lbucelli

Experienced porcelain fabricator in Northern Va (Fairfax, VA area)?

lbucelli
last month

I love the look of porcelain kitchen countertops but understand that it requires an experienced porcelain fabricator for transport and installation. Can anyone recommend a duly and actively licensed fabricator and installer in NoVa area who has completed an ANSI specified qualification program and someone who has installed porcelain in accordance with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) handbook guidelines, ANSI A108.19 installation standards?

Who was the manufacturer of the porcelain used? Based upon comments on Houzz I would stay away from Neolith. But it seems like people are happy with Ascale, Bedrosian's Magnifica, and Florim. Any stories you'd like to share would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance. (Sorry if this is a duplicate post.)

Comments (11)

  • Silverlined
    last month

    Cannot give you area-specific advice, but I will say that I stumbled upon two excellent porcelain fabricators in my area (Texas) by just being out and talking to some of the staff at the upscale slab yards. You'll learn fairly quickly with the underground current of information out there who to trust. A lot of it has to do with the type of equipment they have in addition to skill level. They need a machine that cuts with A LOT of water, and they'll also need special transportation equipment.

  • lbucelli
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you, Silverlined. Did you go with a porcelain counter top? If so, which manufacturer, polished or matte? Are you happy with it? Any lessons learned that you'd like to share. really appreciate your feedback.

  • Silverlined
    last month

    I would have liked to have gone with porcelain because of the excellent wear properties that beat out quartz and in many cases natural stone as well. However, after viewing many displays in showrooms of this material, I saw how badly the edges become chipped, and after talking with sales people at the slab yards, they told me the same, that the chipping makes this countertop almost prohibitive. We did find 2 fabricators who could have done our job and done it well, but it just wasn't worth the chipping issue. Also, we had an overhang with a seating area, and porcelain isn't suited for that. You can only extend it about 1 1/2" beyond your base cabinetry. Thicker natural stone can hold its own with bracing every 18" or so, but porcelain has to have a full subtop with zero-flex support to prevent cracking. The edge chipping comes from the fact that the porcelain pattern doesn't go all the way through the material, so to make it look good, you will want to have the edges mitered, and that involves angling the material to a tip so they can meet up at the edge, thus creating very delicate edges.

    You can always skip the mitering and have the solid-colored edge visible, and I did see one installation done like that at our local Levantina stone yard (a company which produces its own porcelain, as do many other stone suppliers). It makes for a very thin edge, but it doesn't look too bad with some of the light patterns. I've recently heard of one porcelain company that has started to make theirs with the pattern that goes all the way through, but I cannot off the top of my head think of the name of that company. If you do a deep dive search on the Houzz forums you might find it, because I know it has been mentioned in a thread here.

    Even if I had gotten the porcelain successfully installed, it doesn't mean that there won't be cracking issues in the future. One kitchen design pro commented on a thread "prepare for heartbreak" if you use porcelain, and that phrase kind of stuck with me.

    We ended up going with Beleza soapstone which is a hard variety of soapstone and very hard-working for a busy kitchen. Best wishes on your continued research.

  • lbucelli
    Original Author
    last month

    Silverlined, the reason I want to redo my kitchen is to expand my island so that I'll have a large overhang to seat 4 to 5 people. Based upon your feedback porcelain would NOT work. So thank you very much; you saved me from heartbreak, which is the last thing I need right now! I'm looking for a white counter top, some slight veining. My granite has been perfect for 23 years but it's dark and I want to brighten the kitchen. Wish I could find a white granite, without red or brown in it.

  • Silverlined
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I'm almost going to say quartz is your material. I thought at the beginning of my own kitchen renovation that light granite would be my choice, but I spent days and many hours researching and going to slab yards and concluded that the most durable granites tended to be dark, and the lighter granites seemed to have busy patterns and/or problems with turning orange or green once exposed to moisture in the kitchen due to iron and other deposits in the lighter colors. Even the best sealers don't always totally block that moisture that can create the color changes, and once installed over cabinetry, the granite cannot breathe as well through both sides to dry out like it does standing on edge at the slab yard. So, people see coloration changes even after installation. It wasn't worth the risk to me.

    Some people go with quartzite for a lighter color, which is different from quartz, but first of all it's very expensive, and secondly, you deal with density and cracking issues getting it fabricated and installed successfully. If you have a ProSource in your area, they carry the Cambria line of quartz which is among the highest quality of what's out there based on the materials and type of resins they use, and you'll get a good price purchasing through ProSource and/or a fabricator that buys from them. Remember with an overhang that any 2 cm natural stone requires support beyond a 6 inch overhang, and 3 cm requires support beyond about an 8 to 10 inch overhang. 15 inches of overhang is considered a standard for comfortable seating so your knees don't bump the wall. You'll need braces for it installed ahead of time, and they make some that can be mostly invisible. Check with Centerline Brackets as a source.

  • lbucelli
    Original Author
    last month

    Again, your feedback is invaluable & greatly appreciated. I like the look of quartzite but the cracking scares me. I wasn't a big fan of quartz because I didn't like the look but the Cambria is pretty. Understand that you have to be vigilant on putting hot pans on it & that it can't be used as a back splash. Our current granite counter has a 12" overhang without support and I was thinking of doing the same in the new design but will rethink that based upon your input. Thank you so very much!

  • Silverlined
    last month

    Quartz can absolutely be used as a backsplash and often is! It can even be used behind your stove when installed according to the manufacturer's specifications. The one caution would be if you pick a light or white quartz and get direct sunlight on your counters throughout the day, you might want to reconsider because UV rays can cause the resin in quartz to turn yellow. If your kitchen is mostly shaded you will be more likely to avoid that issue. Quartz isn't bulletproof, but the damage temperature isn't terribly low either. It's really become the go-to surface for people who want light counters without the maintenance of marble. Quality truly does vary, so research your brands before settling on this.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    last month

    "...3 cm requires support beyond about an 8 to 10 inch overhang."


    3cm engineered stone can be cantilevered up to 15" without additional support according to most manufacturers. Page 20 please.

  • wdccruise
    last month

    @Silverlined "However, after viewing many displays in showrooms of this material, I saw how badly the edges become chipped...."

    Couldn't this be solved by using tile edging trim to protect the porcelain's exposed edges to damage and chipping? Or is that considered ugly, like metal edges of old laminate-covered dining tables (I think we had one).

    Sapienstone porcelain countertops.

  • new-beginning
    last month

    have you considered soapstone? There is some light granite without brown

  • Silverlined
    last month

    @wdccruise The metal tile trims are usually aluminum and less durable to scratches than the porcelain itself. With kitchen knives operating nearby and pots being moved on and off the counter, it isn't something I would want in a high-use area. The natural solution to edge chipping is to simply cancel the mitered edge and polish the thin porcelain edge as well as possible. It doesn't look too bad that way. This still doesn't solve some of the other fabrication, installation, and long-term stability risks when installed over very large surfaces. Porcelain is popular and a lot of people are using it, but I think it is still a new enough product that the jury is still out on long-term reviews. Some slab yards offer insurance on porcelain slabs so you can rest easy if one cracks.

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