Last edited 24 May 2021

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Porcelain tiles v ceramic tiles


[edit] Introduction

Ceramic or porcelain tiles can create elegant and versatile surfaces. These tiles can be found in kitchen and bathroom floors, on walls and backsplashes. The popular tiles are available in colours and designs to match – or create – the decor of your room. Before picking the best style for you, it is important to understand the differences between porcelain tile and ceramic tile.

[edit] Differences in tiles

Ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles are similar in many ways. You cannot always tell them apart by quickly glancing at the installed products.

Both tiles are clay-based and kiln-fired, but porcelain is technically a specialised type of ceramic. The clays used to make porcelain have a higher density and are fired for longer at a higher temperature than ceramic.

The difference in ingredients and production methods creates types of tile with unique characteristics. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages in the porcelain tile vs. ceramic tile decision.

Packaging will indicate if new tiles are porcelain or ceramic. For loose or installed tiles, there are some rules of thumb that can help you determine whether it is ceramic or porcelain.

Porcelain tile has the same colour throughout the material. A broken or chipped piece of unglazed porcelain will have a uniform colour throughout its thickness. Ceramic tile often has a glazed surface colouring, so chips may reveal different colours underneath.

The finish of porcelain is smoother than that of ceramic. Turn over a piece of loose tile. The unglazed surface of ceramic tile will feel coarse. The finer grain of porcelain will be smooth to the touch.

Ceramic tiles are not as dense as porcelain and therefore are slightly lighter by comparison.

[edit] Benefits of porcelain

Porcelain tile has several important traits.

[edit] Benefits of ceramic

  • Versatile: Ceramic tile comes in finishes ranging from simple to ornate and classic to contemporary.
  • Cost: The differences in ingredients and preparation mean that ceramic tile can be less expensive than porcelain tile.
  • Ease of cutting: Ceramic tile is easier to cut, making it better suited for home DIY projects.
  • Flexibility: Some experts find ceramic tile more flexible if you want a more artful, intricate and eye-catching design in such places as backsplashes. In addition, glazed ceramic tiles can be customised in more colours and patterns.
  • Texture: Some varieties of ceramic tiles have a textured surface that adds visual depth and dimension. You can often find tiles with ripples, waves or raised shapes.

[edit] Making a selection

The different types of tile are suitable for various parts of a house. The two biggest considerations are usually cost and water resistance.

Porcelain bathroom tiles have greater water resistance. They will work well in rooms subject to a lot of moisture. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are frequently used in bathrooms and showers.

When deciding between ceramic vs. porcelain tiles for shower installations, some decorators suggest balancing functionality and budget by using ceramic shower tiles for walls and porcelain shower tiles for the flooring.

The higher water resistance of porcelain tiles makes them an option for outdoor patio or other exterior uses. This is particularly true for areas with colder weatherporous tile is more likely to absorb water and then crack in freezing conditions.

Porcelain floor tile is harder and denser. It is useful in high-traffic areas such as kitchens, hallways and living areas. Ceramic floor tiles, however, tend to have a softer surface. They are more comfortable to walk on than porcelain. Their tendency to stay cooler than porcelain makes them popular in homes in warmer climates.

When evaluating the pros and cons of porcelain tile and ceramic tile, consider your taste in decor, your budget and the needs of the rooms to be decorated. Choosing between ceramic or porcelain tiles can mean prioritising durability, water resistance and the tiles’ overall appearance.


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