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Porcelain Tile versus Ceramic Tile Flooring:


Porcelain Tile versus Ceramic Tile Flooring: Is this a war between two vastly different types of materials or simply a war of words? The terms porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably as if they were the same thing. 

Porcelain And Ceramic Tile Basics

The chief difference is that porcelain tile is more impervious than ceramic tile and is thus subject to less water infiltration. Porcelain is dense, impervious, fine-grained, and smooth, in addition to the same water absorption criteria. 

Porcelain tile is often extruded; has fewer impurities than ceramic; is often rectified; and often contains more kaolin than ceramic. It is formed of quartz, clay, and feldspar that is fired at temperatures ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 degrees C.

Determining That Porcelain Tile Is Really Porcelain Tile 

The PTCA's fight did not end with the establishment of water absorption criteria. Today, about 70 percent of the tile purchased in North America is imported. The PTCA indicates that much of the imported tile that is prominently labeled as being "porcelain" is actually not porcelain.

Where To Use Ceramic Or Porcelain Tile 

While it depends on who you ask, laying porcelain or ceramic tile outside is typically not recommended. Tile industry representatives may rightly claim that porcelain tile is fine for exterior use. 

What is most agreed upon, though, is that ceramic tile should not be installed outdoors. Ceramic tile is not durable enough for exterior use because it absorbs too much water.

Porcelain Tile Density and Long-Term Durability 


Porcelain clays are denser and thus less porous than ceramic clays. This makes porcelain tile harder and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile.


Not only is porcelain tile more dense than ceramic tile, but due to its through-body composition, it is considered more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. Chip the ceramic tile and you find a different color underneath the top glaze. Chip the porcelain and the color keeps on going, all the way through. As a result, the chip is nearly invisible.


Summary: Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile 


Porcelain tile is harder and more durable than ceramic tile.

Use porcelain tile in all applications, especially in high-moisture applications, such as entry ways, outdoors, showers, bathtubs, and pools.