Porcelain Tile Vs. Ceramic Tile:What Makes It So Versatile?

Anne G. | Saturday, July 20, 2019

Which is better, porcelain or ceramic tile? Both are attractive. Both are highly durable. But if you're a homeowner who's searching for the ultimate floor covering, here's what you need to know. Similar in weight and appearance, there is a slight difference between porcelain and ceramic tile:

  • Porcelain is considered more durable. It can be installed both indoor and out, while ceramic tile is strictly recommended for home interiors.
  • Porcelain is slightly better at resisting moisture than ceramic, which makes it a good choice for kitchens, baths and some outdoor spaces.
  • Porcelain tends to cost more than ceramic.
  • Porcelain is typically the more difficult install because it's harder to cut.

Both types of tile are attractive and long-lasting, but if you're wavering between ceramic or porcelain, it's hard to beat porcelain tile.

How Porcelain Tile Is Made

SLE Tile Porcelain Bernini Carbone Matte 12" X 24"
SLE Tile Porcelain Bernini Carbone Matte 12" X 24"

Porcelain is made of feldspar, clay and quartz that has been fired to temperatures of 1,200 to 1.400 degrees Celsius. Most porcelain has been rectified, meaning the edges have been cut in a way that reduces shrinkage during firing. For this reason, there is much less variation in length and width in tiles of the same size. Rectified tile also allows for closer spacing, meaning the grout lines are smaller.

To be marketed as porcelain, tile must first receive certification for the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency or PTCA. Certification means the tile has met strict criteria regarding its water absorption rate. In North America. Only a handful of tile manufacturers -- no more than thirty -- have met the requirements to boast certification. Their boxes are clearly marked as being PTCA-certified. So if you're paying the price for porcelain tile, be sure to check for the distinct seal on the box.

Where to Use Porcelain Tile

SLE Tile Porcelain Veneto White 16" X 32"
SLE Tile Porcelain Veneto White 16" X 32"

Considered the toughest tile on the market, porcelain is dense, hard and much less porous than other types of tile. Because of these features, it's very versatile. Use it in kitchens and baths and on floors or countertops. Porcelain is even a good choice for backsplashes. laundry rooms and patios. It stands up well under heavy traffic and areas prone to high moisture.

Porcelain tiles come glazed and unglazed. Unglazed tile has the color running throughout it's composition. Glazed tile has an applied glaze of color only on top. Unglazed tile is typically longer lasting and more chip-resistant. It also tends to have a higher price tag. In fact, porcelain tile, as a whole, typically costs more than ceramic tile, sometimes as much as 60 percent. It's also a bit less DIY-friendly because it requires a diamond-bladed wet saw to cut.

Conclusion

Once you've decided on porcelain tile, however, you'll love its ease of maintenance and long-lasting, upscale appeal. Porcelain is difficult to crack, scratch or chip and is easily swept clean. Gentle mopping with a tile-friendly cleaner once a week should be all that's needed. Clean spills right away, and avoid using cleaners that contain wax, bleach, ammonia or oil and your porcelain tile floor will look new for many years to come.

About the Author

Anne G. currently posesses an Associate in Arts in Communications Media and is working toward obtaining her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. She has over a decade of published work to her credit, including bylines in The San Francisco Chronicle, Modern Mom, The Bump, Global Post and Livestrong. Anne G. has a passion for Mid-Century design, vintage decor, and antiques. Her areas of expertise center on parenting and education, workplace management, home and garden, business and marketing, fashion, crafting and celebrities.