All About Porcelain – What It Is and How It Can Be Used in Your Home

What is porcelain? How can it be used in your home? This month’s blog covers the wide range of porcelain!

This month we’re talking all about porcelain! Porcelain is a combination of raw materials (clay and minerals such as kaolinite and feldspar) that is then heated to extremely high temperatures. Porcelain has been used across the globe for centuries, primarily as pottery. It is known for its strength, white color, and ability to mix with glazes and paints.

Most homeowners might know about porcelain through porcelain tiles. But we’re not here to talk to you about the small porcelain tiles with ugly grout lines used to make countertops throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  Porcelain is back again…but this time, bigger! Imagine a porcelain floor or shower tile, and then enlarge it! Now add some cool designs that actually mimic the natural looks of many marbles and granites. Full size porcelain slabs can be thought of as massive tiles.  At Marble Granite World, we now fabricate large format porcelain slabs for your kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, shower walls, fireplace surrounds, or even accent walls!  Ask for a FREE consultation with our experts to learn more about how you can use porcelain slabs for both residential and commercial projects. This blog post will surely inspire you to use porcelain in your next home project! 

Full Sized Porcelain Slabs used as a feature wall in the Marble Granite World showroom! The color of this porcelain is Patagonia.

Full size slabs of porcelain have been gaining popularity in the design world, in both traditional and modern homes! The versatility of the product makes it perfect for a wide range of projects, from shower surrounds to fireplace design.

Some of the benefits of porcelain include: 

  1. Range of thickness: Porcelain slabs can come in a variety of thicknesses, ranging from 6-12 mm in thickness. This range in thickness makes them a desirable product when compared to a granite or quartz, because it allows the product to be adhered to walls.  Since porcelain slabs can come thinner than granite or quartz slabs (granite and quartz slabs are typically 1 ¾” thick), they are able to adhere to walls with less protrusion on the side and less weight adhered to the wall. 
  2. Weight! Full sized porcelain slabs – typically 126” wide by 63” tall – are lighter than granite, marble, quartz, and quartzite slabs. Since porcelain weighs less than other natural and engineered stones, it allows it to be adhered to fireplace surrounds, walls, and showers without the added risk of the weight of the stone. 
  3. The look of porcelain is unique! Since porcelain is an engineered product, it comes in a variety of colors, vein patterns, and finishes. Additionally, using a full-size porcelain slab reduces the need for grout lines in a bathroom project. Rather than tile a shower with 6” x 3” porcelain tiles, a single porcelain slab can often cover an entire shower wall. Porcelain also comes in a range of finishes, including high gloss, matte/honed, and textured. Check out our blog post “Creating a Spa Bathroom” for more ideas on how to avoid grout lines in a bathroom!
  4. Non-porous and heat resistant: Unlike natural stone, such as granite, marble, and quartzite, porcelain never needs to be sealed. It is a non-porous stone, meaning it will not absorb water and is highly resistant to staining. Cleaning porcelain simply requires warm soapy water and a cloth, making sure to dry thoroughly. Porcelain can be used in high heat areas, such as fireplaces and fireplace surrounds. It has a high heat tolerance, unlike quartz. Check out our “Choosing the Best Product for You” chart to compare the pros and cons of porcelain to other products that we offer.
  5. Commercial/Hospitality Use: Porcelain is often favored for high traffic areas and in hospitality services because of its stain-resistance and wear-resistance. Rather than a marble that is more prone to staining or scratching, porcelain is made to resemble the look of marble with added durability.
Porcelain counter and sinks, accompanied by a porcelain backsplash. This is Forte porcelain by Francini. Francini is a local supplier to Marble Granite World and they have a variety of large format porcelain slabs available to view. Photo courtesy of Francini.

While porcelain has many benefits, like all natural and engineered stones, it also has drawbacks: 

  1. Price: Full size porcelain slabs are not cheap. Often, starting-level porcelain is as expensive as higher-level granite and quartz.
  2. Additional labor: Since porcelain is thinner than granite, marble, and quartz, it often requires “laminating” or “building up” the edges when working with porcelain on a countertop. This gives the impression that the porcelain is as thick as a standard countertop. Laminating the edges requires additional labor for the stone fabricator, which can result in additional cost for the homeowner or builder. Of course, this is a matter of preference, as some homeowners and designers like the look of thin countertops.
  3. Possibility of breakage: While the thickness of porcelain makes it desirable for specific projects, the thin nature also increases the chance of breakage or cracking. The thin sheets of porcelain are more brittle than 1 ¾” thick granite/marble/quartz, meaning they are more sensitive to breaking or cracking, especially in transport.

Ideas for using full slab porcelain:

Kitchen countertops

Full height backsplash

Bathroom and Shower Walls

Fireplace surrounds

Remember that here at Marble Granite World, we are the experts! We’ll guide you through the process of preparing your project area for a porcelain installation. Our process is entirely hands-on, meaning we remain by your side at all times, from the design stage through the installation, to help guide you and answer any questions you may have.  
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