Cast iron kitchen sinks have long been popular for their durability and ease of maintenance. These sinks feature a layer of porcelain enamel over the iron, which gives them a hard, durable surface. They are very easy to clean and their smooth, glossy finish helps hide water spots and streaks. The material retains heat well, which is a benefit when washing a lot of dishes by hand. The sinks are also available in a variety of colors, so they can make a style statement in addition to serving a practical purpose. Cast iron sinks can last a long time -- some people opt to purchase vintage models for an authentic look. Many new models are made from recycled and reclaimed content, making these sinks an environmentally friendly choice. The porcelain coating can be refinished if necessary. Despite their durability, however, the enamel coating on cast iron sinks can chip or crack if you drop a heavy pot or knife; if this happens, the black surface of the iron can be exposed and start to rust. These sinks are also susceptible to stains and some stains can be difficult to remove. Because cast iron sinks are very heavy, they require a sturdy countertop and cabinet.
The weight of cast-iron sinks contributes to their durability, but it also makes them more difficult to install. Cast iron sinks are available as drop-in, undermount, and apron-front models. Drop-in sinks are the easiest type to install, but they may require more caulk to seal the gaps between the sink and countertop. Undermount sinks are more difficult and costly to install. Cast-iron apron-front sinks that feature an exposed, drop-down front usually require a special sink-base cabinet. Whatever type of cast iron sink you choose, you may need to modify the countertop's design to accommodate the extra-heavy sink.
To keep a cast iron sink looking good, rinse and dry the sink after each use. To prevent stains, avoid leaving dirty dishes, tea bags, coffee grounds, or similar materials in the sink for extended periods of time. To clean the sink, use a non-abrasive cleaner and avoid using steel wool, wire brushes, or abrasive sponge pads; this will help prevent damage to the sink's enamel coating. (If you're faced with a stubborn stain, you can use an abrasive cleaner sparingly.) To protect the sink from scratches, consider using bottom basin racks and rinse baskets.