Porcelain enamel, also known as vitreous enamel, refers to a coating for metal made from glass, minerals and metal oxides—hence the high lustre of items with porcelain enamel finish. The application of glass to metal has been used for decorative affect since Ancient Egypt and was developed for industrial purposes during the Industrial Revolution.
Contemporary application processes involve granulated glass, called ‘frit’ which is applied to metal surfaces with high temperatures, in the range of 540 – 870°C. During the firing process the frit merges with the metal, changing the chemical makeup of both, so that rather than forming a coating the enamel bonds with the metal to form an inseparable compound. Industrial applications of porcelain enamel include homes wares, especially for the kitchen and bathroom, but is also used where hard impervious surfaces are required such as in laboratories, agricultural silos, food manufacturing and in dentistry.
The colours of porcelain enamel won’t fade from exposure to UV light and the finish is resistant to corrosion and abrasion. Porcelain enamel applied to steel and used externally is unaffected by the worst of weather conditions and will last the life of the building.