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What Is The Difference Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile?

porcelain vs ceramic tile

What Is The Difference Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile ?

Many homeowners who are thinking about upgrading their bathroom or kitchen think that porcelain tile is better than ceramic tile and visa-versa.

These terms can be very confusing while shopping and the big box stores don’t help much by throwing around different marketing terms that are even more confusing.

Although it’s not that difficult to understand what the difference is between porcelain and ceramic tile, they are not the same thing.

Porcelain tile is much stronger and if you were taking a cursory glance at both tiles side by side you would be hard pressed to be able to tell the difference between the two.

Ceramic tile, on the other hand, is a lot softer and often has a glazed looked to it. They were most widely installed in bathrooms from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.

Underneath the surface of the ceramic tile is a softer clay, generally a white clay. When you chip off the surface of the glaze the tile underneath will show through.

Porcelain and ceramic tile, very simply, are made out of the same stuff. A lot of it is just dirt mixed together but porcelain is made out of finer and denser materials that are packed together tighter.

At the end of the day, porcelain is a much more durable choice. Porcelain tile can actually put outside on patios because it doesn’t absorb water like ceramic tile does which could end up freezing and cracking as temperatures dropped.

What Is The Difference Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile

Wood-Look Porcelain Tile

wood look porcelain tile wood look porcelain wood porcelain tile

One of the dead giveaways on ceramic tile is the center core. Now this is not always true but a lot of porcelain tiles have a through body.

This means that the colors found in the tile run all the way through its body, unlike ceramic tile which has a white body with a layer of color only on the surface.

Since quality porcelain tile has the color throughout the body of the tile if you managed to chip it, which would be more difficult because of its durability, the color of the tile would show through.

We’re sure you would much prefer the exact color of your tile to show rather some white clay color if the tile happened to get chipped in some way. You won’t have this luxury if ceramic tile is laid in your home.

Porcelain tiles also tend to be the tiles that have the textured finish. Not that a textured look is not also available with ceramic tile but it’s mostly present with porcelain.

Ceramic Tile

bathroom ceramic floor porcelain tile kitchen floor porcelain tile bathroom floor

Hardness Rating

There’s a hardness rating called a Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating and ranges from 0 to 5, with 5 being the hardest and most durable. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are rated.

A porcelain tile is going to have a 4 or 5 rating, a ceramic tile is generally a 0 to 3 rating.

If you can find a PEI rating on the side of the box of tiles you intend to purchase that will help you tell whether it’s a porcelain or ceramic tile.

Conclusion

For the average homeowner who is going to lay new tile whether it’s ceramic or porcelain, both are great choices as long as you are not putting it outside.

However, if you’re looking for a denser tile that is more durable and absorbs water less readily than ceramic tile then you are going to want to choose porcelain. Porcelain will hold up longer.

Sometimes the look you’re after when you’re trying to match your decor your only available choice will need ceramic tile and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Another example where ceramic tile is an excellent choice is if you are adding a backsplash where the durability of the tile is not so important.

When you’re installing tile, you can sometimes get away with cutting ceramic tile dry but you will always need a wet saw with a diamond blade when cutting porcelain tile.

Porcelain tile is more difficult to install but it also holds up better. So these are the key differences between porcelain and ceramic tile.

If you need the look that only ceramic tile can offer, go ahead and buy it but just be aware that it’s less durable and you need to be careful about dropping things on it.

If you’re in a commercial setting or a home with high traffic you are going to want to go with a more durable material that you get with porcelain tile.

It uses clays that fire harder and it’s dense, plus it’s going to hold up in the long run.

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  • marisaford1122

    Thanks for this insightful info on the battle between porcelain and ceramic tiles! I would like to add more info to the debate: Centura Tile Blog – Which is Best for My Office : Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles.

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