How to Care for a Refinished Cast Iron Sink


| 12/18/2012 3:40:51 PM


Tags: cast iron, refinishing, kitchen renovation, country decor, Victoria Gazeley,

A photo of Victoria GazeleyNothing says ‘country decor’ more than a vintage cast iron sink.  Except maybe a log cabin.  Or a big pick-up truck.  But nothing says ‘botulism’ or some other sort of nasty bacterial infection more than a vintage cast iron sink that’s been scratched and chipped and generally uncared for to the point where you couldn’t get it clean except with something toxic.

When we moved into our little cabin in the woods, it came with a vintage but less than pristine sink that had been ‘refinished’ with one of those paint on do-it-yourself  kits a number of years previous.  The paint had started to peel and over 3 years of daily use, it didn’t exactly get better.   So while we were building an addition to the cabin, and it was warm enough out that we could open the windows to let the smell of aircraft paint out, the timing was perfect to get it refinished.

As usual, I did a whole bunch of research before we decided on a plan of attack.  In the process, I discovered that you’ve really only got three options to repair a vintage cast iron sink that’s seen better days:

  1. Remove it and have it re-enameled professionally.  Pro:  you get a high quality, baked on finish that will last and won’t chip under normal use.  Cons: You’re without your sink for days to weeks, plus you have to have a company local that does this sort work – you don’t want to be shipping a cast iron sink. 
  2. Buy one of those paint-on kits and do it yourself.  Pro: inexpensive and your sink stays in place.  Cons:  It’s really difficult to get a smooth finish, you have to prep the surface well beforehand, and the paint will scratch and peel relatively easily. 
  3. Replace it with new.  Pro:  You get a brand new sink.  Cons:  Sinks that reflect the same sort of look as a vintage cast iron sink run from $600 and up (based on the research I did at the time).  Even a professionally re-enameled sink starts at about $400 and up, depending on the style.  Ones like ours with a built-in drainboard started at about $650 for a restored vintage version. 
  4. Hire a professional to refinish it in place with quality materials.  Pro:  Your sink stays in place (you can use it after about 3 or 4 hours), it costs less than purchasing a similar sink new or refinished, and the finish is of higher quality than the DIY kits. 

We decided on #4.  And am I ever glad we did…

Now, trying to find a sink and tub refinisher in a small town isn’t exactly an easy feat, but we lucked out and found a refinishing pro right here in our little town.  He showed up one Friday morning with all his gear in tow and after about 3 hours and a lot of masking tape, the sink turned out almost like new.

The trick now is how to keep it that way. 




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