Porcelain vs Ceramic

Porcelain vs ceramic tiles: What's the difference?

Here at EA Ceramics a question we are often is asked what the differences are between a ceramic and a porcelain tile. Although essentially belonging to the same family, there are a variety of differences between the two, and with these contrasting properties you may find that one might be more advantageous to your project than the other. 

A little confused? Don’t worry, we are going to get a little technical, but we are here to help explain these differences in the simplest way possible, making it easier to select the most suitable tile for you.

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A major difference between porcelain and ceramics begins at their manufacturing stage.

Ceramics are formed by using a natural red, brown or white clay mixture. They are then fired in a kiln at high temperatures, which reduces water content, before the final glaze and then pattern is applied.

Porcelain tiles use only white clay. However unlike with ceramics a compound called feldspar, alongside finely-ground sand are both added to the white clay mixture. Then when placed into the kiln they are baked at even higher temperatures than ceramics.

As a result porcelain is a harder, denser, therefore less porous tile.

Preparation & testing

Being able to determine the differences between the two is often made after the original manufacturing process. All tiles are subject to a number of tests, one of which is the water absorption test.

Tiles are weighed before being immersed in water for a period of time. Post-test, these tiles are then re-weighed.

The tiles that weigh 0.5% more after being submerged in the water have obviously soaked it up. These are then classified as a ceramic tile.

In comparison those that weigh 0.5% less have absorbed less water, so are more dense and less permeable. These are then classified as a porcelain tile.

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Benefits of porcelain tiles

Porcelain tiles are harder and tougher than ceramics and therefore are more suitable in areas with higher levels of footfall. As a result of this level of toughness there are few other wall and floor options available that stand the test of time quite like a porcelain tile does.

Due to their ability to absorb less water than ceramics , porcelain tiles are also ideal for outdoor use and anywhere else where there is a possibility of significant amounts of moisture (eg. bathrooms & kitchens). 

Because of their increased density they are highly impervious to most substances so any spillages don’t get the opportunity to seep into the tile and set causing stain marks.

Benefits of ceramic tiles

Similarly to porcelain, ceramic tiles are incredibly durable, water resistant and can last for year and years with the proper maintenance. However although many ceramic tiles can be used on the floor, being not quite as tough as porcelain, not all are suitable. We have an easy, simple way for you to check the specifications of your chosen ceramic tile before you start your project.

It’s not always the case, but due to the less refined clay used in the manufacturing stages of producing a ceramic tile, they are generally cheaper alternatives to porcelain tiles making them a more affordable option.

There is often a wide selection of decorative design options for a ceramic tile. From extravagant patterns to variations in colour, they are without doubt one of the most diverse tile options available.