Porcelain Vs. Ceramic tile: a detailed comparison

Emerald Isle Vacation Home, Olamar Interiors, LLC Olamar Interiors, LLC Modern Bathroom Tiles Grey
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Tiles are a very popular option when we are looking to pimp up our home spaces, particularly bathrooms and kitchens. Not only floors but walls & wall segments can also be covered using tiles. Interior architects and tilers have time & again emphasized on using the correct tile for every room, depending upon its endurance and possible extent of wear.

A majority of us believe that porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles are one and the same thing. BUT, that’s not quite right. Although both porcelain and ceramic tiles are from the same family of tiles with porcelain being among the many varieties of ceramic tile, porcelain tile is made from a much more refined material. Depending upon where you intend to install it, one may be a better option than the other.

Let us consider some situations and logically figure out which one is the winner in this scenario-wise porcelain vs. ceramic tile showdown!

What's the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?

Ceramic tiles are made mainly from white/ red clay mixed with water & different minerals. Heat is used to process this composition, creating the solidified product. Ceramic material has a porous character, so the top surface is typically sealed with a glaze. This glazed top layer is called the design layer and the tile’s finished color, texture & design are present only in the surface layer.

Contrastingly, porcelain tile, a variety of ceramic tile, is chiefly composed of finely-ground sand. The processing of the porcelain composition employs pressure & very high temperature, which results in a notably dense, less porous, glass-like material with a water absorption rate below 0.5%. Ceramic tiles usually possess a relatively high water absorption rate of around 4% that makes them less frost-resistant and more vulnerable to damage, chipping or wear than porcelain tiles.

Further, as opposed to ceramic tiles, genuine porcelain tiles have their color & pattern through their entire thickness that renders them nearly insusceptible to wear. This quality makes them suitable for residential as well as busy commercial/ industrial purposes. Ceramic tiles are well-suited for light to moderate endurance requirement, with both wall tile & floor tile applications.

Owing to its extremely high density & composition involving natural materials, porcelain tile boasts of all the excellent qualities of glazed ceramic apart from being way stronger than the ceramic tiles. However, high density makes porcelain tiles quite hard and therefore, more difficult to cut & install as compared to the softer & more porous ceramic tiles. 

Porcelain tiles are available in high polished, unglazed and matte finishes while ceramic tiles have either glazed or unglazed surface formats. Glazed ceramic tiles are quite easy to clean, and neither absorb odors nor support bacteria/ allergens. But being glasslike, it is best employed on walls as such smooth surfaces are too slippery for flooring. Glazed ceramic tiles are more susceptible to cracking, contrary to the unglazed ceramic tiles.

Find the best tile for your shower.

The Shower is a space with high moisture content and in such a case, the tile employed has to be resistant to moisture. Owing to its high density and extremely low water absorption rate, porcelain tiles take the cake here. Even though ceramic tiles are also used in the bathroom for shower areas, porcelain tiles' impenetrability to moisture makes them the better alternative here. 

What is the most suited option for bathroom floor?

Bathroom being a room with high moisture content, its floor tiles need to be water resistant. And in line with this, porcelain tiles are a great option. But if you are a DIY enthusiast and do not wish to seek pricey professionals for tile installation, the cleaning-friendly ceramic tile is your answer. Ceramic tiles are also quite durable and easily customizable; some variants are less porous than others. Going for unglazed ceramic tiles that are comparatively denser, can affordably do the trick for your bathroom floor.

Which is better for kitchen floor?

When it comes to the kitchen floor, tile installation needs to take into account that it is a high foot-traffic area and there could be a considerable amount of leakage from the sink & dishwasher as well. Besides, food preparation & cleaning may also involve water spillage onto the floor. Moreover, contemporary kitchens are often the dwelling's social hub and a common gathering place for the family & friends. In view of all this, the dense, water-impervious and long-term scratch resistant porcelain tiles have an upper hand in this porcelain vs. ceramic tile scenario.

The more cost-effective alternative.

Last but not the least, the cost is also an important factor in deciding the more suitable tile option. Although not all porcelain tiles are high on the cost front, porcelain tiles are USUALLY pricier than their ceramic counterparts. If you’re on a limited budget, ceramic tile is your go-to option. It is extremely difficult to come across a good quality porcelain tile priced under $3 per square foot. And if you are fixated on a high-end porcelain tile, be ready to shell out more than $5 per square foot. 

On the other hand, you can almost always find good quality ceramic tile under $4 per square foot, and a great variety of affordable styles are available for you to choose from, under $2 per square foot! So, in this porcelain vs. ceramic tile cost face-off, ceramic tile clearly emerges the winner. 

Did this information help you make your choice? Now take a look at these ideas for modern tile laying and get started!

Are you all geared up for your next tile revamp?

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