What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘porcelain’? Many of us know it as a low-maintenance, durable material that can be used in a wide range of applications.
Although it might be a premier choice for bathroom fixtures (including toilets), there’s an innovative way in which the material is being used in homes: countertops.
Its strength, efficient manufacturing process and the growing number of available colours and styles make it a material more people are looking into. With its many advantages, porcelain countertops are becoming increasingly common in homes across Europe, and they’re making their way into North America too.
In this post, we provide a handy overview of porcelain for when it comes time to choose countertops for your home.
What You Need to Know About Porcelain Countertops
The porcelain slabs available today offer a wide array of benefits to suit any homeowner’s needs. But before we dive into their benefits, let’s look at what porcelain countertops are made of.
What are porcelain countertops made of?
Porcelain is manufactured from Chinese clay with a rich concentration of a mineral called kaolinite. The elements that give it its shiny appearance include mineral oxides, silica and feldspar.
Some people confuse porcelain with fine china, but the porcelain used for countertops isn’t as delicate. Indeed, it’s forged in fire and coated with a pigmented glaze that adds strength as well as beauty.
The porcelain used for countertops is the same kind you find in bathroom fixtures but more durable. Different colours are added during the glazing process. These allow manufacturers to mimic the appearance of natural stone. So, if you want the veined look of marble or speckled granite, porcelain countertops come with these designs come at a fraction of the cost.
Why choose porcelain countertops?
Porcelain looks great, but that isn’t the only reason to invest in it. Here are some of the benefits you enjoy when you purchase porcelain countertops for your kitchen or bathroom.
- They’re durable
Countertops are the most used surfaces in our homes. We prepare food on them in the kitchen and get ready for our day in the bathroom. That means you need to consider whether the material is up to the task.
Porcelain is a dense material made by compressing clay with a force of 4,000 kg/m2. It is then glazed with pigment. The glaze requires high temperatures (around 1,200 °C) to bond to the surface, creating a countertop resistant to heat, chipping, impacts and scratches. This means you don’t have to worry about placing hot pots, pans or heated hair styling tools on them which could damage other materials.
The elaborate manufacturing process also makes them resilient to UV rays, ensuring that patterns and colour don’t fade, even when used outdoors.
- They’re safe
Natural stones such as marble and granite are porous which is why these kinds of countertop have to be re-sealed often. Porcelain countertops, however, have a natural density, ensuring so you don’t have to worry about sealants. Pores can harbour bacteria when not cleaned properly. Porcelain, being non-porous, is safe to prepare food on. They can also accumulate mould, bacteria and other allergens. Its non-porosity makes porcelain countertops more hygienic than other materials.
- They come in many designs
Porcelain countertops are manufactured in an extensive range of textures, colours and designs. That means they look great in any style.
Owing to scientific advances in the manufacturing process, they can be made to mimic other materials like slate, marble, granite, quartz and even wood.
Also, most natural materials require a lot of maintenance to keep their beauty and functionality. Not porcelain. They may look like other porous materials but don’t require nearly the same level of upkeep.
They come in various thicknesses, including 4 mm, 6 mm, 10 mm and 12 mm, for different applications. These include walls, floors, fireplaces, cladding, countertops and even furniture. This versatility ensures that homeowners can create a uniform and modern style throughout your home, no matter how the porcelain is being used.
- They’re easy to install
Homeowners sometimes worry that putting in a new countertop will take too long. Fortunately, porcelain ones are easy to install. This is because, unlike natural stone, porcelain can be manufactured in large slabs. This makes it easy to cover the entire counter space, no matter the size.
Additionally, they can be installed over an existing countertop whereas with other materials the existing one needs to be removed first. Porcelain, being lightweight, is easy to install with minimal risk of damage.
- They’re easy to maintain
Porcelain countertops don’t require any special cleaning products or extra effort to keep clean. To get rid of stains, you need commercial cleaners, paper towels and some clean water.
For more maintenance tips, your porcelain countertop provider can guide you as to the best methods to follow.
- They’re eco-friendly
Porcelain is made of clay, which is a natural substance. When it’s reached the end of its life-cycle, the clay degrades and mixes with the environment without leaving behind any hazardous refuse.
Furthermore, these countertops can be recycled and incorporated into other landscaping and construction projects. With colourful porcelain countertops, the aggregates can be reused as decorative elements in both outdoor and indoor applications.
With so many benefits, porcelain countertops will only increase in popularity. If you’re in search of a beautiful countertop for your bathroom or kitchen, you can trust its design versatility, durability, hygiene, ease of maintenance and sustainability. With so many options, finding a product to match your interiors should be simple.