Real porcelain enamel coating to restore your drainboard sink, tub or stove

reporcelain for a sink After Joe was unsuccessful in his attempt to epoxy-coat his vintage porcelain drainboard sink, he replaced it with a new Elkay Lustertone stainless steel drainboard sink. Even though the metal drainboard sink looks great, Joe says he would have preferred to keep his old porcelain sink top and have had the original enamel restored, refinished or replaced. But he didn’t know of a source — and neither did I. Until now. Thanks to reader TappanTrailerTami, who let us know:

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 — Custom Ceramic Coatings — 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.


where to get the porcelain on a drainboard sink repairedWell, I followed up on Tami’s tip, made a phone call, and yes — Custom Ceramic’s owner John Ballantyne says that, indeed, he does true, old-fashioned re-porcelaining of sinks, tubs, stove parts and even vintage motorcycle parts. And, as far as he knows, he is the only small business person in the U.S. offering this service. He does lots of (all the?) reporcelaining work for companies that take apart and re-manufacture vintage stoves piece by piece, for example.

vintage porcelain drainboard kitchen sinkJohn says can strip and then re-porcelain onto steel substrates, and usually, onto cast iron, although he tells me there is an issue with cast iron right now:

As I told you on the phone, I have been having some trouble with the thick heavy cast iron pieces since I had to change my porcelain supplier.  My old supplier went out of business and we had things matched up pretty good. The stamped steel sinks are no problem.  We are working with the porcelain for the cast and it has recently worked out on some pieces that had failed badly for outgassing. Once I try a couple of sinks that have failed and if they work out now,  then I will return to doing the heavy cast iron again.

where to get all new porcelain enamel for a drainboard sinkThe porcelain re-enameling process is not cheap, because it is time-consuming and requires craftsmanship, materials and the tools and equipment. John explains that porcelain = glass. To re-porcelain a piece, he says, he first must blast away all the old porcelain down to the bare metal. He then applies a “ground coat” — a special primer, more or less — usually two coats, each fired separately. Then, he creates a special chemical mixture of ground glass and other materials — this is called “slip” — and applies thin coats in a wet spray, drying and firing in between. The firing all occurs at up to 1500 degrees F. The “outgassing” he refers to, is when there are problems getting the porcelain coats to adhere to the ground coats during the firing process. Expansion, contraction, chemical formulations — all must be just right or you get bubbles and pocks and flaking or worse.

green porcelain sink

John can create white porcelain, or color-match to about any color you want. Vibrant reds and yellows are more expensive, he warns, because the formula for these colors use cadmium, an EPA-controlled substance requiring special procedures.

re enameling a sinkCosts vary according to the piece. John read to me from his rate card: A 42″ sink runs $750-$800, plus shipping. As you can imagine, shipping can be a substantial part of the expense, too. For example, John is in Illinois, just across the border from St. Louis, and one-way shipping to California for a piece sitting in his shop while we talked was looking like $230. He says he works with a special shipper to help get the best cost possible.

vintage kitchen sink with drainboardsThat said, remember that it’s probably at least $1,500 for an Elkay Lustertone stainless steel drainboard sink. And I bet if anyone ever started making porcelain drainboard sinks new, they would be in that price range or higher. As I’ve said before, if you want or need to aim for cheap and cheerful: Take your measurements for a drainboard sink with you everywhere you go. Stalk your Re-Store, even renovation sites, and look for a sink top that is as perfect as possible. Or not-so-perfect, and use one of the porcelain repair products from and don’t sweat perfection. If you’re embarking on a retro kitchen project, get started here — and settle in a while.

new porcelain enamel for a stovetopA 40″ stovetop, in white, with four burner holes, would be about $335, John said.

stove grates with new porcelain enamelHe can also do stove grates, with simple single grates starting at $50.50.

Currently, lead times are three-to-four weeks.

John says that he started his business in 1997, after running a large porcelain plant in St. Louis. He got his start when he reporcelained the exhaust pipes on his Harleys.

But, maybe you just need this awesome cleaner I discovered recently

Another tip — See my story on ROG1 and ROG3 to clean porcelain. I found this stuff recently and use it to clean my old porcelain. So far — awesome:

cleaner for porcelain

But… before you re-porcelain, try cleaning with this first.


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  1. Betsy Fuller says

    I have found a really cool 48″ x 50″ alcove tub (not a Cindarella), porcelain cast iron. It does need to be refinished and a chip repaired. I spoke with John Balllyntine, near St. Louis, and yes, he does still reglaze, but his kiln is not big enough for this tub. With that in mind, we are considering one of the “in house” processes. I have found one that uses a thermal fusion process and would need to cure for a week. Time is not a concern as we don’t live in the house at the moment. Any suggestions?

  2. says

    Good day.

    Where can i find one of these white pocelain wall mounted farm style sinks in South Africa? Need one asap for a project and struggling to find one!! Please help!


  3. Ginny Farrell says

    Looking to get a removable high chair tray re-enameled, can you help or give me any tips? It’s chipped and worn.

  4. Pam says

    I have an 80 year old farmhouse sink – 6′ long w/the original legs. It’s white enamel over iron (heavy…heavy…and heavy!). Just beautiful…but it does need new enamel. Probably what I’ll do is use it in my barn or carriage house, as is, and get a new porcelain drainboard sink. I want another long sink, which I’ll surely put to good use!

  5. Caroline says

    We used John to re-porcelainize a sink that came out of a 1958 DeVille travel trailer that we had re-habbed a couple years back to a soft 50′s yellow. His work on our sink was flawless! Great job!!

  6. Thom says

    I have a porcelain enamel drip pan on my cooktop. I scrubbed it a bit too hard with Barkeeper’s friend and now the finish is dull in some areas. Do you know of any way to remove the fine surface scratches and restore the glossy finish?

  7. Peter says

    Ooh, I have a crazy expensive fantasy about having someone like this redo all of the 4 ft. porcelain-enamel roof panels from our 60+ yr old Lustron home. It would be a massive logistical undertaking: removing and replacing roof with tarps for several months; carefully numbering each panel & transporting the whole lot to Illinois; fetching them all again sometime later and reinstalling per assembly manual. Could run $10,000 – $20,000, so not likely until I win the lottery. But wouldn’t this be cool?!

  8. David Smith says

    Requesting info – has anyone been in contact with this company (Custom Ceramic Coatings) in the last few months? I have a double drainboard sink which I really want to have properly re-finished with porcelain, but despite numerous calls and emails, I have never contacted anything other than a recording – and even that stopped working a while ago.
    Are they out of business or just swamped?
    Anyone know of another facility offering sand blast and re-application of porcelain? My kitchen is waiting …

  9. Cara says

    They are still in business. I just spoke to John but you just have to keep calling. He says he gets lots of e-mails a day & his lead time is now a year. By the way, he has a limit on his furnace size and could not accommodate my single cast-iron sink unit of 6’1″ with a 5 &1/2 ” apron, double drainboards and a high back of 13″. I think he said his limit is about 70″.

    He did suggest that instead of having it repeatedly spray-finished, that I take it out & have it powder coated. That process is apparently second best.

    Good luck!

    • Deena says

      I tried calling john the past two weeks,April 2014, and there is nothing. No answering machine at all. Called information with john’s name and company and they said it didn’t show up as a listing? Can you provide me with a working number for John? My sink comes out in 6 days! Thank you so much, Deena

  10. Diane says

    I am doing to work in the kitchen… and I wonder if you know where in Houston, I can take my cast iron sink to be redone?

  11. Gerry Boucher says

    I just spoke with John yesterday 7/18/14
    I called (2nd time) he called back about an hour later. Last week I drove to Columbus NJ from Cape Cod MA to pick up my vintage stove I purchased on Ebay. A 1954 (I think) Roper with griddle in Mint Green in excellent condition. I strapped it in above door handles and seller said it might bend handles so he lowered strap on door. When I got into RI the wind took it and flipped it down. It was wrapped in saran wrap and covered with blanket. I could not see the damage well. I struggled to lift it upright and reattached strap at backsplash. The rest of the way home that sinking feeling of a piece of history bestowed upon me, ruined. I got it out of truck alone, 2 hours of prep and it sits in dining room waiting for repair. All 4 doors dented from handles pushing in.
    John said he needed pics but thinks he is able to accomplish repairs, I will also send him the grates and burners to redo.

    I’m in no rush, I am getting items i need for remodel as I can afford them, the stove just happened to come up NOW. Next is flooring, before it is dicontinued., green/black/white 1″ tiles I will create in a basket weave pattern similar to pink floor in Save Pink Bathroom site. White beadboard cabinets with Jadite green knobs, shiny black countertops maybe granite probably sylestone, 4″ tile, mint green, removed and restored from brothers bathroom in NY, Big Chill Mint Green Fridge, and current 18″ newer dishwasher (no space for regular size) panel painted mint. I do all my own work except gas, carpet, wallpaper. I’m very excited I can vision exactly how it will come out, now if only wife could share excitement.

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