Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile

The most common question we get is “what tile is better for my project, ceramic or porcelain?” The answer does vary by a couple factors. Where is the tile going? What is the foot traffic like in this area? Before we can make this decision, lets dive into what the actual difference is so we can better make our decision.

The main similarity between the two is they both have a clay base, both are baked in a large oven or furnace at temperatures exceeding 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and both have a pattern or design glazed or heated on to them to give them the finish you are looking for. What separates the two is the following:

  • Porcelain is baked twice, giving it a higher PEI (density rating)
  • Ceramic has its pattern on the glaze only, Porcelain can be through the glaze and full body
  • Porcelain tends to use a white clay which can hide chips or scratches better than the red clay ceramic tends to use
  • Ceramic is easier and quicker to manufacture, so the cost is usually lower

Now you may see these main differences and say, well then why would anyone ever use ceramic tile? This brings be back to the first question we asked, “Where is this tile going”? Ceramic tile is perfectly fine on a floor (as long as the manufacturer gives it a rating for floor use) in lower traffic areas, like a laundry room for instance. Porcelain tile will be used in your high traffic areas such as a kitchen, or bathroom. Then for your walls in a shower enclosure, bathtub or even a back splash, you can go with a ceramic tile.

Now you have the knowledge you need to pick out which one is better for your project. If you are a DIYer, make sure you check the manufacturer rating for the tile before you purchase it. Some will give tile a different rating on where it can be used. Also, check die lot numbers to make sure there is consistency between cases, as one number or letter difference in a die lot color can give you a very different shade or a much difference appearance than if they were all the same. Most of that information will be in the same spot on the box from the manufacturer.

And for you DIYers, have fun and be safe!

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