As many of you know by now, I love to cook! The kitchen is truly the heart of our home and the center of our lives! So it should come as no surprise that when we designed and built our home, we began with the kitchen and worked our way out. I wanted a bright, airy, beautiful space that was also highly functional. Every single element that is going in our kitchen has been thoroughly thought through and chosen for its functionality first, then its beauty.
When I began looking at countertops, my first thoughts were quartz, quartzite, granite or marble: the typical choices I see every day. Then, as we were chatting with our friend who owns a local kitchen store, he mentioned porcelain countertops, which I had never heard of before. As he began to explain the pros of porcelain, I instantly knew it was perfect for me! Porcelain’s strength, heat resistance, stain resistance, color choices, and resistance to discoloring all led to it being exactly the material I wanted to put in my home!
What are porcelain countertops?
Before we get into it’s pros, let’s discuss what porcelain countertops are made of. To manufacture porcelain countertops, kaolinite clay is coated with pigmented glaze and fired at 1200-1400*C. This hardens it into a dense and highly durable material. While the clay does have impurities such as silica, mineral oxides, and feldspars, these actually add to the porcelain’s strength and color.
"Porcelain is actually stronger than granite and matches the hardness of quartz"
While quartz and granite are incredibly durable, porcelain is actually stronger than granite and matches the hardness of quartz, if not more! It actually surpasses the strength of granite by 30%, even though it weighs far less. This tougher structure causes porcelain to resist chipping, scratches, cracks or wear and tear. While I don’t ever see myself doing this, you can freely chop food right on the countertop without worrying about your knife causing damage!
"Porcelain can absolutely take the heat"
Porcelain’s ability to withstand heat was one of the biggest factors that drew me to it over quartz. While quartz is “heat resistant” it is only to 300* F. I know myself too well! I want the peace of mind of knowing if in the middle of preparing a huge meal, dishes everywhere, and I’m in a major hurry, (not that this has EVER happened) I don’t have to worry about setting something straight out of the oven on my countertops. During manufacturing, porcelain is baked at over 1000* F! Nothing I prepare in my kitchen ever gets anywhere near that temperature! So you know the old saying “if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen”? Porcelain can absolutely take the heat and that is the exact reason I want it in my kitchen!
"Porcelain is impervious to water"
To me, one of the biggest drawbacks to granite is the fact you have to keep it sealed. I am all about low maintenance and the less I have to remember to do, the better! According to the Tile Council of North America, porcelain’s water absorption has to be less than 0.5% to pass the strict ASTM C373 material’s test which means you do not have to seal it! Since porcelain is impervious to water, you don’t have to worry about quickly wiping up red wine for fear of it staining. Porcelain countertops are easily cleaned with warm water but if you did need to use a harsh cleaner, such as bleach, they will be fine.
"Colors and patterns can be added while fabricating"
Because porcelain is an engineered stone, glazing pigments can be added during the fabrication of the tiles or slabs. These pigments can produce an appearance similar to natural stone with the colors made to look like the veining found in marble, granite or slate. Whether you want a solid color or you want to replicate marble, this can be achieved with the versatility of porcelain. While I absolutely love the look of marble, with four kids, I do not have time to worry about the upkeep it requires! However, I can accomplish the same look, without the hassle, by going with porcelain. You can choose to go with a matte or polished surface, depending on the look you are going for. Edges of the porcelain can be mitered in several styles to make it look thicker than it is.
Porcelain will not discolor or fade
Another major advantage to porcelain is, unlike quartz, you do not have to worry about where your windows are as it will not discolor or fade in direct and prolonged sunlight. This is especially important to me being in Florida and have my kitchen full of windows! I have one section of my kitchen that will be in direct sunlight most of the afternoon, so it was necessary to choose a countertop that would not start changing colors in that area.
Are there any cons?
So are there any cons to porcelain? Like with any material, there are a couple negatives but their positives far outweigh the couple of cons for me. The biggest negative is they are hard to fabricate. A lot of kitchen contractors do not carry porcelain yet because they have not learned to work with it. You have to find a skilled fabricator to be able to install porcelain in your home. The only other negative is they can break if the take a direct blow. However, it has to be a pretty hard hit so make sure you do not use a hammer or meat cleaver directly on them and you should be fine!
What about the cost?
What about the price? If you are like me, you carefully weigh out the cost and the value with each material you put in your home. While porcelain is more expensive than say a laminate or concrete, if you can afford granite, marble or quartz, porcelain is well within your budget, and you will be getting a higher quality product!
After thoroughly researching all the options available to me for my kitchen countertops, I absolutely knew I wanted to go with porcelain! I even had the opportunity to work with a quartz company and I turned them down because I was willing to pay for what I felt was the best product for my home. Having a product in my kitchen that is incredibly strong, resistant to any heat I could ever put on it, doesn’t need to be sealed yet impervious to staining, comes in gorgeous colors that I love and will not fade gives me the confidence that they will beautifully withstand anything my family could do to them! Once I decided to go with porcelain, I found Sapien Stone to carry exactly the options I wanted! However, their closest distributor, UMI, is five hours away from me in Naples, FL! So UMI is flying Daniel and I down this weekend to tour their factory and showroom and finalize which design we want! They have five different ones that I am drawn too, so I am anxious to see them in person and decide which one I want. Once we decide which one we like, NSMotif, out of Sanford, FL, will be fabricating them for us. We are so excited to be working with these fabulous companies to but this amazing material in our home!
* I am not being compensated for this blog, these are truly my thoughts and opinions!