Tile Face-Off: Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile

Nov 22, 2016

porcelainvsceramictile.pngChoosing the right tile is an important decision, and there are a number of factors to take into account. For example, you will need to consider the shape and size of your room, how your tile will be used, durability, lighting and, of course, your own personal style. Another consideration is the material from which the tile is made from. The most popular tile materials are porcelain and ceramic, and both offer their own features and benefits. Let's take a look at their attributes and compare those features so that you choose your tiles with confidence.

The Lowdown on Ceramic Tiles

The differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles come down to manufacturing. Ceramic tiles are made from a combination of natural clay, salt and water. Most ceramic tiles are made from white or gray clay, but you will also find some on the market that are produced using red quarry clay. A baking process reduces the water content of the clay and creates the "biscuit" of the tile. A design and glaze is then added and the "biscuit" is baked again at a high temperature in a kiln.

Some of the key features of ceramic tiles include:

  • Easy to maintain
  • Adaptable
  • Cost effective
  • Durable
  • Simple to install

While no tile is completely maintenance free, ceramic tiles come pretty close. They are also highly adaptable and suitable for a wide range of applications. Dollar for dollar, ceramic tiles are also one of the most affordable flooring solutions you can choose compared to carpet or wood.

The Lowdown on Porcelain Tiles

Like ceramic tiles, porcelain tile is also made from white or gray natural clay. However, finely ground sand is also blended into the mix, creating a denser composition. Porcelain tiles are also fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles so that all of the water is removed.

Some of the key features of ceramic tiles include:

  • Easy to maintain
  • Perfect for exterior installations/freeze thaw applications thanks to their low water absorption rate
  • High resistance to stains
  • Hardwearing
  • Compatible with under floor heating

Porcelain tiles are the perfect solution inside and out. Frost proof and resistant to sunlight, these tiles won't crack or fade when exposed to the elements.

Shared Traits

wood_gray_8.jpgDespite a few character and feature differences, porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles share a number of traits. Both offer excellent durability and are easy to maintain. Ceramic tiles may require sealing a few times during their lifetime, whereas porcelain tiles don't usually require any additional maintenance.


When it comes to durability, porcelain tiles win hands down. A porcelain tile is denser, and therefore stronger, than ceramic tiles, and better suited to high traffic or exterior areas. Another way to measure durability of glazed floor tiles is to use the PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating. This classification determines the suitability of fixing tiles in specific locations. For example, a porcelain tile with a PEI rating of 5 would be suitable for heavy residential and commercial traffic. A ceramic tile with a PEI rating of 0 would be suited to areas with no foot traffic.

Areas or rooms that experience high foot traffic would be better suited to porcelain tiles that are able to take the weight and frequency experienced in busier areas. A higher PEI rating makes porcelain a suitable floor covering for living rooms, hallways and outdoor tiled areas. They are also the perfect solution if you have pets and children due to their easy-to-clean nature.

Inside or Outside?

Whether you are looking for tile for indoors or out, it is essential that you choose the most suitable material. The wrong choice could mean you end up with cracked tiles in the depths of winter, or a tile that takes up all of your decorating budget when you could have chosen a less expensive option.

Porcelain tiles are not as porous as ceramic tiles and have an excellent ability to repel water rather than absorbing it. This makes porcelain the ideal choice for exterior applications because they will not absorb water, freeze or crack.

Decorative Ceramic Tiles

Damask in Cream-SatinWhite-SteelGray2 SM.jpgWhile durability, cost and maintenance are important considerations when choosing tiles, it's style and design that are often the deal breakers. Let's face it. Your guests are unlikely to ask you how strong your tiles are, but they will admire your impeccable good taste.

With so many beautiful ceramic tile designs to choose from, you can create stunning focal points all around your home. From creating a feature wall in your bathroom to a flashy backsplash in your kitchen, ceramic tiles offer a wealth of possibilities. Why not explore our Tile Inspiration Gallery to discover some great ideas?

Choosing the right tiles doesn't have to be a daunting process. In fact, we aim to make it an enjoyable one! Whether you choose porcelain or ceramic tiles, both offer excellent benefits and are great options for the home inside and out. Check out our stunning collection of tiles today or contact us to find out more.

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