PORCELAIN DURABILITY PROPERY
AN INTRODUCTION TO PORCELAIN COUNTERTOPS
WHAT IS PORCELAIN MADE
Essentially, porcelain is made from clay but not just any type of clay. The clay used to create porcelain is often called China clay, and it contains a high percentage of a mineral known as kaolinite along with silica, feldspar and other mineral oxides which together are responsible for the strength and durability of porcelain. This combo is put into a kiln and fired at extremely high temperatures. The result is a super dense material that is nearly completely impervious to stains, heat, UV rays, scratching, chips, and cracks. Pigmented glazes are added during manufacturing to create different colors and patterns on the porcelain slab. Your porcelain can either be glazed or unglazed. A matte or high-gloss glaze is applied, then it is fired a second time so that the glaze adheres completely. The glaze decreases porosity and risk of staining, increases durability, and creates the shiny finish.
PROS OF PORCELAIN COUNTERTOPS
A) HARD AND DURABLE
Porcelain kitchen countertops are extremely hard, durable and stand up to most impacts. In fact, their durability is second to stone alone and, generally, are unaffected by wear and tear. Still, chips and cracks are possible.
B) STAIN RESISTENT
No surface is 100% stain-proof but porcelain comes close. It is non-porous so liquids do not absorb and the rare stain is usually on the surface and easily cleaned off. Additionally, porcelain is resistant to most chemicals and will not etch or get dull spots from acidic foods and drinks like marble.
C) HEAT RESISTENT
Porcelain countertops are manufactured at extremely high temperatures so it can take the heat. Hot pots set on the surface won’t scorch or damage, but it is always advised to use recommended trivets for hot cookware.
D) SCRATCH RESISTENT
Porcelain will resist scratching with the best of them. Like granite and quartz, it is very difficult to scratch. However, the one thing to be careful of is ceramic knives which can sometimes scratch porcelain.
E) CHEMICAL RESISTANT
Acidic foods, drinks, and/or chemicals will not dull or etch the surface finish of porcelain like marble or travertine. Also, chemicals will not discolor or bleach out porcelain countertops as can sometimes happen with quartz countertops.
F) ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT RESISTANT (OUTDOOR USE)
Porcelain is also resistant to ultraviolet light which means it won’t fade from sunlight so it’s a great choice for outdoor kitchen countertops.
G) NUMEROUS COLORS AND PATTERNS
Porcelain countertop colors come in virtually any shade or pattern and with many that look like marble and other natural stone.
H) SEALING IS NOT NECESSARY (USUALLY)
Generally speaking, porcelain doesn’t need any sealing because the fire glazing blocks against staining and moisture. But sealing can be needed in certain cases (more below).
Smooth or textured finishes can easily be achieved during the manufacturing process. High-gloss polished and matte / honed finishes are the most common. You won’t have as many finish options as natural stone, but the most popular types are available with porcelain.
J) EDGE STYLES
Porcelain countertop edges are a bit unique compared to other countertop materials. While it is possible to create all the normal edges like round, beveled, straight, bullnose, ogee, cove, platner, waterfall, and others… you may not like the look of some of these. Since the patterns in porcelain are only skin-deep, edge styles are more limited than with natural stone or quartz. Cutting a fancy edge with rounded corners, bevels, and grooves would remove the pattern.
However, porcelain countertop edges can be mitered with a few different looks to maintain a consistent pattern over the edge. Most opt for a square edge.
K) CLEANING, MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIRS
Porcelain countertops are easy to keep clean, but here are some key tips for keeping them spotless and sparkling. Using a quality countertop cleaner will remove all oils and soils and leave a streak-free shine that cannot be achieved with water or soap. Puracy cleaner is also excellent for cleaning porcelain. For quick clean-ups, soap and water work, although, consistent use of soap will cause a soap scum buildup. Just hot water is better to wipe up spills and messes. Porcelain is non-porous and hygienic. Nothing can penetrate the surface or cause danger as long as you clean up appropriately. And regular cleaning is really the best defense against bacteria, etc.
For cleaning tough surface stains, harsher chemicals can be used on these countertops because the non-porous surface will not absorb the dangerous chemicals. However, harsh and toxic chemicals should not be necessary and should be avoided. Scrubbing with a countertop cleaner recommended just above will do the trick in most cases. For more stubborn spots Bar Keeper's Friend can work magic on surfaces like porcelain and quartz.
Chips, Cracks, & Scratches
For chips in porcelain, there are chip repair kits available to fill the void but repairs may still be noticeable. As noted above, the color goes through the slab so the color inside the chip will be the same as on the surface, but any pattern will not be. A chip in a solid color porcelain or in a part of the countertop without any pattern can be filled and be virtually invisible, but if in the middle of a pattern, the repair will likely be visible. Cracks and scratches are not really repairable. You could glue a crack but it will always be visible. Same deal with a scratch as the surface finish cannot be repaired. But chips, cracks, and scratches are rare.
Use a Cutting Board
Porcelain countertops are definitely durable, but you’ll want to remember that they’re not indestructible. Manufacturers and retailers will tell you that you can chop and slice your vegetables directly on the surface of porcelain but it isn’t a good idea. Ceramic knives are able to scratch the top of your porcelain. Therefore, cutting and slicing on a cutting board is smart. Just no reason to chance it. This cheap and super-duarable cutting board is fantastic. Grips the countertop, catches all food juices, and dishwasher-safe. But if you want something stylish then these butcher block cutting boards look great and last forever.
Most of the time, porcelain does not need to be sealed because the glazing on porcelain already protects against liquid penetration. Still, specific brands of porcelain or unglazed porcelain will benefit from sealing upon application. However, sealing once upon installation is a good idea for certain brands of porcelain that are polished. So, sealing is rarely needed but just a point to clarify when purchasing porcelain.
By: Countertop Specialty
AN INTRODUCTION TO PORCELAIN COUNTERTOPS
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