Appliances: Sinks

The enamelled lavatory (Basin)

An object with a venerable history, with a host of ritual meanings and of memories. What today’s trade parlance knows as “lavatories” and the general public calls “wash basins” are simple and tasteful, technological and functional, largely due to the properties of vitreous enamel.

The lavatory: yet another fascinating, demanding exercise in style and design. Fascinating, because it is highly visible, which means that its presence and aesthetic qualities make a statement about the style of the bathroom environment. Demanding, because the space available for moving around in the bathroom is limited, which means that it is easy to get the impression that everything there is to be done and invented has already been done and invented. Partly because the lavatory as an object has a history that goes back far further than that of the bathroom, in the sense of the large room full of accessories and conveniences that we know and use today. The product’s very name confirms its antiquity: the lavatory was originally the basin used by the priest to wash his hands while celebrating mass and the term derives from the same roots as Italian and French lavabo, which in turn is pure Latin, meaning “I shall wash”, the first word in the formula (“Lavabo manus meas…” from Psalm XXVI) that the priest used to intone when he was about to wash his hands; the term was then also used to describe the lavatory in the sacristy, then the entire room reserved for ablutions and in the end the bathroom. Until running water was laid on everywhere towards the end of the fifties, most Italian homes still had a lavatory in the bedroom: it was an enamelled jug and basin resting on a metal or marble and stone stand, flanked by a towel rail.

As in the case of other domestic service and furniture elements, the lavatory has experienced considerable evolutions of style that have advanced in parallel with the evolution of the bathroom as it has become a far more central feature – both physically and conceptually – of our homes in recent decades.
The examples shown here – produced and distributed by Rubinetterie Ritmonio – illustrate very well how the combination brought about in the lavatory, between the basin and the surface that supports it, between traditional and ultramodern materials and between craftsmanship and sophisticated technologies, leads to results where simplicity and elegance blend smoothly with both taste and practical functionality.
Once again, enamel makes a statement that highlights the brilliant results it can achieve with all the strength of its celebrated qualities: hardness and resistance to scratches, to abrasion, to sudden changes in temperature, to acids … With all the versatility of its extensive range of colours, with increasingly diversified shades. All this makes it a far more pleasant experience to enter a bathroom and come into everyday contact with an object that is so ancient yet also so modern, so rich in history and ideas, one that we can use to take care of an important aspect of our well-being, yet one that is at the same time charged with memories and ritual meanings.

Enamel coating – Functional Characteristics
Characteristic Properties References
Substrate: aluminium intended to be enamelled Alloy 4006 UNI EN 573
Thickness of the Vitreous enamel finish 40 – 80 micron UNI EN IS0 2178
Cleanability Vitreous enamel can be easily cleaned. Generally a damp sponge is all it takes to wipe away any traces of dirt.  
Hygiene The well-established qualities of enamel that derive from its vitreous nature and range from its hardness to its porosity-free compactness, offers a guarantee of hygiene, along with its resistance to abrasion, so important because it ensures that there are never any of the cracks and interstices that could then be used by germs and moulds to take hold and flourish. Bacteriological survey conducted by the Modena Hospital Institutes
Chemical resistance Properties References
Resistance to acids Acids at room temperature do not damage or leave stains or marks on enamelled surfaces. Hydrofluoric acid shall not be used on vitreous enamelled surfaces. EN 14483-1
ISO 2722
Resistance to normal detergents Dirt can be removed using either liquid or cream detergents, which neither scratch the enamel nor alter it.  
Mechanical resistance Properties References
Adherence The enamel cladding must adhere to the aluminium support ISO 13805
Hardness 5 -7 Mohs Scale An enamel cladding is hard and does not chip easily EN 101
Abrasion Because it is a vitreous cladding, vitreous enamel does not abrade easily, even after a long time  
Scratch Resistance Vitreous enamel is not scratched by normal kitchen tools EN ISO 15695
Shock Resistance Only quite significant shocks may chip enamel. ISO 4532



The International Enamellers Institute
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The International Enamellers Institute (IEI) Viale Vincenzo Lancetti, 43 20158 Milano - Italy
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