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Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles for the Bathroom: Which to Choose

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When shopping for bathroom tiles, you may notice that different options will fall into one of two categories: porcelain or ceramic tiles. Although the terms ‘ceramics’ or ‘ceramic tiles’ are often used as a broad way of describing clay based tiles in general, there are differences between products labelled as ceramic or porcelain when looking at tiles. In this post, we explore these differences further and look at how each of these options can best be used in the bathroom.

What is the Difference Between Porcelain & Ceramic Tiles?

Porcelain and ceramic tiles share very similar characteristics however, there are a few key differences in the way they are each produced that will dictate how the final products are used.

The term ‘ceramic tiles’ is often used as an umbrella term to describe families of tile products that are all made using combinations of natural clays. These types of tiles are formed, glazed and then baked in a kiln at extreme temperatures in order to achieve a super hard and durable surface finish. Tile stores and tile manufacturers further breakdown tiling terminology and place different products in the porcelain or ceramic tiles categories in order to best be able to differentiate the two options to their customers and ensure the safest product is being used for the correct application.

Flounder Fish scale tile_Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles

The stunning Flounder fish scale mosaic tiles offer a rich and vibrant bathroom wall tile solution that will create a wonderfully patterned touch. Used as a feature tile in this bathroom, Flounder is available in a selection of rich, aquatic colours in both a fish scale tile format and a classic subway tile format. These stunning ceramic tiles have been designed to mimic the appearance of an authentic handmade tile, allowing for designer looks to be achieved at a more accessible price point.

Ceramic tiles are created using a combination of natural materials including raw clays and dyes. Each tile is formed into its required shape, glazed and then passed through a kiln to harden and remove any moisture from the tile. Porcelain tiles are created in a similar fashion using a similar combination of raw materials however, where these two options differ is in the length of time and the temperature that they are baked at. Porcelain tiles are baked at a significantly higher temperature and for a longer length of time than that of their ceramic tile counterparts, resulting in an almost completely non-porous surface finish. These types of tiles are incredibly dense and heavier than ceramic tiles which allows them to be used as floor tiles as well as wall tiles whilst ceramic tiles are most often restricted to vertical applications only as they are softer and lighter in weight and therefore, will not stand up well against the higher levels of traffic experienced by traditional floor tiles.

Montoro Marble Look Tiles

Porcelain tiles offer a flexible design solution for the bathroom as these tiles can often be used as both a floor and wall tile in this part of the home. Due to their impressive strength, durability and low maintenance qualities, modern porcelain tile collections now include varieties that mimic the luxurious look and feel of more sensitive materials such as marble, terrazzo or concrete for example. Our Montoro hexagon tiles are made of durable porcelain and feature a luxe marble inspired finish. These tiles can be used as a floor or wall tile solution in the bathroom, offering a flexible design option.

Which is Better for the Bathroom: Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles?

Both ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles have a place in the bathroom, each providing a specific set of unique benefits. While ceramic tiles are most often used as a wall tile in the bathroom, porcelain tiles are a great fit as a bathroom floor tile solution.

When choosing bathroom wall tiles, ceramic tiles are often a popular choice (although most porcelain tiles can also be used as a wall tile in the bathroom). This is because ceramic varieties are lighter than porcelain options which allows for certain benefits when tiling bathroom walls: These tiles are often more straight forward to lay (with the exception of irregular shapes and some pattern tiles) which in turn allows for more cost effective labour.

As ceramic tiles are softer, they are also easier to drill through, allowing for better ease of installation of bathroom accessories such as towel rails and robe hooks for example. Most ceramic tile collections will feature a baked-on glaze which provides a protective barrier across the body of the tile which in turn eliminates the need for sealing, making them a low maintenance option for your bathroom walls.

Studio Wall Tiles_Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles

Available in a wide array of luxurious colours and neutral tones, our Studio Wall Tiles collection features an irregular ceramic subway tile option with an organic, undulating surface finish. These stylish bathroom feature wall tiles create a wonderfully tactile look in the space, adding both colour and texture in your bathroom’s overall design scheme.

Porcelain tiles are denser and usually heavier than ceramic options. Due to the intensive baking process these specific types of tiles go through, they are an almost completely non-porous tiling option that will not require sealing, making them a luxuriously low maintenance solution for the bathroom. Their heavier and denser nature make them an excellent choice if you are on the hunt for bathroom floor tiles. These tiles are available in a wide selection of different textures, styles and finishes, allowing for a wide range of designer styles to be achieved. Due to their strength, low maintenance qualities and immense durability, modern porcelain tile collections include hyper-realistic replicas of more sensitive materials such as concrete, marble, terrazzo and even timber tiles, allowing you to introduce a wider variety of rich and timeless materials and textures in the bathroom.

Is Porcelain Tile Slippery in the Shower?

This will depend on the actual finish and texture of your selected porcelain floor tiles. Porcelain floor tiles are available in a variety of different textures and finishes from ultra-glossy tiles, textured tiles and matte tiles. When it comes to choosing bathroom floor tiles for a residential project, the BCA does not include any specific requirements in terms of slip resistance however, it is important to exercise caution in this wet part of the home, especially within the shower area itself.

A floor tile with a bit of texture on its surface is often the most ideal solution here as this will provide some friction underfoot in the shower. The use of a shower or bath mat in the bathroom is also recommended in this space to catch any excess water droplets upon exiting the shower, providing an added layer of safety in the bathroom.

Porcelain Bathroom Tile Options

As noted above, porcelain tiles are available in an incredibly large array of luxurious options that aim to create an alternative solution in comparison to more sensitive materials such as marble, terrazzo, concrete or timber. This modern tile solution allows for the use of these styles in wet areas such as the bathroom, providing a low maintenance alternative that will not require ongoing care and sealing as real marble or concrete would. Furthermore, porcelain tiles will provide a surface finish that is resistant to staining, scratching, heat and moisture, making them an excellent choice for the often messy environment of the bathroom!

Positano Terrazzo Look Tiles

The Italian made Positano collection combines the incredible durability and longevity of a porcelain material with the classic stylings of a traditional terrazzo tile.

Porcelain tiles can be sourced in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and styles, from sleek large format floor and wall tiles that will offer a near seamless look in the bathroom to elegant hexagon tile shapes, subway tiles and plenty more. With such a wide variety of options available to choose from, the design possibilities are truly endless when it comes to creating that perfect look in your new bathroom design scheme.

Ceramic Bathroom Tile Options

As ceramic tiles are most often restricted to wall use only, you will find that there are many more decorative and highly detailed styles available as the tile designers and manufacturers do not need to maintain the same requirements as floor tiles would. Ceramic wall tiles can be found in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and textures, including luxurious hyper-glossy handmade tile options that will add a glimmering finish to your new bathroom’s design scheme as well highly detailed decorative feature wall tiles that will add a rich and vibrant burst of colour in your new bathroom’s design scheme.

Arabian handmade tiles

A traditionally handmade Moroccan tile, Arabian is available in a wide selection of ceramic tile shapes and an endless variety of luxurious colour options. Ceramic handmade tiles will feature irregularities in their surface texture, shape, thickness and colour, offering an irresistibly tactile quality that is ideal for creating luxurious feature elements in your home’s design scheme.

Choosing between porcelain or ceramic tiles, you will notice that there are certain key differences between these two options that will dictate how they can best be used within the bathroom. This does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other but rather that they each have their own unique set of benefits when used correctly in the space.

When you are shopping for bathroom tiles in Melbourne, make sure to stop by our Richmond tiles showroom to browse our endless collection of designer tiles! Our showroom is constantly being updated with all of the latest in luxurious tiles from all around the world, from stylish porcelain tiles to elegant ceramic tiles and plenty more.