Fireclay is trending for all the right reasons – beauty, style and substance. It’s not a material you have to fuss over to keep it looking good, and it offers impressive durability to go with a higher price tag than some other materials.
This fireclay sink buyers guide will help you compare these sinks with others in important areas. Browse our similar buying guides for cast iron, stainless steel, granite composite and other materials to see how fireclay stacks up against your other options.
About Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
As the name implies, these are sinks made from clay that have been fired at high temperatures to harden them and glazed to make them bright, beautiful and resistant to stains, germs and scratches. Fireclay sinks have been manufactured in England for well over a century, and some of those early sinks are still in use today.
The process begins with the mining of fireclay (or fire clay), an argillaceous clay with very high heat resistance. The material is used as fire brick and to line furnaces. It is also made into metalworking crucibles, glassware and pottery.
Fireclay is combined with water to produce a mixture known as “slip.” The slip is poured into molds made of material that absorbs water to facilitate the drying of the clay. The work, known as slip casting, is done largely by hand. When partially dried, the sinks are removed from their molds, and any slight imperfections are worked by hand to create a smooth, consistent surface before the final drying process. If there are significant imperfections, a rare occurrence, the sink is scrapped.
Finally, several coats of glaze sprayed onto the sinks, and they are fired in kilns with internal temperatures above 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit (vs. about 2,200 F for cast iron). The glaze fuses with the fire clay to create a non-porous finish that isn’t damaged by acid, won’t harbor bacteria and resists scratches.
Fireclay Kitchen Sink Options
- Single and double sinks (triple fireclay sinks are uncommon)
- Topmount/self-rimming and undermount (the more common type)
- Round sinks, rectangle sinks and smaller prep sinks
- A limited range of colors
Note on sink types: On this site, you’ll find guide sets for single, double and triple sinks, topmount and undermount sinks, farmhouse/apron sinks and corner sinks too. These allow you to research the pros and cons of each one, their features and sink prices based on the material each is made from.
Top Fireclay Kitchen Sink Brands
Because these sinks are expensive, they’re produced only by premium sink companies.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
These pros & cons can be compared to those we’ve put together for all the other popular sink materials.
Fireclay kitchen sink advantages – fireclay sinks:
- Are distinctive and stylish
- Feature a very tough, scratch-resistant glaze finish
- Have non-porous surface that resists stains and is easy to clean
- Stand up to harsh chemicals (though they’re not recommended for use in cleaning fireclay)
- Are tough and don’t chip easily
- Are built to last for 50+ years
Fireclay kitchen sink disadvantages – fireclay sinks:
- Are available in a more limited number of colors and styles than stainless steel and granite composite
- Are very hard, so dropped dishes and glasses will break more easily than if dropped in a stainless steel sink
- Are quite heavy, so extra support is required for installation
- Have an average cost higher than sinks crafted from most other materials
Fireclay Kitchen Sink Style
As noted, the traditional fireclay sink is a farmhouse or apron sink, and that style is still the most popular. However, as the material’s reputation grows and demand increases, fireclay sinks in more contemporary styles are being produced.
Fireclay Kitchen Sink Prices
Our guide for Fireclay Kitchen Sink Prices breaks down their cost into more detail based on type. Here’s an overview of the cost of fireclay kitchen sinks:
- Prep and bars sinks starting price: About $250
- Starting price for fireclay kitchen sinks: About $325
- Price range for most fireclay kitchen sinks: $600-$1,500
- Most expensive fireclay kitchen sinks: More than $2,500
Is a Fireclay Sink Right for Your Kitchen?
Fireclay is used in some of the very finest farmhouse sinks, and if a farmhouse/apron sink fits your design, and fireclay is in the budget, you’ll probably be very pleased with your sink.
If your design is more contemporary, there are fireclay sinks to fit the design too. In short, if you’re willing to pay more for a high-quality, very durable sink, fireclay is certainly a premium choice.
Installing a Fireclay Sink
This material is very heavy, so you’ll need additional support for the sink. The most secure way to provide it is with vertical supports that extend to the floor. Some sinks also require mounting to the wall.
Talk with the seller or the installer about the best means of supporting the weight. The key is to take weight off the countertop so that it doesn’t bow. Bowing can crack stone or tile and lead to gaps between the sink and countertop where water can infiltrate. Even a bow of 1/16” can produce a leak.
Fireclay Kitchen Sink FAQ
This fireclay kitchen sink Q&A covers other topics which might be of interest to you.
A lot is made of the high firing temperature for fireclay. What is the significance of it?
The super-heated kiln produces a very durable fusion between the glaze and the clay. This means it is less likely to chip. It also produces a glass-like finish that is non-porous and very easy to keep clean and sanitary.
I thought clay is cheap. Why are fireclay sinks so expensive?
There are several reasons for the higher price:
- Fire clay isn’t as common as some types of clay, so it costs more
- The glaze is of the highest quality
- Making a fireclay sink is time intensive from mixing the slip to drying the sinks to firing them
- The primary factor in the price is that fireclay sinks are handcrafted by skilled artisans who spend many hours on each sink
Some fireclay farmhouse sinks are reversible. What does this mean, and why is it important?
A reversible sink has a traditional farmhouse face on one side and a more contemporary face on the other, so you have a choice of which look you prefer for your kitchen scheme. The drains in these sinks are always in the middle.
What are the differences in fireclay and porcelain-enameled cast iron?
A fireclay finish is harder than porcelain, and rust spots won’t develop if it is chipped, as is the potential with cast iron. A cast iron sink can be reglazed, tough at significant cost. Otherwise, the way they perform and their strengths and weaknesses are quite similar.
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