Porcelain or Ceramic? How to know what is best for your project
What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles? We get asked this question a lot! Tile terminology can sometimes be confusing and to understand this better we need to look at the process of how tiles are made.
How are tiles made?
Most tiles are manufactured using clay and other materials. They are then fired in a kiln at very high temperatures. This results in the manufacture of ‘ceramic tiles’ To get more technical we can split ceramic tiles into 2 categories- porcelain and non-porcelain tiles. The non-porcelain variety are often called ceramic tiles. What is Ceramic? (or non-porcelain)
Ceramic tiles are made from a red or white natural clay. A durable glaze is added to the face resulting in the colour and pattern of the tile. It is then fired at high temperatures to bake or ‘cook’ the tile and to remove most of the water content.
What is porcelain?
Porcelain tiles are also made from clay, but generally those of a denser nature. It has a higher feldspar content and finely ground sand is added to the mix to make the tile more durable and robust.
The materials are then pressed and fired at higher temperatures (compared to ceramic tiles) and for much longer to remove practically all of the water content. This process is what makes porcelain tiles denser, less porous and more hard wearing than ceramic tiles. What is the right choice for you?
Ceramic tiles are ideal for wall and light to moderate traffic floor surfaces. They are stain resistant, fire resistant, won’t fade in sunlight and are easy to clean. Generally they are a softer tile making them easier to cut and install. They are however, over time more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles if used on floors.
One of porcelain’s most important characteristics is its resistance to moisture. It is also resistant to wear, deep abrasion and frost, making porcelain a great product for use in harsh climates.
‘Glazed’ porcelain tiles are extremely hard wearing and are suitable for residential to commercial floors. ‘Full body’ porcelain tiles are manufactured in a way that the colour and pattern is on the surface but also runs through the entire thickness of the tile making them extra strong. These tiles are suitable for residential, commercial and even industrial flooring.