19 Different Types of Plates

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There’s a plate for everything and they come in different types, styles, and sizes. Know which types are perfect for everyday use or for special occasions.

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Top view of a plate setting.

Before the modern plates were invented, people ate off of large leaves, gourd halves or seashells. Then clay was discovered and early pottery dinnerware was used. Early trenchers made out of slabs of hard bread, wood, earthenware, or metal were used until the 16th century. Out of all these, it was the bread trenchers that were the most popular.

People carved slabs of bread to hold the meal, sauces, salt or even as a candleholder. At the end of each meal, a clean smaller trencher with cheeses and delicacies would be served. It became known as the dessert trencher from which the modern plates would be developed.

Plates of pewter were used in the Middle Ages but only by those who could afford them. The poor ate off of wooden trenchers instead. Pewter, however, led to lead leakages when it came into contact with highly acidic foods such as tomato. On the other hand, hygienic practices weren’t a norm then so people passed off bacteria and worms from the wooden trenchers that resulted in mouth sores.

As technology progressed, plates made of fine porcelain and china were introduced.

Types

Ceramic

Mint Pantry Aerne white and tan ceramic dinner plates.

Source: Wayfair

Ceramic plates are perhaps the most common type of plate that people use on a daily basis. These types of plates are incredibly useful and can be used for many years without any problem. Of course, ceramics are a very versatile type of plate as well. Ceramic plates can range from common plates that you would use all of the time all the way to extremely decorate plates that you would only dare to bring out for special occasions.

These ceramic plates are so popular because they have such a variety of different styles. You can get plates that have unique looks and are very visually appealing. When you have such a wide variety to choose from, it’s easy to discover the perfect plates for any occasion. People who are just starting out on their own usually buy a set of nice ceramic plates to suit their dinnerware needs.

It should be noted that ceramics is a very broad term that could be referring to many types of plates. Even earthenware is made using the same methods used to make normal ceramic plates. Each of the different styles has its own type of appeal, though. Typical ceramic plates definitely have their own charm as well.

Glass Plates

The Mainstays Glass Dinnerware set is a smart choice for almost any occasion, be it a formal dinner for four people or an intimate dinner for two.

Source: Amazon

Many people love having sets of glass plates to use on a regular basis. They’re so popular because they fall somewhere in between special plates and casual ones. Generally speaking, getting real glass plates isn’t incredibly expensive but there are some beautiful sets that will cost more money. You can choose to seek out clear glass plates or look for something that is colored.

Either way, you will be getting a beautiful set of plates. These plates are going to be easy to make use of for virtually any occasion. Glass plates are easy to clean and dishwasher-safe so you will be able to enjoy them very conveniently. Having an option that looks nice and is still very easy to use is pretty much perfect.

Melamine

Omada 4 Piece melamine dinner plate set with an inside bowl made of an opaque white stain resistant acrylic while the outer shell and border are made of a clear brightly colored acrylic.

Source: Wayfair

It’s definitely possible that you may have no idea what a melamine plate is. The vast majority of the people across the world will not be familiar with this word but many of them use melamine plates on a daily basis. Melamine plates are basically plastic plates that people use very commonly. Melamine itself is an organic type of chemical that people use when making plastic products and most of the plates that people consider to be plastic fall under this melamine category.

These plates are really easy to work with and they can be plastered with all sorts of interesting designs. You will see these types of plates with cartoon characters on them and many interesting floral designs. Plates such as these are very appealing for being easy to use and being able to stand up to a significant amount of punishment. A lot of people use these types of plates for their children because they won’t be able to break the plates or hurt themselves.

You will want to know that melamine plates should not be put into your microwave. They will not be able to stand up to the high temperatures of the microwave and will start to melt in most cases. Melamine plates are dishwasher-safe, though. Just don’t warm up your food in the microwave using these plates because you will not enjoy the smell.

Stoneware Plates

The blue pattern of the white and blue stoneware plates, set of 4 gives them a soft touch of color and crafted from stoneware.

Source: Hayneedle

This style of plates is something that can technically fall under the ceramics category but it is distinct enough to warrant its own section. Stoneware is definitely one of the most common types of dinnerware that people use in modern times. It is seen as being quite durable and you can get a lot of use out of a set of stoneware plates. These plates are less likely to get scratched than many other types of ceramics, making them perfect for regular use.

Clay is one of the primary materials used to create stoneware plates. The clay gives these plates a very distinct look and some people really love the way it adds character to these plates. They have a rustic charm that is hard to deny. You will see these types of plates on many families’ dinner tables every night throughout the world.

There are various styles of stoneware plates that have little quirks and differences that will be gone over in greater detail later on. It’s just important to understand that these plates are durable and easy to use. If you want to get a set of plates that you can rely on daily, then you will be well suited for buying stoneware plates. You’ll love how great they stand up to regular use.

Earthenware Plates

This bluegreen plate, Zipcode Design Mellissa 11" earthenware dinner plate is a dishwasher and microwave-safe.

Source: Wayfair

The next category of plates is known as earthenware plates. These are interesting plates as they are somewhat similar to the stoneware plates in many ways but they have some important differences to consider. They’re made in largely the same fashion as stoneware plates but these plates are a bit more coarse and feature a glaze on them. This glaze creates unique opportunities for artisans to put intricate designs on these plates if they choose.

You will find that the standard earthenware plates are typically solid colors. These are perfect for regular use and you will be able to find sets of earthenware plates at reasonable prices. These make for excellent dishes to use for almost any purpose. They can be very pretty but they aren’t delicate so you don’t have to feel too concerned about them.

There are some variants of the earthenware plates that you can consider as well. You will find that some have a tin-enameled coating that allows for fabulous colors to be applied to it. The standard earthenware plates look very nice as well so this is a versatile type of plate that you will enjoy having in your cupboard most certainly.

Bamboo Plates

Pure Palm planet-friendly plates are a good fit for pretty much every occassion.

Source: Amazon

For something truly unique, you could consider adding bamboo plates to your dinner table. These certainly have an appeal that is hard to deny. They create a very natural vibe and if you are into being environmentally friendly, then using plates such as these is quite sensible. Bamboo dishware is completely biodegradable but you can actually use these dishes more than one time.

It is possible to reuse bamboo plates multiple times if you are willing to wash them by hand. They are strong enough to stand up to many uses but they absolutely cannot be run through a dishwasher. This will destroy the plate and you will discover that its biodegradable nature was no exaggeration. Many people choose to simply buy these plates and use them as disposable plates.

Whether you want to use them multiple times or throw them out after one use, you will be happy to know that these plates are rather affordable. You can get bamboo plates at a very reasonable price so this could be a good option for you. It really comes down to your personal sensibilities and what you are looking for. These aren’t going to be plates that appeal to those looking for fine dining settings but they do have their own appeal.

Paper Plates

This package of coated plates with flower design is a beautiful option for wedding showers, birthdays, tailgating, kid or adult celebrations, picnics, and many other occasions

Source: Amazon

Paper plates are the most frequently used option for people seeking out disposable plates. These have been in use for many years and are commonly seen at birthday parties. In recent years, many people have begun avoiding traditional paper plates because they are not environmentally friendly. This doesn’t mean that everyone has done so, though, as there are still millions of paper plates being sold all across the globe.

The convenience of paper plates is hard to deny. You can make use of these plates and throw them out right after you are done. You don’t need to worry about washing any dishes after your meal and you will be able to go about your business. This can be quite convenient for people with busy lifestyles.

You won’t want to get these plates if you are looking to impress anyone at a dinner party, of course. You can find paper plates that look pretty nice overall. Some of them feature fun and interesting designs but they just won’t be a replacement for real dinnerware in most circumstances. If you have a reason to want disposable plates, then they are readily available and you can purchase them almost anywhere at this point.

Disposable Plastic Plates

This plate's crystal-clear construction expertly showcases colorful appetizers, classic tossed salads, and your signature grilled chicken entrees.

Source: Amazon

There are also disposable plates that are made out of plastic. These types of plates are not going to be environmentally friendly whatsoever, but they are very inexpensive. You can purchase a pack of 100 plastic plates for a very low price. These will be quite convenient to use for events where you don’t want to have to clean up a bunch of dishes afterward.

People who care about the environment typically avoid these dishes. They will likely become less common over time as more people continue to think about the environmental implications of their actions. If these types of plates appeal to you, then they are readily available and you will be able to buy them at an affordable price just about anywhere.

Styles

Clear Glass Plates

Wayfair Basics 11" clear glass dinner plates in a wooden table with a vase of white flowers.

Source: Wayfair

Clear glass is one of the most common types of glass plates that you will encounter. There is something elegant about the appearance of clear glass and there are a fair number of people who prefer it to the colored options. These plates will look very nice in just about any dinner setting. They’re convenient and you can purchase clear glass plates in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Colored Glass Plates

This classic French dinnerware in vintage-inspired taupe glass is a stylish addition to any table and perfect for casual meals and formal dinners, indoors and outdoors.

Source: Amazon

Of course, colored glass plates have a beauty that is all their own. The subtle coloring on many of these styles of plates is a sight to behold. People like to use these plates as everyday dinnerware but with how nice some of them look, it makes sense to use certain styles for special occasions as well. You will be able to purchase glass plates in just about any hue you could desire so it won’t be difficult to find something to suit your sense of style.

Multi-Colored Glass Plates

Livingware Memphis 10.25" dinner plate with a white base color and colorful pattern on its outer rim.

Source: Wayfair

It is also possible to find glass plates that have multiple colors on them. Some of them will be interesting artistic pieces with crazy color combinations. Others will be more subdued and will feature simple splashes of color here and there. Either way, these plates can be a great addition to your cupboards.

Recycled Glass Plates

This medium size recycled glass plates with nature-inspired bark texture makes a striking display on your buffet or dining table.

Source: Amazon

Another interesting style of a glass plate is the recycled glass plate. As you might expect from the name, recycled glass is used to create these plates. The glass is re-purposed from various sources and will work perfectly to create beautiful glass plates. You might be surprised at just how fantastic some of these recycled glass plates turn out.

The environment is something that people are starting to consider more and more each passing year. Using recycled products is something that you can do to be environmentally conscious. It is going to be possible to find a recycled glass plate that looks amazing so there really isn’t any reason to avoid this style. You can find both clear glass and colored glass plates that are made from recycled glass.

China

Fortaluxe super white brings the glaze integrity and chip resistance of porcelain together with the delicate designs found in the finest china for a table setting that will last for generations.

Source: Wayfair

China refers to a famous style of plate that people usually only bring out for special dinner parties. These plates are really delicate but they have so much style. They look absolutely stunning and many people choose to display them somewhere in their home. You’ve probably heard the term “china cabinet” in the past and this is a typical place where people store their china plates.

Usually, these plates are made out of quartz, feldspar, clay, and a variety of other materials. They all combine to make something that is truly quite artistic. The one problem with these types of plates is that they aren’t great for practical use. They’re more interesting to look at than they are to use for an actual dinner plate.

Bone China

Wedgwood Jasper Conran Platinum bone china striped salad plate with a glimmer of platinum around the rim.

Source: Hayneedle

One of the most sought-after and pretty types of china is referred to as bone china. These plates are made using calcified bone so the name is definitely fitting. The bones of certain animals are incinerated in order to create a powder that can be used to create the plates. This can be a difficult material to work with and it needs to be made using lower flames so it’s even thinner than other styles of china.

Interestingly, the fact that bone china is thinner doesn’t make it more fragile. It’s actually a fair bit more durable than other china styles. The bone used to create these plates adds a lot of increased durability so you won’t have to be as concerned about ruining these china plates. You do still need to be careful when caring for bone china but it is nice that it is less fragile overall.

You will find that bone china plates often feature a hue that is as white as milk. They have a distinct look from other types of china so they should be easy to spot once you understand the differences. There are some places in the world that refer to bone china as ivory china but it’s actually the same thing. These types of plates will be an excellent addition to any collection of dinnerware.

Fine China

Lenox Eternal gold-banded fine china plate, banded elegantly in 24-karat gold.

Source: Amazon

As you might expect, fine china is the most delicate type of china that you can purchase. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid fine china, though. It has a very unique beauty that is highly sought after. These fine china plates can definitely be works of art in their own right.

If you have an appreciation for pretty things, then it would be nice for you to own a spectacular set of fine china. Everyone needs to own a set of decorative plates that he or she only bring out for special occasions. Most people choose to display their fine china for decorative purposes almost exclusively. It can be very difficult to use it without encountering problems but if you’re careful, you should be able to use this fine china for an elegant dinner party. These fine china plate sets will usually cost you a fair amount of money so you will definitely want to treat them right so that they will stand the test of time.

Certain people like to refer to fine china as porcelain china. It should be noted that these terms are interchangeable. They are talking about the same style of plates but are just using a different name. So if you are interested in some of the most colorful and exquisite-looking plates on the market, you should definitely seek out your own fine china.

Traditional Stoneware Plates

Pfaltzgraff Everyday Rustic Leaves dinnerware set is a beautiful example of the high-quality ceramic handiwork that has made Pfaltzgraff the best-loved name in stoneware with elegant rustic leaves design in green, gold, and white.

Source: Hayneedle

For the most part, traditional stoneware is going to be the type of stoneware plate that you will see being commonly used. They are noted by being quite thick and very durable. These plates are perfect for everyday use so you will be very happy with them if you need plates that you can rely on. It’s also possible to get these plates in various colors and with certain fun designs on them so you aren’t sacrificing style for durability.

Another great aspect of traditional stoneware is that they are very affordable plates. You won’t have to pay an inordinate amount of money to get a nice set of these plates. You’ll be able to find them at most major retailers and they will stand up to regular use beautifully. These plates are highly recommended as regular dinnerware.

Fine Stoneware Plates

Inspired by old-fashioned illustration craft, this heirloom-quality plate set includes four dinner plates crafted from durable porcelain fine stoneware, each boasting festive red designs against gleaming winter white.

Source: Wayfair

Fine stoneware plates are a little bit different from the traditional ones in a few crucial ways. These plates are significantly more ornate than the traditional stoneware plates. Many of these fine stoneware pieces are very gorgeous in their design and you will be able to find many eye-catching options. Finding plates that appeal to your sensibilities will be easy when you look through the different options for fine stoneware plates.

These plates are made in a much more delicate fashion, though. They aren’t as sturdy as the traditional stoneware plates. Even still, they aren’t nearly as fragile as fine china. You should be able to make use of these plates for special occasions without feeling nervous but they just won’t be as good for regular use as the traditional variants.

Tin-Glazed Earthenware Plates

Classic farmhouse-style salad plates with their barnyard red accent made in tin-glazed earthenware.

Source: Wayfair

When earthenware plates have this tin glaze applied to them, it really opens up what the artists can do with it. They are able to apply vivid and vibrant colors to the plate. It really does look very nice and you will love how great these types of plates will look on your dinner table. This glaze allows a standard earthenware plate to become even more appealing without having to sacrifice any of its durability.

On many of these tin-glazed plates, you will see a cream-colored top and a more vibrant color on the bottom of the plate. There can be different styles than this but you will commonly see plates being made in this fashion. Adding a touch of color to the bottom of the plate really does make it that much more appealing. If you want plates that look nice and are ready for regular use, then tin-glazed earthenware plates are going to be a good fit.

Creamware

Wedgwood Queen's Filigree creamware plate design pattern features subtle etching and filigree like scrolls in shades of brown on a creamy background to create a look that is both airy and delicate.

Source: Amazon

Creamware is a type of earthenware that features a distinct cream color. A transparent type of glaze is used when making these plates and this allows the natural cream color of the earthenware to shine through brilliantly. These plates look very refined but they are good for regular use due to their overall durability. Sets of these plates can be seen quite commonly and they aren’t overly expensive either.

Creamware is often seen being used as platter-style plating as well. It works great for this as the cream color is so vibrant and appealing. Presenting food on a creamware platter works very well. Whether you want a regular set of creamware plates or if you need platters for serving appetizers, this style will work great for your purposes.





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