Are Porcelain Countertops Durable and Heat Resistant?

Date: January 20, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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If you are considering redoing your countertops, you want them to look good and be well-built so that they will last for years to come. Many people recommend porcelain for countertops because it is beautiful, but is it durable and heat resistant?

Are porcelain countertops durable and heat resistant?

Porcelain countertops are extremely durable and heat resistant, making them a great choice for countertops in all areas of your home.

Porcelain countertops are durable and heat resistant, and they also have other great characteristics. Having some useful information before picking out your slabs or tiles will help you know exactly how to care for your countertops wherever you install them. Read on to find in-depth information about porcelain countertops and see how they compare to other countertops on the market.

What Are Porcelain Countertops Made of?

Porcelain countertops are 100% natural, raw, and made from ceramic clay and mineral coloring, so they are environmentally friendly and recyclable. Porcelain, as it is known today, was first made in China around 1279.

It is made from a petuntse that is ground into a powder and mixed with kaolin clay. The clay contains a high percentage of a mineral known as kaolinite along with silica, feldspar, and other mineral oxides that are responsible for the strength and durability of porcelain.

Is Porcelain Durable?

Once installed, porcelain is very hard and durable. It is second only to stone in durability and is unaffected by wear and tear. However, that doesn’t mean that chips and cracks aren’t possible. Porcelain countertops are durable, but you’ll want to remember that they’re not indestructible.

Manufacturers and retailers of porcelain countertops state that you can chop and slice directly on the surface, but it’s recommended to use a cutting board because ceramic knives can scratch the top of your porcelain.

Is Porcelain Heat Resistant?

Porcelain is heat, scratch, and UV resistant. This incredible resilience allows the material to be installed as countertops both indoors and outdoors. Porcelain countertops are fired at more than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, so they are helpful for areas where hot pots, pans, or hair tools are used.

Porcelain does not burn, smoke, or emit harmful substances when subjected to heat. However, while hot pots won’t scorch or damage the surface, it is recommended to use trivets for hot cookware.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Countertops

Knowing the pros and cons of the material before purchasing it is necessary to make the right choice. The following two sections break down the different pros and cons associated with porcelain countertops, so you can decide if porcelain is the best option for you.

Pros of Porcelain Countertops

Many unique factors help porcelain stand out among the top contenders for countertops.

  • Stain-Resistance - Porcelain comes close to being 100% stain proof since it is non-porous, meaning it does not absorb liquids. The stain you would see is usually on the surface and easy to clean off.
  • Scratch-Resistance – This material is scratch-resistant but remember ceramic knives sometimes scratch the porcelain.
  • Chemical-Resistance - Acidic foods, drinks, and chemicals will not dull or etch the surface finish of porcelain.
  • Ultraviolet Light Resistance - Porcelain is also resistant to ultraviolet light, which means it won’t fade from sunlight.
  • Hygienic Surface - Porcelain is the most hygienic surface choice because the material is manufactured at temperatures that can reach up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no worries about dust mites, bacteria, fungi, mold, and other irritants that cause serious health issues. Simple cleaning wipes away any germs, dirt, or bacteria on the porcelain’s surface.
  • Highly Versatile – The options are limitless for porcelain countertops because they are heat and frost resistant, waterproof, and are not affected by extreme temperatures, UV light, or humidity. You can place these countertops anywhere!
  • Decorative – They feature a variety of patterns, designs, and colors, including a concrete look, whites, marble, and natural stone to fit any area. Looks are not limited only to stone and can mimic wood, leather, and metal.
  • Lightweight - Some slabs and tiles are as thin as 5mm, so porcelain can even be added as panels to cabinets and kitchen islands or as decorative accents throughout your home or office.

Cons of Porcelain Countertops

Luckily for the consumer, there are only a few cons associated with porcelain countertops.

  • Any chips or flaws will almost certainly be noticeable.
  • It can be difficult to find a qualified installer for porcelain.
  • Porcelain can be limited and unavailable in some areas.
  • Printed designs are not visible where edges are rounded.
  • If there is a chip, it will reveal the color of the inside of the slab because the surface pattern does not exist all the way through.

Where can I use Porcelain for Countertops?

Porcelain can be used indoors and outdoors - basically anywhere where you want a good looking surface. The most common places you will find porcelain countertops are kitchens, wall coverings, showers, and bathroom walls. This is because:

  • Porcelain slab tops are nonporous, making them a safe and healthy option for food preparation.
  • Porcelain is heat and frost tolerant, so it can easily be installed outside.
  • Porcelain is also resistant to water, making it the ideal choice for bathrooms.

One of the best things about porcelain is that it can be used everywhere,” says Sacramento-based designer Kerrie Kelly. “It is ideal for kitchens and bathrooms with their stain, heat, and water resistance. It is also perfect for outdoor applications and eliminates the worry of sun damage, as it is completely UV resistant.

Colors and Designs of Porcelain Countertops

Porcelain countertops are available in numerous color shades, patterns, and looks, all derived from natural pigments. Choices include:

  • Marble
  • Metallic
  • Woodgrain
  • Rusted steel
  • Concrete finishes

Remember, if chipped, these pattern designs don’t extend through the material. The pattern and color are applied to the surface during glazing. A chip in a solid color surface or without a pattern can be filled and will be invisible.

Other features of porcelain include:

  • Finishes – There are smooth, textured, high-gloss, polished, and matte/honed finishes.
  • Edge Styles - Most opt for a square edge since the patterns in porcelain are only skin deep. Cutting a fancy edge will remove the pattern. Edges are available in the following styles:
    • Round
    • Beveled
    • Straight
    • Bullnose
    • Ogee
    • Cove
    • Platner
    • Waterfall
  • Size & Thickness – It is lightweight, providing additional installation options, and can be manufactured in extra-large slabs
  • Versatile Installation Options - Because it is so thin, it can be installed directly over existing countertops.

The Cost of Porcelain

For slab porcelain countertops, expect to pay $55-$120 per square feet installed. It’s pricing is similar in range to granite and quartz counters. However, because of its longevity, porcelain stands above the rest. The particular color, pattern, texture, and edge style will affect the final price. Also affecting the price will be the sink and cooktop cutouts, seams, and the overall complexity of the installation.

Make sure to get specific quotes from installers for your particular installation. Once installed, the maintenance costs of porcelain counters are extremely low. Choosing porcelain tiles over a porcelain slab will also reduce your final cost.

Should I Glaze My Porcelain Countertops?

When producing porcelain slabs to be used in countertops, the kaolinite-heavy material is formed into slabs or tiles, coated with a pigmented glaze, and fired at high temperatures to enhance its strength and beauty. Glazing pigments produce an appearance similar to natural stone with the colors made to look marble, granite, and slate. The variety of colors and patterns is one of the many reasons to consider porcelain countertops.

While you don’t have to glaze your porcelain countertops, it comes with many benefits:

  • Decreases porosity, which is the risk of staining
  • Increases durability.
  • It creates a shiny finish.
  • Makes the countertop waterproof.
  • It provides a firm barrier to protect it from moisture, heat, and stains.

The glaze color or pattern is only on the surface, while the color of unglazed porcelain goes throughout the entire body's thickness. The interior color may be different and will show if the surface is chipped.

Cleaning and Caring for Porcelain Countertops

Porcelain countertops are low maintenance and easy to clean. Here are some quick tips:

  • Wipe off the countertop with a prepared tile cleaner or make your own (1 ⅔ cup baking soda, ½ cup liquid soap, ½ cup water, and two tablespoons of vinegar)
  • Use a damp microfiber cloth dipped in hot water for daily cleaning
  • You can use bleach for cleaning. The glaze will prevent damage.
  • Countertop cleaner will remove spills and leave a streak-free shine
  • For stains, use a countertop cleaner.
  • For chips, use a chip repair kit.
  • Cracks and scratches are not repairable. You can prevent them from worsening by putting glue on them.
  • Sealing is not mandatory, but it is beneficial for certain brands of porcelain that are polished

Comparing Porcelain to Other Materials

While porcelain countertops are not new - they were introduced in the late 1990s - they have improved over the years against their competition, becoming one of the smartest options for countertops. Porcelain countertops are priced higher than ceramic tile but less than granite and other natural stones. This is because porcelain is harder, more durable, and has a higher water absorption rate than ceramic tile.

Countertop Comparison Chart

A few things to keep in mind when comparing countertops are included in this table.

 PorcelainMarbleGraniteQuartz
Price$$$$$$$$$$
Easily cleaned and maintainedYesNoYesYes
ConstructionManufactured from a mixture of glass, ceramic, and other materialsGenuine natural stoneGenuine natural stoneGenuine natural stone
Should you expect scratches?NoYesNoNo
Wide range of colorsYes - for surfaceNoYesYes

Porcelain Countertop Recommendations

FLORIM stone
The FLORIM stone is an impervious porcelain stoneware resistant to high temperatures, UV rays, and atmospheric stress. It is scratch-resistant, waterproof, hygienic, and easy to clean. The FLORIM stone offers durability, design, and customization, along with three different thickness choices.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Scratch-resistant

SapienStone
The SapienStone countertop offers high tech ceramic for kitchens, both large and small using top quality porcelain. Their priorities include easy cleaning, constant hygiene, practicality, resistance to heat, and the possibility of scratching.

Pros

  • Maximum resistance to heat and temperature excursions
  • Hygiene
  • Long term inalterability

Dekton
Dekton kitchen countertops are versatile, making it possible for indoor and outdoor countertops. Dekton’s raw materials manage to create sophisticated and appropriate material for all cooking styles.

Pros

  • High resistance to UV rays
  • Stain-resistant
  • High scratch-resistance
  • Ten-year warranty

Daltile
Daltile features porcelain that will last with many designs available for your home. Daltile porcelain is heat, stain, scratch-resistant, low maintenance, offer 6mm and 12mm thickness options, and requires no sealing. Three options are included in Daltile:

  • Elemental Selection - offers striking vein patterns or subtle marbling designs. Large-format porcelain slabs create fewer grout lines for a more seamless appearance in both glossy and matte finishes.
  • Industrial Selection - large format slabs provide seamless style to more closely mimic the essence of poured concrete, while the smooth matte finish adds a touch of sophistication.
  • Metallic Selection - reflective, metallic sheen on these slabs offer unique fashion. The unrefined essence of concrete enhanced with mixed metals is provided on a scale only large format porcelain slabs can reach.

Crossville
Crossville offers the durability of porcelain countertops in sizes you need for residential and commercial applications. They list a few of their countertop qualities.

Pros

  • Endurance - 12 mm thick, 100% porcelain that does not stain, crack, or yellow
  • Ready to cater to unique needs - a team of professionals help you design what you want
  • Highest standards from the inside out - runs on principles including family, partnership, integrity, improvement, and respect

Choosing a Countertop for Your Home

When shopping for countertops for your home, there are many factors to keep in mind. You should consider the following details as you choose your countertops:

  • Where are you installing your countertops?
  • What is the color scheme of the area?
  • How large are the countertops?
  • Do you need tiles or slabs?
  • How durable is the material?
  • What is your favorite style or look?
  • What kind of maintenance does the material require?
  • Is this material safe for my family?
  • How much does it cost?

There are plenty of countertop options available for you to choose from, and answering the questions above can help you narrow down the choices so that you are not overwhelmed.

For most homeowners, the cost of the countertops will be one of the biggest deciding factors in their choice. Below is a list of countertops that range from low-cost to high-end, so you can know what is available and figure out which countertop is worth your investment.

Low-Cost Countertops - A few options for low-cost countertops and their characteristics are:

  • Laminates - low durability, lots of colors, can chip or scratch, not heat resistant, also known as Formica
  • Butcher Block/Wood - wood look, easy and cheap, not waterproof, harbors bacteria when not properly sealed, heat resistant, will show knife marks
  • Ceramic – needs regular grout resealing because of grout chipping and tile cracking, range of styles, cheap, seams are not flat, non-porous

Mid-Priced Countertops - A few options for mid-priced countertops and their characteristics are:

  • Stone Tile - easily cracks, thin seams are noticeable, slab granite look-alike
  • Solid Surface - very durable but can stain, low maintenance, not heat resistant, resists cracks, will show scratches but can be buffed out, hot pans will damage the surface, countless colors, seamless
  • Recycled Glass - hard and highly durable, busy pattern style, eco-friendly and unique, needs frequent resealing, can crack and chip

High-End Countertops - A few options for high-end countertops and their characteristics are:

  • Quartz - resists scratches and stains, easy to maintain and keep clean because it is non-porous, does have seams between slabs
  • Slab Granite - hard and resistant to scratches, can crack, three-dimensional visual quality, needs continuous sealing or stains will be permanent, low visible seams, durable surface, heat resistant
  • Concrete - highly durable, won’t scratch when the sealant is gone, stains can occur, high maintenance with frequent resealing, seamless
  • Marble - durable, striking patterns, high maintenance, needs repeated sealing

Note: Installing these products, whether on your own or professionally, should take some time and consideration. Special consideration should be taken if you plan to resell. Some can add value to your home, while others will not. You can also mix and match patterns and materials within your home depending on the needs of each specific room.

In Conclusion

Porcelain countertops are built to last. They are durable, heat resistant, and cost-effective. The variety of color and pattern choices and the incredible durability it possesses makes porcelain a top choice when installing countertops.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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