When it comes to the world of tile, there are two main categories that often get confused. These two categories are porcelain and ceramic tiles. While at first glance the two may seem similar, upon further inspection, there’s definitely a winning option in each unique design situation. If you’re wondering if you should use porcelain vs ceramic in your project, read on because you’re about to get a dose of tile knowledge to help you out.

What Is Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic Tile is one of the older styles on the market. It’s made from the most natural ingredient on earth: clay. With clay as its base, it then gets mixed with other items like sand, feldspar, quartz and water. Then, it gets baked to become a solid tile.

What Is Porcelain Tile?

Porcelain tile is actually a type of ceramic tile. Though, it is a more dense, finer clay that gets fired at far higher temperatures than traditional ceramic. As a result of this process, porcelain tile comes out as a durable, hardened option.

What Are The Differences Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tiles? 

When it comes to porcelain vs. ceramic tiles, there are many differences, regardless of how similar the shapes they come in are. Each of these tile categories have their own unique pros and cons. To further help you differentiate them and learn which you should use for your design project, allow us to dive a bit deeper.

Porcelain Tile: Pros

The pros for porcelain tile seem nearly endless. From their ability to be super durable right down to their low maintenance. To get a better grip of all the pros out there, let’s run through them.

Highly Durable

Porcelain tile, thanks to the way it is produced, is a highly durable option. It can handle high traffic areas from living room floors and kitchen floors to hotel lobbies. This makes porcelain tile flooring a perfect option for myriad walkable spaces.

Stain Resistant

The next pro on the list is that porcelain tile is stain-resistant. This comes from its impervious nature and the inability for stains to penetrate the body of the tile. Simply clean the spill as soon as it happens, and you’re good to go!

Indoor/Outdoor Use

With porcelain tile (even polished porcelain tile), comes use versatility. You can use this format of tile in both indoor and outdoor spaces. The reason for this stems from its ability to not absorb water easily. As a result, it can handle being in the elements (recall the durability pro?).

Low Maintenance

Who here hates high maintenance home-wares?! We sure do. Luckily with porcelain, cleaning is as easy as 1-2-3! You just have to wash down your backsplash or sweep/mop your floors to keep them in pristine shape.

Through-Body Options

One of the other benefits of porcelain tile is that it is something called through-bodied. This just means that, in essence, porcelain tile has? the same uniformity all the way through from end to end. In the event that the tile gets chipped, it won’t be as noticeable since below lays another layer identical to the top. This works well in favor of patterned porcelain tile, since you never have to concern yourself with unsightly chipping that needs replacing!

Ceramic Tile: Pros 

Now that we’ve covered the pros of porcelain tile, let’s go through the pros of ceramic tile. 

Unglazed Options

Since ceramic is made from clay and has an intrinsic earthy feel, using one of the unglazed options will provide any space with a natural look. This showcases the texture of the tile and can breathe a little life into any design.

Design Versatility 

The sheer volume of design options of ceramic tile is a massive pro on its own. No matter what shape or color you’d like for you space, it’s likely that with ceramic, you will find it. From mosaic to elongated hexagons, ceramic tiles will wow you?

Less Pricey Option

On the price scale, ceramic tile trends towards the lower end. This makes it the perfect match for smaller budgets that still want a touch of individuality within their design.

Porcelain Tile: Cons 

More Timely Installation 

Since porcelain tends to be dense, it can’t be as easily cut as say, ceramic. You need special tools and a careful eye to precisely cut it to size. As a result, you definitely want to always use a professional installer, which in turn, raises prices. Read our blog post on how-to-cut porcelain tile here. 

Pricier Tile Option 

Since it is a more durable, long-lasting material, price per square foot tends to run on the higher end of the spectrum. 

Ceramic Tile: Cons 

Could Have Sealer Requirements 

Sometimes, pros will come with cons, and that is the case for unglazed ceramic tile. When a ceramic tile is not glazed, it needs the installer to apply a proper glaze to it in order to make sure it’s a little bit harder for liquids to penetrate it. This can add a layer of time intensiveness to the process as well as upkeep fees. 

Can’t Be Used In Moisture-Rich Environments 

One of the most downer things about ceramic tile is that it’s not ideal to work outdoors or in moisture-rich areas, like shower floors. This, again, is due to its less impervious nature. So, it’s advised to only use indoors and in most cases, as a wall tile (some exceptions apply, consult a professional installer for case-by-case review). 

As you can see, there’s no one tile that is best to use in the debate of ceramic vs. porcelain, but it really depends on your budget and areas of design!