What Are the Differences Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile?

What Are the Differences Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile?

If you are are in the market for tile flooring to elevate the design aesthetic of your home, you have probably come across ceramic and porcelain and wondered which would be the better option for your needs. Both types of flooring options are very popular choices for the home. With an untrained eye, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between ceramic and porcelain as they are made of similar materials, have a similar feel and look and are even constructed using a very similar process. However, there are major differences between ceramic and porcelain, and these differences impact their durability as well as how well suited they are for certain areas of your home. We will explore the similarities and differences between porcelain and ceramic here, so you can determine which will be the best flooring option for your needs and your home.

The main distinction between porcelain and ceramic stem from the different ways in which they are made, and how tightly their materials are packed together. These differences in the process of how they are constructed affect many of the tiles’ properties, such as ultimately how water-resistant. porous and hard-wearing each type of tile will be.

What is Porcelain?

Porcelain is composed of a refined clay-based material that is dried and pressed into formation using high pressure before it is glazed. After it is glazed, it is fired at a scorching hot temperature of 2,500 degrees F. The extremely hot temperatures eliminate all moisture from the tile making it impermeable to water as well as very durable. As a less porous tile, porcelain is less absorbent to water and therefore waterproof and stain resistant. The fine, dense and tightly packed materials that make up porcelain also enhance its durability.

As a hard-wearing tile, porcelain offers a variety of options suitable for areas in your home and outside. Its high durability makes it a great choice for high traffic areas of the home such as bathroom, kitchen and hallways, as well as a good option for commercial spaces. As a waterproof, less porous tile, porcelain can even be a great choice for outside areas such as back patios. Some types of porcelain can even be approved for pools. Porcelain also offers more options of body color. If you were to accidentally chip a porcelain tile, you can breathe easy, as the color under the surface of the tile is usually the same as the top so any imperfections in the tile won’t be as visible.

While porcelain is resilient and hard-wearing with great versatility, it is a more expensive tile than ceramic, so keep that in mind if you are considering porcelain for your home.

What is Ceramic?

Ceramic is a popular, more affordable alternative to porcelain. Ceramic is made up of very similar materials to porcelain, but is not as densely packed. After it is dried and glazed, it is fired at 2,000 degrees F. This difference in temperature means that it is less dense and more porous than porcelain, which also makes it more susceptible to chips and cracking. It is also therefore more absorbent of water, meaning it will not hold up well in freeze or thaw conditions, and is not as weather resistant as porcelain. Another important thing to note about ceramic is that it will only become water resistant once it’s glazed. As a less waterproof, more porous tile, ceramic is not a good choice for outdoor areas and should only be used indoors. As a tile that is more permeable to water, ceramic should also be avoided in areas of the home that usually have a lot of moisture such as the bathroom and kitchen.

As it is more prone to chips or cracking, if ceramic does undergo surface damage, the color under the glaze may be more noticeable. The color under the surface of the tile which is usually red or brown typically won't match the surface pattern or color of the tiles, so imperfection may be more visible and will hurt the overall visual appeal of the floor.

Ok, let’s do a quick recap of both porcelain and ceramic to feature their takeaways.


  • Highly durable, stain-resistant, waterproof
  • Good for high traffic and moisture prone areas of the home such as the bathroom and kitchen
  • Good for indoor and outdoor use (such as on your back patio)
  • Less prone to scratches and chips
  • Color of tile runs throughout so imperfections on surface of tile won't be as noticeable
  • More expensive than ceramic


  • Highly durable but, but more porous and absorbent of water than porcelain
  • Water-resistant once it’s glazed
  • Not good for use in high traffic areas that have a lot of moisture such as the bathroom or kitchen
  • Only suitable for indoor use, as it is less weather resistant than porcelain
  • More prone to chips and cracking
  • Color of tile does not run throughout so imperfections on surface of tile may be more noticeable
  • Less expensive than porcelain

All in all, both ceramic and porcelain are beautiful options for your home. Both will be durable and waterproof as long as they are glazed.