stainless vs. porcelain cooktop

estercitaMay 30, 2012

I know there have been other posts on this topic in the past, but the answers seem totally inconclusive. We are considering getting a highly rated (per Consumer Reports) LG range. One of the main differences between the higher-priced and lower-priced models is the cooktop material. The higher-priced (model 3097) is stainless steel: http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/d7/d7d37ae3-2c36-4455-8dd0-ee87a91fc486.pdf.

The lower-priced one (3095) is porcelain: http://www.aimtofind.com/files/LRG3095ST-1.PDF. I'm drawn to some of the features of model 3097 (higher BTU power burner, split level rack), but I'm worried that the stainless cooktop could stain easily & be hard to clean.

Does anyone have experience with this or can you point me to websites on this topic?

Thanks.

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estercita

OK, I found an answer to my own question from a research study on this very topic: http://www.appliancemagazine.com/editorial.php?article=1232&zone=1&first=1

The conclusion: "The comparison testing showed that porcelain enamel is harder to scratch, more stain-resistant, more heat-resistant, and easier to clean than stainless steel. The results show that stainless steel is functionally inferior to porcelain enamel." This piece was also published in a peer-reviewed journal (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470291290.ch7/pdf).

1 Like    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Nunyabiz1

Only problem with the porcelain is it can chip and once it does its crap.
Stainless looks better, is still plenty easy to clean.

Only real problem with it is it is very easy to scratch.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:14AM
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jadeite

In our last kitchen we went with porcelain. We were doing a retro farmhouse style kitchen, so the white range, dishwasher etc. looked right (at least to my eye). It's not only more durable, but fingerprints don't show. In our present kitchen, we have a new stainless fridge which requires a lot of polishing to keep it from looking grubby.

Cheryl

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:17PM
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weedmeister

I'm not sure what you mean by 'stain'. If you mean by heat (blueing), then I agree. Otherwise, I've got stainless cookware I've had for +30 years and no stains.

Stainless will scratch if you use an abrasive on it. That's just the way it is. But it will always look like stainless.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 3:55PM
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jakvis

Stainless requires more maintenence to keep it looking nice. The enamel and porcelain can just be wiped down with most cleaners. As to chipping just realize that there are millions of ranges out there that have never chipped.

All this said, I have stainless in my home and like it.

1 Like    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:12PM
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alexrander

So I would rather have the stainless in your instance. The porcelain is over such thin steel, and when food gets burned on to the bowls, it is hard to get off, and if it scratches or dulls, you will always see it.

There were some folks who had older Wolf ranges and they complained about this problem. Newer customers felt that the porcelain was doing fine.

But stainless can always be returned back to a stainless look. As someone mentioned above, compare a stainless pot to one of those porcelain steel pots that have seen a lot of use. You know, the ones that have white speckles in the paint. .... Anyway, while I love porcelain on cast-iron, I think on the range top I would rather have stainless.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:53AM
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jgopp

I have yet to have a problem with my stainless top on my Bertazzoni range. I find it very easy to clean with hardly any mess. I haven't scratched it yet because there are (obviously) grates between the cooktop and the working pots. I like my stainless top because it is one single sheet of pressed metal and it is easy to clean.

But I think in this debate it is really up to personal opinion on what you think looks best in your kitchen. I don't think there are too many cons either way. Both cooktops will do a great job, that is why they are available as options. Good luck with the choice.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 2:08AM
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rlm919

estercita,
I am split between the same two ranges for the same reasons. Also is difficult because no one has the LG 3097 in the store to actually look at and see the finish. Did you decide on the LG 3095? How do you like it? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 12:13PM
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jwvideo

The cited paper is interesting but hardly adds anything. I mean, who bake things onto a stove top surface at 750 degrees and leaves undiluted ammonia cleanser and or Formula 409 on a surface under a watch glass for 72 hours on their stove top?

Seems to me that porcelain and steel each have advantages and disadvantages and you pick the trade off that is most acceptable to you. It may well be an aesthetic choice as Jadeite points out.

Personally, I've never found stainless stoves hard to clean, contrary to that report. The issue I've seen is frequency of cleaning. You just clean them more frequently because everything (finger prints, grease, whatever)is so much more obvious. Obvious so much more quickly than it is with a white porcelain surface (not sure about black; seems like it might be just as bad). Mind, I am not suggesting that this "obviousness" is not big deal to some folks. It is.

Burner drip pans are a whole 'nother story. Personally, I hate all light colored drip/liner pans. Whether stainless or porcelain-coated, they stain, scratch, mar and etc. within weeks to the point that they can no longer be scrubbed to look anything close to new. I prefer a matte black or cast iron pan. Same thing with burner grates.

Of course, stainless surfaces scratch more easily than porcelain but I do not think that says much. If keeping your stove looking show-room pristine is important, most appliance stainless surface scratches can be buffed out. Unless you really gouge it by, say, dropping a really heavy cast iron pan edge-on from several feet above the stove. Do that with porcelain and you may knock a chip off the surface. With porcelain, you have to fill the chip using a little jar of enamel that looks like one of the old bottles of white-out. Some repairs work well, some may look funky. So, which funky is less offensive to you?

I've never seen a stain on an actual stainless steel residential stove that could not be buffed out with a little Barkeeper's Friend. Same thing with my stainless cookware and my stainless kitchen sink. They call it "stainless" for a reason. Now, I have seen some staining and discoloration with restaurant equipment, but that is a different ballpark with way, way more heat and abuse than you get in home kitchen. And, also, a completely different kitchen aesthetic.

So, having said all of that in defense of stainless, what do I prefer to have in my home? Porcelain.

If the stainless LG 3097 stove has features you think your really want and cannot get on the porcelain 3095 version, get what you want.

Oh, and one other thing. It will be a very good idea to actually see the stove. There seem to be new stainless-like finishes which are not really stainless steel. The cited article mentions some porcelain-based stainless look-alikes. I did not notice anything on this when skimming the specs for these stoves, but it may be hard to tell without actually seeing the stove.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 1:49PM
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estercita

We decided to go with the LG 3095. Other than the stainless vs. porcelain cooktop, the only difference between the 2 models is a higher-power burner on the 3097 and split rack options in the oven. We didn't think it was worth $500 more for these 2 options, especially since we were unsure about the stainless cooktop. Sears had a great matching price option, so got it for only $1100 (normally $1500). It will be installed in mid-August.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:17PM
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jwvideo

Sounds like a good deal. The bigger burner on the 3097 does not seem like a big deal: the one on the 3097 is rated at 19,000 btu/hr and the one for the 3095 is rated for 17,000 btu/hr, so not a very big difference at all.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:25PM
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