Both ceramic and porcelain are made from clay and other natural materials, which are then fired in a kiln. Ceramic tiles are pressed at a lower pressure and fired at a lower temperature than porcelain. Most of the time, ceramic tiles are finished with a glaze that carries the color or pattern, and then sent through the kiln again. While ceramic is more porous than porcelain, the hardness and absorbency levels vary depending on the type of clay used, as well as the pressure used to form the tile and the heat of the kiln.
Porcelain is a subset of ceramic and is made primarily of feldspar particles. It is kiln fired at a higher temperature than ceramic, which results in an extremely dense material that is harder and less absorbent than standard ceramic tile. Considered nearly impervious, porcelain is resistant to acids, heat, scratching, and UV rays. Porcelain tiles can be found in a variety of finishes including matte or polished, as well as various textures such as structural or brushed.
You’ll most commonly find ceramic tile used in residential wall applications such as backsplashes or shower walls. Ceramic tile is also often used in decorative elements and can sometimes be ordered in custom sizes or colors. Because porcelain is more durable, it can be used in nearly any application from light residential to heavy commercial including both residential and commercial flooring, backsplashes, shower walls, and fireplaces.
Caring for ceramic and porcelain tile differs a bit as well. Sealing is recommended for unglazed or crackle-glazed ceramic tile, while for the most part porcelain does not require sealing. Both can be cleaned using soap and water, and textured porcelain tiles can be cleaned using a bristled brush or Magic Eraser mop.
The design possibilities are endless!!
Pros & Cons of Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tiles often have a terracotta color before they are glazed. Glazing gives the tiles their design and color. Considering their PEI rating of 3 or less, there are certain places where you wouldn’t want to place the ceramic tile, such as fast-food areas.
There are advantages to using ceramic tile:
- You have brighter, bolder colors, designs and surface finishes.
- It’s not as expensive as porcelain tile
- It’s easy to cut
- There are plenty of designs available
- It’s relatively durable and easy to maintain
Disadvantages would be:
- It is not frost-proof and is unsuitable for freezing conditions.
- It is less durable
Pros & Cons of Porcelain Tile
Porcelain tile is less porous and much denser than ceramic tile, which also makes it more durable. It can have a solid color look throughout, called color-body porcelain. This is why chips on porcelain tile are not easily noticed, unlike ceramic tiles.
There are advantages to using porcelain tile:
- It’s less likely to chip or break
- It’s very easy to maintain with just water and a mild detergent
- The material is extremenly more durable material & can last for decades when correctly installed
Disadvantages would be:
- It’s very heavy
- It costs more, in particular if you want to create an intricate design
- It’s more difficult to cut and install on your own
Whichever option you to choose, make sure you’re buying your tile from a reputable business, like The Last Inventory. So, when you are at the flooring store trying to make your decision among the thousands of tile choices, just know that both ceramic and porcelain have their own character qualities, some good and some bad. Porcelain is more durable, while ceramic is easier to cut and install. They are both high quality, available in a number of printed patterns, durable materials, and you will be able to find a wide variety of choices with varying price points in each solution for your project. No matter what the tile material, the biggest factor to consider is what color and size you want!