Types of Chinaware

Buying Guide

Choosing the right types of chinaware for your foodservice operation can save you money and lots of headaches. From size and shape to color and composition, the possibilities for chinaware 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.

Type of Operation

Are you a casual, high-volume establishment, or an upscale, fine-dining restaurant that seats 30? Your dinnerware needs will differ based on how many your restaurant seats and what type of dining environment you offer. Refer to our China Requirements Guide for guidelines on the amount of china to purchase for a 100 seat dining room.

The Importance of China Selection

Front of the House

  • Mood: China assists in defining a restaurant’s personality; it sets the mood and can reinforce the theme of the venue.
  • Experience: Aside from the food itself, table settings can greatly influence how customers will evaluate their dining 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.

Compare Dinnerware

Dinnerware Style Comparison Tool

Select a style to learn more

Speckled Dinnerware

Speckled

Speckled china is a perfect blend between plain white china and solid colored china, with the right amount of color to dress up your place settings.

  • Key Attributes
  • Features outer accent band along rim
  • Adds color to traditional ivory dinnerware
  • Speckled Dinnerware in Action
Narrow Rim Dinnerware

Narrow Rim

Maximizing the surface space for your mouth-watering cuisine, these dinnerware pieces feature a simple narrow rim design.

  • Key Attributes
  • Take full advantage of eating area
  • Simple, timeless design
  • Narrow Rim Dinnerware in Action
Scalloped Edge Dinnerware

Scalloped Edge

Scalloped edges create an eye-catching, wavy design along the rims of these distinctive dinnerware pieces.

  • Key Attributes
  • Subtle scalloped edge design
  • Available with or without bold outer rim accents
  • Scalloped Edge Dinnerware in Action
Irregular Dinnerware

Irregular

Natural lines and unique sides bring an interesting look to your tabletop display.

  • Key Attributes
  • Items can be mixed and matched for optimal creativity
  • Establishes an organic, contemporary feel
  • Irregular Dinnerware in Action
Triangular Dinnerware

Triangular

Triangular shaped china adds a new dimension to place settings and helps draw attention to your perfectly crafted culinary creations.

  • Key Attributes
  • Great for enhancing the presentation of specialty cuisines
  • Adds a sleek, trendy look
  • Triangular Dinnerware in Action

Chinaware Colors

The following spectrum shows the most common chinaware colors. It is always best to get a sample before placing chinaware orders because colors may vary depending on manufacturer.

Type of Dinnerware

The majority of dinnerware items fall into the following categories. Please note that bone china and bone white china are not the same thing. Bone china is made of bone ash and has a distinct translucent white color. Bone white china is made of clay and has a "bone white" ash coloring that can be seen in the color spectrum above.

Material Features
Stoneware
  • Hard and dense
  • Can be fully vitrified or semi vitrified
  • Opaque, white color
  • May or may not be glazed
Earthenware
  • Non-vitreous pottery
  • Opaque, white color
  • Excellent heat conduction
  • Lightweight, but durable
Porcelain
  • Made of clay that's malleable and great for forming detailed shapes
  • Created in a two-firing process
  • Becomes vitrified during the second firing
  • Cool, white color
  • Finish is hard, but more brittle than china
China
  • Made of clay that's malleable and great for forming detailed shapes
  • Created and becomes vitrified with a single firing
  • Warm, white color
  • Extremely durable
Bone China
  • Made with ceramic clay that contains at least 25% bone ash
  • Created and becomes vitrified with a single firing
  • Translucent white color
  • Thin-walled for a delicate, refined look
  • Lighter than porcelain and china

Place Setting Essentials, Extras, and Serveware

Product
Description
12 inch Coupe Bright White Round Porcelain Plate   - 12/Case
Large, spacious dinner plates become the back drop for main entrees at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Cardinal R0804 Arcoroc Candour Porcelain Salad Plate - 24/Case
Great for signature salads, these plates are also perfect for appetizers and desserts so you can get the most out of this simple, yet versatile plate.
Cardinal S0406 Chef & Sommelier Satinique 6 5/8 inch Bread and Butter / Side Plate - 24/Case
These smaller plates become the perfect resting place for warm bread rolls. You can also use them to serve herbed olive oil for dipping!
Tuxton FPD-087 Pacifica 10.5 oz. Bright White Embossed China Soup Bowl   - 24/Case
Including soup/cereal bowls as a part of your table setting provides easy versatility. Soup/cereal bowls are used for a soup, chili, chowder, oatmeal, fruit, and even ice cream!
Tuxton BPF-0808 DuraTux 8 oz. Bright White Europa China Cappuccino Mug - 24/Case
Teacups and saucers add an elegant touch to any table setting. Great for drip-free tea or coffee service, guests will enjoy a warm beverage with their breakfast or dessert!
Product
Description
Tuxton ALD-112 Alaska 16 oz. Bright White Rim China Soup / Pasta Bowl - 12/Case
The wide rim on these items contains saucy foods so you can serve pastas, stews, or chowders without the hassle and worry of dripping or spilling.
10 Strawberry Street ELE-24 11 7/8 inch Elegance Round Charger Plate
Charger plates are larger than dinner plates and serve as a decorative accent on your tabletop. Available in a variety of colors and designs, charger plates are great for fine dining occasions or special events.
Homer Laughlin 1420-0334 Westminster Gothic Off White 6 1/4 inch China Plate - 36/Case
Perfect for special dinner parties, these plates add a touch of elegance and color to your table setting.
Cardinal Arcoroc FH614 Candour 10 oz. White Porcelain Mug - 24/Case
The larger capacities and easy-to-grip handles provide a great alternative to small tea cups and saucers. Serve generous portions of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and more in these mugs!
Product
Description
American Metalcraft Prestige POR1783 3 Section Porcelain Platter - 17 inch x 7 3/4 inch
Available in a variety of sizes and shapes, serving platters enhance your presentation and provide versatility at your restaurant, buffet, or catered event.
Bone White 9 1/4 inch Deep Square China Bowl - 12/Case
Great for table service and family-style restaurants, vegetable bowls are a classic addition to your table setting. Serve warm vegetables, mashed potatoes, pasta, and side dishes in these bowls for convenience and style.
American Metalcraft Prestige SQVY12 7.1 Qt. Wave Porcelain Bowl
All-purpose serving bowls are great for serving a variety of side dishes, salads, and family-style entrees.
Homer Laughlin 486105 Fiesta Cobalt Blue 18.5 oz. Sauce Boat - 4/Case
Elegantly serve gravy, sauces, and dressings in gravy boats for a touch of sophistication.
American Metalcraft SCR20 2 oz. White Square Ribbed Porcelain Sauce Cup
Condiment cups provide easy access to your guests' favorite condiments in a simple, sophisticated dish.
10 Strawberry Street B4527 Izabel Lam Pond 4.5 oz. White Bone China Milk Jug Creamer - 48/Case
Great for milk or half-and-half, creamers are perfect for buffet lines, breakfast spreads, and coffee or tea service.
Cardinal Chef & Sommelier S0416 Satinique 10 oz. Covered Sugar Bowl - 16/Case
Covered sugar bowls provide your customers with convenient access to their favorite sweetener while keeping contaminants out so you can feel confident about setting these bowls on tabletops and counters.
CAC MAJ-TP Majesty European Bone China 46 oz. Teapot - 12/Case
A sophisticated addition to your tea service, customers will enjoy soothing cups of tea served tableside out of these elegant teapots.
Tuxton AMU-102 Modena AlumaTux Bone White 21 oz. Coffee Pot With Lid - 6/Case
Convenient and sophisticated, coffeepots are a great addition for all of your coffee-loving patrons. They'll enjoy cup after cup served out of these tall coffee pots.

Durability

How can you tell if the chinaware 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?

Vendor
Warranty Type
Coverage
CAC China Limited One-Year Edge-Chip Covers regular round plates and platters in normal service use
Cardinal Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all Arcoroc Extra Porcelain dinnerware, Chef & Sommelier Maxima dinnerware, and Zenix products
Hall China Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Homer Laughlin Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Tuxton Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
World Tableware Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions

Does your china have a high alumina content?

Alumina is a durable compound that acts as a partial replacement for silica and increases the whiteness of the finished product. 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. China from Homer Laughlin and Hall China have high alumina content. Look at these lines from Tuxton for more high alumina options: Tuxton AlumaTux Specialty Items, Tuxton Modena AlumaTux, Tuxton San Marino AlumaTux.

Is your dinnerware fully vitrified? Durability

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. CAC China, Tuxton, Hall China, World Tableware, and Homer Laughlin offer fully vitrified products, and Cardinal's porcelain lines Zenix and Candour are also fully vitrified. See these serving bowls, appetizer dishes, and platters from American Metalcraft for more fully vitrified products.

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. This type of stacking can be found in CAC China and 10 Strawberry Street dinnerware.

Care, Maintenance, and Storage

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 for easy storage.
  • Store plates in stacks and cups in racks.
  • Store china at or below food plating areas on shelves made of non-magnetic stainless steel. See this shelving buying guide for more information on the differences between types of shelves.
  • Use plastic or rubber scrapers, scrubbers, and sponges to remove food.
  • 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.

Cost & 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 chinaware 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.