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Non porous and hygienic.
Relatively easy to keep clean.
Does not taint food or cause staining.
Most ceramic sinks on the market are made from either fireclay or vitreous china. The products manufactured using a similar process but differ in some important characteristics. Most kitchen sinks are made from fireclay whereas most bathroom sinks are made from vitreous china.
Both products are made by slip casting. Firstly by mixing clay with water, additives such as feldspar and quartz are added to improve the strength and other properties of the finished product. This slurry mix known as slip is often left to settle for a few days to improve the texture. The finished slip resembles thick mud and is poured into the sink moulds. The slip is then allowed to consolidate naturally or in high production factories is hydraulically pressed to remove most of the water.
The castings are removed from their moulds and hand finished and sponged to smooth out any mould markings. Any required holes required are cut out while the mix is still soft. After being allowed the dry, either naturally for up to two days or in a controlled low temperature oven for a shorter period, the sink castings are sanded, sprayed with a vitreous glaze coating called frit and then fired in a furnace. During the firing all the ingredients of the slip clay fuse together and the glaze melts and bonds to the surface of the clay forming the glassy, durable, glazed finish that we associate with these materials.
There are many technical differences between the two processes including the choice of clay but basically fireclay sinks are made made from a denser and thicker clay material, The glaze is applied much thicker in usually more than one coat. They are then fired at a higher temperature. This makes for a stronger more durable material.
The term vitreous china is strictly a reference to the glaze but it is also associated with the manufacuring process prior to the glaze. Vitreous china items use a thinner material, usually a porcelain clay, the glaze is usually applied as a thinner coating enabling it to be fired quicker and at a lower temperature.
Kitchen sinks tend to be fireclay as they need to be more serviceable whereas bathroom sinks do not have to contend with the punishment of a kitchen sink and are usually made from vitreous china. The use of thinner material in vitreous china also offers more scope in the sink design. Vitreous china lends itself more readily to high production processes.
However the story does not end there. Some high end sink manufacturers opt for using vitreous china on certain styles of kitchen sinks. When the design requires it, vitreous china enables a more intricate form and greater accuracy than fireclay. They then use a high performance glaze to enhance the surface durability. Likewise, when the design of a bathroom sink requires a sturdy and robust appearance, bathroom sink and basin manufacturers often turn to fireclay as their choice of material.
They are heavier than most sinks.
They can be chipped or cracked with impact damage.
Susceptible to crazing, small cracks appearing on the glaze.
They are not as dimensionally accurate as many other types of sinks.
They can stain under prolonged contact with certain chemicals.
A traditional, thick wall,fireclay, farmhouse sink from Barclay sinks.
To to advances in materials and manufacturing processes, firclay sinks can achieve much thinner walls yet retain their strength, like this exceptionally thin walled, fireclay sink from Blanco.
Looking for more general advice on Belfast, farmhouse or butler sinks sinks ? Click here
If you are looking for advice on fitting a ceramic sink Click here.
A traditional, bowl and half bowl, ceramic, inset sink from Aquitaine
A modern style, bowl and half bowl, ceramic, inset sink.
A traditional style bowl and a half bowl, under-mount, ceramic sink from Lamona.
A modern style bowl and half bowl, ceramic under-mount sink from Blanco.
Ceramic sinks come in a range shapes, sizes and colours. From left to right, a blue single bowl, inset sink from Villeroy and Boch. A Black ceramic round bowl by Franke and a white corner sink from Astracast.
Black, fireclay ceramic, separate inset sinks.
White, fireclay ceramic sit-on sink by Essenza
Detailed design can be added to the glaze like this beatifully patterned but unfortunately discontinued, undermount ceramic sink from Kohler.
The apron fronts to ceramic, farmhouse and butler sinks can be moulded to become ribbed, panelled or can even be patterned with fine detailing.
If you are looking for colour in your sink a ceramic sink maybe the answer. A yellow and a turquoise sink from the Timeline range from Villeroy and Boch