Deciding between ceramic and porcelain may feel like a challenge and, despite their similarities, there are some key differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles. In this post, we’re going to explain ‘what is the primary difference between porcelain and ceramic tile’ and provide an overview of ceramic vs porcelain tiles before explaining these differences in more detail.
The primary difference between porcelain and ceramic tile is the way they are made. In turn, this affects their properties and characteristics.
Ceramic tiles are made from a mixture of natural red, brown or white clay, sand and water. This mixture is shaped and then fired in a kiln at about 1000 degrees Celsius.
Porcelain tiles are made from a specific white clay (kaolin), finely-ground sand and feldspar mixture; this is then moulded into shape and fired in a kiln, but at a much higher temperature, about 1400 degrees Celsius, and for a longer time than ceramic.
|Made from a specific white clay (kaolin), sand and feldspar mixture|
Fired in a kiln at a higher temperature (about 1400 degrees Celsius) and for a longer time
Made from a natural red, brown or white clay, sand and water mixture
Fired in a kiln at a lower temperature (about 1000 degrees Celsius) and for a shorter time
|Can be used both internally and externally|
More suitable than ceramic for bathrooms and wetrooms
Areas with heavy footfall
Domestic and commercial properties
Floors and walls
|Can only be used internally|
Less suitable for rooms with lots of moisture
Areas with less footfall
Domestic and commercial properties
All walls, some floor grade ceramics available
|A water absorption rate of less than 0.5%|
No sealing or treatment required
|A water absorption rate higher than 0.5%|
Required sealing and treating
Quality / Lifespan
|Higher quality and a longer lifespan||High quality and a shorter lifespan|
Ease of Cutting
|Harder to cut||Easier to cut|
Porcelain tiles are denser than ceramic tiles due to differences in the production process. Because porcelain is fired in a kiln for a longer time, and at a significantly hotter temperature, than ceramic, it is denser. As a result, porcelain tiles are harder and more durable than ceramic tiles.
One of the most significant differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles is where they can be installed and used.
Porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles are both durable, and so can be used in many areas of your interior space. However, porcelain tiles are denser, more hardwearing and more resistant to scratches than ceramic tiles. So, they are more suitable for any areas that experience heavy footfall.
When it comes to interiors, we also recommend using porcelain tiles in any room that experiences high moisture levels, such as a bathroom or shower room. Porcelain tiles will fare better than ceramic tiles in these environments because they have a significantly lower water absorption rate of less than 0.5%.
It’s also important to know that ceramic tiles cannot be used externally, whereas porcelain tiles can be. The extremely low water absorption rate of porcelain tiles means that they can withstand an onslaught of rain, hail, sleet and snow. And, because ceramic is less durable than porcelain, ceramic tiles are more likely to crack if temperatures drop.
All ceramic tiles are suitable for walls, but due to their reduced thickness, only floor-grade ceramic can be used on floors. Porcelain is suitable for all walls and floors.
A stand-out feature of porcelain tiles is their low water absorption rate of less than 0.5%. Ceramic tiles, however, have a higher water absorption rate of more than 0.5%. This makes for another important difference between porcelain and ceramic.
Porcelain is non-porous thanks to the denser clay and higher kiln temperature used in the production process, where almost 100% of the moisture is eliminated.
As a result, we especially advise using porcelain tiles in rooms with high levels of moisture, like a shower room.
Another benefit of porcelain tiles’ low water absorption rate is that they are also stain resistant. If a staining product lands on a porcelain tile, it will not stain the tile as porcelain is impervious. Unlike ceramic tiles, porcelain does not need to be treated or sealed to be stain-resistant.
As a result, porcelain tiles are less likely to be damaged, are easier to maintain and work well for families with young children or pets.
The price of both ceramic and porcelain tiles vary based on a number of factors. Generally, price-point is dictated by the size of the tile, the finish of the tile (i.e. matte or gloss), the edge of the tile, and the exclusivity of the range.
Both types of tiles cover a wide price range, however the added benefits inherent in porcelain tiles arguably makes them better value for money than ceramic alternatives.
Both ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles are high-quality products. However, porcelain tiles are more likely to have a longer lifespan because they are more durable and less likely to be damaged, especially if the area in question experiences a lot of footfall.
The final difference between porcelain and ceramic is the ease of cutting. Ceramic is a softer material than porcelain and is therefore easier to cut with standard equipment. However, ceramic is also brittle which makes it more liable to chip or shatter. Porcelain can be easily cut with diamond/cyclone cutters, and even a score and snap mechanism.
There are a few key differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles which will dictate what is most suitable for your space. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are both high quality and hardwearing options. However, porcelain has added durability, can be tiled internally and externally, is liquid and frost-resistant, and is better value for money.