Laundry Sink Restoration

How To Restore A Vintage Concrete Laundry Sink

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!

Laundry Room Makeover

*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!

Original Laundry Sink

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?

Dremel Versa

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.

Laundry Sink Washboard

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.

Final Look

Laundry Sink Restoration

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!

~Lazy Guy

Don’t forget to “Pin It” to Pinterest!

Laundry Sink Makeover

*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!

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Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm
5 years ago

What a GREAT job! Very Well Done!

Susan Hudgins
Susan Hudgins
4 years ago

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!

Susan Hudgins
Susan Hudgins
Reply to  lazyguydiy
4 years ago

I came back to reread and just saw the part where you painted it! Thank you for the response, I will try that.

Michael Tiedel
Michael Tiedel
Reply to  Susan Hudgins
1 year ago

Gerber makes one and Central Brass 0465 or 0470 will work!

Carrie Smith
Carrie Smith
4 years ago

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.

David Burns
David Burns
4 years ago

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.

NICK DeNora
NICK DeNora
Reply to  lazyguydiy
2 years ago

i have the same problem, drains rotted out… 2 drains connect to one… i have a 3 basin one… how do you fix that?

Thomas Casadonte
Thomas Casadonte
3 years ago

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.

Concrete laundry after_resized(1).jpg
Brenda Robinson
Brenda Robinson
Reply to  Thomas Casadonte
3 years ago

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!

Laura
Laura
Reply to  Thomas Casadonte
5 months ago

Did you just use regular paint on the outside? I’d love to paint mine green

Pepper
Pepper
3 years ago

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!

Marcy Lockhart
Marcy Lockhart
3 years ago

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!

Dan B
Dan B
Reply to  lazyguydiy
2 years ago

You know a good site I could go to to sell one of those? Looking to get rid of mine.

Chas
Chas
3 years ago

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?

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

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!

Steve
Steve
Reply to  lazyguydiy
3 years ago

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!

Rose
Rose
Reply to  Steve
8 months ago

Oh yeah! I certainly agree with you. When we bought the house we have now they had put in one of those cheap plastic laundry things. And left that beautiful concrete sink unattached sitting in the middle of the basement. SMH…. What a shame. Restoring it to it’s rightful household place is high on my list of remodeling items. I am only thankful due to its weight they left it for me to find so that it didn’t end up in the landfill.

Larry
Larry
3 years ago

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.

Tyler
Tyler
3 years ago

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?

Jen
Jen
Reply to  Tyler
2 years ago

Hi Tyler! Look for someone that welds. I don’t think it would be that crazy expensive.

Zoe
Zoe
3 years ago

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?

Elise Brinich
Elise Brinich
3 years ago

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!

Phee
Phee
3 years ago

Where do you find the patent information? Asking for a friend. 😉

Rich
Rich
2 years ago

I have a sink like this. Who would buy one?

Robert Hanes
Robert Hanes
2 years ago

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‘ ?

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
2 years ago

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.

H Davidson
2 years ago

Admire your dedication. Great work.

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

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

Alicia
Alicia
2 years ago

Can you point me in the direction of patching a crack in these sinks?

Tsabs
Tsabs
Reply to  Alicia
5 months ago

We just bought a house with this kind of sink, cracked on one side. Previous owners used a glaze or clear epoxy to seal the inside of the sink. No leakage so far.

Chris
Chris
2 years ago

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.

--Pete
2 years ago

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?

Kim Richter
Kim Richter
1 year ago

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?

Russ Keaton
Russ Keaton
1 year ago

Great job! My family has the sink however struggling to find a stand or bade to place it on. Any suggestions?

Karen Mac
Karen Mac
1 year ago

How is the sink attached to the metal legs?

Trisha
Trisha
11 months ago

Hi! How would you recommend repairing and sealing a crack through the bottom of the basin? My bf currently has marine putty on it but is starting to peel back off and would like something more permanent

Joe in So Cal
Joe in So Cal
11 months ago

I have the same tub at my late parents first home when they married, the sink bearing a build date of 09/17/49 on the bottom. I am sadly removing it today as I write this, as the sink has a crack running from the drain up to the rim. Water drips out on the garage floor whenever it’s used. Also one of the four steel legs only has a sliver of steel remaining where it touches the concrete. Removing it from the base, I found out how incredibly heavy the sink is. Glad to see your sink is still in… Read more »

Cheryl
Cheryl
10 months ago

Can I leave my concrete sink outside in winter weather?

Barbara
Barbara
4 months ago

we have one of these sinks in our basement. It has cracks after 50+ years and leaks. My husband put a layer of some kind of rubberized(?) sealant used for roofs. It’s holding for now but can these sinks be professionally resurfaced or maybe glazed? I’d rather not replace unless I have to. One plumbers estimate to remove and replace with a plastic sink was $2000.

Tyler
Tyler
3 months ago

Any ideas on how to replace or repair the drain hook up for these? The mounting bracket seems to be one with the sink. Ours is beginning to leak due the corrosion. This thing is heavy and I don’t really want to move it…..

IMG_7915
Lisa jones
Lisa jones
3 months ago

I have the same sink. I’m looking to turn it into a flower tin with a fountain but have no idea how to do the fountain. Unfortunately I can’t get the picture small enough to do it justice out post

IMG_3560
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