COUNTERTOP MADE OFF...
Quartz countertops are man-made
engineered stone countertops
formed by combining around 93
percent ground quartz (a natural
hard mineral) with eight to 7
percent resins, polymers, and
pigments. This forms a very hard
granite-like surface. The
appearance depends on how the
quartz is ground: coarsely
ground quartz produces a flecked
appearance, while finely ground
quartz produces a smooth look.
What are the Pros and Cons to a Quartz Countertop?
PROS OF QUARTZ COUNTERTOP
A) It’s extremely hard and durable
B) It has a glossy sheen
C) It’s non-porous and stain-and-crack resistant
D) It does not require sealing or resealing
E) It comes in a wide range of colors
F) It’s easy to clean with mild soap, water, and a soft cloth
CONS OF QUARTZ COUNTERTOP
A) It can be expensive
B) It’s not heat tolerant
C) Seams are inevitable for large countertop designs
D) Professional installation is strongly recommended (quartz countertops are quite heavy!)
Real Quartz Reviews from Kitchen Readers
“I recently upgraded my counters, and after weighing pros and cons of all materials, I settled on quartz. Not only is durable with almost zero maintenance, you have an array of color options to pick from.” “I’m very happy with my quartz. Colors are good without being too ‘disco’ or ‘boring’. Not a chip in it after four years, not a stain or a scratch. Nice and cold for rolling pastry actually, that’s probably the worst aspect: Put your toast down on it for a minute while you get the jam, and you might as well start over. But the heat-distribution quality is also great for defrosting things like a stack of wonton wrappers or a thin steak.” “I’m all about quartz countertops, we’ve just installed them in our kitchen and they are a wonder to clean. It is true that these days cheap wildly patterned granite (I agree, sometimes they look like straight up barf) are almost universally chosen by developers, this is probably because quartz is more expensive these days.”
What is porcelain made of?
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 (with or without a pattern) 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. However, the pattern or color of glazed porcelain is only on the surface and does not go through the full body of the slab or tile. The interior color may be different and will show if the surface is chipped. The color of unglazed porcelain extends through the full-body thickness.
PROS OF PORCELAIN COUNTERTOPS
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.
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.
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.
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.
E) Hard & 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.
F) Ultraviolet Light Resistant
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).
CONS OF PORCELAIN COUNTERTOPS
A) Skin Deep Beauty
Unlike stone and other countertop materials, porcelain does not come with its designs built in. Patterns are basically printed onto the top. This isn’t so much a severe disadvantage as it is a slight drawback. That is, your printed design would not be visible where edges are rounded, for instance. Also, in the event of a chip, the interior of the slab will be the same color but the pattern does not exist all the way through.
B) Ceramic Knives May Scratch
Porcelain countertops are essentially scratch-proof, however, ceramic knives are the one thing that may scratch porcelain. So, the obvious advice here is don't use ceramic knives, but also it's always best to use a cutting board on any type of countertop.
C) Colors & Patterns
Depending on the manufacturer you choose, porcelain countertop colors come in numerous shades all of which are derived from natural pigments. A wide variety of attractive patterns and “looks” are also available. You might choose from marble, metallic, wood grain, rusted steel, or concrete finishes all of which look quite natural. And for those wanting countertops that look like marble, you’re in luck as porcelain offers many colors and patterns that are super marble look-alikes. Again, just remember that if chipped, these patterns or color designs won’t necessarily go all the way through the material since the pattern and color is applied to the top surface of the porcelain via glazing.
Smooth or textured finishes can easily be achieved during the manufacturing process. High-gloss polished and matte / honed finishes are the most common. Again, just remember that if chipped, these patterns or color designs won’t necessarily go all the way through the material since the pattern and color is applied to the top surface of the porcelain via glazing.
Smooth or textured finishes can easily be achieved during the manufacturing process. High-gloss polished and matte / honed finishes are the most common. On expense of installing new kitchen countertops is having your old countertops ripped out. But since porcelain countertops are so thin, you can install them directly over your existing countertops. This can greatly reduce the overall difficulty and expense of removing the older material. Finding a fabricator may be difficult. Because porcelain is so thin the full-sized slabs can be delicate to work with and cut and locating a countertop fabricator that is willing to install porcelain slab countertop may be a challenge. They are easier to crack during fabrication than granite or marble, so many fabricators do not like to work with the material. Note, though, that once installed porcelain is very hard and durable. Cracking is not an issue after it is installed. It's just handling, moving and cutting very large and thin slabs prior to installation that can give fabricators fits.
F) Cleaning, Maintenance, and Repairs
Porcelain countertops are easy to keep clean, but here are some key tips for keeping them spotless and sparkling
G) How To Clean Porcelain Countertops
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.
I) 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.
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.
COUNTERTOP MADE OFF...
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