Once the domain of a farmhouse or back kitchen and used only by servants, ceramic butler’s sinks are now one of the most sought-after items to form a statement piece in contemporary kitchens.
Rather than let your heart rule your head however, there are factors to consider before switching from stainless steel to these stately articles.
Do they last?
If you’re after added durability, choose a butler’s sink made from the very solid fireclay, a reinforced ceramic clay that is stronger and more durable than porcelain or standard ceramic.
Fireclay is very heavy and its construction from ground pre-fired clay mixed with wet clay and water means it is heat-, impact-, dirt- and stain-resistant and designed to be easy care.
Also chemical resistant, due to the heavy duty glazed surface, which also makes them resistant to chips and scratches and renders the surface hypoallergenic. This coating is compromised however if a chip or scratch does occur.
Some butler’s sinks are made from porcelain, which is not as hard wearing as fireclay and more prone to damage and stains, however less expensive to buy.
Working in a kitchen with a ceramic sink takes some adjustment – you’re no longer able to simply throw things into the sink and let things pile up, but need to be more careful than with a stainless steel sink to avoid chips, breakages and stains.
As they’re modelled on the original farmhouse style, filled only once a day from a remote source rather than a tap overhead, butler’s sinks are generally much wider and deeper than standard sinks, so take longer to fill.
Their size also means you will likely need to have a cabinetmaker build them in to your kitchen cabinetry, rather than simply buying something off the shelf as standard. The choice is yours as to positioning your sink set-in to the benchtop; under-mounted with a surrounding benchtop; or cut in around three sides, with the front of your sink exposed.
In any case, the style does not avail itself to a draining board alongside the sink, so an alternative needs to be sought, either in the benchtop itself, or with a free-standing dish drainer.
Cleaning your butler’s sink is usually required more frequently as marks and stains show up plainly against the white surface. This is of course up to you how much this bothers you and keeping a tub of Gumption handy or a quick scrub with a paste of bicarb soda and lemon will do the trick.
The wow factor
All of these factors take a little getting used to, but after time are unlikely to be noticeable in your day-to-day kitchen use, particularly as your sink will continue to look beautiful which, it has to be said is everlasting!
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