Why is ultra-compact porcelain so special?
Porcelain has of course been around for centuries, but only recently has it emerged as a surface material used in homes and commercial buildings. Following great success in Europe, porcelain slabs and large format tiles are now captivating architects and home owners in Australia too. But why?
Firstly, what is a porcelain or sintered compact surface?
To better understand why porcelain kitchen benchtops, floors, wall tiles and bathrooms are so popoular it’s best to first understand what they actually are.
Also known as a sintered compact surface or technical pressed porcelain, large format porcelain is a high-density material that has undergone extreme temperatures and pressures to result in a permanently hardened, virtually non-porous surface material.
A sophisticated blend of raw materials, powdered clay and coloured pigments are fused together to make pressed porcelain, mimicking the processes that natural stone undergoes in the ground over thousands of years. These porcelain slabs and tiles have immense durability and can come in a range of designs that look like wood, concrete, marble and limestone.
The thickness of the final ultra-compact porcelain varies from 5mm to 20mm. The intended final use is likely to dictate what thickness of porcelain is chosen for a fit-out.
Did you know? Raw materials found in glass, ceramic and quartz are used to make ultra-compact porcelain slabs, and during the manufacturing process no harmful chemicals or resins are used.
What are the pros of using porcelain?
Designers and home owners are loving the many benefits of using porcelain within a home or commercial space. Here are some of the pros of using porcelain for kitchen benchtops, floor tiles and so much more:
- Porcelain is extremely tough and hard-wearing
- Porcelain is heat resistant and UV light resistant
- Porcelain is largely unaffected by wear and tear
- Porcelain is less porous than other stone surfaces therefore doesn’t stain
- Porcelain can withstand harsh chemicals
- Porcelain is an environmentally friendly and completely recyclable product
- Porcelain can be used for many different applications, both indoors and outdoors, with no special sealing or treatment needed
Did you know? An induction cook top can go below a porcelain benchtop resulting in there being no need for a breaks in the kitchen benchtop surface.
Are there any cons to using pressed porcelain?
In comparison to the list of pros, the cons of using porcelain are certainly few. Here they are:
- Porcelain is difficult to repair perfectly. If a chip occurs it is fixed using an epoxy acrylate resin of matching colour. Though this won’t result in a seamless repair, the skill of your chosen stonemason will certainly affect the finish.
- A cut or groove on patterned porcelain will reveal the non-patterned porcelain beneath. This is because designs on porcelain are printed using an inkjet printer.
- Joins and mitred edges between pieces of porcelain will not be seamless. This may be avoided by using a slab that is of uniform colour and grain patterning. Alternatively, embrace the visible seam and make it a design feature!
What can I use a porcelain surface for?
Bathroom Wet Areas
Furniture & Cabinet Facades
Indoor Floor Tiles
Outdoor Floor Tiles
Balconies, Patios and Decks
What finishes are available for porcelain?
Because natural pigments are used in the manufacturing process of pressed porcelain each supplier will have their own range of colours. It is possible to have a smooth or textured finish, matt or high gloss – it’s up to you!
Porcelain can also be patterned in designs such as rust, marble, woodgrain, metallics and cement. These options open up a gateway of creativity and are sure to expand in range as porcelain’s popularity continues to grow.
Who can install porcelain for kitchen benchtops and other applications?
Porcelain must be treated extremely carefully during manufacturing and installation. Therefore it is highly recommended that you use a fully trained installer for your project.
At Distinctive Stone Noosa, our stonemasons have been comprehensively trained in handling porcelain slabs and use the correct equipment to avoid any damages to your precious purchase.
To view the range of porcelain we stock please take a look at our dedicated Porcelain Page.