Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Why So Fascinated With Fireclay?

Fireclay Kitchen Sink

If you're in the process of a home remodel, chances are you've seen or heard of the term fireclay. But what exactly is fireclay and why are so many people fascinated with it? Fireclay is a common material used to create kitchen and bathroom sinks because of its durability, nonporous, scratch-resistant and acid-resistant properties which make the material extremely popular in the home improvement market. These types of sinks are different than their enameled cast-iron counterparts because of the process in which fireclay is actually made.

Cast-iron sinks are molded from liquid iron and then coated with a porcelain enamel; however fireclay sinks take on a much longer and delicate process. The process of creating a fireclay sink really inspires the name. It uses fire and clay. After a sink basin is molded from clay, it is left to dry. Once hardened, enamel glaze is applied. This newly painted basin is then fired at 2200 degrees Fahrenheit for over 20 hours. The silicate in the glaze is fused to the clay under the intense heat and in turn becomes one unit. Typically the glaze colors used are white or off-white but can also be found in blue, black and gray.

In The Kitchen

Fireclay is used for several different styles of kitchen sinks. One of the most popular types
is a farmhouse sink. Because the clay used to create the basin can be easily shaped and molded before firing, farmhouse sinks have many beautiful apron fronts. These fronts can range from sleek and smooth to fluted or even concave.

As shapes and sizes of fireclay farmhouse sinks can vary brand to brand, installation can be a bit tricky. Because of this, having the sink present when roughing out a counter is best practice. Also, faucets are often mounted to the counter or backsplash, and in some cases, directly on the back of the sink, as in country kitchen sinks. Because of the difficulty of installation, a trained technician should be used to avoid any damage like cracking.
Many home improvers enjoy the look and style fireclay sinks can give, but many modern households also enjoy using garbage disposals. This is a major concern that buyers face when purchasing fireclay. Although fireclay is very sturdy and is designed to resist cracks and scratches, it can run the risk of damage if the disposal vibrates too violently. Because of this, there are special garbage disposals specifically made for fireclay sinks. These special disposals also require installing an elongated flange.

There are many benefits of a fireclay sink. Not only does it offer durability, but maintenance is rather simple. Just wipe it down with a soft towel. If for some reason a more intense cleaning is needed, use a mild abrasive with a sponge or cloth.

In The Bathroom

Bathroom sinks are made from various materials. Most common is vitreous china, which is made in a similar way as fireclay, but uses a thinner glaze, lower baking temperature and takes less time to create. Because of these differences in production, vitreous china sinks can be mass produced. Fireclay sinks take more time to complete but the benefits outweigh the lengthy process. The durability of fireclay bathroom sinks make them a great option for kid's bathrooms as they are able to withstand a tougher use and are simple to keep clean.  

Source: Vintage Tub & Bath staff & ehow

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