can choose a concrete, stone, petrified wood stone or copper farmhouse sink, adding a variety of options to differentiate today’s kitchen.
A point to note with fireclay sinks is that they are not perfect. Due to the organic nature of fireclay and the hand-finished high-temperature firing process some sinks may have minor imperfections (such as little bubbles, dimples, small divots, etc.). It is also important to note that these minor imperfections are not defects and do not affect the functionality of the sink. It's what makes each sink uniquely its own.
Need everything to be perfect and will the possibility of an imperfection drive you crazy? No worries, we have many other farmhouse sink materials you can consider. A stainless steel farmhouse sink or a granite/quartz composite farmhouse sink would both be good choices. For something more unique a stone farmhouse sink or a copper farmhouse sink sets the tone of natural elegance and luxury.
To determine, if another farmhouse sink material would be better for you, read this post to review the farmhouse sink materials: pros and cons.
How is a Fireclay Sink different from a Porcelain Sink?
We are commonly asked whether a porcelain sink is just another name for a fireclay sink. The simple answer is, no.
Although a porcelain sink looks very similar to a fireclay sink they are different. Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is a white clay body made with clay, Kaolin and other materials, and heated in a kiln at high temperatures to make it durable and hard. In comparison to fireclay, porcelain sinks are made at lower temperatures and are more susceptible to stains, scratches, and chips. They do come in a variety of colors however they are recommended for bathrooms (sinks and toilets) than for kitchens. These sinks are also known as ceramic or vitreous china sinks.
Most porcelain sinks that are made for kitchens are actually porcelain enamel coated cast iron, stainless steel or fireclay sinks that are baked at high temperatures. The cast-iron and stainless steel sinks that are glazed with porcelain are strong but can chip if a sharp or heavy object is dropped in. This chip can expose the metal beneath and the damaged enamel will cause the metal underneath to rust. Having said that, with good care, these sinks can also last for decades.
Fireclay Farmhouse Sink Size, Color, and Configuration
The Perfect Size
Fireclay farmhouse sinks come in varied sizes and configurations. The most popular size is the 33" fireclay farmhouse sink followed by a 36" fireclay farmhouse sink and then a 30" fireclay farmhouse sink. The most popular color is white indeed! Your kitchen size will be one of the key factors in deciding the size of your farm sink. We say the larger the sink the better if your kitchen space and layout allows for it.
The often-overlooked dimension is the width of the sink from front to back. Most sinks are about 18" from front to back but some go up a couple of inches giving you more interior bowl space if your countertop allows for it. For a wider farmhouse sink from front to back that will give you more interior bowl space, take a look at our collections for fireclay farmhouse sinks from Houzer. With a wider sink, make sure you have enough space at the back to install your faucet and accessories while leaving enough room to clean behind the faucet. If you are short of space and really would like the larger sink, consider pairing it with a wall-mounted faucet.
TIP - An important factor when considering the size of your sink is the size of your base cabinet. Farmhouse sinks require custom made base cabinets, although existing cabinets can be retrofitted by a professional. The recommended size of the base cabinet is 3 inches larger than the size of the sink. So, a 33" farmhouse sink will need at least a 36" wide base cabinet. Here are some amazing retrofit farmhouse sink options from BOCCHI, Karran and Nantucket Sinks.
Choose the Color
Back in the day, farmhouse sinks only came in the color white and were made with Fireclay. These days there is no dearth of colors that you can get for your fireclay farmhouse sink. They now come in colors ranging from white, biscuit, gray, dark gray, sapphire blue, brown and black. There are also silver, gold and gunmetal colors for those looking for a luxurious touch.
TIP - Pay close attention to the finish of the sink. A Glossy sink will be reflective and shiny unlink one with a matte finish. Sometimes the type of finish is included in the name of the color. Colors and Finishes can vary by brand. Brands may choose the same name for a color even if it's not exactly the same.
The Fireclay Farmhouse Sink Configuration Options
Both have advantages and disadvantages and it will really come down to how you use your kitchen and sink.
- A single bowl farmhouse sink gives you the space to stack all your dishes, baking trays, water your plants and bathe babies or pets.
- A double bowl farmhouse sink allows you to segregate the dirty dishes from the clean. While you can continue to use the clean basin for food prep or drying clean dishes.
- You will also have a choice in the bowl split from a 50/50, 60/40, and even 70/30 giving you added flexibility and options.
Pick your style: Modern and Contemporary or Vintage and Traditional
Next, comes selecting the style of your fireclay farmhouse sink. Traditionally, a fireclay farmhouse sink was a choice for victorian homes, cottages and of course farmhouses. Today, farmhouse sinks come in varied styles and colors that make a bold statement even in a modern and contemporary styled home.
Typical features that one looks for in a modern farmhouse sink are:
- thinner wall thickness
- straight and slightly less rounded corners
- smooth apron front
- plain white, gray or colors in a matte finish.
For a traditional look, check the sink for:
- its wall thickness; generally thicker walls give it a more vintage look
- rounded corners, and
- aprons with a design, lip or fluted front.
Not sure what your style is? No worries, some farmhouse sinks are finished on all four sides and are reversible and each side a little different. This means that you can install it with any apron side facing the front. The apron front can come with a smooth front, a fluted front, an arched lip, or a curved or slanted front. The corner edges can be straight or curved. This gives you the flexibility to make a decision just before installation.
There is more! You can also choose to install a farmhouse workstation sink. What is a workstation sink? It is a sink that truly enhances the user experience and keeps the mess off the countertops. These sinks have an accessory ledge along the sides of the sink for a dish rack, cutting board or strainer that can be used interchangeably. Here are some of our favorite workstation sinks:
Important Tips Before Installing a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink
Installing a fireclay farmhouse sink is very different from installing a standard stainless steel kitchen sink and hence it is highly recommended to use experienced and professional installers who know how to install a fireclay farmhouse sink, as there may be small nuances in size and shape due to their handcrafted nature and the professional needs to know how to handle it.
Although a fireclay farmhouse sink can be installed in many ways such as under-mount, flush-mount or top-mount, most manufacturers recommend it be installed under-mount and with a 1/4" to 1" reveal in front. Discuss this with your designer and contractor to ensure you are getting the installation you desire.
Here are some important points to keep in mind before and while installing a fireclay farmhouse sink:
Order your fireclay farmhouse sink well in advance. Many styles of sinks are very popular and can be on back-order for over a month. If you have your heart set on a style and brand, order it well in advance to avoid last-minute stresses and delays to your project. Allow for some wiggle room in your timeline to get a replacement, in the event of shipping damage.
- As soon as your sink is delivered, open the box and all the packaging to inspect it for warps, defects, and damages so corrective action can be taken in a timely manner.
- As already mentioned, the base cabinet size needs to be at least 3 inches larger than the size of the sink. So a 33" fireclay farmhouse sink can be installed in a 36" base cabinet and a 30" fireclay farmhouse sink can be installed in a 33" base cabinet (this rule applies for most farmhouse sinks).
- Given the nature of fireclay sinks the actual dimensions of the sink can vary by about 2% from the specifications. Hence, there are generally no cut-outs or templates provided for these sinks and it is highly recommended that you use the actual sink to make any countertop and cabinet cutouts. Another reason to order your sink well in advance. Remember, your countertops and cabinets cannot be finalized without your fireclay farmhouse sink on hand!
- Fireclay farmhouse sinks are heavy and need a custom cabinet made with a front cutout to accommodate the deep sink and exposed apron front. In addition, a plywood platform is to be built that will serve as a support frame inside of the base cabinet to support the weight of the sink, water filled to the top, with any attachments such as garbage disposals.
TIP: For sinks below 100lbs, you can also mount an under-mount installation kit (Model #: WHUMSB) to the inner sidewalls of your cabinet. You can put plywood on the rods to create a large smooth flat surface and drill the necessary drain holes
- Most farmhouse sinks have a 10" apron (height of the sink), hence you would need to ensure you have enough space below the sink in the cabinet to accommodate your garbage disposal, plumbing lines, etc.
- The farmhouse sink needs to be leveled from the top and bottom. If needed, adjustments can be made with shims. Hence, the need to get a professional!
- Farmhouse sinks do not include holes for the faucets to be fitted into; rather, faucets are installed through the cabinetry or on the wall. Make sure you have enough space behind the sink on the countertop for the faucet and other accessories such as a soap dispenser and water filter of your choice.
- It is recommended to use a stainless steel sink grid at the bottom of a fireclay farmhouse sink. It will protect your sink from getting chips and cracks from accidental drops while using heavy pots and pans.
- Finally, if you are installing your sink with a waste disposal unit, you most likely won't need to purchase the drains as the unit will come with it. However, if you would like to match the drain with your hardware and faucet you will need to purchase a disposal flange or trim separately. Ensure it is compatible with the waste disposal unit. A basket strainer can be used for sinks installed without garbage disposal.
Looking for a detailed set of instructions for installing a farmhouse sink? Read our Farmhouse Sink Installation Guide.
Farmhouse Kitchen Faucet Considerations
Adding the right faucet to your farmhouse sink exponentially enhances the look of your kitchen. Finding the right one can be overwhelming given the number of brands, features, finishes, styles, and colors out there. Here are a few key points to keep in mind while looking for a farmhouse kitchen faucet:
- Farmhouse sinks do not have pre-drilled holes in them, hence the faucet will need to be installed into the countertop or the wall.
- Pay attention to the front to back length of the farmhouse sink and determine how much space you have behind the sink leaving enough room for cleaning behind the sink and faucet if installing with a wall behind.
- Take accurate measurements and double-check your minimum and maximum size requirements and watch for the faucet spout height and reach. and check measure again.
- When deciding on the finish, think about your lifestyle and how you use your kitchen. Some finishes may look beautiful and match your decor but the finish will wear off if you don't take care of what you use to clean it. Chrome is the most durable finish but may not match your design palette. Nickel finishes are a good second choice (brushed, satin, or stainless steel)
- Check the water lines and thickness of your countertop. The faucet should be compatible with the water lines, hence check the size of your shut off valve. Most professionals will generally replace the shut-off valves before installing a new faucet.
It is easy to fall in love with a kitchen faucet. Today's designs offered are unique, stunning and are a conversation piece that stands alone as a piece of art. It is, however, important to understand your sink setup and kitchen usage to ensure you get a functional fixture that also complements your space.
To find the perfect farmhouse kitchen faucet type and style that is unique to you and that would enhance the look of your farmhouse sink and kitchen read more about the different types of farmhouse kitchen faucets.
Maintaining a Fireclay Farmhouse Sink
Cleaning and maintaining a fireclay farmhouse sink is easy and very simple. Here are some general care and cleaning tips:
- Clean daily with a mild cleaner and warm water. We recommend using natural ingredients that will not harm your sink or the planet. A simple mild solution of baking soda + vinegar or eco dish soap + water is all you need.
- Wipe surfaces clean with a soft brush, sponge or cloth.
- Keep the sink free of standing water to prevent buildup from the mineral deposit. A mild vinegar + water solution can be used to clean any mineral deposits.
- For deep cleaning or stubborn stains, you may use Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami. Always rinse the sink with water after using a cleaning solution and wipe dry.
- Use the manufacturer recommended cleaning products. Here is a list for you to consider:
- Fantastik Antibacterial Heavy Duty
- Astonish - Over and Cookware Cleaner
- Formula 409 Antibacterial AllPurpose
- Green Works All-Purpose
- Soft Scrub Gel with Bleach
- Soft Scrub Lemon Cleanser
- Bar Keepers Friend (for rust removal)
- Super Iron Out Rust Stain Remover (for rust removal)
- Use abrasive chemical cleaners as they can dull and scratch the surface. If you have cleaners, always test your cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface.
- Use paint removers, oven cleaners, or aggressive chemical solutions to clean sink surfaces.
- Use an abrasive material such as steel wool or scouring pad as it can damage the sink surface and cause discoloration.
- Store open cleaning containers under the sink such as acids, bleach, sodium chloride, lye, toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaner, or hard water stain removal products under your sink.
Ready to find the farmhouse sink for your dream kitchen? Hop on over to view our large collection of apron front fireclay farm sinks for your home. Have a question? Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to assist you or visit our website at www.thesinkboutique.com.
A fireclay farmhouse sink not what you are looking for? Want to evaluate another farmhouse sink material? With so many sink materials available on the market today it can be quite a daunting task to decide on the right material for your lifestyle and decor. If you need help determining which sink material is right for you, read our post on farmhouse sink materials: pros and cons.
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