The Difference between Porcelain vs Ceramic tile

When we shop for tiles, we often hear about porcelain and ceramic tiles. More often than not, both types of tiles look the same! Read on to know the differences.

The way both ceramic and porcelain tiles are produced and their looks are pretty much the same. Both porcelain and ceramic tile manufacturers follow the same fundamental methodology that has been used for thousands of years – from shaping clay to firing temperatures and more. Although Ceramic and porcelain tiles are quite similar in nature, small tweaks in combining the raw materials, temperature, and firing time during production can result in many variations with their own unique characteristics.

 

The differences between ceramic and porcelain will then affect the selection of tiles based on the application area, purpose, and budget. The differences between porcelain vs ceramic tiles are listed below:


 

Ceramic Tiles Porcelain Tiles

Raw Material Composition

Mixture of earthen clay and water only A mixture of refined earthen clay, feldspar, silica, and water. Feldspar increases the strength and durability of the tile while silica improves structural integrity.

Manufacturing Process and criterial

Mixture are pressed at lower pressure and then fired in a kiln at a lower temperature Mixtures are pressed with higher pressure and then fired in a kiln at a higher temperature & longer period of time to decrease the porosity of the tile resulting in strength and less-susceptible to water stains.

Hardness

Less Hard Harder compared to ceramic tile

Water Absorption¹

Very porous, with high water absorption, usually greater than 3%. This means it is more susceptible to stains Impervious, with low water absorption of less than 0.5%

Surface Smoothness

Surface Smoothness The surface of porcelain tiles is fine-grained and is smoother than ceramic tiles

Colour

Colour of cross sections will not be uniformed Colour on the surface is the same throughout the cross sections

Durability

Less Durable More Durable

Density

Lower density Higher density

Strength

Ceramic Tiles are strong and durable Due to its density, it has optimal strength

Stain Resistance²

Low resistance to stains High resistance to stains

Frost resistance

LOW – High water absorption makes it easy to crack during a cold snap HIGH – Low water absorption as compared to ceramic tiles thus not easy to crack during cold frost

Fire resistance

Not as resistant as porcelain tiles Does not burn easily, can restrict the movement of flames during a fire accident

Weight

Lighter in weight as compared to porcelain tiles Heavier – due to the dense structure making it sturdier

Cutting and shaping

Easier to cut as compared to porcelain tiles Harder to cut due to the degree of compression

Life Span

Long period of time Longer period of time

Uses

  • Not recommended for outdoor applications.
  • Suitable for interior floor and wall area
  • Most suitable on wall or areas with little moisture and light footfall or abrasion
  • Recommended for both indoor and outdoor applications
  • Suitable for high traffic and high-moisture area, such as showers, bathtubs, pool and public area.
  • Cost

    Cheaper compared to porcelain tiles More expensive, but can last for decades making it a good investment overall

    Notes

    1.Water Absorption – Water absorption test will be carried out to classify if a tile is a ceramic or porcelain tile. When a tile is manufactured, its weight is recorded. The tile is then submerged in a bucket of water for a day. The new weight is recorded then and if it has increased by more than 0.5%, it does not qualify as a porcelain tile. Note that in this example, the water is absorbed by the body of the tile and not through the top surface, as the top surface is glazed and technically impervious.

    2.Stain Resistance – When oil falls on the surface of ceramic tiles, it is difficult to remove the stain of the oil as compared to porcelain tiles. Porcelain tiles have a higher resistance to stain due to its low porosity, therefore easier to clean.

    3.Type of tiles - When producing ceramic tiles, the composition of the clay used, type of additives, firing temperature, and duration will determine the quality and hardness of the tile. The tile will then be further classified into different types according to its characteristics.

     

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