Note: This post originally discussed stoneware versus porcelain. I’ve since learned that the “stoneware” I have been purchasing for decades is really “earthenware,” despite what it said on the box. Earthenware and stoneware have some qualities in common–like weight–but stoneware (real stoneware) is stronger and more durable. I’ve updated this post to accurately reflect what it was I owned. Be warned, though: a lot of the “stoneware” dinnerware sets you’ll find out there are probably just earthenware. With that in mind, here’s the updated post:
While I am stuck in the spin-cycle that is “The Typesetting of FC:I“, let me share the results of a test I have been conducting.
A year and a half ago I asked the question: Which is better/more durable, porcelain or earthenware?
I got many responses, I read many posts/articles, but nothing… nothing …gave me a definitive answer. I mean, you’d think I was asking about the relative air speed of swallows or something.
But then I had a stroke of luck. I had my 20th year anniversary at the place where I work (yes, Virginia, some people still work at the same company for decades), which entitled me to a “thank you” gift. Now in the past, these have been cheesy tie-pins or cheap wireless weather stations, but this time, they actually had something I could use: porcelain dinnerware.
I leapt at the chance, and so, a year ago, we began our experiment.
For 25 years previous, we have used only earthenware, as it was all we could afford. We bought sets, we bought open stock, we bought low-end, mid-range, and higher-end (as finances could allow). We bought in colors, we bought in white and black.
Eventually, when buying earthenware, we got in the habit of just buying two sets at the beginning so that, after a while, we could start to replace the chipped pieces with new. However, the kicker here is that at no time did we go six months without at least one chipped edge or chipped rim. Also, we usually had a chip within 3 months, and after a year, the set had begun to look scratched and dull in the center of each plate. Thus, we had a pretty good track record of earthenware performance.
During the last year, we have used nothing but this porcelain dinnerware. The set I ordered is the Gibson Everyday line, the “Eventide” design. It came with dinner plates, salad plates, cups/saucers, bowls, and “nappies” (small, side-dish or dessert bowls), and a large serving bowl.
The dishes are lighter (a lot lighter) than earthenware, and feel more delicate. Thus, for the first three months, we probably treated them a bit more gingerly than we did a new earthenware set. This faded with time. We used them just as we used the previous sets; we nuked them, washed by hand and by dishwasher, we stacked them in the sink, we put them in the oven when keeping food warm, we used them every single day and used no others (except for coffee mugs).
I cook a lot. We go out to eat very seldom. When we have takeout, we replate it. In other words, these dishes got used.
Results: after a year of solid use, we have zero (zero) chipped rims and edges. We have no (no) dulling or scratching of plate surfaces. We have had one item of breakage: it was one of the nappies, and it was dropped from a 4′ height. We have had many instances of banging, collision, and low-height falls to the laminate floor, all of which would have caused damage to stoneware.
Porcelain is a little more expensive, but it’s durability is unmatched by earthenware. Since we were buying two sets of earthenware, the costs is obviously less (over time) for porcelain.
Go, porcelain, go!