Everything you need to know about Porcelain benchtops

Everything you need to know about Porcelain benchtops

Move aside natural and reconstituted stone – porcelain benchtops have arrived.

Porcelain benchtops are growing in popularity over Australia, but what are they and how are they different from more conventional materials?

Porcelain benchtops are a ceramic product composed of powdered clay and coloured pigments that are bonded together using extreme high temperature and pressure. This ultra-compact surface is extremely durable.

Pros of porcelain

  • A variety of textures can be created on the porcelain surface because of the fine particles used to form the slab. This allows the surface to mimic materials such as wood, concrete, and natural stones. Grains and designs can also be printed onto the surface, to create the desired look.
  • Porcelain’s high density and low porous qualities make it great for food preparation. Porcelain is highly resistant to liquids, acidic substances, and is highly scratch resistant.
  • Porcelain’s great heat and fire resistance makes it a great product to use as a benchtop, especially around cooktops, and also for vertical surfaces, such as splashbacks.

Kalka Clayfield display home porcelain sink and splashback with brushed chrome sink mixer

  • Porcelain is extremely resistant to UV rays, which allows it to retain its full colour throughout its lifetime. This makes it a great option for outdoor benchtops like BBQ areas.
  • Porcelain slabs can be manufactured to different sizes making them a great option for long island benchtops - up to 3.2m long and 1.6m wide.
  • Porcelain slabs also come in lighter and thinner versions, so matching slabs can be applied to walls, doors, and splashbacks.
  • Porcelain slabs come in a variety of thicknesses, as slim as 12mm slabs available for benchtops. The thinner slabs can be installed directly onto the cabinetry carcass, with no backing board required. It also has the potential to have an unsupported counter lever of up to 350mm.
  • Because Porcelain is extremely water resistant, it has the ability to be crafted into a sink, which can seamlessly be integrated into the porcelain benchtop.

Cons of porcelain

  • Because porcelain is such a high density material and is extremely hard, the thicker slabs can be a very heavy material to use. With this being said, the thinner slabs are a beautiful alternative which are easier to install and require less support – these are more common and popular for benchtops.
  • Despite porcelains durability, it is brittle. This means, it may chip or shatter from impact when heavy items are dropped on the surface. Chips can be repaired using an epoxy acrylate resin and matched to the porcelain colour. We recommend that a stone mason carries out any repairs.
  • It has visible seams and joins. If the colour and grain pattern of the porcelain is not uniformed, mitred edges become visible. This can be avoided by choosing a porcelain slab with a uniformed colour or grain patterning. If the surface you want to cover is longer than 3.6m, and you need to create a larger surface, this will require joining slabs together. In doing so, the grout or glue used to join the slabs, can end up being quite visible.

Kalka Clayfield display home porcelain benchtops in the kitchen, looking out to the inground swimming pool

  • Patterns on porcelain surfaces are printed on with ink, which means they are only skin deep. This means that if a cut or groove was made in the surface, for example grooves made for draining; the surface pattern will be removed in that area.
  • Porcelain is new to the Australian market and with little competition; it is proving to be a relatively expensive material when compared to reconstituted stones. However, as porcelain is becoming more available and popular, the cost of this material is becoming less expensive.
  • Porcelain does require an experienced fabricator which adds additional cost.

Read about natural and reconstituted stone as an alternative benchtop material here.