A common dilemma when it comes to choosing tiles is whether to pick ceramic or porcelain. What is the difference? Which do I need? Is one better than the other? These are questions we get asked regularly so let us take away any doubts and answer them for you.
Savoy Leaf: Ceramic
The quick, we need to buy tiles now answer
Although they look the same, the main difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is that a porcelain tile is denser and less porous than a ceramic tile. In simple terms this means a porcelain tile is much more hardwearing and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the extra density is a result of a slightly different manufacturing process.
Whilst ceramic tiles are only recommended for interior walls and floors, porcelain tiles are a more popular choice for floors that anticipate heavier traffic; we’re talking kitchen floors, hallways and commercial applications as they are increasingly resistant to scratching and chipping.
There are two types of porcelain tiles – through-body porcelain and glazed porcelain. Through-body porcelain is where the tile has no glaze so the colour/design is the same all the way through so if there was any wear or chips to the tile it’d be very difficult to see.
Glazed porcelain is where the tile has been manufactured with a glaze applied to the tile face. In this case the body of the tile is just as hard wearing as a through body porcelain however the glaze has the same characteristics as the glaze on a ceramic tile.
City Sense Sun: Porcelain
The full and frank answer
It’s all in the manufacturing…
Ceramic tiles are made from natural clay with a durable glaze; the biscuit of the tile is baked to reduce water content. Next the design is added to the same biscuit before it’s baked again in a kiln at a high temperature.
Porcelain tiles are also made from natural clay but of a denser nature, finely ground sand is also added into the manufacturing mix. This mixture is then pressed and fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles, and also for longer to remove almost all of the water content.
Vintage Silver: Ceramic
Let’s talk PEI ratings
The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating (PEI rating) is a great tool to help you determine the recommended application for a tile. All tiles are classified with a PEI rating and the scale is as follows:
PEI 0 – No foot traffic (wall tile only)
PEI 1 – Very light traffic (e.g. bathroom)
PEI 2 – Light traffic (e.g. bathroom and bedroom)
PEI 3 – Light to moderate traffic (e.g. most domestic floors)
PEI 4 – Moderate to heavy traffic (e.g. entrance, hallway, kitchen, balcony and some commercial applications)
PEI 5 – Heavy traffic (all domestic/commercial uses with heavy abrasion/footfall)
Most ceramic floor tiles will carry a PEI rating from 3 to 4 with porcelain tiles ranging from PEI 3 to 5. Still unsure which tile you should be using where? Make full use of our expertise and get in touch with a member of our customer service team who’ll be able to help you.
Choose a tile that’s in keeping with your home, style and lifestyle. You want to choose a tile that’ll stand the test of time, not just in the fashion department but in terms of practicality too. If you’re tiling a conservatory or kitchen, have dogs and children then you’ll want to pick a porcelain tile for extra durability. Renovating a tired bathroom? Pick any tile you love the design of, whether it’s porcelain or ceramic.