Joe replaces a vintage porcelain drainboard kitchen sink with a new Elkay stainless steel drainboard sink

2011 elkay stainless steel drainboard sink installed onto a vintage steel kitchen cabinetIn my recent story about authentic 1950s 1960s and 1970s kitchen remodeling products still made today, I spotlighted Elkay Lustertone stainless steel drainboard sinks — made back in the day and still available today. Over the past year, I’ve been in touch with a reader who was preparing to install a new Elkay sink top onto his vintage steel kitchen sink base. The project was recently completed — and voila, doesn’t it look fantastic? Reader Joe explains that he would really have preferred to find a porcelain enamel drainboard sink, to replace the original — but these are not made new today, and his previous experience with trying to re-enamel his original drainboard sink Was Not Satisfactory. Read on for his report on his experience and several before-and-after photos.

porcelain ceramic drainboard sink

Joe's original drainboard sink -- the "Before". The sinktop was chipped and rusted. He had it refinished using an epoxy-based process. But, the new surface started to disintegrate in about two years, he reports.

Joe writes:

Hi Pam,

Finally got the Lustertone sink installed.

Elkay stainless steel drainboard sink installed on a vintage Beauty Queen steel sink base

I would still have preferred to have replaced the original white enamel-on-steel top with another new one just like it….but no one seems to make them anymore. The stainless steel is just not as “warm feeling” as the white top. But a self draining unit was a priority and that does work fine.

retro kitchen faucet

No problems at all with the installation. Fit easily. I replaced the faucet with a kind of retro unit made by Chicago Faucets.

re-enameling or refinishing the original porcelain drainboard sink was not successfulNote: I did have the original top taken out and refinished [with an epoxy-type finish] and that lasted about 2 years. Could not find someone to re-enamel.


Pam responds: I have NEVER heard of anyone having a good experience with re-enameled tops — although, I think for small repairs or if you really want to try and extend the life and refinish a porcelain sink on the cheap, you can try the products recommended and for sale at I am told that the reason that “refinishing” a vintage porcelain sink doesn’t work very well is that: The original porcelain-enamel finish is chemically: glass. “Refinishing” or “Re-enameling” is: Paint on Glass. No worky.

If you really really want to find a porcelain drainboard sink in great shape, I do think they are out there. Best bet: Take the measurements of the chippy wrecked one with you at all times. Watch like a hawk for something in Perfect shape. Stalk your Restore. All that said: Joe, I think your stainless steel drainboard sink from Elkay is beautiful — and oh-so-practical, as stainless steel will never chip! Thank you for sharing!

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  1. MCM is Grand says

    We had our excellent tile restoration guy look at our 1955 American Standard tub to see if it were a candidate for refinishing. He advised us to leave it alone, and we’re glad we did! We have no chips, just some dull or pitted areas. He said that the refinishing does not last, and if we washed our dog in there her paws would scratch off the new finish. Also, in our previous home the owners had “sealed” the kitchen tile and sink with some white substance, and by the time we moved out it had bubbled and cracked and looked terrible.

  2. Gavin Hastings says

    A great job!

    I would be very careful about the chrome-y dish drainer: I used one in my old double sink…and it rusted almost overnight…leaving marks not easlily removable.

    • Michelle Minicucci says

      Gavin, did the rust marks ever come off? I have had great success with Barkeeper’s Friend. It comes in liquid and powder, and I have never had a metal ruined by it.

  3. MCMeg says

    You will love your stainless steel sink! The one I’m using is original from1959 and it is gleaming. It will never chip and a little scouring powder and a Brillo pad makes it look like new. When we replace our counters, we’re planning on keeping the sink.

  4. Tami says

    That looks great – if I ever win the lottery, one o’those is going into my kitchen! Thanks for sharing.

    Here’s an idea to re-use your worn-out enameled drainboard sink: repurpose it into a potting bench. My neighbors had taken theirs out and were going to haul it to the dump. I took it home and built a stand/frame for it out of scraps from a fence project. It’s heavy as hell, but it works like a charm for outdoor garden chores.

    • CindyD says

      Ah, Tami, I love this idea! You get the beauty of the original sink and it’s durability, and who cares if there are scrapes and scratches.

  5. says

    This looks awesome! Love the chrome. I will add myself to the list of porcelain enamel sink issues. I have a 100 year old cast iron that I have never been happy with since the day it was repaired, or the next year when it was repaired again. I have finally given up. I LOVE the look of the 5 foot single bowl drainboard but I am really regretting having built my countertops on TOP of it…now i’m stuck without major renovation. Joe’s advice is spot on…find one in excellent condition and leave it alone!

  6. says

    You should live in our area, there are restoration houses all over the place!

    That said, much as I had wanted to keep a double drainboard, double sink that we found in our field when we moved in here (yes, in our field), it was so damaged that it would have cost more to repair it than to buy a refurbished vintage sink. We went another way, but our brand new store bought sink hasn’t held up well (porcelain) and I’ve sworn off porcelain, having had both it and stainless steel in various houses.

    We thought about having it resurfaced (it was an expensive sink), but have heard mixed reviews about having that done.

    I love the one you’ve installed, and it even looks like it would fit into our large space. I’ll have to see if they have a double bowl option. Could not do with just one bowl I’m afraid.

    Great redo.

  7. Trip Haynes says

    Looks great! As a housing inspector I see alot of the old sinks and some are in pretty good condition, while others are ready for the scrap yard. It amazes me how long they held up all these years….if only everything else did!

  8. Lee says

    Joe, you should try and find a chromed sprayer nozzle. I found one in the local Ace. It would look really cool next to that faucet.

  9. Trina says

    Joe, the sink looks great. I think that we have a responsibility to these old houses to not only preserve the integrity of the style and character of the home, but to also make them as functional as possible for todays living. Any other new sink would have been functional by would not have preserved the integrity. Good job on making the right decision.

  10. philq says

    Looks great, Joe. You will learn to love it in time (if you don’t already). I have a similar original unit in my 1957 kitchen, along with stainless and turquoise formica counters. I had Corian in a previous house, which I liked the look of, but had to be careful with hot pots. Stainless – just set the pots where ever! I would never have anything else but stainless. The little scratches/wear&tear contribute to a nice patina in time.

  11. Kelly says

    I love it! I wanted to put one of these in the kitchen that we’re updating but the undermount version didn’t fit with the dishwasher underneath. bummer. I should have been more flexible to get a top mount sink!

  12. TappanTrailerTami says

    This looks awesome, Joe! Very nicely done.

    I hate to mention this after-the-fact, but it could be something that Pam can investigate for us, and report on. There is a company in Illinois that does actual REAL porcelain enameling (the baked on kind). I’ve seen them mentioned on a couple of different websites. I don’t know how much the cost is, but I think it would be worth checking out and having the information handy just in case someone here wants to save their current sink.

    It is my understanding that they are the only company in the country to do real old fashioned authentic fired on porcelain enamel work.


  13. K2K says

    when I considered the Elkay to replace my original sink – zero porcelain finish in the basin – I was stunned at the price. I mostly was going to replace the sink because the faucet needs replacing and I need to sell my 1954 atomic ranch.
    so, am still stuck, and no one will buy this house when they realize they have to remodel the entire kitchen because of the sink and faucet (my Geneva cabinets are not in good shape). maybe I should try to find someone who lusts for an atomic ranch with the original kitchen! and enough money to restore it.

    I was also concerned that the Elkay would show scratches over time. $2,000 for a sink!

    • pam kueber says

      Yup, the Elkays are not inexpensive. But, they should last beyond the lifetime of your house. Also, their price points to the fact that our steel kitchen cabinets are quite valuable — in fact the new St. Charles’ are so expensive they won’t even quote a price online! If you have the patience, take your measurements, carry them with you, and stalk the Re-Store. Salvaged Elkays do turn up.

  14. Michelle Minicucci says

    Everyone, Joe’s cabinet is the first I have seen with cabinet pulls like on my own steel cabinets. We have been missing one pull for over 40 years. Does anyone know where to get replacements (just like that)? Thanks in advance! MM

    • pam kueber says

      Michelle, Joe’s cabinet is a Beauty Queen. I don’t know of any off-the-shelf replacements — you might have to just buy a whole cabinet. This is not a common brand. Head over to our Forum, where we have identified 74 different brands of vintage steel kitchen cabinets and provide a place to buy/sell them. You have to register, but it’s free to participate. You can see our history of Beauty Queen captured so far (histories are all a work in progress) and also keep an eye out for a small Beauty Queen that you might be able to harvest for parts. Assuming you really have a BQ, that is. Good luck.

  15. Vera says

    I am getting ready to sell my 1955 Elkay Lustertone 80 inch drainboard countertop with double sinks on DC’s Craig’s List. Elkay tells me a new one would retail for $2800! Mine is in pristine condition. Only downside is that the wide section of the double sinks is shallow, maybe 5 inches deep. The lady of the house had a stool under it so she could sit and do dishes!!

  16. delphine shinn says

    Hello, I have recently acquired an all original “Beauty Queen” double porcelain 50’s retro sink with metal cabinets included. The porcelain is in excellent condition, the metal cab section is in pretty good condition as well, some rusting where plumbing was put into bottom and years of farmhouse use. I am looking to sell the entire sind and cabinet. It is really a super item. If interested, just email or post so that we can communicate. Pickup Only, the whole item weighs at least 300 pounds. Will give price and WV location if interested. Love this site. Delphine

    • pam kueber says

      delphine, you can post these on our buy/sell forum – it’s down right at this moment but should be working again early in the week…

  17. Bonnie says

    Does anyone know where I can get this Elkay stainless sink with dual drainboards and backsplash? I checked their website and have been looking online but no luck.


  18. Jane Dobell says

    Hi Pam
    You mention stainless being sanitary. If porcelain sink is chipped does it collect bacteria? Is rusted steel not sanitary?

    • pam kueber says

      Can you point me to where I use the word “sanitary” in this story? I cannot see the reference. I think that, in stories about the history of steel cabinets, I may have said they were “marketed” with the idea they were sanitary — meaning, specifically, vermin could not eat through steel like they could eat through wood cabinets.

      I don’t think I have ever written about counter tops and bacteria prevention.

  19. says

    Well we did powder coat @ 1600 degrees in almond came out fine has lasted 2 years and going strong I have link the face book page so you can see it if it works, cost just 165.00 dollars to powder coat the sink.

  20. kate says

    I love the stainless/butcher block combination. We have butcher block and one of the reasons I got the Elkay w/drainboard was to help keep the area where sink meets countertop protected. Thanks for the great photos and inspiration!

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