Vintage sink: What to do with it? Keep or Throw away

You might have found a vintage sink and wonder if you should use it or not. In this article, we will outline things that you can take into consideration when making this decision.

An Old Sink becomes vintage when it stands the test of time. People show interest in a vintage Sink for three reasons i.e. aesthetics, sentimental attachment & compatibility.

Sometimes, people have wondered how these sinks remained functional for decades. A modern sink hardly lasts beyond 2 decades, but these old house sinks become useful after minor repairs. They evoke uniqueness, personality, and passion. If you have been smitten by vintage sinks, the following tips can help.

1. Do you have Space for a vintage sink?

Vintage sinks require more space. They were never designed for tiny apartments. Then again, mid-century home kitchens were not designed for ovens & dishwashers. You have to ask yourself: Do you want the sink or do you want more space? Unless you already have the sink, you may require renovation in other parts of the kitchen too.

2. Do you have the parts?

Many vintage sinks are cast iron sinks. While cast iron & brass fittings of these sinks do not rust, some century-old sinks have die-cast parts. These need to be replaced as die-cast is prone to rust. The problem arises when you do not find the right size & fit for the replacements. The basin of the sink can be cleaned & restored with automotive paint. Try to use paint that is healthy & free from toxic chemicals. A safer option is to hire refurbishers who sandblast old cast iron sinks & recoat them with epoxy, enamel, or ceramic coatings. Since these renovations are cost-intensive, it is best to maintain brass parts with brass replacements & upgrade all accessories to brass.

Luckily it is possible to find sinks that mimic the style of vintage sinks as well. This can fit great with certain home decors. Often you have to buy new faucets as plumbing has evolved over the years.

3. Do you have the Budget?

Maintenance of a Vintage Sink is not a one-time expense. Sometimes it is a matter of trial and error to restore it over a period. Nonetheless, homestay residences, rentals & inns can capitalize on premium rates in exchange for vintage living. Today, vintage is synonymous with luxury & customers have to restore it as they go along. Secondly, restoration of the sink may also require augmentation of its holes, sleeves & drainage. You need an experienced refurbisher to give you an accurate estimate for the restoration.

4. Do you have the lifestyle?

If you dump heavy utensils into the sink, drain expired liquids through its sinkhole & try to push lumpy greasy items down the strainer, a vintage Sink is not for you. It requires regular cleaning & unlike modern sinks, it may require a deft touch to get the extra shine. Additionally, you may have to avoid the use of brass taps with greasy and oily hands. A vintage Sink is all about hygiene and respect. It may require preventive maintenance every year.

Sometimes, vintage sinks are made of Copper. They may require preventive measures from developing a vitreous blue tinge. This is a result of over-exposure to acid for a prolonged period. The easy solution amounts to regular cleaning of the sink & giving it time to develop a greenish patina. Unlike the vitreous blue, this patina is protective in nature.

Vintage sinks made of Gold or platinum are extremely rare to come by. They are usually purchased for show & not for regular use. Precious metals do not carry the same risks as other metals, but they are not a prudent choice for regular everyday use in the kitchen.

5. Special Tips for a Soapstone Kitchen:

Are you still using your grandparent’s kitchen? Is the sink made of soapstone or any other stone? Does it look old and neglected? If the answer to all these questions is yes, you need a different approach to manage this kitchen sink.

First, you need to wash it with a scrub. A stone sink does not stain, burn or get any discoloration due to chemicals, but it can allow the sediment to collect on it. You need to clean it & assess if the surface is smooth enough to remain clean for a long time. If not, it may have scratches. These scratches can be rubbed off with the use of medium-grit sandpaper. Anything between a 120 to 150 grit will do. A circular motion over the scratch can be most productive.

Second, use a 220 grit sandpaper to smoothen the stone & apply a prescribed oil to make the surface glossy & resistant to grime.

Another risk with stone sinks is the mechanical damage of chips & cracks. If the crack is a danger to the structural integrity of the sink, it may be time to change it. For other mechanical damages, it can be restored with some concrete & a suitable coating. You could also avoid the use of concrete & smoothen the edge of the sink. Today, cleaning & buffing kits are easily available in the market. They can be used with handheld grinders to smoothen chipped edges & prevent further damage to the sink.

Another option for such sinks is the use of wax. If you are not in a very cold climate, a wax polish can be more cost-effective than an oil. It can also prevent debris from setting in on the sink.


Many kinds of vintage sinks are available with salvage dealers, builders & refurbishers. While they may display the same to you in the form of farmhouse sinks or drainboard copper sinks etc. you have a variety of choices. The aforesaid tips can help you get a broad understanding of your requirements.

We have discussed concrete sinks here.