Porcelain is the material of choice for bathroom fixtures, but does it make sense for countertops? While porcelain countertops might be a new idea for many, and one that takes some getting used to, they are more than just a passing trend…an interior design “flavor of the month.”
There is a well-established demand for porcelain countertops in Europe, and their popularity in the United States has grown steadily in recent years. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Currently, the majority of porcelain countertops are imported from Spain and other European countries, but we can expect US companies to get products to the market soon.
Countertops made from porcelain are supported by a long list of pros, and you can find them below along with the cons. The tally of disadvantages is quite small. This porcelain countertop guide gives you an overview packed with quality information you can use to decide if this material warrants consideration for your bathroom or kitchen remodel.
A dictionary definition of porcelain is that it is a “white vitrified translucent ceramic.” Now, all of the geologists out there know exactly what we’re talking about.
For the rest of us, porcelain is manufactured from a type of clay that is heavy in a mineral known as kaolinite. It should be noted that clay rich in kaolinite typically also contains minerals including feldspar, silica and mineral oxides that add to its potential strength and gives it color too.
Clay rich in kaolinite is commonly called china clay, and there’s another clue to their quality and appearance.
When producing porcelain slabs to be used in countertops, the kaolinite-heavy material is formed into slabs or tiles, coated with pigmented glaze and fired at high temperature to enhance strength and beauty.
Glazing pigments can be added during the fabrication of the tiles or slabs to produce an appearance similar to natural stone with the colors made to look like the veining found in marble and, to a lesser extent, granite and slate. Slabs or tiles are also manufactured with a consistent color throughout, and the variety of colors and patterns is just one of the many reasons to consider porcelain counters.
This material and the countertops made from it offer benefits for appearance, practical use and durability. Here are the reasons homeowners are choosing porcelain countertops.
When reviewing the list of porcelain’s advantages, you see there’s not much room left for negatives regarding these versatile countertops. They can chip and crack, but it takes more force and weight to do the deed than with natural stone countertops. The price, discussed next, will turn some homeowners off, but if the cost of granite, marble, quartz or other premium materials doesn’t make you flinch, porcelain will certainly be within your budget.
Porcelain Countertop Price
We break down the cost of porcelain countertops in a separate post. In short, the installed cost of slab porcelain countertops will be $60 to $100 per square foot based on the specific material, the type of edge you have beveled into it (if any) and the complexity of the job. The more corners, cutouts and seams you have, the higher the cost per square foot is likely to be.
These countertops produce clean lines with sleek fit and finish. If you like the look of marble, but are scared off by its brittleness and the fact it stains rather easily, then porcelain is an excellent alternative without those negatives.
The advantages that most stand out to many homeowners include the durability of the material, how easy it is to keep clean and the fact that it is very low maintenance since it requires no sealing or refinishing. If those are among your priorities for your next countertop project, then be sure to consider porcelain countertops.
On a practical note, if you have existing countertops that are in good condition and you want to reduce installation costs, then porcelain slabs installed over them is a money-saving option to learn more about when getting bids for porcelain countertops prices.
Because porcelain is fairly new to the US market, make sure you find a qualified professional with experience with porcelain slabs to install your countertops. Discuss their experience with porcelain slab countertop installation. If possible, take a look at their work and/or speak to their references before selecting the company for the job. As is true with every countertop type, only when porcelain slab countertops are properly installed will their potential for beauty, functionality and durability be maximized.