Porcelain Vs Ceramic Tiles – What’s the Difference?


Porcelain Vs Ceramic Tiles – What’s the Difference?

Very often people aren’t sure of the differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles. Some believe that both are the same and use the terms interchangeably, while others argue that both these materials are worlds apart and it’s unfair to use them in the same breath.

This can get a bit perplexing for the end user. Worry not, here at Décor Cera, one of the largest of porcelain and ceramic tiles suppliers in India, we understand your confusion and we help you put an end to your questions, once and for all.

The reality is that though porcelain and ceramic tiles are two different materials they have plenty of similarities, along with subtle differences that distinguishes them.

Here’s a Quick Glance of the Basics of Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

Features Ceramic Tiles Porcelain Tiles
Construction Less dense and soft Denser and Hard
Pros Cheaper, Easier to Cut, Flexible Stain resistant, non-porous (absorbs less water) and hardwearing
Cons Prone to stains, cracking in cold weather, and highly porous (absorbs water) and shows signs of wear and tear Expensive, difficult to cut and more brittle
Applications Works best in areas with low moisture and with light footfall Works well in areas with high moisture like bathrooms, kitchens, and suitable for spaces that attract heavy footfall and abrasion
Cost Cheap and pocket-friendly A bit expensive initially
Colour The colour varies between the glaze and the actual tile Colours run through the entire tile
Ease of Use Easier to cut and lay Requires special equipment to cut, making the installation process a bit trickier
Exterior Usage No Yes

The Basic Differences between Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

The underlying genetic makeup of both these tiles is different. Here’s a look at the manufacturing process of both.

Ceramic Tiles – Making

Ceramic tiles are made using white, brown or red clay. The clay is baked at high temperatures to eliminate the water content. After this high-temp baking, the patterned glaze is applied to the surface of the tile.

Porcelain Tiles – Making

Porcelain tiles follow a similar manufacturing process; however, the big difference is that it’s made from only white clay. Feldspar and finely ground sand are mixed into the clay mixture. This mixture is then baked at higher temperatures compared to ceramic tiles.

The result – porcelain tiles are harder and denser, and less porous when compared to ceramic tiles.

Ultimately, it’s this permeability (level of water absorption) that decides whether the tile is classified as ceramic or porcelain.

Water Absorption Test

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are subject to a water absorption test, which determines their porosity. Newly made tiles are weighed and then kept submerged in water for a particular period. Tiles that show an increase in weight of over 0.5% after being submerged in water are classified as ceramic tiles. If a tile’s weight doesn’t increase beyond 0.5% after submerging it in water, it’s classified as porcelain.

From this, we can understand that the final classification, whether a tile is porcelain or ceramic is done after the manufacturing process and not before.

The Two Broad Categories of Porcelain Tiles

There are two main types of porcelain tiles. They are – glaze porcelain tiles and through body porcelain tiles. Here’s a closer look at both these types:

They are also known as homogenous tiles or full-body tiles. As the name implies, these tiles have a single colour throughout and don’t have any glaze.

As the name suggests, these tiles have a painted glaze on top of the actual tile. This glaze determines the tile’s colour and pattern.

So, which one should you choose – glazed tiles or through body tiles?

It all depends on the area of application. For areas that attract high footfall like hallways, corridors, through-body tiles work better. This is because even slight chips, dents or cracks on glazed tiles are more noticeable when compared to through-body tiles that have a uniform colour. In full-body tiles, dents and cracks aren’t much noticeable as it has only one colour through all the surfaces of the tile.

Another point to remember here is that, while porcelain tiles are denser and harder, it makes them difficult to cut and shape. Which means, the installation process is trickier and requires complicated machinery and expert tile layers. You need expert installation craftsmen for accurate and clean cuts.

Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are easier to cut. All you need is a snap tile cutter or a wet tile saw, and it can be laid easily.

Coming to the big question,

Which works better – Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles?

For most applications, both these types of tiles work fine. However, for some specific applications, it’s advantageous to choose a particular style of tile.

Areas with High Moisture

As mentioned above, porcelain tiles are non-porous and don’t absorb as much water as compared to ceramic tiles. This makes them suitable for areas with high moisture like kitchens, bathrooms and more. Additionally, porcelain tiles are spill resistant, meaning if you accidentally spill a liquid, it’s less likely to cause stains.

This makes, porcelain tiles better suited for kitchens, bathrooms and other wet areas of your house.

Areas with Heavy Traffic and Abrasion

Again, as mentioned above, porcelain tiles are harder and denser when compared to ceramic tiles. Meaning, it can withstand heavy usage, making it a good choice for utility rooms, corridors, hallways and entry ways. Ceramic tiles are more likely to chip so work better for rooms that don’t get much footfall or abrasion, like bedrooms, study, living rooms and more.

If you have pets or young children in the house, then porcelain tiles are likely to withstand the heavy wear and tear. You can use ceramic tiles for the walls.

Outdoor Usage

If you’re looking to lay tiles on an outdoor area like a balcony, veranda or patio, then porcelain tiles are the better option. As they are less porous, these tiles hold up better to the outdoor elements like rain, precipitation and high humidity. This is particularly important if you live in extremely cold regions, as ceramic tiles can crack on exposure to low temperatures.

Final Thoughts

Hope this article clarifies all your doubts on ceramic and porcelain tiles. If you need further help on choosing the right tile material, colour or design for your home or office, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts, here at Décor Cera, Ceramic Tiles Manufacturers and Suppliers in India.

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