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What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles?

  • May 14, 2017

It can be overwhelming when trying to choose the perfect tile for your home. With an unbelievably large selection of colours, patterns and textures, where do you start?  It’s not just the design choices that confuse consumers its understanding the difference between the types of tile. Each type is made from a different composition, and that is what determines the tile’s body colour, texture and density.

Ceramic, Porcelain and Glass make up the 3 basic type of tile available. Most consumers know what glass is, however Ceramic and Porcelain tend to be trickier to fully understand due to the way the composition is processed.  So what’s the difference between Ceramic and Porcelain ?

Ceramic Bathroom Tiles        Porcelain Bathroom Tiles

We all tend to use the words “ceramic tile” when referring to a number of tile types. It’s not till you look at the true make up of a ceramic tile that you realise they are very different to others. A true ceramic tile is made mainly of a clay mix with a variety of minerals and water. To create the finished solidified product the composition is processed with heat.  The ceramic tile is usually sealed with a glaze as it’s made from a porous material; this glazed surface will determine the tile’s colour, design and texture and is usually referred to as the design layer.

The most popular ceramic tile for a number of reasons is the glazed ceramic. It’s one of the easiest surfaces to clean, and due to its composition, it will not absorb odours or support any allergens or bacteria. It is very durable, and when installed properly and cared for, it will last longer than any non-tile material used for the same purpose. Glazed ceramic tiles that are coated with a grade lll or higher glaze, are highly scratch resistant and will not burn, emit toxic fumes or scorch. There is a wide selection of products to ensure your ceramic tile stays looking fresh and new.  As a starting point we recommend Lithofin KF Ceramic Clean, visit our tile cleaning and protection section to view all products available.

The main ingredient in the composition of a porcelain tile is finely-ground sand which means the processing involves great pressure and extremely high temperatures. This in return gives a very dense, glass-like material, providing superior chip resistance and a very durable tile which can tolerate sub zero temperatures. This important quality makes it an ideal solution for patios, conservatories, swimming pools and hard landscaping in cold climates.  Because of its density and composition of natural ingredients, porcelain tiles have all the same excellent qualities of glazed ceramic.

Ceramic vs Porcelain, the positive and negatives always tend to offset each other.  For example, Porcelain is a denser and stronger material than its ceramic counterpart so it would make sense to go for porcelain, but the hardness of the tile makes installing it that little bit harder and generally requires specialist tools for cutting and shaping. The average DIY person typically wouldn’t have these tools or enough experience to use if rented or purchased.  

So which way do you go? The bottom line is, you can’t go wrong either way. Both ceramic and porcelain tiles come in a range of costs to suit all budgets, both durable, hardwearing and a superb material to create the perfect look. The biggest problem you’ll have is deciding which size, colour and texture will suit your needs.

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