Angie's LIST Guide to
China Repair and Care

China repair and care is an important way to maintain inherited or bought items. If you need to have a piece repaired, consider an expert, who may create a fix that's invisible to the eye.

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China plate with floral design
China can be repaired and restored either by a professional or at home. But consider the value — both monetary and sentimental — when deciding whether to repair or replace. (Photo by Ellen Miller)

China then and now

The word "china" is commonly used as a collective term for porcelain or earthenware dishes. True fine china specifically refers to porcelain dinnerware. Porcelain and earthenware are ceramic materials.

The name "china" comes from the items' origins in China. Chinese people discovered how to make porcelain, and China was the only country to produce the material before the 18th century. Today, dishware is mass-produced worldwide, but china remains the collective term.

China repair

Sources of china repair include china repair specialists, glass repair companies and professional restoration service companies.

Service providers restore and repair broken, chipped or cracked china. Professionals often can restore an item so the original problem is no longer visible. To achieve such results, specialists grind cracks and other damaged regions before filling and sealing the areas. Professionals also recreate missing pieces, such as mug handles, through sculpting and molding techniques.

Clean and store china

Proper cleaning is crucial to storing china. If the china is dishwasher safe, use the manufacturer's recommendations for the type and amount of detergent. Load items so that edges don't touch in the machine, and use the light or china wash cycle.

For any china that is not dishwasher-safe, hand wash with mild detergent. Lay a cloth on the bottom of the sink to protect dishes from the hard surface. Wash items with a soft towel or sponge, and air dry on a towel or dish rack.

If you store dishes in stacks, place paper doilies or napkins between plates. If you live in a region prone to earthquakes, store your china on the low shelf of a cabinet.

How to move china

Pack china in a small box to keep the package lightweight and easier to move. Wrap each piece separately using newspapers, white packing paper or bubble wrap. Be sure to wrap all edges of the china so that pieces don't rub together directly.

Place foam or crumpled newspaper between dishes for further protection. Pack heavier pieces at the bottom of the box. Fill in empty areas with foam or crumpled newspaper to keep items from moving. Tape the lid closed and mark "fragile."

How to replace china

To replace broken or missing pieces, find a company that specializes in selling replacement china parts. Find the correct replacement item by matching the maker of the piece and the pattern number to the item. These two details are on the bottom of the piece.

Prices for replacement pieces vary according to age and pattern availability. Pieces with imperfections generally cost less than pieces in excellent condition. The age of the piece also plays a role in price. Older and more rare pieces are likely to cost more to replace than newer items.

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