Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Upgrading the Kitchen Sink - Easier than Expected

I asked Mindy from the Our Fixer Upper to review the Whitehaus WH512 Large Double-Bowl Farmer Fireclay Kitchen Sink for the Daily Tubber.
In the spirit of full disclosure: We offered her a substantial discount on the sink if she would provide us with a truthful review. I told her to share the good, bad and the ugly. Her comments appear below exactly as she wrote them.

About a year ago, my husband and I bought our first home - a Victorian fixer-upper. We've been renovating the kitchen for months, and we are finally getting to the fun stuff. Our countertops, sink, and faucet had all seen better days. Keeping the old porcelain sink looking clean meant bleaching and scrubbing it daily. I'd been dreaming about an old-fashioned farmhouse sink since the day we moved in, so I was thrilled to finally pick one out.

We decided on a Whitehaus Double Bowl Farmer Sink because it incorporates the classic look we love with the convenience of two bowls. For the new countertop, we chose wood. The new faucet fixture is double-handled with a high spout and a brushed nickel finish.

Replacing an old sink seems daunting, but it turned out to be very easy. Our sink arrived on Monday afternoon, and my husband had it installed and usable before bed that night. Beforehand, we prepped by removing the old countertop and unhooking the old sink. Both got hauled out to the junk pile where they belong. We then cut the wood countertop to the appropriate length and made sure it fit snug against the wall.

After the sink arrived, our first step was to site the opening for the sink and fixtures. We set the sink onto the wood countertop and carefully traced around it, leaving 3 inches on the back edge for the faucet. 

Farmhouse Sink

Using a scroll saw, my husband cut along the lines to create the opening. Since the sink sits under the counter, it was important to keep this cut as clean as possible. We sanded the new edges down for good measure.

Kitchen Sink Installation

After cutting out the opening, he added framing for the undermount kit used to hold the sink in place. The cupboard sides we attached the bars to weren't very sturdy, so the additional framing was mostly for peace of mind.

Kitchen Sink Installation

Kitchen Sink Installation

Once the undermount flanges were screwed in and the bars were in place, we set the sink on top and laid the countertop over it. Then we stood back to take a long, proud look!

Farmhouse Sink

Because our old sink only had one drain, we did a bit of additional plumbing work to get both drains hooked up, but all in all it was a surprisingly painless DIY project with a BIG aesthetic payoff. I wish all our projects were this easy!

If you'd like to read more about our adventures in DIY home repair, you can visit our house blog:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Questions About Lead in Clawfoot Bathtubs

I like to share some of the more interesting questions from our customers. Recently, one of our customers wrote us: “Hello! My husband and I bought two lovely claw tubs with accessories in the summer of 2005. I am wondering if there is any lead in the cast iron tubs which we purchased.”

Norman, my brother, and owner of Vintage Tub & Bath answered the question this way:

That is a very broad question and, as such, merits both a technical and practical answer.

Technically, lead is a naturally occurring element. I am sure that the vast majority of material present on the surface of the Earth contains at least some trace of lead. Our tubs aren't excluded from that group. To specifically and technically answer your exact question, we feel that the answer must be yes.

In practical terms, if your question was meant to ask whether or not the tubs you bought present any type of known lead-based health hazard under normal use and conditions, the answer is no (i.e., the tubs are not known to leach hazardous lead into water or emit lead particles into the air, etc.). Furthermore, Vintage Tub & Bath doesn't have any reason to believe any of the materials present in your tub contain a significant amount of lead to present a lead-based health hazard under virtually any condition.

You may have asked us this question because many years ago lead and a host of other harmful materials were significant constituents in paints, surface-smoothing fills, as well as the frits (ground-up glass) that were used to make the porcelain enamel coating used on the inside of cast iron tubs. In fact, in the early 1900s, pure lead was used in major American manufacturing operations to smooth the outside of some clawfoot tubs. The lead would be applied hot, cooled and then ground down by hand by workers with little to no respiratory protection. As a result, lead-based hazards abounded with these older products for workers and consumers alike.

The use of pure lead and significantly lead-based materials in these types of processes and products has long since been abandoned (as in decades ago), and your tubs were manufactured under modern manufacturing conditions no earlier than 2002 to 2003. As a result, we are confident your tubs are quite safe in terms of both lead content and resultant exposure risk. I hope this answers your question.