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Sweep's Library: About Your Porcelain Finish

Sweepy A porcelain enamel finish adds a rich, lustrous look to any hearth appliance. Porcelain doesn't fade or discolor like matte-finish high temperature paint, and is easy to keep looking like new with a quick wipe from a damp cloth. Porcelain is as hard or harder than the cast iron or steel it is applied to, and doesn't chip or crack under normal use ( please note that normal use doesn't include whacking it with a crowbar ).

The porcelain finish is applied in a superheated kilning room. Each part to be coated is given a negative charge via an attached electrical lead. Then, positive-charged dry powder is introduced. The two charges attract, and the dry powder sticks to the parts and melts. The result is the tightly bonded, durable, glossy, colored finish we call porcelain enamel.

Due to the nature of porcelain and the way it must be applied, some tiny flaws are inevitable. The finish on your new porcelain stove or fireplace should not be compared with the gazillion coats of hand-rubbed laquer it took six weeks to apply to your '56 roadster : the material simply can't be worked in the same fashion. In our 24-year experience, we've never seen a porcelain enamel finish on a heating appliance that didn't have a few tiny blisters, pinholes or thin spots, if we took the trouble to look closely enough. The idea is to create the overall effect of glossy color, not to win best-of-show at the Dresden pottery exhibition.

Now, nobody's asking anybody to put up with huge, ugly warts here; just suggesting the magnifying glass might best be left in the desk drawer. That said, today's high-tech porcelainizing plants really do a super job. We seldom see any flaws that are visible from a few inches or so away, which is all the closer you usually want to get to a hot stove or fireplace anyway.

Should your porcelain finish ever become chipped ( in transit, say, or on the day Junior invents the indoor sport "tossing the ball peen" ), we have matching touch-up for all the products we carry. The touch-up is thick and gooey, and requires LOTS of stirring or shaking to thoroughly mix the pigment before use. It must be said here that the touch-up isn't perfect either, but it will cover up the exposed metal and fool the eye of anyone but Tom's Granny, who used to take great delight in pointing out the schmiester in the finish of her 1922 Sears cookstove where Grandad got a little fiesty with the cast-iron skillet.

Brown Majolica Porcelain: Available on several Pacific Energy and Hearthstone models, this finish is created via a two-coat porcelainizing process: a semi- transparent layer of dark brown is baked on over a layer of almond, resulting in a deep, lustrous brown finish with lighter brown highlights on all raised edges.

Seafoam Majolica Porcelain: Unique to Hearthstone, this two-coat finish is created by baking a thin, semi-transparent layer of white porcelain over a thick layer of dark bluish-green to create a color-softening snowy overglaze. When the stove is burning, the color shifts to a greenish hue in the hottest areas of the stove. The white overglaze is designed to craze with age, duplicating the sought-after surface found on heirloom pottery.



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