Tile Talk – Porcelain or Ceramic?

Tile Talk

Porcelain or Ceramic?

One question that we are fre­quently asked when helping clients select flooring and countertop materials for kitchens and bathrooms is, “What is the dif­ference be­tween porce­lain and cera­mic tile?”

Most clients are under the impression that porcelain is a better material than ceramic, mainly because it is more costly. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, porcelain and ceramic tile are imperatively the same, with only a few slight differences. While both are essentially ceramic, manufacturers take tiles that have certain qualities and assign the ceramic or porcelain titles to them.

The Porcelain/Ceramic Difference

Despite marketing claims to the contrary, the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles generally comes down to nothing more than PEI ratings and price. PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) ratings help you determine the hardness and durability for tile. This information can be valuable because not all tile can be used in all areas, especially high-traffic areas.

Both porcelain and ceramic are part of a larger ceramic family, which means they are made from clay material that is fired in a kiln. Ceramic tiles are made with red, brown, or white clay, while porcelain tiles are almost exclusively made with refined and purified white clay blended with other minerals and it contains a higher amount of feldspar. Because of this factor alone, porcelain has a higher PEI rating than ceramic tile; meaning it is more dense and more durable. For this reason, some clients prefer porcelain tile as they believe it to be a better choice when choosing tiling for high-traffic areas of the home such as kitchens and bathrooms.

However, we must note that ceramic tile flooring is only slightly less durable than porcelain and when properly maintained with a protective high-quality glaze, it is more than capable of handling high-traffic areas.

The difference in cost? Compared to other countertop and flooring materials, neither porcelain nor ceramic materials are very expensive. However, porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tile. Prices for both vary according to the density of the tile (i.e., according to PEI ratings).

Are there other differences?

There are just a few other slight differences between porcelain and ceramic tile. Although both are delicate materials, porcelain tile is harder to cut and shape as it is hard and brittle and prone to cracking when handled with unskilled hands. This makes wall and ceiling installation more difficult. Ceramic tile on the other hand, is not very thick, meaning it can be easy to cut in a ‘do-it-yourself’ project. But it is important to note that ceramic tile can be easily and noticeably chipped.

And that is it! Aside from durability, cost and a few other minor differences, you can see that porcelain and ceramic tile are essentially the same.

So which should you choose? Well, that is a choice that is entirely up to you, but considering all of the factors, we would suggest going with ceramic tile as it is less expensive and only slightly less durable than porcelain tile. It is also fairly easy to cut and shape.

Butterfly Remodeling Group
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