In the realm of hard surfaces, there are a number of opitons form which to choose. Some of these have been around for millenia (think natural stone), others have a more recent arrival (think enigneered quartz). One material that has been around for several decades but recently has made its way into the realm of countertops is porcelain. Porcelain surfaces are an option that many choose for all sorts of surfaces. In this article, we will take a look at this interesting material. We will also mention some specific properties regarding porcelain and how this affects working with it and what is involved in its care and maintenance.
What is Porcelain?
Porcelain is a man made material that has been used for years to cover floors and other surfaces. For example, porcelain floor tiles, large format tiles, and wall tiles have a long history. Porcelain is a material that is produced through the sintering process. Like with other materials that go through sintering, porcelain has some notable characteristics which we will get to in a bit. But let's first talk a little bit about what goes into producing this material.
The sintering process is performed in a specific way. Here is how Wikipedia.org describes the process:
Sintering or frittage is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction.
As mentioned above, there are a number of materials that are "sintered". These materials differ from one another because the substances in the particles used in the sintering process plays a role in the outcome. What are the properties of porcelain?
Porcelain is a material with some distinct properties making it useful for many applications including kitchen countertops, floor tiles and large format wall tiles. Each property of porcelain contributes to its appeal.
What are those properties? One of them is the hardness of the material. Porcelain is a very hard material that can be susceptible to chipping when it is cut. Therefore, it is recommended that a blade designed to cut porcelain be used when working with it. Its hardness and its scratch resistance make porcelain surfaces very durable.
Porcelain surfaces are non-porous and that translates to stain-resistance. When liquids are absorbed by a material (e.g. natural stone), they can deliver stain causing substances into the pores. However, non-porous materials like porcelain do not absorb liquid. Thus, anything that could stain porcelain stays on the surface and can be cleaned up easily if it is cared for relatively quickly.
As mentioned above, there are more uses for porcelain now than there were in the decades past. One of those is the use of porcelain as a kitchen countertop surface material. There are several brands of procelain surfaces and each year there are more and more of them emerging on the scene for use as kitchen countertops. The color selection for porcelain countertops continues to grow as it get easier to selecct a color and/or pattern that coordinates with you design style and color pallete.
As we have seen in this consideration of the man made material called porcelain, there are some basic facts that make it a reliable material. Additionally, even though it has historically been used for flooring and wall coverings it also has made its way into the countertop realm. Thus, if you are looking for a new material to fabricate for countertops, porcelain may be one to consider. And if you are looking for a unique material to use for your project, porcelain may just have what it takes.