Our Salvaged Antique Cast Iron Sink Project

I love a good antique cast iron sink. I am obsessed with antique cast iron sinks. The ones that lived as furniture in those steel cabinets. The ones that had to have the support cabinet made inside the house. The 300 pound monstrosities with double drain boards and double basins? Yaaaaas honey, those.

This is the story of our antique cast iron sink project.

Our Antique Cast Iron Sink Project

Antique Cast Iron Sink

We live among farms and Amish folks here in Pennsylvania, and there are tons of salvage shops nearby, and they’re all amazing. I should also mention our house is only 2 1/2 years oldso there’s a ton of character building activities going on here. These salvage shops are heaven, but with our schedules & small kids, I go not as often as I should (junking and picking is good for the soul), but I drive past one local place, and I’m always drooling over this one antique cast iron sink I can see in the shop.

Antique Cast Iron Sink

Almost 10 years ago, I was in Philadelphia at an old friend’s house, and saw his kitchen for the first time, and just about died on the spot. This brick townhouse was built in the 30’s, and the metal cabinets were holding this behemoth double drain board single bowl cast iron white porcelain enamel sink. I mentioned my obsession with the sink, and he said they hated it and wanted to gut the kitchen and start over. After I regained consciousness, I told them that if they were to ever bid this sink adieu, to let me know, because I need one (hundred) in my life.

Antique Cast Iron SinkA year ago, they gutted their metal-cabinet-clad kitchen.

A year ago, I sent Andrew down to get this behemoth antique cast iron sink home.

Our Antique Cast Iron Sink Project




Getting it out of the van was hilarious, because… it’s huge and awkward and 300 pounds. It sat in our garage for the year on a wheeled dolly next to the generator while we were deciding exactly what to do with it. Maybe we were scared of it. Or didn’t want to lift it. Our ultimate end-goal, is to retrofit the sink into our kitchen when we eventually upgrade our counter tops and paint the cabinets. The only issue is that we aren’t planning on doing that for another few years. We need carpet first, because… kids.

antique-cast-iron-sink3So it sat, and sat. And sat.

Andrew had the idea to make a base for it, and to use it as a dry sink in our dining room, as a gorgeous piece of salvaged goodness, rather than let it just sit in the garage. So, he made this monster base with a shelf underneath for the sink over a few days.

Antique Cast Iron SinkWe brought it in the dining room and distressed it, gently sanded it down, and stained it Espresso. It looked gorgeous without the sink on top, and we were so not interested in trying to bring the sink in the house because we had no idea how to get it across the yard, up the kitchen steps, through the kitchen, into the dining room, and up onto the base. Our logical thought was to let it hang out for the week.

Antique Cast Iron SinkWe finally brought it in over the weekend, which was hilarious. Lilly and Andrew were watching us waddle across the yard, awkwardly lugging this thing. We got it in, and up onto the base somehow, which fit like a glove. It’s perfect, and we are so in love with it!

Antique Cast Iron SinkThe sink itself needs to be reglazed, but for now, I just cleaned it gently with a tiny bit of Barkeeper’s Friend and a sponge. To look at in the dining room, I rather liked the pitting and wear on it, but for daily use in the kitchen we’ll probably want to have it spruced up.

Our Antique Cast Iron Sink ProjectAt the moment it’s cuddling the cut boughs of greens from our Christmas tree and leftover pinecones for Christmas, some random trinkets, our cast iron skillets (which, are the best things in the world, I’m just saying), and a little red farm basket.

antique-cast-iron-sink2I cannot stop staring at it when I’m working in the kitchen or walking by the dining room! I’m in love with it, and in our still basic looking dining room (which truly needs a lot more attention), it helps add a lot of character and interest to that big, giant wall of plain beige paint. Which, I can’t wait to tend to as well.

Antique Cast Iron Sink

I’d love to hear if you’ve got an obsession with these sinks, and what you think of this one!

Antique Cast Iron Sink

20 Comments

    1. We just installed our single basin single dry cast iron sink into our farmhouse we are remodeling from top to bottom! Your not lying when you say those things are HEAVY !!! And GORGEOUS ! I’ve had my eye on them for sometime now and snagged one from a man remodeling his kitchen for 75.00 !!! I’m in LOVE ! Lol

    2. An excellent alternative to an otherwise hard-to-place sink, altough we have a similar unit, without such a high splashback, and without holes for the taps. It was in poor condition so we had it re-namelled at Antique Baths, NSW and now it takes pride of place in our kitchen and garners lots of admiring comments.

  1. Oh my gosh I can’t tell you how much I love this! My grandma in Oklahoma had a sink like this I remember seeing when we visited her decades ago. Your husband did a great job on the base and your styling is beautiful.

  2. Oh my, you are my true kindred spirit! I love old sinks! That does sound a little strange but now I don’t feel like I’m the only one out there that just goes crazy about an old sink. We moved to an old farmhouse 11 years ago from an old house, and I insisted we bring our old sinks and a pedestal bathtub with us. We remodeled our bathroom with an old pedestal sink and our old tub. It looks great. We also reused the old kitchen sink with one sideboard in my laundry room. I still have about three other old sinks with sideboards that are just waiting to be used again someday.
    Thanks for sharing your pictures, your husband did a great job on the base. I love the decor on the wall behind it too!

    1. Our house was built in 1901, and we have your exact sink. It’s on its metal base cabinet, which I love! The previous owner had painted it dark brown (?)! I now have it restored to bright white with replacement handles that match the originals. It’s in great shape, with just one minor chip. What I would absolutely LOVE to do with it is remove the metal base cabinet (even tho’ I do love it), and place it on an old dresser or buffet. (Sigh) My husband is so NOT convinced about this plot, so for now, I will bide my time…
      I know I’m late to this posting, but have you moved yours to the kitchen yet?

  3. I Love what you did with this sink! I too am obsessed with old sinks! I just acquired my first one for $50 at a yard sale. I am in the process of incorporating it into my kitchen. I have a plan!!! Thank you for sharing your project!

  4. I just purchased an old house that has a cast iron glazed sink & metal cabinets. I had planned to clean it up & try a reglaze kit. After searching Pinterest for how to instructions I learned that many contain lead & can be unhealthy especially for children. Now I am perplexed about how to proceed. Have you run into this problem with your love of old enamel sinks?

    1. Oooooh! That is exciting!! Congratulations!!! I don’t have a concern for this particular sink because it’s not actively chipping or anything, and we don’t really use it for anything other than holding our coffee stuff, which is sitting on all covered surfaces. I haven’t tested this particular sink (or our former porcelain tub in our old house), but I would suggest testing yours and evaluating the condition of it – is it peeling and chipping or wearing badly – and then get in touch with a professional and getting their pro opinion and evaluating from there, should it be positive. If this sink were in use in my house, I’d probably try to redcoat it and maintain the surface. It’s insane the amount of places there is lead possibilities – like in flouride treated water, some ceramic tile glazes, pottery, tubs, sinks, and all the things. It’s scary, so I’d defer that project to a pro, just to be on the safe side! And if worse comes to worse, you could self-coat it, and repurpose it somewhere to still be able to look at and enjoy! 🙂

  5. I have a similar sink with the drain board to the right of the sink, which also has the metal cabinet which is falling apart. I’d like to incorporate it in a kitchen renovation & am looking for ideas on what bade it needs since it has a large lip to it. Plus I need a new faucet & sprayer – the sprayer is located in the front wall while the faucet is on a deck plate above it. Looking for any info you might have…

    1. Hi Beth! You may I’m not sure I’ve seen those faucet and sprayer locations – I’d love for you to email me a picture, and I would be happy to take a look at it and see what I could tell you. You may need a wall-mounted faucet system. As long as you fortify the cabinet under the sink with some bracing where the sink sits, you should be OK with a regular base cabinet from your cabinet shop, a dresser of sorts (take the drawers out/top off, brace underneath and put the sink on top), or a custom-sized base to match the cabinets. If you do a standard base cabinet, you’ll probably have to take off the false drawer face at the top, and cut off parts to allow for the shorter apron in the front. Let me know how it goes, I’d love to see pictures!!!

  6. I know it’s been years but I just started researching this project I don’t know how to get the sink off of the metal base it seems to be connected any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Paula! Your sink might be attached to the metal base with screws or something underneath, though I’m fairly certain they just sit on top of the cabinets because they’re so heavy. The one we had was just sitting there on top, with caulking around it. It could be a little rusted together as well – they’re incredibly heavy, ours is well over 200lbs, so you could just need more hands?

    1. The finished height is roughly 36″ or so (counter-height). Each sink will be different, so be sure to measure the depth of the rounded edge on the inside (it hangs over our base a bit), and factor that in when you’re cutting the legs. The width is also just measured from the inside wherever the wood will sit flat on the sink bottom, which will be different for each sink.

  7. I grew up in my grandparents old house. We had this in the kitchen. My mom hated it. When she had us redo the kitchen I took it home. It finally went off to a salvage yard. Just too much to handle….

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