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Kitchen & Bath Blog

What Is the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles?


The main difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile is water resiliency. Porcelain tile is an impervious tile with a water absorption of 0.5 percent or less. On the other hand, Ceramic tile is not as dense and has a water absorption greater than 0.5 percent.  

This question is asked frequently. In fact, marketplace confusion resulted in the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) starting a porcelain certification program back in 2007 to prevent problems that were occurring when non-porcelain tile was advertised as porcelain. 

What are ceramic and porcelain tile made from? 

Both ceramic tile and porcelain tile are made from a mixture of natural clay, sand and water, and sometimes feldspar or quartz. They are molded to form and then baked in a kiln to remove most of the moisture.  

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Which is better: ceramic or porcelain? 

Both ceramic and porcelain tiles are excellent, durable materials for the average home. A general rule of thumb is that ceramic tile is made for the walls, while porcelain is made for the floors. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind when choosing between porcelain and ceramic for various areas of your home: 

Bathroom, Kitchen, Laundry

Porcelain may not always be the best choice in these rooms. The tile can be slick and normally requires an added non-slip liquid application if used in residential or commercial wet areas. Many homeowners choose ceramic for this reason, as well as it being more affordable easier to install. 

Durability

In general, porcelain tile is forgiving when it comes to spills and scratches. It’s hard to damage and relatively simple to clean. 

Outdoor Patios

Because porcelain tiles have a low water absorption, they are usually frost resistant. When ceramic tile freezes, it absorbs moisture. If you live in an area prone to hard freezes in the winter, porcelain tile is the clear winner. However, always check the manufacturer’s literature and warranty information. There are some non-porcelain tiles being manufactured through new methods today that can be used in freeze thaw environments.  

Costs

Ceramic tile is not as durable as porcelain, but it’s a versatile and cost-effective option for those in the market for large quantities of tile. On average, porcelain costs at least 60 percent more than its ceramic competitors.  

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What’s the difference between glazed and unglazed tile? 

Glazing a tile is when you apply a thin coat of liquefied glass over the surface of the tile. It doesn’t necessarily mean the tile is shiny. A glazed tile could have a matte or glossy finish.  

Glazing a tile gives the manufacturer an opportunity to apply an infinite selection of colors, finishes, and textures to the tile. An unglazed tile gets its color and appearance from the mineral deposits that were present in the clay or by the addition of natural pigments. Since ceramic tile can absorb more water than porcelain tile, a glazed finish on a ceramic tile can be advantageous in helping it resist spills and staining.  

The TCNA also has testing methods for determining the glaze wear resistance of a tile, rating them on a scale from 0 to 5. According to its website, a value of 4 means the tile is good for nearly all applications except the most abrasive and dirty of environments.   

In the end, both ceramic and porcelain are great materials for your home! Whether it's for your bathroom or kitchen, our dedicated team is here to help you with all your project needs.  

DREAM IT. DESIGN IT. LIVE IT.  |  Kitchen & Bath Center

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