As a consumer, it may not be easy for you to quickly tell the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles when you see them. Both come in such an amazing array of finishes and patterns that it’s easy to get confused and settle for any that comes your way. But for you to find the right tile for your unique situation, it’s important to understand the difference. Though both porcelain and ceramic tiles are durable, versatile and beautiful, one may suit your situation better than the other. We’re here to help you find the right fit.

What are ceramic tiles?

Ceramic tiles sometimes referred to as non-porcelain tiles, are made using red or white clay. The clay is fired in a kiln and then once ready, they are cut to suit the desired shapes and patterns. Ceramic tiles usually come with a PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating of 0 to 3. This type of tile is recommended for moderate traffic areas. Ceramic tiles are not as durable as porcelain tiles and in fact, can wear out easily if not properly maintained. However, newer technologies have been developed to make ceramic tiles more durable to enable many consumers who are on a budget to get good value for money.

What are porcelain tiles?

Porcelain tiles, on the other hand, are made using porcelain clays which makes them dense and smooth. They don’t absorb water easily, so they can be used in frost-resistant surfaces. When glazed, the porcelain tiles can last even longer and are not prone to damage. In fact, porcelain tiles have been used in commercial projects because of their durability. They usually come with a PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating of 5.

Proper sealing is key

Whether you choose porcelain or ceramic tiles, regular sealing can help to enhance their longevity. Glazing and decorating tiles make them more durable and beautiful. In places like the kitchen where spillage is common, it’s important to have glazed tiles. Glazing makes the tiles less permeable which is good for wet areas like kitchens and baths. If you intend to use the tiles in the bathroom or kitchen, it’s always a good idea to seal the grout so that it’s not exposed to water. Tiles can last much longer if properly installed and sealed as recommended by the manufacturer.

Consider other factors when choosing ceramic versus porcelain tiles

Besides being beautiful, the tiles you choose should be ideal for the surface they’re going to be installed. For instance, find out if the tiles are strong and flame resistant. Are they easy to clean and keep the bath hygienic? Will the tiles absorb odours or contract when exposed to extreme temperatures? The only real differences between these two tile types are in how they have been designed and perhaps their shapes and patterns. If the tile will be installed outdoors, make sure it’s waterproof. If it is to be installed in high traffic areas like the deck, you need to ensure it’s designed to withstand this.