What’s the difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles? It’s a quotation we find ourselves being asked constantly… Tile terminology can sometimes be confusing to the layman, and to understand this better we are required to look more closely at the process of how tiles are manufactured.
HOW ARE TILES MADE?
The majority of tiles are manufactured using clay and other materials. These materials are then fired in a kiln at extremely high temperatures. This results in the manufacture of ceramic tiles.
If you want to get more technical, we can split ceramic tiles into two categories (1) porcelain; and (2) non-porcelain tiles. The non-porcelain variety are often called ceramic tiles.
WHAT IS CERAMIC (OR NON-PORCELAIN)?
Ceramic tiles are made from white or red natural clay. The manufacturer adds a durable glaze to the face, resulting in the colour and pattern of the tile. It’s then fired at high temperatures to bake the tile, removing the majority of the water content.
WHAT IS PORCELAIN?
Porcelain tiles are also made from clay, but the types of clay are generally of a denser nature. It has a higher feldspar content, and finely ground sand is added to the mix to make the tile more durable and robust.
The materials are then pressed and fired at higher temperatures (compared to ceramic tiles) and for much longer, to remove practically all of the water content. This process is what makes porcelain tiles denser, less porous and more hard-wearing than ceramic tiles.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU?
Ceramic tiles are ideal for wall and floor surfaces which will be subjected to light or moderate use. They are stain resistant, fire resistant, they won’t fade in sunlight and they’re easy to clean. Generally, they are a softer tile, which makes them easier to cut and install. They are, however, more prone to wear and chipping over time, than porcelain tiles if used on floors.
One of the most important characteristics of porcelain is its resistance to moisture – it is also resistant to wear, deep abrasion and frost, making porcelain a great product for use in harsh climates.
‘Glazed’ porcelain tiles are extremely hard wearing and are suitable for residential to commercial floors. ‘Full body’ porcelain tiles are manufactured in a way that the colour and pattern is on the surface but also runs through the entire thickness of the tile making them extra strong. These tiles are suitable for residential, commercial and even industrial flooring.