In recent times cast iron sinks (or 'enamel over cast iron', as they're sometimes referred to) have undergone a fairly dramatic revival - and it's not easy to find an authentic post-war era cast iron sink in decent condition without paying an arm and a leg for it these days. Thankfully, to fulfill the demand, many modern manfacturers are also making faithful reproductions of their old styles.
What are cast iron sinks?
Cast iron sinks are just that - a sink made of cast iron, coated with a thick enamel to give a smooth, clean porcelain-like finish. Because they're mostly composed of cast iron, they're very heavy and can take a serious beating.
Cast iron sinks won't crack or significantly chip like porcelain sinks will, although over time the enamel finish can lose its lustre and wear thin. If the sink does wear down to bare metal, there's a significant risk of the sink developing rust spots, which may ruin the sink. Proper care will help to prevent this -brush-on treatments can be applied to refinish cast iron sinks and restore their shine and finish.
What styles are cast iron sinks available in?
You can buy a cast iron sink to suit just about any style of kitchen, and modern varieties are available in any conceivable configuration, from minimalist, square-edged under-mount varieties to elaborate, futuristic standalone designs that would look equally at home in a modern art gallery.
Having said that, cast iron sinks are still mostly popular in country-style kitchens (or at least kitchens that give a nod to this style). It's not uncommon for butler's sinks and farmer's sinks to be made from these materials, and when they're not pure porcelain white, the colours of these sinks often represent the tastes of the post-war era - light mint green, powder blue or pink, for example.
Traditional-style cast iron sinks are normally very generously proportioned, and typically incorporate draining boards with deep, decorative channels, soap holders, overflow drains, tall apron backsplashes and other features into the design.
If you are planning on installing an antique cast-iron sink, you may wish to do your homework and check on the tap configurations and drain/waste diameters before assuming that everything will fit - especially if you're not planning on using original-style tapware.