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Posted on December 5, 2013 by Frank John Garcia in Tile

Porcelain or Ceramic Tile


Porcelain Tile, the new standard in flooring.

Porcelain or Ceramic, the million dollar question asked everyday in our Gulf Tile & Creations’ showrooms. Below we will do our best to help you understand the benefits of making Porcelain Tile a part of your home remodel.

So, what is the difference between Ceramic and Porcelain?

  • Ceramic Tile – a tile made with a mix of clay, various minerals and water. Since ceramic tile is more porous, the top is covered with a “glaze” to seal it. This glaze is what determines the absorption rate, color and style of the tile.
  • Porcelain Tile – a tile made with a mix of purified, highly ground sand, quartz and feldspar additives. The manufacturing process involves pressure and firing at higher temperatures than with ceramic. This makes the porcelain very dense and lowers the absorption rate to less than .5% giving it the same qualities as glazed ceramic only stronger.
  • Through-body (Unglazed ) Porcelain – The first unglazed porcelains were mainly those cute little 2×2 mosaics you would see in commercial bathrooms. Since then unglazed porcelains have evolved into larger formats conducive not only for commercial projects but beautiful for the home. Due to the hardness and low absorption rate, porcelain does not require a glaze so an unglazed porcelain has the same color and veining throughout the tile. Should some extreme accident happen, like dropping your barbells result in chipping the surface of the tile, it becomes invisible because the surface is the same as the body. This is what makes porcelain more expensive than ceramic.
  • Color-body (Glazed) Porcelain – To allow for more color selections and styles for porcelain tiles, the porcelain is glazed to give it various colors and textures. The body of the tile is then dyed to match the color of the glaze, again allowing surface and body to blend invisibly.

Don’t be confused by tile ratings. A tile wear-rating system has been around for many years but with new technology available, most quality tile will rank at the higher levels. Simply put, this is a durability rating for glazed tile. The ratings are : (1) is for walls only; (2) walls and very light usage on a floor (bathroom); (3) works pretty much for anywhere in the house; (4) is good for either home or commercial use; and (4+ ) is commercial.

Both the Ceramic and the Porcelain may have a Class 4 wear rating but porcelain has the edge with durability and the body matching the surface. Other than the question of ceramic vs. porcelain; I always suggest you consider the following in this order:

  1. Color – you’re going to have it down for a long time so you’d better love the color
  2. Style – needs to fit your home ambiance
  3. Design – which I translate as the size and pattern.

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