Porcelain slabs are created from kaolinite clay. Kaolinite clay contains a plethora of mineral oxides, including feldspar and silica, which help to give porcelain its strength and durability. The dried Kaolinite clay is pulverized using large grinding wheels. Next, the dried clay is mixed with water and pigments before it is fired in a kiln.
During the firing process, the moisture is removed, and the minerals bond together, creating a very durable countertop surface. If the countertop is dried too quickly, it can crack. Therefore, the countertop must be cooled very slowly. Once the countertop has cooled, it will be sent through a digital designer where the pattern will be applied. A topcoat is then applied to the surface, and the countertop is heated to a maximum temperature of 1250 degrees Celsius.
After the countertop is allowed to cool, it is inspected to ensure perfection. Finally, the countertop is polished. Once the countertop has been polished, it will be super strong. In fact, porcelain countertop slabs are nearly impervious to chipping, cracking, staining, heat damage, scratching, and yellowing caused by UV rays.
Porcelain countertops have been used for several years throughout Europe. Americans are now learning about the benefits that these countertops offer and are now installing porcelain countertops in the kitchens and bathrooms. These durable countertops provide a number of advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when deciding on a type of countertop for your kitchen or bathroom countertops.
What Advantages Do Porcelain Countertops Offer?
Porcelain countertops offer a number of benefits, including their appearance, durability, and practicality. Check out the reasons why you should choose porcelain for your countertops.
- Can Be Installed Over Existing Countertops – Porcelain countertops allow you to leave your old cabinetry in place, which lowers the cost of a kitchen remodel. Furthermore, you do have to take the time to rip out your old countertops, making them the perfect choice for your kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom renovations.
- Color Availability – When it comes to choosing a countertop for your kitchen or bathroom, you want a countertop that will match with your home’s overall interior design. Once a color and a design have been chosen, you do not need to worry about discoloration occurring due to heat or UV exposure.
- Do Not Require Sealing – Unlike natural stone countertops that are porous and need to be sealed to minimize the risk of stains, porcelain countertops are glazed, which creates an impenetrable surface.
- Easy Cleanup – Porcelain countertops provide a waterproof surface, making for easy cleanup. All that you need to maintain your countertop is a damp cloth. For deep cleaning, you can use bleach or ammonia.
- Environmentally Friendly – Porcelain countertops are made using 100 percent natural, clay-based materials. If you decide to change your countertops, they can easily be recycled.
- Etch Resistant – The glazing on top of the porcelain countertop creates a chemical resistant finish. The countertop will not become etched or dull due to acidic foods or liquids the way marble will.
- Finishes – Porcelain countertops have a number of finish options available. You can choose between a matte finish or a polished finish. Matte-finished porcelain countertops hide messes better than polished countertops; polished countertops have a high gloss finish, reflects light back into the room.
- Heat Resistant – Because the porcelain is fired in a kiln, the porcelain will not scorch or emit any harmful substances when heated. You can set hot bakeware, pots, and pans on the surface without worrying about damaging your countertops.
- Hygienic – Porcelain does not allow bacteria, mold, and fungi to enter the countertop. All that is needed to sanitize your countertops is a disinfectant. Furthermore, porcelain countertops do not emit any VOCs.
- Lightweight – Porcelain countertops are typically 5 millimeters thick, which makes them extremely lightweight. With these countertops, your cabinetry does not need to be shored up to handle the weight of a porcelain countertop.
- Patterns – Manufacturers have the ability to print a variety of designs on porcelain countertops. These patterns can create a porcelain countertop that mimics the look of natural stone, including marble and granite.
- Scratch Resistant – Porcelain countertops resist scratching; however, ceramic knives can scratch the porcelain. To protect your countertop, always use a cutting board when chopping or cutting food items.
- Slab Size – Unlike natural stone slabs that are limited in size, porcelain slabs can be produced in sizes that are 5 foot by 10 foot, allowing you to cover a large kitchen island in a single piece of countertop rather than multiple pieces. The larger size reduces the number of seams on a countertop.
- Stain Resistant – Although no surface is entirely stain proof, porcelain is extremely close. Porcelain is nonporous, which means that the countertop cannot absorb liquids. A stain may occur on the surface; however, it can easily be removed.
- Stronger than Granite – Many people are surprised to learn that porcelain slab countertops are 30 percent stronger than granite slab countertops. Thanks to the firing process used during the manufacturing of porcelain, the countertop is less likely to chip, crack, scratch, or experience wear and tear.
- UV Resistant – Porcelain is completely resistant to sun damage and UV rays. Your countertops will not yellow when they are exposed to sunlight.
- Versatile – Because porcelain is available in a variety of sizes, and it is lightweight and thin, it can be used for a variety of uses throughout the house, including kitchen islands, wall panels, backsplashes, and other decorative accents throughout your home.
What Are the Disadvantages Associated with Porcelain Countertops?
Porcelain countertops have a few disadvantages that should be considered when choosing a countertop material. These disadvantages include cost, edge profile options, surface patterns, ceramic knives, and limited availability.
- Cost – One of the main drawbacks that porcelain countertops have is their price. The average cost of porcelain countertops can range from $60 per square foot to $100 per square foot. However, when considering the cost of countertops, you should consider the longevity of the product and the other benefits that porcelain countertops offer.
- Edge Profile Options – At this time, you can either choose from a mitered edge or a square edge for your porcelain countertops. These limitations are due to the way porcelain countertops are created. The design of the countertop does not run all the way through the countertop. Furthermore, the countertops are much thinner than natural stone countertops, thus limiting the edge profile options offered.
- Surface Patterns – Unlike natural stone countertops, the designs on porcelain countertops are printed on the surface, and then the countertop is sealed. If the countertop becomes chipped, the underlying material will be the same color as the rest of your countertop; however, it will not have the pattern. Finally, the printed design will not be visible where the edge is created.
- Ceramic Knives – Although porcelain countertops are scratch-resistant, they can be scratched if a ceramic knife is used on the countertop.
- Limited Availability – Porcelain countertops are extremely popular in Europe; however, they are just catching on in America. Therefore, these countertops have limited availability. As more and more homeowners learn of the advantages that porcelain countertops offer, more manufacturers will begin producing and offering these amazing countertops.
Why Should You Choose Porcelain Countertops for Your Home?
Porcelain countertops create a beautiful kitchen or bathroom. The sleek finish of these countertops ensures a sleek, clean looking finish. Homeowners who love the look of marble countertops, but do not want the upkeep and maintenance needed to prevent damage to marble countertops, should look into porcelain countertops.
If you are concerned about the environment and prefer to choose green products for your home, porcelain countertops are made using Kaolinite clay and are recyclable. Furthermore, porcelain countertops do not release toxic chemicals into your house.
Busy homeowners do not have time to spend a lot of time cleaning their countertops. They want countertops that are easy to care for and require no maintenance. Porcelain countertops do not need to be sealed, or special cleaners are not needed to keep the countertops looking beautiful.
Porcelain Countertops in the Kitchen
Porcelain countertops have a huge advantage over other types of countertops due to their durability, style, and function. In addition to this, porcelain cabinetry offers a number of unique features. Integral sinks can be created out of the porcelain for a look of continuity throughout the kitchen or bath. Recently, manufacturers have begun integrating induction burners into porcelain countertops. The manufacturer allows the homeowner to determine the location of the burners, allowing a homeowner to create a customized kitchen countertop.
Finding an Experienced Countertop Specialist for Porcelain Countertops
Finding an experienced countertop specialist who has the skill and knowledge needed to work with porcelain countertops can be difficult because the product is new to the United States market. When getting an estimate from a countertop specialist, ask about their experience working with porcelain slabs. When you find a countertop specialist who has experience installing porcelain countertops, ask to view their work or speak with their references. Doing so will ensure that the countertop specialist will be able to create the porcelain countertop of your dreams.
Porcelain countertops are made from natural materials that are fired at extreme temperatures to create a nonporous surface. Throughout Europe, you will find these countertops in the most prestigious homes. In recent years, the popularity of porcelain countertops in the United States has steadily grown.
Most porcelain countertops are imported from European countries, including Spain and Italy; however, there are a few manufacturers who have realized the importance of porcelain countertops and have begun manufacturing high-quality porcelain slabs that can be used throughout the home, including countertops, accent walls, outdoor kitchens, and much more.