There seems to be a lot of confusion on the difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile, so I wanted to try to clarify the difference.
Ceramic tiles are a mixture of clays and other natural materials. The word ceramic derives from the Greek word keramiko, for pottery. The special clays are mined from the earth, shaped, colored and then fired at very high temperatures in kilns. Most ceramic tile is colored with a glaze either in a high gloss or matte finish. Most ceramic tile has either a white or red body underneath the glazed, colored top layer. This is referred to as the bisque. Because of this, if ceramic cracks, it often shows more than porcelain which is typically the same color all the way through. Ceramic is better in lower traffic area and it tends to chip more than porcelain. Below are 2 examples of ceramics.
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Porcelain tile is a subset of ceramics – the clay is refined more and generally baked longer and at higher temperatures. As a result, It’s less porous, denser and harder (only absorbs 0.5% of its weight in moisture). This makes porcelain frost resistant and a better choice for higher traffic areas and colder environments. Porcelains are more resistant to chipping and cracking. But most of my customers prefer porcelain because it looks nicer – it tends to look more like natural stone with more color variation and texture. Porcelain tends to cost a little more than ceramic but both types of tiles have a range of costs and these prices overlap considerably.
Both ceramic and porcelain tile are very easy to clean and maintain. They are much easier than natural stone which tends to be more porous and prone to mold (especially in wet shower areas). Natural stone usually needs needs to be sealed and resealed often.
However, not all ceramic or porcelain tiles are suitable for all areas. Tile products generally (are wear-rated from low to high (often referred to as PEI). Because all tiles are not suitable for floor traffic, it is important for consumers to select a tile appropriate for their project and surface. Also, considering the room, sometimes you’ll want a tile with more textures and slip resistance (e.g. if at entryway or in kitchen).
Regardless of whether you choose ceramic tile or porcelain tile for your decorating project you will find both types offer a large variety of shapes and sizes. You can also get fancier with accent tiles and borders (sometimes called listellos). This will give you an almost unlimited amount of decorating options by mixing and matching different sizes, shapes, layouts along with borders and accent tiles to really add pizazz to your decor.
Porcelain tiles vs Ceramic tiles – Westchester NY