Porcelain Tile vs Ceramic Tile

Learn the differences between porcelain tile and ceramic tile.

Porcelain Tile vs Ceramic TileWith so many different sizes, colors, shapes, and textures available, the design possibilities of tile are virtually endless. However, before you letter your inner designer run totally free, there are a few technical aspects of tile to attend to when making your design decisions. One of these aspects is the type of tile body.

There are several different tile bodies, or materials, available, including glass, stone, terra cotta, concrete, porcelain, and ceramic. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are often confused with one another and deserve some special explanation.

Aren’t Porcelain Tile and Ceramic Tile the Same?

Some people will try to tell you that porcelain tile and ceramic tile are actually the same type of tile body because they are both made from clay. This is not really true. While porcelain is a type of ceramic, it is made using a distinct class of raw materials and a slightly different process, resulting in a material that is distinct enough from other ceramics to merit its own name and category. Think of the difference between a porcelain teacup and a ceramic mug. Not the same, are they?

Porcelain tile is made from a more refined and purified natural clay than is used for ceramic tile. Porcelain is also fired at a higher temperature, resulting in an extremely dense and hard tile body.

What Are the Special Benefits of Porcelain Tile?

Durability: Porcelain tiles are very durable, and you can easily find porcelain floor tile suitable even for the heaviest commercial foot traffic. Ceramic tile, by contrast, is typically limited to residential applications. Porcelain is also better able to resist impacts from dropped objects than ceramic.

Through-Body Color: One very important benefit of porcelain tile is that it can come either in a glazed tile or a tile with through-body color in which the surface and interior of the tile are the same color. The availability of through-body color increases the lifespan of porcelain tile because any small chips that may occur on the surface will be much less noticeable.

Size Range: Due to its strength, porcelain tile is available in a wider range of sizes and shapes than ceramic tile. If you like the current trend of using large format tiles up to 12×12 inches, you will almost certainly be working with porcelain tile.

Is There Any Reason to Choose Ceramic Tile over Porcelain?

Ceramic tile is more affordable than porcelain and comes in many attractive designer tile styles. If you are looking for tile to use in a home, or on a surface such as a kitchen backsplash or shower wall that is not likely to get much wear and tear, you could certainly choose ceramic tile and achieve a classy look for a lower upfront cost than porcelain.