Ceramic or Porcelain? A Very Simple Guide

Ceramic or Porcelain? A Very Simple Guide

Ceramic or porcelain? It’s all very confusing unless you’re familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of each of the types of tiles! Don’t worry though, in this post we’re going to explain it all in very simple terms and explain when you should use ceramic, and when to use porcelain.

So, what’s the big difference?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to bore you by detailing the complex manufacturing processes for ceramic and porcelain tiles. All you really need to know is that they’re created using similar materials, but in different proportions and each is created using a different manufacturing process. Where porcelain tiles are manufactured using a once fired process, ceramic tiles, at least the ones from British Ceramic Tile, are typically twice fired. What this results in is two tiles with different characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.  

The manufacturing process for a porcelain tiles results in a harder wearing, heavier tile than ceramic. On the other hand, ceramic tiles are more versatile when it comes to design, allowing for more intricate and vibrant glazes than porcelain tiles, which are usually duller and often monotoned. It’s like having the choice between a tank and a sleek sports car, sometimes you need a tank, but otherwise you’re better off with the sports car!

When should I use ceramic tiles?

Ceramic tiles are more than suitable for any applications in the home. Whilst not as hard wearing as porcelain tiles they’re more than enough for a domestic setting on both walls and floors. The added advantage to using ceramic in the home is the greater choice of designs on offer with much clearer and intricate decoration. Typically, you’ll also find that ceramic tiles are easier on the purse strings too!

In summary, ceramic tiles should be used:

  • On any wall in the home
  • On any floor in the home
  • On commercial property walls
  • On commercial property floors that don’t experience excessive foot traffic

When should I use porcelain tiles?

hex porcelain tiles 

The Kitchen Collection - Hex Black, white and grey Multi Porcelain - 175mm x 202mm

Porcelain tiles with their tougher body are more suited to commercial purposes, they’re often used in high traffic flooring areas. Hotel lobbies, airport waiting areas and hospital corridors are just a few places you would want to use porcelain tiles. However, no matter how popular you might be, a typical home will never experience the level of foot traffic these places would! Of course, porcelain tiles can be used in the home, and there are many beautiful porcelain options, but the extra weight can put unnecessary strain onto walls and they may come at a more expensive cost.

Porcelain tiles are less porous than ceramic tiles, this makes them the ideal choice when considering tiles for the outdoors.

In summary, porcelain tiles should be used:

  • On floors that experience excessively heavy foot traffic (mostly commercial)
  • For any outdoor applications (porcelain is less porous than ceramic)

If you're still unsure on which tile option is right for you, you can always contact your nearest retailer who will be able to give you advice that's more specific to your project. Click here to see a list of retailers near you.

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