porcelain vs ceramic tileThere are lots of things to think about when you’re picking tile for floors, walls and accents, and one of them is material. Which one to choose depends partly on what you’re using it for. They’re different across a number of characteristics. Porcelain is made from a more specific type of heavily refined clay, while ceramic tile can come from different types of clay or silicate. You might want to start a home renovation that includes new tile with this online basic feng shui course.


Porcelain tile is most commonly made from white clay. Ceramic tile can be white, though it more typically takes on a range of red or brown tones from the clay used. It’s more likely than porcelain to be glazed, either to a matte finish or a heavily shined, glossy finish, in a variety of colors or patters, and lends itself well to mosaics. This course on lighting and color in photography can help you figure out what kind of look you might want.

Because porcelain tile is denser than most ceramics, it can be harder to cut, which may limit usage. It’s also usually thicker than ceramic. Because it’s fired at a higher temperature than ceramic, it develops a more translucent appearance, since the oven is hot enough to form glass.

The color of porcelain tends to be more homogenous, though only when it’s not glazed. Unglazed porcelain tile, when it’s not homogenous, can look more like stone and have more intricate natural patterns than ceramic. Since color between lots can vary widely, you’ll want to make sure you order enough so that you have extra material that matches exactly for touch-up or patching jobs later on.


Porcelain is made from a more refined mixture of clay and is fired at much higher temperatures than ceramic is, so not only is the material more homogenous, it’s denser and heavier, and also less porous, which makes it more water-resistant and stain-resistant. It should be noted that ceramic tiles are porous enough that they can sometimes let water seep through into the structure and cause damage.

Because its denser quality makes porcelain harder to cut, as already mentioned, and also doesn’t bond to the underlying surface quite as easily as ceramic, it’s harder to use in DIY projects if you’re not as experienced. Tiling is still a common DIY project, though. This online course can help you get through doing your own renovations.


There are a number of factors that affect how well the tile wears, and individual batches can vary quite a bit. Glazed tile of either type can be more susceptible to cracking. Porcelain more often tends to wear well because of its density, and can be less likely to chip. It can even be stronger than some types of stone. As already mentioned, it resists stains and water more easily.

It can also hold up well to temperature changes, including a regular freeze/thaw cycle, without stressing and cracking the way that ceramic tile is more likely to. It has a high level of frost resistance when used outside.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are rated on a PEI scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest. 1 is best used only on walls, since it can scratch and chip more easily. 2 can be used in bathrooms and other lighter residential areas, while 3 can be used for any residential application, like kitchen sinks or counters and floors. 4 is good for commercial applications, with 5 being for the heaviest commercial use—this is what you would see on mall floors. Ceramic and porcelain with the same PEI rating will wear at close to the same level.


Porcelain has tended to be used more in commercial settings or outdoors because of its durability. It can also be quite a bit more expensive, so cost is something to consider for larger tiling projects in particular. Costs may sometimes be lower than in the past for porcelain, although costs for both types can sometimes vary, along with the strength of the specific batch. Uniform porcelain tile that’s homogenous and unglazed is generally the most expensive.


Glazed tile of either kind can be too slippery for floor use, so you’ll need to stick to a more natural unglazed look if that’s what you’re planning to use it for. Porcelain is generally best, because of the higher density and lower porousness—you don’t want water to be able to seep into the subflooring. Since neither tile has much give, you might not want to use it in high-traffic areas and will probably want to use rugs. If you’re concerned about pet damage, you can read more about the right flooring materials for your dog here.


Above the lowest rating of durability, most tile of either type will be okay for a bathroom, although you’ll want to be careful about using ceramic around fixtures since it’s not necessarily as water-resistant. Ceramic may be better on the walls, though, since that’s where you might want a more decorative glazed tile, unless you’re going for a more clean and neutral look.


Porcelain will generally be good for sinks and counters, since it resists stains and water damage and will also hold up better to dropped pots and pans without chipping. A homogenous porcelain tile can also add to a cleaner, more professional style. It should be noted that a harder porcelain surface will break dropped glasses or plates easily. A glazed ceramic tile is good for a decorative backsplash.

While porcelain may generally seem better because it’s sturdier and is often attractive, it can be expensive, and ceramic can often work as well and also be attractive, whether glazed or in a more natural terra-cotta look. You might want to use different material for different projects in your home. In your remodeling process, you might even want to use this purposeful design course to see how you can create a home that inspires you, your family, and your guests to relax and enjoy your home just the way you want to.

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