Vintage Plumbing Fixtures: Maintenance and Restoration Tips | APT

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Posted by Brian Shoemaker

At Advanced Plumbing Technology, we understand the allure of vintage plumbing fixtures. The timeless charm and craftsmanship of these fixtures add a unique character to any home. However, with great charm comes great responsibility – maintaining and restoring vintage plumbing fixtures requires a delicate touch and a wealth of knowledge. In this comprehensive guide, we will share expert insights and tips to help you preserve the beauty and functionality of your cherished vintage plumbing fixtures.

The Beauty of Vintage Plumbing Fixtures

Vintage plumbing fixtures evoke a sense of nostalgia and elegance that modern counterparts often fail to replicate. Whether it’s an ornate clawfoot bathtub, a classic pedestal sink, or an antique brass faucet, these fixtures have a certain je ne sais quoi that captures the essence of a bygone era. They are not just functional elements; they are pieces of art that contribute to the overall aesthetic of your space.

The Importance of Proper Maintenance

Maintaining vintage plumbing fixtures requires a blend of appreciation for their history and a commitment to their preservation. Neglecting these fixtures can lead to deterioration and irreversible damage. Here’s how you can ensure their longevity:

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your vintage fixtures should be a gentle process. Avoid abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that can strip away the patina and finish. Instead, opt for mild, non-abrasive cleaners that are specifically designed for delicate surfaces. Use soft cloths or sponges to clean the fixtures and dry them thoroughly to prevent water spots and mineral buildup.

Check for Leaks

Periodically inspect your vintage plumbing fixtures for any signs of leaks. Even a minor leak can lead to significant damage over time. Look for water stains, drips, or corrosion around the fixtures. If you spot any issues, it’s essential to address them promptly. Engage the services of a professional plumber experienced in working with vintage fixtures to ensure proper repairs.

Lubrication and Rust Prevention

Moving parts, such as handles and knobs, should be regularly lubricated to prevent them from seizing or becoming difficult to operate. Use a silicone-based lubricant or a light machine oil for this purpose. Additionally, applying a thin coat of wax can help protect metal fixtures from rust and corrosion.

Restoration Techniques for Vintage Plumbing Fixtures

Restoring vintage plumbing fixtures is a delicate process that requires both skill and an eye for detail. While some restoration tasks are best left to professionals, there are certain steps you can take to breathe new life into your fixtures:

Stripping and Refinishing

If the finish on your vintage fixture has seen better days, consider stripping it down and refinishing it. This process involves carefully removing the old finish, repairing any imperfections, and applying a new finish that aligns with the fixture’s original design. Make sure to choose finishes that are historically accurate to maintain authenticity.

Replacing Gaskets and Washers

Over time, gaskets and washers in vintage fixtures can deteriorate, leading to leaks and drips. Replacing these components with exact replicas is crucial to ensure proper functionality. When replacing gaskets and washers, choose materials that are compatible with the fixture’s age and design.

Porcelain and Enamel Restoration

Vintage porcelain sinks and tubs can develop chips, cracks, and stains over time. Thankfully, there are restoration kits available that can help repair minor damage. For more extensive restoration, seeking the expertise of a professional who specializes in porcelain and enamel restoration is advisable.

Preserving the Authenticity

While restoration is sometimes necessary, it’s essential to strike a balance between preserving the authenticity of vintage plumbing fixtures and ensuring their functionality. Here are some tips to consider:

Research and Documentation

Before embarking on any restoration project, research the history of your fixture’s manufacturer, design, and era. Having accurate documentation will guide your restoration decisions and help you maintain the fixture’s authenticity.

Salvaging Original Parts

Whenever possible, salvage and repair original parts rather than replacing them. This includes components like handles, knobs, and escutcheons. Original parts contribute to the fixture’s historical value and charm.

Professional Restoration Services

For complex restoration tasks or fixtures with sentimental value, consulting professionals who specialize in vintage plumbing fixture restoration is recommended. They possess the skills, tools, and expertise to carry out intricate repairs while maintaining the fixture’s integrity.


At Advanced Plumbing Technology, we believe that vintage plumbing fixtures are more than just utilitarian items – they are pieces of history that deserve careful preservation. By following these maintenance and restoration tips, you can continue to enjoy the beauty and functionality of your cherished vintage fixtures for years to come. Remember, whether it’s routine maintenance or intricate restoration, a thoughtful approach will ensure that these fixtures continue to grace your space with their timeless elegance.