Archive for July 2014

Ceramic or Porcelain, what is the difference?

Every day we get an influx of questions here at the Flooring Warehouse Outlet about a very popular topic, Ceramic Tiles vs. Porcelain Tiles. What is the difference? How can I tell the difference? Is one better than the other? Are there major cost differences?

There is a lot to know about the materials that comprise something as simple as a floor tile. Today I am here to educate on the main differences and the different types of these particular flooring products that are being produced today.

First off, what is the difference between a Ceramic and Porcelain? It’s the clay. Ceramic tiles are made from natural clay that comes straight from the ground with minimal processing, whereas porcelains are made from more refined, man-made clay that has been processed further and tends to be a little less absorptive and a bit harder.  When selecting a new tile it may become overwhelming trying to figure out what is porcelain and what is ceramic, but there is a very easy way of distinguishing the two. Ceramic tiles are predominantly red-backed, meaning simply that the clay on the backside of the tile is of a red color; whereas the bodies of porcelains are typically gray or white in color. Ceramic tiles and Porcelain tiles are made exactly the same way, and even on the same equipment as one another. When it comes to tile in general it all comes down to density, the denser the tile, the better it is going to hold up to impact and subfloor movement. So, it doesn’t particularly matter which you choose whether it be porcelain or ceramic, a quality tile is a quality tile. Or as Cliff Hirsch, the founder of Island Tile and direct tile importer for 30 years says:

There are many good products available today and most important is the quality of the factory making the products. There are several 100 year old Spanish tile factories that still produce great glazed red clay tiles that are stronger and perform better than new Chinese porcelain tile factories.  …The bottom line should be what looks good and has the color and style that you like rather than the color of the clay.

Most people purchase porcelains over ceramics simply due to the clay color, as when you chip a porcelain tile you see gray or white, instead of the red you would see in a ceramic. Even though over time any chip or ding is going to collect dirt and eventually darken and be very noticeable.  The main cost differences between the two tiles are insignificant; only mere cents per square foot. When you want a quality tile, you will generally spend a few cents more per square foot, no matter the material. This is a very worthy investment to have a floor that will last more than years, but decades.