A while back we revealed our Scary Basement Makeover that came with a lot of new bells and whistles… but there was one element that stole the show: our original Concrete Double Laundry Sink. At first we thought the behemoth was a Soap Stone Sink given the age of our Craftsman Style home. After a little research (from the patent number we found on the bottom) we found we would have to approach this in a whole new direction. So find out how we brought this show stopper Vintage Laundry Sink back to life!
*This post has been sponsored by Dremel Tools and would not have been possible without the help of the Dremel Versa! Affiliate links included.
Concrete vs. Soap Stone
So why the big deal from the original post about whether this was Soap Stone or Concrete? It all comes down to restoration. The main ingredient in Soap Stone is talc, which is one of the softest minerals. A very light hand sanding and then a generous application of mineral oil and the Laundry Sink would really pop. Because Soap Stone darkens over time it was easy to confuse the two here. When I looked for the manufacturer’s mark and found a patent number, I plugged it into Google and looked it up! Concrete!
A big difference here is concrete made today versus concrete from almost 100 years ago. For Laundry Sinks like mine the concrete mixture contained a good amount of Portland cement which is extra strong, but still very porous. Going at this with a rough abrasive and the wrong chemical cleaner and I could do some serious damage.
Vintage Laundry Sink Clean Up
So how did I clean and restore the concrete sink? I had to break it down into sections because the outer wall, top edge, inside basin, inset washboard, faucet and metal stand all needed special attention. You can also check out this video below!
Outside The Basin
The outer wall of the sink was in relatively good shape despite being a basement eyesore for decades. It has it’s fair share of dirt layers and paint splatters, but that were easily cleaned up. After consulting my buddy Scott Sidler from Austin Historical he told me I could lightly sand the basin with a random orbit sander and a high grit. With a dust mask on I quickly sanded out the wear and tear with 220 grit.
During my research of the patent number, I found out that this particular sink traditionally was painted black on the outer basin. So that explains the darker coloring and gave us the idea to bring in a fun color. Using the same tinted (Behr Key Largo Green) concrete paint I used in the Floor Stencil Tutorial, the pop of color went on easily.
Top Edge Of The Basin
Guess what’s not concrete? The top edge of the Laundry Sink! It’s actually zinc! It’s there to reinforce a high traffic area that could have easily been chipped concrete after years of use. So kudos to zinc! However… it’s also not something you want to sand with random orbit sander. The abrasive would just leave scratches. So now what?
Time to pull out the Dremel Versa! Yes, it’s a rotary tool, but you have a variety of scrubbing pads to swap out. In this case I used the non-scratch pad and wait for it… toothpaste with baking soda. A damp pad and a generous application of toothpaste shined the zinc edge right up!
Inside The Basin
The area of the Laundry Sink that took the most abuse is by far the inside basin. I’ll admit… in the decade we’ve lived in the house I’ve cleaned quite a few paint brushes without much care to the inner surface. It started to look like a Jackson Pollock. With a lot more chipping and degradation sanding was out of the question. So now what?
Again I used the Dremel Versa but this time I used Oxy Clean to scrub first using the bristle brush attachment and then the heavy duty scouring pad. You need to be extra careful about what chemicals you use on the inside. While a tough chemical cleaner can certain take the miles off, it will most likely disintegrate the original drain connection which is apparently nearly impossible to replace.
Also on the inside of one of the basins is an inset washboard. At first I thought it was a poured concrete form, but after a little scrubbing I realized it too was made of zinc! So once I took off the initial sink scum, I went back over with the Versa non scratch pad and toothpaste to make it shine!
Faucet And Metal Stand
To add a little bling to the sink, we decided we were going to paint the faucet hardware and the legs. At this point the legs had decades worth of rust on them. So I brought out the random orbit sander again with 180 grit and cleaned off the oxidation. For the faucet I brought out the Versa again with the toothpaste method and scrubbed off the years of soap scum.
We then used Rust-Oleum Metallic Champagne Bronze Protective Spray paint on both the legs and the faucet for an added element of color. Making sure the room was well ventilated, I put plastic and cardboard down around the legs (since I just painted the floors!) and sprayed those in no time. For the faucet (since it was never going to be removed!) I surrounded the area with plastic and pulled the hardware through and sprayed into the make shift spray shelter.
It’s hard to look at this and not give a lame tagline like “from drab to fab!” but it’s true. When I see people online talking about busting out these vintage laundry sinks with a sledge hammer I absolutely cringe. You’ve got an original piece of history that should last for centuries! So why not bring it back to life. But if you must get rid of it… try to salvage and sell it because believe it or not people will pay thousands for them. So put that hammer down!
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*This post has been sponsored by Dremel Tools. I have been compensated for my time and provided with tools in exchange for an honest application of the Dremel Versa. How did it work? I think the results speak for themselves!
What a GREAT job! Very Well Done!
Thanks Sandra! We loved how it changed the whole space!
Hi there, this looks great! I have one of these but without a stand or a faucet. I have it set on concrete blocks as an outdoor garden sink but am running into trouble finding a faucet like yours. Unless I missed it I don’t see if you restored your faucet or got another one. Because these types of faucets are on 3 and a half inch centers all the ones I’ve found online the pipes come in from the top instead of underneath like yours. Any info is much appreciated, great job!
I lucked out and was able to re-use the faucet on my sink. I’m told their a dime a dozen at salvage yards though because of how common they are. That’s the best bet because like you said, there just aren’t any reproductions out there to swap out.
I came back to reread and just saw the part where you painted it! Thank you for the response, I will try that.
The paint has held up surprisingly well to our wear and tear. It just needed a good scrubbing before application.
Gerber makes one and Central Brass 0465 or 0470 will work!
I can’t believe my eyes. We have one just like this. You have made the sink look so nice. We have some leeking problems. So, I not sure it can be fixed.
There are ways to patch with epoxy and resin if you have leaks. The biggest issue is with the drains if that rusts out. It’s hard to replace those from what I’ve heard.
I recently purchased a 100+ house with an identical sink. The 2 sink drains are connected underneath into a single drain. Looking at the drain it is badly corroded, I really have no idea how the metal plate that holds the drain pipe is installed and so currently have no idea if and how it can be replaced. Does the patent show what is behind the plate.
Sorry, just caught this! Because of how long ago those patents were filed, the detail is not great. But I was able to get a lot of information googling the info that others have found.
i have the same problem, drains rotted out… 2 drains connect to one… i have a 3 basin one… how do you fix that?
Thanks for the post. There is not a lot of information about restoring concrete sinks so I thought I would add my recent restoration. I used a reciprocating saw brush attachment to clean the inside, a paint removal attachment used on auto body work. After that I used hammered black spray paint for the base and euro gray behr latex paint on the outside. I toyed with the idea of painting the inside with an epoxy paint but felt the steps were fairly complicated and results would have been suspect. Here is an image of the final product.
Thanks for the info! That sink turned out great! I think you’re right on not messing with the inside. You’d lose some of that character too by doing so. As long as it’s in good shape the outside is a good overhaul to stick with.
Thomas, this looks really good. My next project is the cement sink in by basement laundry room. I hope mine turns our to look as good as yours. I am thinking of painting the outside red!
Thanks for this post. Your restored sink looks great! I have the same sink. It is functional, but in rough shape. The previous owner painted it inside and out. Now it’s peeling badly on the inside. The drain is also rusted. Do you have any tips for removing the rust and the paint from the cement? Also, could you provide the patent number. My sink has been painted all over and I can’t find it. Thanks!
I have one of those sinks and was thinking of replacing it. My washing machine empties into it and the drain hole is so small that both side of the sink fill when the washing machine drains. Is that typical? I would need to hire someone to redo it. Is it worth it or would a replacement be more economical? Needless to say, I am not very handy!
Our laundry does the same. It wasn’t until I added a filter on the drain and cleaned out the line that I solved the filling up issue. Because there’s so much lint that comes through we were clogging up the line like crazy. Check that first before anything drastic. The sink is literally hundreds of pounds and a pain to remove, but then if you were to buy one used right now they would cost you a couple grand. See if you make it work because they are absolutely better than other options out there in terms of size.
You know a good site I could go to to sell one of those? Looking to get rid of mine.
Came across your this post as I’m trying to restore a sink that is almost identical. The zinc around the edges was painted at some point… Do you have a recommendation on the best way to remove the pain from the zinc area? Also, what is the point of the zinc? Does it have some benefit?
Historically, the zinc was added to the edges because that’s where the most wear and tear would happen when things like buckets and such would smash against it. They would sometimes use lead as well, but we know how safe that ended up being. Ha! I lightly sanded mine with a sanding sponge with 180-220 grit to remove the paint and not scratch up the metal. That seemed to be the best way to clean it up and bring it out.
Great job! I’m in the process of restoring the same exact sink in my basement laundry room.
One issue I have…from all the years of the laundry machine emptying into the left tub, the entire basin is worn and bumpy. I want to refinish it and level it off. Been doing a ton of research, but not sure what to use? A concrete patch mix? A resurfacing mix like Quikrete Re-cap? And then will coat with some epoxy water resistant compound (TBD)
If anyone has done this with success, any thoughts are appreciated!
Thanks! My only worry with a self leveling product is then you might have some drainage issues with flat spots. But it’s probably your best bet along with a marine grade epoxy to seal it. It’s not something I’ve done, so I’ll be interested to see if the community has some advice. Good luck!
Adam…Thanks for the quick reply…appreciate your thoughts! My sink already has tons of flat spots so I can’t do much worst that it’s current condition 🙂 I am also concerned about a self leveling product, and might just try to create a slope myself towards the drain with some concrete patch (not sure what type yet). As the drain is in the top right corner of the sink, easier than a center drain…I think. As the sink can look great, really want to avoid replacing it with the cheap looking plastic tub. And great website!
I have that sink and want to do the same. Can the inside also be painted? Originally I was going to have it reglazed like a bathtub but they said they couldn’t do a concrete sink.
Glazing definitely wouldn’t work. You would need to use something like the paint they use on the inside of pools or something else that’s safe and usable in water. I just scrubbed ours as much as possible and left with the old “patina” and made the outside pretty. Adds some character as they say.
Our sink is nearly identical and in need of restoration as well. The tips here should be quite helpful but the main problem I’m having is the legs are rusted through and badly need replaced. Maybe I am overthinking it but feel stuck thinking we’ll need to have something custom fabricated, which is likely far outside the budget. Anyone here have recommendations?
Hi Tyler! Look for someone that welds. I don’t think it would be that crazy expensive.
We too have a sink like this too. I feel like I can handle the cement refinishing, but the drain assembly is cast into the cement, and is very corroded. I am told that this is beyond saveable due to previous plumbing hacks. I am wondering if anyone has a solution for this?
That’s pretty much on board with everything I’ve learned. Once the drain is damaged, there’s not much you can do but patch and pray.
I am doing the same for my cement work sink. I notice you vented your dryer through brick wall. Did YOU do that or did u buy the house with it vented that way? Mine vents thru center of a 3 paned window where they replaced center pane with particle board with a hole for dryer vent. Looks awful, cuts down on light. But venting through brick wall is daunting!
The house came with it luckily. But I have put a hole in the brick on the other side of the basement for running conduit outside. It wasn’t bad with the right hammer drill and attachment.
Where do you find the patent information? Asking for a friend. 😉
On my sink, the patent # was stenciled in black on the bottom of the sink. Then google has a full library of pretty much every patent filed, so it was a google away and a PDF popped up. A lot of technical info to read through, but if you hit the high points you’ll know what you’re seeing.
I have a sink like this. Who would buy one?
eBay and Craigslist have them often. The only issue is removing them and transport. They’re a couple hundred pounds.
I am currently renovating a 1920 ‘Sears and Roebuck Laundry Tub’. We moved it from the basement to the garden. A major undertaking. Making it a garden sink. Will send pictures once completed. Question, (Behr Key Largo Green) was this the brand/type of paint you used ‘The BEHR Premium Porch and Patio Floor Paint Enamel‘ ?
Great! I love seeing these come back to life! And you’re correct on paint, just tinted. I updated the post to reflect the type of paint I used as well from Behr: https://homedepot.sjv.io/za276x
I have a sink just like that in the basement of my early 1940s home. An environmental specialist, who was looking at some other things in the basement, noted that concrete tubs of that age often contain asbestos. Have you heard that? If that’s the case, sanding it seems like a bad idea.
Admire your dedication. Great work.
This helps, thanks. I’m restoring the one at my place, circa 1925. A lot of chemical (paint/stripper/stain) have stained, and will stain, the inside basins (it is a utility sink:) After you cleaned the inside basins, did you seal them? What did/would you use to make it impenetrable to other chemicals ? Thanks, Mike
Can you point me in the direction of patching a crack in these sinks?
Any good ideas on how to replace the stand or what can be used instead? Our sink is fine, but the stand rusted out and almost fell. We haven’t been able to find another stand. The floor isn’t level so the legs need to be adjustable for leveling.
My father was a “boy-chemist” in the late 192os and early ’30s. He was splashed by a large amount of strong lye solution and his father picked him up and threw him into a laundry tub just like yours. I’m organizing his memoirs and wanted to illustrate with a picture. May I use your “before” picture?
Thank you for posting this! We have one of these sinks. We are having a really hard time with taking the old drain out. We have to remove it and replace it because it has been sitting in a barn for the past 100 years. How do you remove it besides cutting it out?
Great job! My family has the sink however struggling to find a stand or bade to place it on. Any suggestions?
How is the sink attached to the metal legs?
The sink form has a built in channel that the legs sit on. There’s nothing bolted on.