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Granite & Porcelain

Comparing Porcelain & Granite

One has been used as a countertop surface for decades. The other only recently has become a kitchen countertop surface material. One is formed by volcanic activity and the other is created through a man made process known as sintering. Both are popular and coordinate well with other design elements. So how do porcelain and granite compare? In this article we will consider the answer to that question. As we examine these materials we will discuss what they have in common and how they differ. We will also talk a bit about working with each material and how to care for and maintain these materials.

Natural Granite

It seems like every other material that is used for kitchen countertops gets compared to granite. Why is that? Because granite has been used as a kitchen countertop surface for so long that people are very familiar with it. They are educated not only in how to shop for it, but also in how to care for it. Consumers have been taught through home improvement shows and other media that granite is a great material for countertop surfaces. However, just in case you haven't heard the reasons why granite makes a great kitchen countertop surface, we will cover some of them here.

Granite Is Durable

One reason granite has such a great reputation for use as a countertop surface in that it is able to take the normal wear and tear that comes from everyday traffic and use. It is not really surprising that this material can handle it though. After all, it is a chunk of rock that is cut out of the side of a mountain. Two big areas in which granite shines regarding durability are:

  1. Heat Tolerance
  2. Scratch Resistance

As a natural rock, granite is very heat tolerant. In fact, it is formed through volcanic activity. So heat is not really a problem for granite. Although, surface treatments that are sometimes used on granite can be affected by heat, the granite itself is heat resistant.

Scratch resistance also comes with the territory regarding granite. Since it is so hard it is not easily scratched by normal household use.

So the heat and scratch resistance offered by granite contribute to its durability. And the durability is one of the reasons that granite is such a well known and sought out materials for use in kitchen countertop projects.

Porcelain

Porcelain countertops are relatively new in the stone industry. When compared with granite as a countertop material, porcelain is a youngster. That is not to say that porcelain has no history. It has been used for flooring, wall cladding, and all sorts of other applications for many, many years. More recently though, it has been used as a material for countertops. Before we compare porcelain to granite as a countertop surface, let's first take a brief look at how porcelain is produced.

Unlike granite, porcelain is a man made material. It is not carved out of a mountainside and formed into a slab. Rather it is created by engineers through a process known as sintering. We won't expound on the meaning of the word sintering in this article. But the sintering process involves extreme heat, pressure, and sometimes even other forces like electricity. The end result is porcelain. So why is porcelain good for countertops?

Porcelain Countertops Are Durable

Porcelain turns out to be a durable material that is great for use as a countertop surface. Like granite, porcelain is very hard and is scratch resistant. It is also heat tolerant because it is created through the sintering process, which is intensely hot.

Similarities Between Porcelain & Granite

Thus far in our consideration you may have already realized that there are some similarities between granite and porcelain. In fact, both of the properties we have talked about already are common to both granite and porcelain. Each of them is tolerant of heat and they are both scratch resistant due to each material's hardness. But those are not the only similarities these materials share.

Both granite and porcelain are very design-friendly materials. And each has its own niche, so-to-speak, with specific design styles. For example, granite is an appropriate choice for rustic designs. Even though some porcelain surfaces coordinate with rustic designs, color is only one aspect of the look and feel of a countertop.

Another similarity between granite and porcelain is the fact that each of these materials requires a diamond blade that is designed to cut it. We offer various diamond saw blades for fabricators working with specific materials; including blades for cutting porcelain countertops. If you are a fabrication professional, be sure you select a blade that is designed for the material you are cutting.

Differences Between Porcelain & Granite

Comparing granite with porcelain reveals some differences in the materials. Each of the materials has some benefits that the other does not have. Each benefit stems from a characteristic difference. Let's take a look at them now.

Porosity

Granite is a natural stone and has pores. Each stone will have a degree of porosity. But all natural stone is porous. This means that is will absorb liquids. Porcelain is non-porous and thus does not absorb liquid. This translates into an advantage for porcelain when it comes to kitchen countertops because liquids can cause stains. Since porcelain does not absorb liquid, the stain causing substance stays on the surface and can be treated there.

If a stain gets into a granite slab, it must be treated by using a stain remover that is designed to draw the stain out of the pores. One product that is designed to help minimize the rate of absorption on granite is impregnating stone sealer. Sealing granite slows the absorption down to varying degrees depending on what type of liquid. Oil based and water based liquids stay on the surface of the stone and can be cleaned up if the granite is sealed properly and regularly.

Thickness

Porcelain countertops are thinner than granite countertops. This causes limitations that are good to be aware of at the time of purchase. For example, thickness affects the types of edges that the countertop can have. In order to have profiled edges, the slab must be thick enough to use an edge profile on it. Porcelain countertops are too thin for an edge profile so option are limited regarding design styles.

Granite countertops are thicker and can be profiled using various techniques for creating decorative edges. There may come a time in the future when porcelain surfaces are thick enough to profile the edges, but as of the time of this writing, porcelain is considerably thinner than granite.

The similarities and differences between two materials show exactly what you get by choosing one material over the other. In the case of the two materials we have considered here, the similarities include heat and scratch resistance while the differences involve design preference and maintenance requirements. If you are fabricating these materials, it is good to be aware of the nuances of each material. And if you are the consumer, make sure you select the material that offers the qualities you view as high priorities before you select a material.