A copper sink is an original and decorative fixture that can really make a statement in your kitchen. But before installing one, keep in mind that a copper sink, also known as a farmhouse sink or a bronze sink, requires more upkeep and maintenance than a typical kitchen sink. Before you make a decision, it's important to be aware of a few of the bronze sink's pros and cons.
Advantages of a Copper Sink
The patina of a copper sink is a finish that coats and protects the sink. The color and tones of a copper sink will change with age, meaning certain areas of your feature may lighten or darken. This is called the patina process, or living finish. For many people, this constant shifting in tones is a large part of the appeal of a farmhouse sink.
A farmhouse sink is anti-microbial, meaning that bacteria will not survive long on its surface. This is important, especially when cooking or using the sink to wash dishes. A farmhouse sink is also quite durable and will last a long time. Lower grade models may dent and warp, however, so spending a little extra money may help prevent the need to buy a new one in the near future.
Disadvantages of a Copper Sink
Some homeowners want to use wax or certain cleaning products on their sink to make it shine. This is sort of a Catch-22, though, because the products that make your copper sink shine will destroy the patina, and along with it, the anti-microbial properties of the metal. Certain acidic liquids, such as lemon and orange juice, can eat away at the patina and result in a splotchy appearance. It's important to avoid letting dirty dishes or any food products sit in a copper sink for too long, and be sure to rinse the area thoroughly afterward.
Cosmetics like toothpaste and shaving cream can strip the patina and sometimes cause a reaction that makes your farmhouse sink turn green. Abrasive chemicals and certain oils can also damage the patina. Not to mention, hot pans and utensils can ruin the sink's finish. A farmhouse sink should be wiped down after every use to prevent the development of water spots, especially if you have hard water.
Copper Sink Cleaning and Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, a copper sink requires more regular care than a typical kitchen sink, including wiping it down with a soft towel after every use to prevent water spots. The sink should also be cleaned regularly with mild dish soap, warm water and a soft cloth or sponge. Remember that abrasive cleaners and pads, such as comet and steel wool, will harm the finish of your copper sink.
If you, like some homeowners, prefer a more consistent shine and tone, and therefore want to keep a patina from developing, you can do so by applying a regular coat of specialized copper wax. If, on the other hand, you apply a wax or cleaner that mistakenly strips the patina, don't worry. Due to the patina process, the patina never stops forming, and before long, the finish will return.
Gary Sprague is a retired master plumber who now works as a writer. He lives with his family in Maine.