What is the most durable dinnerware material? This is one question that most newbie homemakers face when setting up house. The burden of knowing which dinnerware would last long is one that most homemakers do not want to bear.
To this end, many folks have bought dinnerware set that did not stand the test of time. If you have fallen into this category and have to replace one or two dinnerware sets, we are here to help you. For those who are making first time purchases, you are in luck!
This piece is going to discuss in details, different materials that dinnerware sets are made of, their attributes, advantages and disadvantages. An understanding of the aforementioned would help you buy long lasting dinnerware sets.
So here goes…
Porcelain/ China Material
Porcelain and China are two interchangeable terms for the same material. Porcelain is a Latin word that stands for seashell; this speaks to the translucency of the material while China speaks to the country of origin of the material. Hence the sometimes confusion about Porcelain and China; you would have heard the term Chinaware. They all refer to this material that we are discussing now.
That said, China should not be confused with Bone China; they are two different materials. we shall discuss about Bone China later in this piece.
This material is a common choice in dinnerware for restaurants and folks that run catering business. The reason for this is obviously the aesthetic value of the material. Some porcelain dinnerware are tempered so that they can be hardier which makes them last longer.
Porcelain is attractive and also durable, it is a popular and high end option given its durability and that delicate appearance that belies its strength. Good quality porcelain comes in sparkling white color(mainly the body; many manufacturers are adding embellishments to porcelain sets nowadays).
It is resistant to thermal shock which simply means a sudden change in temperature that can lead to breakage or change in composition of an object. In addition to that porcelain also has superior insulation. These features mean that a porcelain dinnerware set is oven, dishwasher and microwave safe.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. If a porcelain dinnerware set has borders made of metal accent (whether gold, silver or platinum) then it should be hand-washed. You should also be careful of the type of dish soap you use to wash it.
To this end, it is best to consult your user manual or manufacturer’s instruction for washing.
Looking at the properties and features of porcelain, it is safe to say that it is well suited for formal use. Restaurants would do well with dinnerware sets made of porcelain but we do not recommend it for everyday dining at home. But it is ideal that every homemaker has a porcelain dinnerware set or two for when you want to make mealtimes extra special or when you have guests over.
This material is often associated with artsy cookware and dinnerware set. It is simply product made from clay that has been fired until it becomes porous then made water resistant by glazing.
Although earthenware would usually look and feel sturdier than other types of material, it is actually one of the most delicate materials that a dinnerware can be made of. The rustic nature of earthenware is one major reason why it is loved by users.
Most earthenware that you see would usually have designs on them whether hand-painted or otherwise.
The downside is the delicate nature which makes it prone to chipping and breakage. Another disadvantage of earthenware is its porous nature; this makes it susceptible to stain and absorption of liquids. But some manufacturers have found a way of overcoming the issue of porosity.
Finally, although some earthenware are said to be dishwasher safe, we think it is best to wash by hand.
We often wondered about the difference between earthenware and stoneware; maybe you have too! So here it is…
Stoneware is clay that is fired at a higher temperature than earthenware and it is more durable than earthenware. The firing process makes the earthenware to be nonporous
It also has vitreous material added to it to make it sturdier. Dinnerware or products made of stoneware are usually thicker and more dusky (opaque) than other materials such as porcelain or bone china.
It can either be glazed or not but when glazed it would usually be finished with satin, shiny or matte glaze materials.
Another type of fired ceramic dinnerware, stoneware is a little more durable than earthenware because the clay is fired at a higher temperature and usually has vitreous (glass) material added to it for strength. The body of stoneware is thicker and more opaque than finer materials like porcelain and China and can be finished with a variety of glaze textures such as shiny, satin, or matte.
Stoneware is ideal for everyday use especially if it is good quality because it is easy to use and maintain and also multi-functional.
Dinnerware made from stoneware should not be subjected to sudden and/or extreme change in temperature because of thermal shock. #
Although stoneware can generally be safe for oven, microwave, freezer and oven, it is best to confirm from the product specification or instruction for care.
Bone China Material
2,000 years after the advent of porcelain, Josiah Spode an English porcelain maker, added some ash of cow bone to his porcelain mix and fired it at a lower temperature than porcelain. What he produced was a material that was hardier and whiter than porcelain. It feels lightweight, delicate and looks translucent but these belie its durability and hardiness.
The above features make Bone China to be rated as the highest quality of material that a dinnerware can be made of.
Of all the ceramic or clay derivatives, bone china is the strongest and longest lasting material. Most dinnerware sets made of bone china are safe for the dishwasher. It can aslo be used in the oven and microwave except if it has any metallic embelishments.
Truth be told, all this is in theory as you would find that most manufacturers insist that you wash your bone china dinnerware set by hand.
Although some people would argue that bone china dinnerware can be used daily we are of the opinion that they are best suited for formal occasions. This is primarily because of its cost. Yes they are quite durable, but there are other materials that are better suited for everyday use and also come at cheaper price points.
We all know what glass is or look like. Most restaurants and catering estabilshments love to use glass dinnerware for colourful meals such as salads. This is because it shows off the beauty of a meal and makes it more appetising. But we all know that glass is the most fragile material that a dinnerware set can be made of.
That said however, there are some glassware that have been tempered and actually quite durable and more shatter proof.
Vitrified Glass Material
This is glass that has been fired at an extremely high temperature until it become nonporous and shatter-proof. Dinnerware made from vitrified glass is dishwasher and microwave safe. You can also use it to serve children or outdoor events due to its hardiness.
The most popular brand known for this material is Corelle. Their products are made of tempered glass with two kinds of glass that it laminated into three layers. This makes the products almost unbreakable. Their products have been tested throwing them on hard floors and they come up without any chip or breakage.
These are high end products and you can be sure that they do not come in at the same price points as your run of the mill products.
If you are looking for products that would not chip or break, then plastic products are a sure bet. But we also know that plastic has its own downside which is that it isn’t heat resistant. That said however, we would look at some types of plastic materials and how they have been reworked to provide greater value to the user.
All the plastic materials we would discuss hereafter are great options for folks with growing kids. With these materials, you are saved the agony of replace dinnerware every now and again.
Furthermore, there are some designs of dinnerware that look so beautiful and you wouldn’t know that they are plastic. These types come in handy for high risk parties (functions that you know can tend to get rowdy and would give you heart palpitations if you use your fine china).
SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile) Material
This is a common plastic material and many fast food restaurants and cafeterias love to use dinnerware set made with it. This is mainly because dinnerware made with SAN is usually heat, scratch and chemical resistant.
They are highly durable and cost effective but they tend to yellow faster than other types of plastic materials.
This type of plastic has strong light transmitting properties. It can either be transparent or come in a wide variety of colors, Polycarbonate is mostly used in making bottles, food containers and drink ware.
The greatest downside that it has is that BPA is used in the process of manufacturing it. Since BPA constitutes a health concern, many people stay away from products that contain polycarbonate.
Melamine is one plastic that is almost unbreakable (unless you set to deliberately destroy it). It is favoured by many establishments such as hotels restaurants, healthcare centres and hospitals. This is mainly because it is lightweight and can be carried easily by waiters and caregivers or even invalids or senior citizens.
Despite its lightweight nature, it is very sturdy, not flimsy and lasts for long. In addition to that it usually has a glossy finish and comes in many beautiful designs. Best of all it can be washed in the dishwasher (top rack only) and it is BPA free!
The downside of Melamine however, is that it can be stained by some type of foods such as tomatoes if you leave it on the plate for long. It is also not microwave safe and should not be used to heat up food in any form.
Some of the factors that would determine the durability of any product you buy (apart from its innate durability) are as follows:-
- The frequency of use of the dinnerware.
- The age group of the persons that would use it most frequently. A product would most frequently be used by kids or senior citizens are most likely not to last as long as that used by adults.
- The occasions that it would most frequently be used for. Plates used for every day dining or commercial (fast food restaurants, cafeterias etc.) purposes are also more susceptible to chipping or breakage than the ones used for formal occasions or fine dining.
- Care and maintenance of the dinnerware. This refers to strict adherence to manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning
When you consider all the above factors, then you can look at all the materials that we have discussed so far. Your summation would help you determine which material of dinnerware would be most suited for your circumstance and specifications.
You can also check out our previous post on how to choose dinnerware. You’ll learn a thing or two from it. Click here to read it.