Porcelain Benchtops: A Kitchen Designer’s Guide

Porcelain benchtops are fast taking over the world of kitchen design in Melbourne and right across the world! Engineered and Natural stones have  long been the go-to option for kitchen benchtops however, all that seems about to change with the ever growing popularity and availability of porcelain benchtops.

The most popular porcelain benchtop options are actually created using a combination of materials that often include glass, silica, quartz and other additives to ensure a strong and durable surface finish. As these options are the most popular choices for use as a porcelain kitchen benchtop, we’ll be focusing on these particular solutions in this guide. These benchtop solutions can also be used in vast range of other applications, from indoor to outdoor spaces such as flooring, wall cladding, and more

What are the benefits of Porcelain Benchtops?

Porcelain benchtops offer many exciting advantages that you simply cannot find with any other material. These benchtops are incredibly durable, being resistant to scratching or staining while also being resistant to temperature shock (fluctuations in temperature), a unique trait that cannot be achieved with other kitchen benchtop products like engineered stone or laminate.

  • High Density + Low Porosity: Porcelain sheets offer a high density and extremely low porosity work surface, a very hygienic option for a kitchen benchtop as they material will not absorb liquids or germs
  • Highly heat resistant: Porcelain benchtops can withstand temperatures of up to 300⁰ C
  • Stain resistant and easy to keep clean depending on your selected finish. Some porcelain benchtop manufacturers such as Dekton provide their colour range in an assortment of finishes, from ultra high gloss to smooth matt and more
  • Scratch resistant: Thanks to the high density surface, your porcelain benchtop is highly scratch resistant
  • Fade resistant: Porcelain tops are one of the only benchtop products that are warrantied for outdoor use in direct sunlight and completely exposed to the elements
  • Can be used to clad internal and external walls, as well as joinery
  • Concrete replica porcelain tops look astonishingly close to the real thing! More and more luxurious options have become available over the years with industrial themed distressed stone-looks, marble replicas and plenty more.
Porcelain Benchtops_Dekton Kitchen
Created using a unique blend of powdered glass, quartz and porcelain, Cosentino combines the strengths of these three ultra durable materials to create their popular Dekton material. Image

What are the drawbacks of Porcelain Benchtops?

  • Porcelain tops must always be cut and installed by specially trained Stonemasons – These are not the types of products you can test your DIY skills on!
  • Cost: Similar to composite stone materials, porcelain benchtop brands include several different price tiers within their own collections, with budget solutions right up to luxury colour selections. Although you will find that for the most part, porcelain benchtops are usually comparable in price with engineered stone, the real costs often come in when the product is mitered along the edges to achieve the appearance of added thickness. This process is difficult to achieve as the exposed edges of the product can be brittle and therefore, prone to chipping so a lot of care must be taken (thus adding to the cost!). Instead, we would always recommend sticking to using the slab thicknesses available from your selected porcelain benchtop supplier when putting together a benchtop as this will not only keep the cost in check but also ensure minimal risk of chips along the edges of the benchtop by avoiding mitering the product.
  • Chips can occur in thinner porcelain benchtops: As noted above, we recommend sticking to a thickness of 20mm or more when using porcelain as a benchtop. This will minimise the risk of chips occurring along the edges.
  • Certain colours show seams when mitred – Colours with a flowing pattern will show a solid colour line along the mitred edge as the pattern does not penetrate right through the porcelain but is actually printed on the surface. We recommend either opting for a single slab benchtop with no mitred edges or selecting a solid colour where seams will not be visible if you choose this option.
  • Natural stone replicas, such as marble-look porcelain tops are not an effective substitute to the real thing. You will not experience the same translucent qualities of natural stones or their engineered stone counterparts.

Where can I use porcelain sheets?

Porcelain sheets can be used all around the home and even the outdoors: Dekton for example, is one of the only manufactured products available that is warrantied for use in direct sunlight while also being exposed to the elements, making it a top choice for an outdoor kitchen design.

Porcelain can be used as a floor finish, kitchen, bathroom or laundry benchtop as well as internal and external wall cladding and can make an excellent porcelain splashback option for kitchens and laundry rooms. It is always best to confirm that your selected product can be used for your intended application however as certain brands may have some restrictions as to where and how they can be used.

Do keep in mind that working with large porcelain sheets in any application can increase the cost of labour involved in your project as the product’s large size can be tricky to work with, and you will also have to ensure a completely level surface beneath the product to avoid any installation issues. It is also safe to use as a fireplace surround or hearth as well as a splashback directly behind a gas cooktop – Porcelain of course, meets the Australian Standards in relation to a gas burner’s proximity to combustible surfaces so you can rest assured that you’ve made a safe choice for your home!

What brands are available in Australia?

There are a few key brands to investigate that are currently available in Australia, each with its own range of colours, thicknesses and slab sizes:

  • Dektona unique blend of quartz, glass and porcelain, Dekton is perhaps the most durable porcelain product available, and is available in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 8mm – 30mm.
  • NeolithA porcelain sheet product, available in 8mm, 6mm and 12mm thicknesses. Neolith has an excellent collection of industrial colours and finishes available.
  • Laminam: An exciting porcelain sheet product that is made of recycled materials.