What’s the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles?
Actually, it might come as a surprise to most, but there is no difference. Porcelain is just one type of ceramic tile.
Let’s start from the beginning by defining what ceramic tiles are. A ceramic tile is a mixture of clays and other natural materials. These clays are mined from the Earth, shaped and coloured before being fired in kilns. In a nutshell, this is how ceramic tiles are manufactured.
Traditional ceramic tiles can be naturally coloured and left unglazed (like terra cotta), or they can feature coloured or highly designed surfaces that can be glazed (finished with a glass surface) either in a high gloss or matt finish. Most ceramic tiles have either a white or red body coloration underneath the glazed, coloured top layer.
Now, going back to our question, porcelain tiles are a newer form of ceramic tiles and very popular among homeowners for their properties. Porcelain tiles are composed of fine porcelain clays and fired at much higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. This process makes them denser, less porous, much harder and less prone to moisture and stain absorption than ceramic tiles. For these reasons, most porcelain tiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations. On the other hand, porcelain tiles are also harder to cut due to their density and hardness: this explains why tilers might charge more for fitting porcelain tiles.
Unglazed porcelain tiles are homogenous in terms of its through-body coloration. The colour goes all the way through from top to bottom so scratches or chips are less obvious and offer better slip-resistance. Glazed porcelain tiles (meaning a glazing top to the surface) may or may not have the same coloration from top to bottom because of the top glazed layer. Glazed porcelain tiles help seal the microscopic pores therefore are easier to maintain than unglazed tiles.
As porcelain can be made to resemble anything (from stone to wood flooring), it is sometimes a better choice than the natural materials they are inspired by. They are also less porous, less prone to cracking and, generally, cheaper.
However, not all ceramic or porcelain tiles are suitable for all areas. As a general rule, we suggest porcelain tiles for flooring and ceramic tiles for walls. Regardless of whether you choose ceramic tile or porcelain tile for your project, you will find that both types offer a variety of shapes and sizes. We at paolo.interiors pride ourselves for selecting the best quality tiles, with an eye for what is aesthetically pleasant and at the same time practical in everyday life, bringing you a wide mixture of colours, sizes, textures, and finishes to express the uniqueness of each and every project. All our porcelain and ceramic tiles meet the British Standard for ceramic tiles (BS EN 14411 or equivalent).
Another concept that seems to be confusing and – at times – incorrect is the one of rectified tiles. Rectified tiles are simply tiles that have been ground or sawed after firing to achieve a more precise and consistent tile size. This process allows minimising the size variations from tile to tile. The benefits are almost invisible joint-lines and the possibility to “mix and match” different formats and tile sizes within the same range to create patterns. Although, at this time there are no set ANSI standards for the minimum variations allowed for rectified tiles, it is strictly up to the tile manufacturer.
For additional information about ceramic tiles, read our related blogs:
If you are thinking of using tiles in your project, speak to us. We are always happy to provide more in-depth information, explain how we can work together and how we can help make your next project successful.