Concrete Laundry Tub
"I believe the reason they're so strong is that the manufacturers decided to make the concrete mix quite rich adding a small amount of extra Portland cement."
Concrete Laundry Tub Checklist
- Concrete laundry tub is fantastic. Do not get rid of yours! Valuable!!
- Contain high amounts of Portland cement and wire mesh reinforcing
- WATCH concrete epoxy video below
- Use Stain Solver oxygen bleach to deep clean concrete
- opens in a new windowCLICK HERE to Get Tim's FREE & FUNNY Newsletter!
DEAR TIM: I have a 1938 Cape Cod stone house with a behemoth laundry sink in the basement. It appears to be made of concrete, soap stone or something similar and has two giant tubs.
It's supported by a steel stand that's in pretty good shape with some minor rust. Can you identify it?
How long have these sinks been around? How can I clean and restore it?
Also, the faucet holes aren't standard size or distance can I fill and drill new ones? Chris R., Lexington, KY
DEAR CHRIS: You bet I can identify it.
Among other things, I'm a master plumber and I've owned and moved several of these monster sinks. Believe it or not, you're the proud owner of a collector's item. You've got a marvelous precast concrete laundry tub that's nearly indestructible.
When Were Concrete Laundry Tubs Invented?
Concrete laundry tubs were invented and displayed for the world to see at the 1867 Paris Exposition.
Who Invented Concrete Laundry Tubs?
A man by the name of Joseph Monier invented concrete laundry tubs. He was a gardener who started making steel-reinforced concrete tubs and pots because he was dissatisfied with clay and wood pots that would fall apart.
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Is Concrete Strong?
Concrete is strong when you try to compress it, but if you try to stretch or bend it, it's weak. Steel is exceptionally strong if you try to stretch it.
You can make beams, columns, suspended slabs, bridges, boats, and even laundry tubs when you combine the concrete and steel in the right configuration!
Have you Used These Sinks?
The house I lived in from age 2 until 22 had a double-basin concrete sink. This concrete laundry tub was just on the other side of the wall from where I slept.
I was lucky enough to have concrete laundry tubs in the first two houses I owned. As you might imagine, they came in different models with one, two or three sink basins. The sinks weigh hundreds and hundreds of pounds.
Why Are the Concrete Sinks So Durable?
I believe the reason they're so durable is that the manufacturers decided to make the concrete mix quite rich adding a small amount of extra Portland cement.
They added enough Portland cement so the concrete probably tested out at 6,000 pounds per square inch or higher compressive strength.
Years ago when the sinks were made this extra cement, probably only cost the manufacturers a nickel since there's not that much cement volume in each sink. What a wise decision it was!
What Is the Top Lip Material?
It's important to realize the top lip of these sinks is made from steel so the edge won't chip. The workmanship that went into creating each of these sinks is of the highest quality. I've seen hundreds of these sinks in my career and all of them are impressive.
How Do You Repair Cracks and Crumbles?
I feel it's best to repair cracks and crumbled areas with modern concrete epoxy.
A point often overlooked is the best method to restore the sink surfaces. Use the best concrete-repair epoxy I've ever used, if you want to repair a crack in one of these grand sinks, or fill in a crumbling area.
What is the Best Epoxy to Use?
I've had the best success with the PC-Products Epoxy in a tube. See it just below in the photo? CLICK HERE to have it delivered to your home in days.
Concrete Epoxy Repair Video
Watch this video to see how to repair cracks in concrete.
How Do You Restore The Steel Stand?
I'd start the steel stand restoration process by removing any rust. If you need a new stand, see below where I talk about hiring a local welder.
Use a high-quality paint made to paint steel after the stand is sanded and ready for primer and paint.
The stand probably was painted black when the sink was new. It could have been a dark gray as well.
How Do You Strip Paint From Concrete?
Use regular paint stripper to strip paint from the concrete surfaces.
Start to remove any paint from the inside of the sink basin walls after you have the steel stand repainted. Remove paint with common paste paint strippers. Follow the directions on the label and be sure the space is well ventilated if you're using a stripper that contains methylene chloride.
What's the Best Cleaner?
I feel the best cleaner for the sink is a low-grade abrasive cleaner.
I would then try to scrub the sides of the sink with Soft Scrub abrasive cleaner. While it's available at most grocery stores, you can CLICK HERE and have it delivered to your home.
Just test it on a small area at first using a scrub brush with stiff nylon bristles. Do not use a wire brush of any type, especially one on a spinning power tool. That will damage the concrete surface in no time.
How Can You Remove Oil Stains?
You'll have fantastic results removing oil stains and any organic stains using a powerful opens in a new windowoxygen bleach solution. I prefer Stain Solver, a pure white powder you mix with warm or hot water.
It's certified organic, it's Made in the USA with USA ingredients, and it's got the highest percentage of active ingredient that I know of. Stain Solver is non-toxic and has no odor.
Just spritz the sides of the sink with the solution keeping the concrete wet for an hour or more. Don't let the solution dry.
Every fifteen minutes, scrub with the brush and see if you're making progress. If so, keep at it until you get the sink clean.
IMPORTANT TIP: Realize if you use muriatic acid to try to clean the sink, you'll damage the steel lip and you'll erode some of the cement paste that makes the inside of the sink basins so smooth. I'd not recommend using acid at all.
Can You Drill New Holes in a Concrete Sink?
You can drill new holes in a concrete sink that will work for a modern faucet. It's best to create the holes with a diamond hole-cutting saw. Realize you'll have to make certain the blade can cut through tiny steel wire that you're sure to encounter in the concrete matrix.
Where Can I Locate a Faucet That Uses Existing Holes?
Before you do this radical modification to the sink, please consider taking the time to visit plumbing supply houses where plumbers purchase most of their products. These unique businesses can be found in just about every large or medium city. They rarely advertise, but believe me they exist.
There's a great chance these supply houses will have a faucet that will work using the existing holes in the sink.
Can A Local Welder Help?
If that doesn't work, I'd be inclined to work with a local welder who works in stainless steel. See if he can't fabricate a mount that has holes for modern faucets.
This mount would have small bolts that would allow you to use the existing holes to pull the mount tight to the sink and leave enough space for the water supply lines to feed the faucet.
If your sink needs a new steel base, this same welder can fabricate one in less than an hour using small 1/8-inch x 1-inch angle iron. Be sure there's plenty of cross bracing so the stand will not collapse.