Ceramic vs Porcelain Tiles - What you should know

You are beginning a brand new project for renovation and you are asking yourself where to start? The answer is to begin with the right type of tiles. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are the most widespread on the market and in this article we will go through some of their characteristics to make it easier for you to choose. Both porcelain and ceramic are considered to be part of the same family. Each material can be beneficial to a project, depending on your needs and preferences. There are both pros and cons to each material but overall these types of tiles are the most practical solution and definitely a better alternative to real stone tiling. You can find a lot of budget-friendly options as well as more elevated designer products on our website

How are they made?

Porcelain tiles are made from a form of clay that is more unusual thanks to its additive of feldspar and finely-ground sand. The mix is harder as a result and has to be fried at a higher temperature than ceramic tiles. This makes the porcelain tiles extra hard-wearing in comparison to ceramic.Usually they are used on floors, but depending on the weight they can also be applied on walls. Perfect for commercial installations and all areas with high traffic and moisture. Ceramic tiles are made with natural red, white or brown clay that is fried at a high temperature in order to reduce its water content. Later they are glazed and usually a pattern is added, making them the more decorative of the two. That is why ceramic tiles are more often used on walls than porcelain tiles. They are a good solution for home interiors and commercial interior walls and low traffic floors, but not so much for the outdoors. 

Water Absorption

A central point you should consider when picking out porcelain or ceramic tiles is what part of the home do you want to install them in and is it a wet area. One of the main differences between tile materials is the resistance to wet conditions. Kitchen and bathroom walls are prone to being occasionally drenched in water and that is why you need to think of the absorption quality of tiles you install. Generally, porcelain tiles absorb about 0.5% less water than ceramic tiles. Therefore if you are looking to build an installation that is highly secure under various wet conditions, both for the indoors and especially for the outdoors, you should look at some porcelain tiles. They are usually manufactured with a very dense structure and low porous rate which doesn’t allow for as much water to seep in. 

Hardness

Another aspect of how the two types of tiles are made is the resulting hardness. It all depends on the mix of materials and how they are blended together. Ceramic tiles are softer and have a significantly less dense structure. They are made with red, brown or white clay which is why they are more fragile compared to the harder consistency of the porcelain tile structure. Porcelain tiles are usually made with white clay blended together with sand and feldspar. This combination makes for a much harder and dense structure that allows it to be fired at a higher temperature for added strength. 

Resistance to Temperature Changes

The resistance to temperature extremes is something to consider especially if you are planning to install outdoor tiles. Then the tiles you select will have to stand the tests of mother nature and that might be a challenge for the simple tile construction. That means you need to be sure that the material you have selected will be prepared for rough conditions. Unfortunately ceramic tiles are not suitable for those purposes. They are easily prone to cracking in cold weather and fading under the hot summer rays. So you can only focus your search on sturdy weather-resistant porcelain materials that will stand the test of time. The open space of the garden and patio are not a challenge to these types of dense structure tiles. 

Constant foot traffic

Except for hardness and thickness, you should consider how well a tile can perform under the conditions of constant traffic. Scratches and stains are common for floor installations and will be more intense if it’s in the living or dining room where everyone gathers around all the time. Porcelain tiles are considered the perfect solution because of their high density and polished finish that resists most unpleasant damages. While ceramic is better suited for walls, it still can provide some security and protection from splashes and stains. Just be careful not to overestimate their endurance capacity because you will have to deal with a damaged set of tiles, no matter how beautiful they are. Even though porcelain tiles are not always the most detailed and delicate in appearance, their simple designs can withstand much more in terms of scratches and scuffs. 

Price

Usually ceramic tiles are cheaper and porcelain is more expensive. But don’t let that simple comparison fool you because oftentimes clients pick out the wrong type of tile for their project and then have to renew it with a more suitable one. That’s why most decisions surrounding which tile to purchase should be made based on the previous points of comparison. The price is irrelevant only when you are certain that both ceramic and porcelain would do the same job. In case you need a specialized tile for a specific wet area, outdoor space or any other installation, you need to consider the hardness and resistance first. 

DIY Potential

When it comes to DIY, some tiles are more susceptible to being changed and adapted than others. Whether or not you want to attempt a full DIY project, it’s good to know that ceramic tiles are far easier to cut away from and adjust to your walls and floors. Porcelain is a bit  more rigid and usually it is cut in advance to fill in big projects. In order to cut it you have to be able to work with more professional tools and skills in order to create a really good result.

Leave a comment