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Fireclay vs. Cast Iron Sink: What to Consider Before You Choose

When it comes to picking out a sink, there are many styles and material options. And like picking an appliance, the right countertop surface or hunting for antique hardware to add the finishing touch, it takes some research to find what works for you. From copper kitchen sinks to stainless steel sinks and more, there are several materials to consider! And lately, one material has become increasingly popular: fireclay. 

However, being so similar to a cast iron sink, one might wonder what makes a fireclay sink so special and how the material itself compares to something as substantial and reputable as cast iron. 

So, fireclay vs. cast iron sink: What do you choose? Below, we’ve put together a breakdown of the good and bad of each sink style to help you weigh the options and find the ideal sink to slip into your kitchen countertops or a vintage bathroom sink for your ensuite. While Van Dyke’s offers a range of sink options for each room, this focuses on kitchen sinks in particular since they see the most use.

Fireclay Sinks

Before we talk about fireclay kitchen sinks, we need to explain what the fireclay material is and how it’s made. Fireclay is a clay-based ceramic heated inside a kiln at extremely high temperatures (roughly 1600 degrees Fahrenheit). Typically, when you hear the word ceramic, you automatically assume it’s on the delicate side and easy to break. However, due to fireclay’s firing process, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, by fusing together glaze and clay, the strength and integrity of the material are improved upon. 

So how does fireclay material work as a sink? And a better question: What are the pros and cons when comparing them to cast iron sinks, whether it’s for the kitchen or bathroom? 

Fireclay Sink

The Advantages of Using a Fireclay Sink

When comparing a fireclay vs. cast iron sink, what are some reasons to go with the fireclay version? Here are some of the many benefits of fireclay. 

Strength and Durability 

Due to its kiln-fired creation, fireclay is amazingly durable and capable of taking hard knocks or whatever you throw at it. Have some heavy-duty, enamel-coated pots and pans to soak before cleaning? Drop them in. With a fireclay sink, you don’t have to worry about them scuffing the sink base and creating marks. 

Low Maintenance

The strength and durability of the fireclay also means your sink will be low maintenance. So when you have a busy life or prefer being the chef and not the maid, a fireclay sink offers minimal upkeep. All you have to do is give the sink a quick wipe down after each use. 

Easy to Customize

Fireclay is incredibly easy to customize. Capable of being poured into a mold and shape of your choosing, you can create a bespoke, perfect sink for your home kitchen, bathroom or even wet bar. Fireclay invites homeowners and remodelers to get as creative as they want. 

Relatively Affordable, Luxurious Look

custom fireclay sink

Fireclay sinks look rather luxurious and pricey, but they are actually quite affordable when compared to other expensive sinks. Plus, their classic handcrafted look and farmhouse-inspired style appear like you salvaged it from a country cottage. 

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The Disadvantages of Fireclay Sinks

As you can see, fireclay sinks tick off many boxes, from style to affordability and strength. But why would someone want to reconsider a fireclay sink in their home? Listed below are some of the downsides.

Expensive Compared to Porcelain

While fireclay offers a big bang for its buck, it doesn’t mean it’s not pricey by comparison. For example, when comparing fireclay sinks to standard porcelain styles, it is more expensive. However, it’s also worth noting that the quality is often worth the price. 

Limited Color Choices

Fireclay sinks can be molded to your liking — this much is true. However, the clay-based material offers a sparse color palette. If you like shades of white, then you’ll love fireclay. But if a colored sink is what you have your heart set on, you might want to look elsewhere (i.e., enameled cast iron). That being said, some fireclay sink manufacturers offer more color variations, such as blue or black.


Compared to other ceramic-style sinks, fireclay is incredibly durable and resistant. It’s hard to break or nick a fireclay sink. The downside is that the fireclay material can show surface scratches, especially if an object creates a hard impact. Luckily, it’s easy to reduce blemishes by resting a simple sink grid at the basin. 

Shows Stains

Fireclay is designed to last for many years. Unfortunately, after some time, some fireclay sinks can pick up water stains. So while fireclay is still low-maintenance on the day-to-day cleaning routine, you must still provide proper care every so often to keep it in shape. Otherwise, it can begin to show stains and look rougher than when it was first placed in your lovely farmhouse kitchen. Metal objects left for too long can also lead to rust. Again, just wipe it down after each use and give it some loving care and regular cleaning. 

Prone to Cracking

Since fireclay is fired at high temperatures, which produces its signature tough ceramic, it’s prone to cracking. Cast iron, as you might imagine, is pretty hard to crack, if at all.


With a handcrafted look, fireclay does come with slight variations. Unfortunately, some homeowners have discovered these variations can sometimes cause pooling in the basin, preventing water from draining thoroughly.

Cast Iron Sinks

Now that you know what fireclay sinks are, let’s explore the world of cast iron sinks. Of course, we all know cast iron — probably even own a cast-iron Dutch oven we take camping or grandpop’s frying skillet. And we probably also don’t have to tell you that cast iron is timeless and pretty much unbreakable. But let’s dive into cast iron sinks specifically.

Here we break down how cast iron sinks compare to fireclay sinks, so you can make a final decision and make the best choice for your kitchen. 

Cast Iron Sink

The Advantages of Cast Iron Sinks

Okay, so what are some of the pluses of cast iron sinks? Here’s what this sink style has to offer:

Durable, Solid and Practically Ever-Lasting

Just like your cast iron cookware, cast iron sinks are constructed and designed to last generations. Made of iron that has been cast inside a mold, they can take a beating for decades. They stand up to all kinds of damage, especially with the addition of a heavy-duty enamel layer. 

A Colorful Enamel Coating

Speaking of enamel, unlike fireclay sinks, you can explore and customize your cast iron sink to be coated in just about any color! However, where fireclay and cast iron sinks differ in customization is the overall style. While limited in shapes, cast iron sinks can come in the color palette of your choosing and offer a sparkling, polished look. 


If you own a Le Creuset, Staub or one of the many brands of French-style cookware that features an enamel coating, you know how well it stands up to stains. That’s because enamel offers a hard, non-porous material that prevents stains from setting in the first place. Acidic red pasta sauce or your child’s finger paints? It slides right off the enamel coating!

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The Disadvantages of Cast Iron Sinks

Cast iron sinks have several disadvantages of which to be aware. The cost, for starters. And, while beautiful and gleaming, the enamel coating requires a delicate touch. Here are some negative attributes of a cast iron sink.

Cast Iron Bathroom Sink

Expensive Upfront Cost

It’s no surprise that cast iron sinks (and their installation — more on that next) are expensive. They can be some of the most costly sink options on the market. But it depends on how you look at it. With proper care, cast iron sinks can last a lifetime, so many homeowners see it as an upfront investment. 

It’s up to homeowners to decide how to spend their kitchen renovation budget. But keep in mind that the sink and faucet do take up a good chunk. While it’s not necessarily an appliance, it is a focal point in your cooking space. 

Cast iron sinks are what many think of when designing a period-style home, whether it’s Victorian or a farmhouse style. But if you are nervous about the cost and upkeep, a fireclay sink might be the better option. That way, you can still get the classic apron-style sink look you love!

The Weight

A cast iron sink is a workhorse, made to outlast many sink materials on the market. But it’s built like a hefty Clydesdale, too! Cast iron is heavier than fireclay, no doubt. While this seems like a positive, it will require some planning in terms of installation. Cast iron sinks are not only heavy to move and place, they also need to be supported correctly once placed into the kitchen counter. It’s highly recommended to install an under-mount to offer extra support. 

Susceptible to Rust

While durable and coated in a slippery non-porous enamel, cast iron sinks are susceptible to rust. However, there are several reasons this can happen and all of them are preventable. For example, rust can sometimes occur when a piece of enamel chips off or wears away, leaving the cast iron beneath exposed. It can also happen when you use incorrect cleaners. As a good rule of thumb, you should avoid using abrasive cleaners on your cast iron sink or scrubbing it with steel wool, wire brushes and some heavy-duty sponges. Instead, just be diligent and when you see a stain, give it a pass of all-natural baking soda and rinse with water. 

Can Scratch and Chip 

When discussing rust, you might have noticed how we mentioned that enamel could chip. Yes, this is correct. If you drop a heavy pot or pan into the sink willy-nilly, there’s sadly a chance you could chip the enamel. Furthermore, leaving these kinds of heavy cookware in a cast iron sink can scratch the enamel as well. However, this too is preventable. All you need to do is place a plastic basin rack within the sink to keep the basin smooth.

One advantage of fireclay sinks? The color of the fireclay runs through the entire sink. It’s a shame if it chips, but at least the chip is less noticeable. With cast iron, the iron is not only exposed but also more visible, especially with a light-colored enamel. 

Fixed on a Fireclay Sink

Fireclay vs. Cast Iron Sink: What Will It Be? 

Now that you have a clearer idea of the differences between a fireclay and a cast iron sink, have you made a final decision? Many factors weigh into your choice, from your overall renovation budget to your family’s cooking lifestyle and tastes and preferences in home design. So as you weigh your options of a fireclay vs. cast iron sink, take these pros and cons into consideration. 

Fixed on fireclay? Explore Van Dyke’s collection of kitchen sinks — specifically our fireclay sinks, featuring deep walls and exposed apron front. With a handcrafted farmhouse look and charm, along with an incredibly durable material, your kitchen sink will be able to tackle everyday use and get noticed by guests. Need a ceramic, porcelain or fireclay bathroom sink for your powder room or guest bath? We have those, too!

When you spend so much time in the kitchen, make it your own! Find the perfect sink for your kitchen renovation or remodel today.


Image Credits
Jane Kelly/