Your choice of countertops makes a big difference when it comes to your kitchen. Not only do they dictate the style of the room, but they are vital in terms of practicality and durability. Plus, your choice of material will also have an impact on just how hygienic your kitchen is.
One style that has been incredibly popular over the past year is porcelain countertops. We have seen many homeowners favor this material, not only because of the stunning aesthetic but also because of the health and safety benefits. After all, since the pandemic hit, we have all become a lot more conscious about germs being spread, and rightly so!
With that in mind, continue reading to discover everything you need to know about porcelain countertops and why they are such a popular kitchen trend.
What are porcelain countertops?
Before we look at the different reasons why porcelain countertops have become so popular, let’s reveal exactly what porcelain is.
Porcelain is a vitrified pottery material that can be somewhat translucent or opaque. There have been some claims of porcelain being created in China’s Eastern Han Dynasty. However, the earliest known versions came into life during the Shang Dynasty, over a millennium earlier, and they were known as primitive porcelain.
Nevertheless, it is only during the Tang Dynasty, i.e. between the 6th and 9th centuries, that we can say that porcelain-making methods truly matured.
How porcelain is made
Porcelain is made by heating a mixture of white China clay (known as kaolin) and powdered China stone at approximately 1450°C. Such a high temperature results in the vitrification of the China stone, turning it into a material that is incredibly durable and dense, while the kaolin ensures the object keeps its shape.
The clay has impurities like feldspars, mineral oxides, and silica, which you may assume would detract from the quality of the porcelain. However, this is not the case. Instead, they add to its color and strength.
When porcelain slabs are created to be used in countertops, a pigmented glaze is used to coat the porcelain. This ensures that the slabs have an aesthetic appeal that is similar to that of marble or natural stone.
Why have porcelain countertops become such a popular choice?
Now that you have a good understanding of what porcelain countertops are and how they are made, we are going to take a look at some of the different reasons why porcelain countertops are so popular.
The hygienic solution
There is only one place to begin, and this is with the fact that porcelain countertops provide the most hygienic solution. Due tof the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all been forced to get used to the “new norm.”
From using hand sanitizer when entering a retail store to counting to 10 while washing our hands, we’re thinking about our hygiene more than ever before. And, of course, this can only be a good thing!
You may be surprised to learn that this is actually one of the reasons why porcelain countertops have increased in popularity throughout 2021.
This is because porcelain provides a positive way of keeping everyone safe from bacteria, as porcelain absorbs only 0.01% of germs. With porcelain, you have a solid surface that will not break down with the use of cleaning solutions or steam.
The minimal absorption capacity makes it a great choice for any project, ensuring you can clean the surface in a quick and easy manner, keeping you and everyone in your home protected.
As the outer layer of a porcelain countertop has resistant components, you can be sure that your countertops will be resistant to most of the disinfectant cleaning products available for sale today. This means your countertops will not be impacted in the long run due to being exposed to aggressive products.
Durable, strong, and easy to maintain
Not only are porcelain countertops the hygienic choice, but they are recommended due to their strength and ease of maintenance. Let’s take a look at these benefits in further detail:
- Porcelain is lightweight yet sturdy – The great thing about porcelain countertops is that you get the best of both worlds. Compared to natural stones, porcelain is a lightweight option while delivering the same durability and hardness. In fact, it is believed that premium quality porcelain is 30 percent stronger than granite stone. If that was not enough, porcelain is a man-made material. This means you can put in a custom order and get added thickness, a custom shape, or extra size to meet your specific dimension stone requirements during porcelain countertop installations.
- Porcelain is resistant to water – Porcelain is a material that is extremely dense yet has the least porosity. This means that the water absorption rate is low. It can keep you away from the stress of quick cleaning should there be any spills on your porcelain countertop. Instead, you can simply wipe it off and get back to what you were doing. No poultice is required to get rid of any deep strains.
- Porcelain offers good abrasion and scratch resistance – You can purchase porcelain in six different types of gradation for resistance to abrasions. It starts from 100 rotations per minute all of the way up to 12,000 RPM. This means you can slice and dice food with an open knife, and you do not need to be concerned about any damage happening to your countertop. Of course, most people will prefer to use a chopping board, but it is refreshing to know that your countertop will be protected should you ever end touching the surface with an open knife.
- Porcelain is frost resistant – Porcelain is also excellent at freeze-thaw cycles that commonly take place in colder areas. In the ASTM C1026 resistant test, porcelain proved “superb” and it passed at -18 to +15 for 15 freeze and thaw cycles.
- Porcelain is resistant to heat – The process of making porcelain demands a high temperature, i.e. over 1K degree Celsius. This means that porcelain has built up the capability to bear a lot of heat. So, if you have been cooking and you want to place a hot pan on your porcelain countertop, it is unlikely to cause any damage. We’re sure you will agree that this is great news because we don’t all have the time to find a tea towel when we have a heavy, pipping hot pan in our hands, right?
- Porcelain is resistant to stains – Another reason why porcelain makes a lot of sense when it comes to your countertop material is that it has impressive resistance to natural stains that are ferrous oxide-initiated. In addition to this, when compared with natural stone varieties, porcelain is less porous. This means that the chances of experiencing a deep stain on your countertop are greatly reduced.
- Porcelain offers high flexural strength – Last but not least, porcelain can be compared with natural stone tiles on a number of different parameters. For instance, you will find a medium flexural strength of porcelain-40.0 MPa when it comes to the likes of modulus rupture, braking strength, and braking load, which is akin to the majority of different types of natural stone.
Benefit from beautiful countertops that enhance the aesthetics of your kitchen
Of course, we cannot talk about porcelain countertops without mentioning their sheer beauty. Porcelain comes in a wide range of surface finishes. During the manufacturing process, porcelain companies will create various surface textures to meet the various needs of different kitchen applications. From matte to glossy surfaces, you can choose from a wide range of different countertop styles to suit your kitchen aesthetic.
To understand this further, let’s take a look at the four main stages of the porcelain-making process:
- Molding or forming to create the desired shape
- Glazing to get glossy and smooth surfaces
- Pigmentation to get a number of different patterns and colors
- Firing so that raw material is converted into a finished and permanent shape
Manufacturers can add pigments, like iron, copper, and cobalt, into the paste to create different patterns and colors. So, no matter whether you want shiny, glossy countertops or you are looking for porcelain countertops that imitate luxury marble, you can be sure that you will be able to get the countertops you are interested in.
Porcelain is a great choice for the environment
We all need to do our bit for the environment today. One of the ways you can do this is by making more eco-friendly choices when it comes to your home appliances and decorations. As porcelain mainly consists of clay as a foundation material, this makes it an eco-friendly choice. Clay is a green and natural substance, even after it is heated in Kiln and pressed into the desired shape. The clay mixes up or degrades quickly in the environment without any hazardous impact being left behind.
In addition to this, recycled porcelain aggregates are helpful in the landscaping and construction industry. We can use aggregates as a base material in a whole host of landscaping projects, as well as laying them on roadsides. The colorful aggregates that are found in porcelain tiles can be utilized as decorative elements in both outdoor and indoor decorations.
Enjoy great value for money
Last but not least, another reason why we have seen porcelain countertops soar in popularity is that they provide excellent value for money. As homeowners, we always want to find a great deal, but this has arguably been more important than ever over the last 18 months! A lot of people have experienced the financial strain that has happened as a consequence of the pandemic. Because of this, we’re being a lot more careful with our funds, and rightly so. The good news is that porcelain is one of the most cost-efficient materials on the market today.
If you do a comparative shop for the dimensions of stone you require, porcelain remains a more cost-effective solution. It is a more affordable solution when compared with natural stone and other modern alternatives. In terms of installation, the cost of installing porcelain countertops is comparative with installing natural stone. Nevertheless, the lightweight nature of porcelain can reduce the labor time needed, which can help to further lower the costs.
Another way that porcelain countertops can help to save you money is because they can be installed over existing countertops. The low weight, size of porcelain tiles, and the minimal requirements for fixing the tiles onto current countertops make reinstallation affordable and simple.
Plus, you won’t find yourself spending a lot of maintenance. As porcelain countertops are less porous and highly dense, the maintenance needed is minimal. This means you do not have to worry about surface treatments or frequent sealing. Porcelain will hardly absorb liquid like oil or water that is typically found in spills on countertops. So, it is challenging to get permanent and deep stains, which is great news. All you need is a cloth to wipe away the liquid. Cracks and breakages are also less likely to happen on porcelain countertops because the material is so sturdy. If that is not enough, replacement is quick and straightforward, and it is easy to find replacements on the market if required.
Final words on why porcelain countertops have been such a hit in 2021
So there you have it: everything you need to know about porcelain countertops and why they have been such a hit in 2021.
Not only are porcelain countertops popular because of their elegant beauty but they have also become a preferred choice due to the hygiene benefits they provide. Plus, they offer an eco-friendly alternative, which is also a lot kinder to our purse strings.
Consequently, the popularity of this style of countertop is only likely to increase throughout the rest of 2021 and into 2022. If this is something you are considering for your kitchen, we are sure you will enjoy looking at the different available options.