The Difference Between Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
How to Tell The Difference Between Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Before you buy tile for a tiling project, you should be able to identify porcelain and ceramic tiles. Both are made from a mixture of clays and other materials, then kiln-fired. Both porcelain and ceramic tile are in the category of “ceramic tile.” Ceramic tiles are divided into two groups: non-porcelain tiles (or ceramic) and porcelain tiles. In general terms, porcelain tiles are a higher quality and more resistant to damage, since they’re fired in a kiln at higher temperatures and made of less porous materials.
Identifying Loose Tiles
Inspect the tiles’ finish to see how smooth it is.You can do this either by visually inspecting the tiles’ top surfaces or by running your fingers over the top of the tiles. Porcelain tiles have a fine-grained finish that is smoother than the finish on ceramic tiles. So, if the finish is slightly bumpy or coarse when you touch it, you’re dealing with non-porcelain (ceramic) tile.
- If the tiles are already glazed, flip them over and look at the unglazed underside.
Look for chips in the glaze to identify ceramic tile.Look closely at the glaze: if it’s chipped, you will be able to see the tile’s white or tan base. This is a sure sign that the tile is ceramic.Porcelain tiles are sometimes, but not always, glazed. Most high-quality porcelain tiles will have a consistent color that goes through the top, body, and bottom of the tile. Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are nearly always glazed.
- Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and are more resistant to wear and damage than non-porcelain ceramic tiles.
Examine the sides of the tile for a white, tan, or red color.While porcelain tiles can be colored, ceramic tiles will always have a white, tan, or red color, with a colored glaze on top. So, if you see that the sides (and base) of the tile are any other color other than white, tan, or red, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a porcelain tile.
- Some cheap, low-quality porcelain tiles may not have the color mixed through the body of the tile. Avoid purchasing these tiles.
Compare the costs of the two tile types.In nearly every scenario, porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tiles: they take more time to produce, are more versatile, and tend to last longer. If you’re looking at two types of tiles in a hardware or home-supply store, non-porcelain (ceramic) tiles will be a little cheaper.
- As a broad rule of thumb, porcelain tile usually costs approximately 60% more than ceramic tile.
Identifying Already-Installed Tiles
Note the location in which the tiles have been installed.Ceramic and porcelain tiles are each better suited to distinct locations in a home. Porcelain is often installed in laundry rooms, bathroom floors, bathroom walls, shower stalls, and around bathtubs. Porcelain tile is more durable than ceramic because of its hardness, and porcelain is also more resistant to moisture.
- Ceramic tile, on the other hand, is most often installed as flooring in high-traffic areas such as an entry way or a heavily-used hallway.
See if the tiles are stained or discolored.If so, they’re almost certainly ceramic. Porcelain tiles are very dense and have been designed to be impervious to stains. So, most staining substances (e.g., red wine) can be wiped off of them easily. Ceramic, on the other hand, is light, porous, and can absorb staining materials relatively easily.
- Stains on ceramic tiles could also come from foot traffic (dirt, mud, snow, etc.) if the tiles are located in an entryway.
Inspect the faces of the tiles for uniform size and shape.The “face” of the tile is the top portion which faces upward or outward on installed tiles. Porcelain tiles have sharply-formed faces which are all exactly uniform in size. Due to their durability, porcelain tiles can be “rectified,” or cut to highly specific dimensions for complete uniformity. This also allows the porcelain tiles to be grouted together with only small gaps between tiles.
- If there is any discrepancy between the size of the tiles, you’re dealing with ceramic tile.
QuestionWhat is the best tile, ceramic or porcelain, for tiling around a swimming pool?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerPorcelain tile should be installed around a swimming pool. Porcelain is non-absorptive, and will not be stained by any spilled drinks or mud that gets onto it.Thanks!
QuestionWhich tile is better for a shower floor in a second floor bathroom?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerPorcelain. It won't absorb water, and is stronger and more durable than ceramic.Thanks!
QuestionWhat type of tile is best for a stove surround?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerMost likely porcelain. It's stronger and more durable than ceramic, and won't absorb any cooking products or water that get spilled on it.Thanks!
QuestionWill ceramic tiles absorb more minerals than porcelain?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerYes. Ceramic is highly absorptive, while porcelain tile does not absorb liquids (which can carry minerals).Thanks!
QuestionIs there a difference in cutting and installing ceramic and porcelain?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerYes. While ceramic is relatively easy to cut, porcelain is quite difficult. Cutting through porcelain requires a different type of setup and a more expensive saw than cutting ceramic.Thanks!
QuestionWhich type of tile is best to use in hospitals?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIt depends on the area in which you're installing the tiles. In high-traffic areas, install ceramic tile on the flooring. Around showers and bathtubs, or anywhere where the tile may get wet, install porcelain.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best type of floor tile for a living area of a house; glazed porcelain or ceramic?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerCeramic is best for this use. Ceramic tiles are almost always installed in high-traffic areas in homes; porcelain tile is unnecessary in this setting.Thanks!
QuestionWhich is the best tile for flooring purposes?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerCeramic tile is most often installed as flooring. Porcelain would also work, but there's usually no need to spring for porcelain when installing flooring.Thanks!
QuestionWhich is better for kitchen floors, ceramic or porcelain?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAlways ask for the wear code, which rates a tile surface for durability. For a kitchen floor, look for a rating of 3 or above (it goes to 5). Many ceramic tiles will have a high surface wear code, however the clay body of porcelain tiles withstand higher impact than ceramic. They are preferred for high traffic floors. Porcelain tile comes in many surfaces, such as matte, rough non-slip, textured, gloss, semi-gloss, glazed and unglazed. With porcelain you have many more choices and the product will hold up better with high traffic.Thanks!
QuestionWhich is better - ceramic or porcelain for my kitchen counter top?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPorcelain is most common. If you have a large budget and prefer durability, a luxurious look, heavy duty, water resistant or oil resistant, and anti-scratch properties, go for porcelain.Thanks!
Invictus tile made in china - is this a knockoff? I have this installed on the main floor of my home and finding that is scratches super easy and chips. Is there a difference to Spanish-made?
What repair kit should I use for a chip in a ceramic or porcelain sink?
What about the difference between the red clay ceramic and white clay ceramic? Can I use the red one as parquet ceramic tiles in the bedrooms?
What is the difference between sealed porcelain tiles and non-sealed porcelain tiles?
What chemical can l use in cleaning porcelain tiles?
- Non-porcelain (ceramic) tiles are generally made from red or white clay mixtures. They’re colored with an assortment of tile dyes. The tiles are finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern of the finished tile.
- Ceramic tiles can be installed both on walls and in floors and are softer and easier to cut than porcelain. These non-porcelain ceramic tiles are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.
- Porcelain tiles are generally made by pressing together the dust from porcelain clays. This results in a tile that is denser and more durable than ceramic tile.
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