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Porcelain vs. Stainless Steel

Porcelain vs Stainless

What are the differences between porcelain vs. stainless steel?

When you think of porcelain, what comes to mind maybe something beautiful, yet delicate and fragile.

In the plumbing industry, porcelain is used for a number of things from sinks to grates. While this has always been popular material choice, we have recently seen a trend of moving away the use of porcelain (ceramic) and cast iron, in exchange for a more durable stainless steel option. So why the shift? What are the benefits of using stainless steel over porcelain?

A look at the material makeup.

Porcelain: a white vitrified translucent ceramic. It is a building material that contains of mixture of clay, glass and metal. It is made by heating materials, generally including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C (2,200 and 2,600 °F).

Stainless Steel: a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. There are various grades and surface finishes of stainless steel to suit the environment the alloy must endure.

What are the benefits of stainless over porcelain?

Porcelain has very low moisture absorbency making it ideal for preventing leakage. Yet, porcelain is a porous material making it more difficult to clean. Over time, porcelain will become discolored and once that occurs, it cannot be restored. It can also very easily develop stains. As mentioned earlier, porcelain is a more delicate material that can become chipped or cracked, if not handled with care. Cracks and chips can be difficult, or even impossible to fix, requiring a replacement of the entire product. While a cast iron interior adds some durability to products like sinks and grates, exposure of the cast iron to the elements can lead to rusting or harborage points for bacteria growth.


stainless floor sink Stainless steel is more durable and easier to clean, making it the more sanitary option. The chromium content of the steel allows for the formation of a tough, adherent, corrosion-resisting chromium oxide film on the steel surface. If damaged chemically or mechanically, this film is “self-healing”, provided that oxygen is present. Stainless steel is easily workable and has a long service life that will retain its clean finish look, with little to no maintenance costs. Additionally, due to the special high chromium and nickel-alloyed grades, it can resist scaling and retain strength at extreme temperatures better than porcelain.

Final recap. Who wins in each of the following categories?

  • Ease of cleaning – Winner: Stainless Steel
  • Ease of fabrication – Winner: Stainless Steelstainless sink
  • Impact Resistance – Winner: Stainless Steel
  • Durability – Winner: Stainless Steel
  • Cost – Winner: Tie (Equitable)
  • Look – Winner: Tie (Personal Preference)
  • Long term value – Winner: Stainless Steel

StainlessDrains.com constructs all our drains and drain products, including floor sinks and grates, using 304 or 316 stainless steel. They meet U.S. FDA standards, and provide superior anti-bacterial, anti-contamination and anti-corrosion protection. To begin your new custom stainless steel order, or to order a replacement for existing porcelain products, please contact us at 888-387-4045 or email sales@stainlessdrains.com

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