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Darrell Urbien



The enamel on the cast iron sink in my 1921 rental has seen better days. I'm wondering if it is cheaper to have the sink re-coated or if I should just replace it with a modern one. The damage is only to the surface (no dents), but it's more than I can do with a DIY touch up kit. Anyone know of a good contractor to fix this?


If I choose to replace, does the original sink have any salvage value? It's a double sink with slanted draining boards for each sink, about 6' long, and sits on a base cabinet made for it. I'm not sure it is original to the house - could be '40s-'50s... Any way to tell?

Kevin Kuzma
Hi Darrell,

Unfortunately, sink & tub "refinishing" is really more than a glorified paint job. Once you do it, you have entered a cycle of having to have it redone every 5 or so years. I recommend against it.

Areyou sure that the damage is too much to touch up with porcelain touch up paint as sold at OSH, etc?

If you're not pleased with that, I imagine that the sink could be replaced with a similar one from a salvage yard. I believe that I've seen similar long sinks with drainboards at Silverlake Yards, underneath the 4100 bar at Sunset Junction.

Looking at some back issues of Old House Journal or the book Bungalow Kitchens might help you date yours. I think Bungalow Kitchens is at both the EP & Edendale libraries. If not, let me know.

You'll find that long sinks like this can be quite expensive. Yours may be valuable as a trade-in.


Darrell Urbien

The damage is a gradual erosion of the enamel inside the basins - caused, according to an inspector - by the fact that the base cabinet is unlevel and allowed water to collect in one corner...for maybe 80+ years! There's still enough finish on the metal to keep it from rusting, but it definitely needs repainting. I can't imagine being able to fix it myself and have it look good... Probably a stip-rebake would be better but I don't know anyone to do it (and fear it'd be ridiculously expensive).


Thanks for the tip on the book, I'll go check it out.

hugo izquierdo

The redo jobs are close to 400+ for the tub.  Put an ad in recycler so many of these get tossed when rehabs are done in south central and pico union areas.  Look on ebay and also a good salvage yard with nice classic pieces on Santa Fe and Olympic. 


many cast iron sink bases have the date embedded to the bottom of the sink

Jamie MG
I bought a new, but chipped, clawfoot tub from George's Plumbing and Supply in Pasadena and they recommended a company that fixed the chip to where I couldn't tell you possibly where it was. I cant remember the name of the company but George's would know it.
They may have some useful idea for you. BTW, that was a $1300 new tub which I bought damaged for $500 and $100 to fix, delivered. Maybe you can look around for some deal of that sort as well. Good luck.
I am remodeling an apartment and discovered a vintage 66" cast iron sink with double drain boards and double bowls. It is in excellent condition. There is also a cabinet beneath it.

If you know anyone interested in this item please have them contact me.

Thank you.
I may be interested. I'm in escrow for a 1910 craftsman in west adams, and the kitchen sink was changed to a metal one.  Of course, I need to get the house first.  

How much do you want for that sink
As others said you can have the sink etched and epoxy painted, but then you should expect to have to redo this every 2-7 years (depending on quality of the job) for the rest of the sinks life.

There are not many places out there that refire the porcelain. To do so the sink needs to be sandblasted, then refired. There is one company in IL doing it, customceramic.com, but beyond the prices, you'll spend a couple hundred bucks in freight shipping your sink back and forth. Probably worth it for a high end installation in your personal home, but I wouldn't bother with a rental.

Norcal is a great source for these old sinks. I personally bought a 1933 corner mount 4 foot sink from Berkely. There are tons of old homes still standing and slowly being renovated up north. There is much more and much better architectural salvage up there.

As for determining age. If your sink has a tall 12" back splash its 1920s or older. if its a smaller 6-8" backsplash its 1930s, by the 1940s sinks started coming with tiny little backsplashes and most of the time, none at all.

Just about all cast iron sinks made prior to the 1960s have the dates stamped on em, simple six digit code, year, month, date, not exactly in that order though. see picture for example

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roger bennett

What's wrong with a sink that looks old?  Why not leave it the way it is? As long as it is usable.  Unless, of course, you're hell bent on being a rapacious consumer.  Peace.   R. Bennett-Architect

Darrell Urbien
Wow, it's funny to see this as the "question of the month" as I asked it so long ago - though given the amount of views it's had over the years it must be a popular subject.

Just to put some closure on this, at least from my standpoint: I got some estimates and it was just not cost-effective to repair the damage, so I went with a replacement modern sink. I never did find out exactly when the original sink was made, but my plumber didn't think it was original to the house. He thought it was from a later renovation, maybe '50s. That was another factor in my decision - I figured if I was going to spend serious money on a period look I might as well go with the correct period!

In any case, as we were hauling the sink out to the curb to load it into our truck, someone driving by offered to take it off our hands. So someone out there thought it had value (either as architectural salvage or perhaps simply as scrap). So at least it was recycled in some way.

Thanks for all the answers; I learned a lot about old sinks in this thread!

Darrell Urbien

Roger, to answer your question the housing department required me to either repair or replace the sink - it was in a rental and it was flagged by the building inspector as being too damaged to let go. When you rent your house out, you can't just let things just "look old". In any case, the renter got a new sink and the old cast iron one is probably a set of spoons by now.

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