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Types of Chinaware

Types of Chinaware

Choosing the right types of chinaware for your food service operation can save you money and lots of headaches. From size and shape to color and composition, the possibilities for china dinnerware seem endless and can be overwhelming. Read this buying guide to learn more about your options and the choices you will have to make when determining what dinnerware to purchase.

Types of Dinnerware

porcelain plates


  • Made of malleable clay for forming detailed shapes
  • Durable, vitrified construction
  • More affordable compared to traditional and bone china
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe

china plates


  • Made of malleable clay for forming detailed shapes
  • Durable, vitrified construction
  • Perfect for casual to fine dining and is available in a variety of colors, shapes, and designs
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe

Bone China plates

Bone China

  • Contains at least 25% bone ash; most expensive chinaware
  • Vitrified and glazed construction protects from chipping and scratching
  • Thin-walled for a delicate, refined look makes it perfect for upscale establishments
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe



  • Fully or semi vitrified to make it hard, dense, and durable
  • Great for Asian restaurants, upscale bistros, or catering companies
  • Microwave and dishwasher safe



  • Glazed to a non-vitreous state
  • Lightweight, yet durable with excellent heat construction
  • Least expensive type of dinnerware; will add a rustic feel to your table setting
  • Hand wash only

Differences Between Porcelain and China

Porcelain vs. china can be a challenging distinction, as the terms are often used interchangeably. Sometimes these terms are used based on the dinnerware's country of origin. "China" is frequently used for any type of ceramic dinnerware that comes from that country, while "porcelain" has European roots because it comes from a Latin word that describes the material's density and hard, polished finish.

Historically speaking, while they are made from the same materials and are very similar, porcelain and fine china have some minor differences to set them apart from each other. As an example, china becomes vitrified through a single-firing process, while some porcelain goes through a multi-step firing process or is fired at higher temperatures. Porcelain is often less durable, and less costly, than fine china.

Differences Between China and Bone China

China and bone china have some key differences to set them apart from each other. China is made from a malleable clay, while bone china is made of clay that contains at least 25% bone ash and will typically be the most expensive chinaware. Bone china features glazes that protect it from chipping and scratching. Bone china also is thin-walled for a delicate, refined look, to make it lighter than china and perfect for upscale establishments.

What Is Fine China?

Another one of those terms that is used differently around the world, the term "fine china" typically refers to either porcelain or bone china pieces that are lighter in weight than equivalently-sized stoneware or earthenware pieces.

Common Chinaware Colors

The following spectrum shows the most common chinaware colors. It is always best to get a sample before placing china dinnerware orders because colors may vary by manufacturer. Please note that the color "Bright White" can be referred to as "Porcelain White," "Super White," and "Ameriwhite" depending on the vendor.

china dinnerware colors

For example, Tuxton's color chart features various white colors for their china dinnerware. Their "Porcelain White" color is categorized under Bright White, while their "Eggshell" and "Pearl White" colors are categorized under Ivory / (American White).

Considerations When Buying Chinaware

Front of the House

    stack of plates
  • Mood: China assists in defining a restaurant's personality; it sets the mood and can reinforce the theme of the venue. Also consider what types of flatware and types of table linens you will be using, as these all work together to create a unique atmosphere.
  • Experience: Aside from the food itself, table settings can greatly influence how customers will evaluate their dining experience. Your choice of dinnerware, and your inventory of glassware, will have a big impact on your guests' experience.
  • Presentation: China acts as a canvas for a chef's culinary presentation. Attention to detail when plating can make a big difference next to your competition.

Back of the House

  • Sanitation: A 100% vitrified product helps to prevent crazing and cracking which can accumulate bacteria.
  • Durability: For your china to withstand the rigors of commercial foodservice use, research the durability of each vendor's products, including the ability to be used in the oven, dishwasher, or microwave.
  • Storage and Stacking: Choosing stackable dinnerware can be beneficial to saving space in your kitchen.


How can you tell if the dinnerware you're about to purchase is durable enough for your needs? Ask questions: there is no industry standard on durability. Every manufacturer is different and the guarantees on dinnerware vary widely.

Does your dinnerware pattern come with a chip warranty?

Warranty Type
CAC China Limited One-Year Edge-Chip Covers regular round plates and platters in normal service use
Arcoroc Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all Arcoroc Extra Porcelain dinnerware, Chef & Sommelier Maxima dinnerware, and Zenix products
Bon Chef Limited Three-Year Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Homer Laughlin by Steelite International Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Fiesta® Dinnerware from Steelite International Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Hall China by Steelite International Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
RAK Porcelain Limited Lifetime Edge Chip Warranty covers plates, soup/pasta bowls, platters, and saucers under normal usage conditions in the following lines: Access, Anna, Banquet, Classic Gourmet, Genesis, Karbon, Leon, Metropolis, Nano, Neofusion, Opulence, Oxid, Pebbles, Pixel, Playa, Moon, Rondo, Roks, Shale, Ska, Sketches, Splendour, Twirl, Vintage, and Wood Art.
Schonwald Limited Five Year Edge Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Syracuse China Limited Lifetime No-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Tuxton Lifetime Edge-Chip Limited Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Villeroy & Boch 10 Year Edge Chip Limited Warranty covers platters, saucers, flat, and deep plates
World Tableware Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions

Does your china have a high alumina content?

Alumina oxide is a durable compound that acts as a partial replacement for silica, making the final product both whiter and harder. A high-alumina body offers a variety of benefits such as increased strength and chip or breakage resistance as well as improved thermal conductivity, helping food to stay warm for longer periods of time. Many dinnerware lines do offer this added benefit.

Is your dinnerware fully vitrified? fully vitrified dinnerware

Fully vitrified means that your dinnerware is non-porous. Fully vitrified dinnerware is stronger and thinner than ware fired at lower temperatures. A fully vitrified product does not absorb water, leading to less internal stress from expanding and contracting. This helps to prevent breakage and ensures a long life for your china with normal use. Porcelain, china, bone china, and stoneware are all vitrified.

Does your dinnerware stack rim-to-rim?

If your china features rim-to-rim stacking, this means your dishes rest on their outer rims when stacked. This design is meant to prevent the unglazed bottom of a plate from resting on top of a glazed surface beneath it, preventing scratches and other damage to the finish of your valuable china.


There are a variety of different dinnerware styles and options. Porcelain is currently an affordable option and can be used in casual or fine dining establishments. China also comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and designs and is perfect from casual to fine dining. Bone china is thin-walled, which makes it delicate and gives it a refined look that is perfect for upscale establishments. Stoneware has a variety of finishes and glazes to make it great for Asian restaurants, upscale bistros, or catering companies. Earthenware is least expensive and gives a rustic look to your establishment.


Most chinaware is vitrified to be bacteria-resistant. Additionally, most types are dishwasher safe, though earthenware is only to be hand washed.

Cost & Availability

cost and availability

Dinnerware is not a fixed cost. With constant use and commercial washing, dinnerware will eventually need to be replaced.

If the company from which you purchase your dinnerware stocks the items you are looking for, you can keep the initial and future costs of buying dinnerware low. On the other hand, if a company says they will stock a new pattern just for you, you will often pay a premium for that service. Buying a stock pattern allows you to take advantage of purchasing volume while staying in control of your dinnerware costs.

How Much Chinaware to Buy

From plates to platters and bowls to creamers, the pieces you choose to serve your culinary masterpieces on emphasize the image you've worked so hard to perfect. The question is how much dinnerware do you really need to keep your business running smoothly? Use this handy chart to find out! To calculate the quantity needed of each type of dinnerware, simply multiple the number of seats you have by the factor shown.

Item Usage Fine Dining Casual Dining Cafeteria Banquet Institutional
5" - 6" Plates
Serving small salads or bread and butter
2 -- 6 1 1/4 3
6 1/4" - 6 3/4" Plates
Serving small salads, desserts, or bread and butter
1 1/2 3 3 -- 3
7" - 7 7/8" Plates
Serving salads, sandwiches, and desserts
1 1/2 2 -- 2 1/2 --
8" - 9" Plates
Serving lunch entrees and salads
1 1/2 2 1/2 2 -- 2
9 1/8" - 9 3/4" Plates
Serving large breakfast and lunch entrees, dinner entrees, and salads
1 1/2 2 1/2 2 1 1/4 --
10 1/4" - 12 1/8" Plates
Serving large dinner entrees
2 2 1/2 -- 1 1/2 --
7" - 7 1/2" Platters
Serving sides and salads
1 1 1/2 -- -- --
9" - 9 1/2" Platters
Serving lunch entrees, salads, and specialty seafood dishes
1 1 1/2 1/2 -- --
11" - 13" Platters
Serving large meat and seafood entrees
1 1 1/2 -- --
Serving coffees, cappuchinos, lattes, and hot chocolates
-- 3 2 1/2 -- 2 1/2
Serving tea and other light, hot beverages
3 3 2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Underliner for serving hot beverages or soups
2 1/2 3 2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Bouillon Cups
Serving soups, stews, and desserts
1 2 1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Fruit / Monkey Dishes
Serving sides and desserts
2 3 6 2 1/2 3
Grapefruit Bowls
Serving soups, cereals, and desserts
1 1 1 1/2 -- 1 1/2
Oatmeal Bowls
Serving soups and cereals
-- 1 1 -- 1
Rim Soup Bowls
Serving soups, salads, and pastas
1/2 1/2 -- -- --
Pitchers / Creamers
Serving milk or cream
1/3 1/3 -- 1/3 --
Sugar Bowls
Serving crackers or sugar
1/3 1/3 -- 1/3 --
Serving sauces, gravies, and dressings
1/3 -- -- 1/2 --

How to Maintain and Store Chinaware

As the saying goes, "Dishes don't break…they are broken." It's important to take good care of your chinaware to keep your replacement costs low.

Care, Maintenance, and Storage
  • Never stack plates higher than 12" on a shelf. Use a plate dispenser or a dish caddy for easy storage.
  • Store plates in stacks and cups in racks. Always bus china directly into racks.
  • Store china at or below food plating areas on shelves made of non-magnetic stainless steel.
  • Use plastic or rubber scrapers, scrubbers, and sponges to remove food.
  • Load like items into dish racks. Never load loose, mixed items.
  • Avoid wet nesting (storing dishes when they are wet). Be sure to dry them according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Please remember to always follow the manufacturer's care, maintenance and storage instructions for best results.

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