Then, examine the sides for a white, tan, or red color, which is a common sign of ceramic tiles. Porcelain tile is made of refined clay and other natural elements. The biggest difference is that large-format porcelain requires extra steps to ensure that it is level. Homeowners can choose either glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles. Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile. This is an on-going fight for the PTCA, especially since more and more tiles are being imported. This is down to the stuff used to make porcelain tiles. Porcelain is one tough cookie in tile form. One recent innovation with porcelain tile is the ability to manufacture them to resemble different materials. Ceramic tile tends to run about 60 to 70 percent of the cost of porcelain tile, on average. Porcelain tile virtually always receives a surface glazing treatment—a coating of liquified glass material—while some forms of ceramic tile are left unglazed. Both porcelain and ceramics are made of natural clay. The variety of shapes, designs and colors that these tiles come in are a big reason for their overall popularity and appeal. Ceramic tile has the same care and cleaning needs as ceramic tile—routine damp-mopping and period sealing of grout joints. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are installed similarly. Ceramic tiles, which tend to be smaller, do not require these extra steps. Note that the very highest quality designer tiles tend to cost roughly the same for ceramic and porcelain. Both materials can be lifetime surfaces if they are properly maintained. Unglazed, or full-bodied, tiles have color running through the entire thickness (as opposed to a glaze placed on the top), making them longer lasting and more resistant to chipping. If you’re planning to install tile yourself, especially in a situation where many cuts are required, you could find yourself in hot water. In one independent blind test conducted by the TCNA, 1,466 tiles were tested for the water absorption criteria that would qualify those tiles for porcelain status. Tile defined as ceramic uses a coarser clay with a smaller ratio of fine kaolin clay, and it generally lacks some of the additives used in porcelain clay. In other words, they absorbed water over that 0.5 percent benchmark. One way to determine if a porcelain tile is truly porcelain is to check the box for the PTCA Certification Mark. When renovating or building a new home, flooring is one of the most important considerations. It is strong and vitreous, or "glass-like" in appearance. Density. This ultimately results in a denser and more durable tile. Ceramic tile absorbs too much water and is not suited to handle constantly changing temperatures. Ceramic tile can be slightly more prone to water infiltration than is porcelain tile, though these differences are fairly minimal if the ceramic tile is glazed. For years, tile manufacturers and tile distributors did not see eye to eye on the issue of how to define porcelain vs. ceramic tile. But there is a surprisingly large range of prices for both types of tiles. Porcelain floor tile is harder and denser. Ceramic tiles are kiln-fired at a lower temperature than porcelain tiles, making them less dense, softer, and more porous. Plus, dishonest tile companies may fraudulently mislabel their boxes. Ceramic floor tiles, however, tend to have a softer surface. The glaze on a Porcelain tile is always one with the tile whilst a ceramic glaze can be noticed if you look at the side of the tile. The Difference Between Ceramic Tile vs Porcelain Tile. Karl Yeh: Okay. Basically, porcelain tiles are better for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as hard wearing. Today, about 70 percent of the tile purchased in North America is imported. Porcelain Tile vs Ceramic Tile: Whats The Difference? There is a misconception that porcelain and ceramic tile vary in durability, but durability and overall lifespan actually depend on the glaze and installation of the tile. If you have glazed tile, use a mop. They are also notably resistant to various types of stains and discoloration. The clay used in its composition is also less refined, making it a more affordable, albeit less durable, option. Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 12 years. The tiles then go into the kiln at very high temperatures to … Now let see the debate at a glance. The cementitious grout filling the joints between tiles needs to be periodically sealed to guard against stains and mildew. Ceramic & Porcelain Tile. As you can see, the main differences between ceramic and porcelain revolve around heat and the types of materials used in the clay mixture. Whether the area in question is high traffic, prone to moisture (bathroom, kitchen), below grade (basement), or to be installed over radiant heat, the correct flooring can make a huge difference. It’s the same reason folks prefer porcelain tiles for damp areas such as the bathroom and the basement. Porcelain tile is denser, heavier, and more impervious to water, and thus is a better choice than ceramic tile for outdoor locations, although outdoor use is recommended only in mild climates. The first and main difference lies in … It does not necessarily matter if the tile is a porcelain or ceramic body. Benefits of Using Porcelain Floor Tile; Benefits of Using Ceramic Tiles; At first glance, it’s tough to tell the difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles. If you are in the market for tile for your remodeling or new construction project, you have most likely encountered both ceramic and porcelain tile. In some cases, the so-called porcelain tile had an alarming 3 percent absorption rate. Chip a ceramic tile and you find a different color underneath the top glaze, which means that chips are likely to be quite visible. Porcelain and ceramic tile have the same needs for care and cleaning. Porcelain has slightly better water resistance, making it possible to use it in outdoor locations in regions with mild climates. Porcelain tile is a harder substance and wears better than ceramic tile, but its hardness can also make it more susceptible to cracking under structural shifting in a building. Porcelain Tile and Ceramic Tile are denser than natural products and tend to be more impervious to dirt. Porcelain vs. With a bit of discipline, it’s easy to keep ceramic floors looking great for years on end. All these differences between these two type of tiles are discussed in this article. Porcelain tiles begin at about $3 per square foot, running to $35 per square foot. Then, using a mild dish detergent mixed with hot water, work your way from one end of the tile to the other with a string mop. While both ceramic and porcelain tile can be maintained by sweeping and vacuuming (with the right vacuum and setting, of course), ceramic is actually easier to keep clean despite the fact that it is not as resistant to stains as porcelain. While you should make sure that the tile is rated for the use (tiles rated for floor use are typically thicker and the product will specify that this is an allowed use), your choice of ceramic or porcelain tile really boils down to what particular tile style appeals to you visually. But it can also be helpful to look at standards defined by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A137.1, which says in part that porcelain tile can be defined as tile that is produced with a "dust-pressed method of a composition resulting in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine-grained, and smooth with a sharply formed face." For starters ceramic tile should only be installed indoors. Porcelain tiles are a subset of ceramic tiles. If the tile weighs less than half of one-percent more as a result of water-absorbing into its surface, it is considered porcelain. Due to its through-body composition, it is considered more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. To the consumer, it generally suffices to say that porcelain is a dense, fine-grained, smooth tile that is more impervious to water than ordinary ceramic tile. In addition to bathrooms, porcelain tile is an excellent flooring covering option for kitchens, laundry rooms, patios, and other moisture-prone areas. Comparing Ceramic Vs Porcelain Tiles. Porcelain, ceramic, slate and travertine are all different types of floor and wall coverings used in the tile and natural stone industry. Porcelain tile is almost always white, or light grey on the backside. However, what’s the better option for … Many homeowners opt to install ceramic tiles as flooring, especially in warm climates, where the natural coolness of the tile becomes a welcome perk in the summer months. It's made with dense clay, usually denser than ceramic, which helps makes it impervious and durable. It’s also easier to maintain than ceramic tile. There are slight differences in how ceramic tile and porcelain tile are handled, based on their differing densities. Since porcelain tile can withstand heavy traffic over long periods of time, it works well as a flooring and countertop material. What does this mean? The coolness of the tile might feel nice in the summer, but it can also be uncomfortably cold during the winter. Is there really a difference between porcelain and ceramic tile? Sweep and vacuum porcelain tile once or twice per week, depending on how much traffic it experiences. Ceramic and porcelain tiles can be any color and even made to look like other materials, such as wood or natural stone. A wet tile saw is the recommended tool for cutting porcelain, while an inexpensive snap cutter generally works fine with ceramic tile. As a result, they repel water much more efficiently than other kinds of ceramic. It is not as strong as cement tile. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Unglazed ceramic tiles may also need to have sealers applied to the entire tile, not just the grout lines. Get daily tips and tricks for making your best home. Deciding between ceramic vs. porcelain tile flooring? True. Both ceramic and porcelain have very good resistance to heat and are sometimes used on countertops. The difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles lies in their genetic makeup. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. In situations of high traffic, perhaps the hallway or kitchen that see lots of footfall throughout the day, a porcelain tile is likely the better choice. Weighing the Pros and Cons of Porcelain Tile Known as the most durable type of tile on the market, porcelain is harder, denser, tougher, and less porous than ceramic tile. When weighing the cost of porcelain vs ceramic tile, it’s important to note that ceramic tile is cheaper than porcelain tile. Both ceramic and porcelain tiles are very durable building materials, provided they are well cared for. This makes porcelain tile an excellent choice where you want the look of wood without wood's susceptibility to water damage. In the modern tile industry, however, porcelain tiles occupy their own category, assigned there because they meet certain specifications. The clays used for ceramic tile are less dense than porcelain clays, which means ceramic tiles are somewhat more prone to cracking and breaking. 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