Coliseum Porcelain Tile by Tesoro
Crayons by Tessoro backsplash

Porcelain Tile vs Ceramic Tile

What’s is the difference between Porcelain Tile and  Ceramic Tile? This is a common question among people who are shopping for tile in Jupiter, Fl.

At The Stone Quarry of Jupiter we have a wide assortment of both types of tile. Each has it’s uses, which we will discuss.

In this article we’ll also take a look at:

  1. Similarities Between Porcelain Tile and Ceramic Tile
  2. Differences Between Porcelain Tile and Ceramic Tile
  3. Best uses of Porcelain Tile
  4. Best uses of Ceramic Tile

Common Characteristics

  • CLAY – The key ingredient in both products is clay.
  • KILN FIRED – Both are fired at high temperatures in a kiln (an oven for ceramics).

Distinct Differences

  • CLAY – While both are made with clay. The type of clay used in each is different. Porcelain clay tends to be denser and less porous than ceramic clay.
  • KILN FIRED – Again the similarity is also the difference.  In this case, the “tile bakers” turn the heat up a notch when baking porcelain.

Show How Much You Know

  1.  All tile can be used on floors and walls. True/False
  2. Porcelain Tile costs less than Ceramic Tile. True/False
  3. Exterior decks and patios are perfect for porcelain tile. True/False
  4. Tile is easier to clean than wood or natural stone. True/False
  5. All tile can be considered ceramic tile. True/False

Answer key below

Porcelain Tile Specifications

In order to be called a Porcelain Tile, the tile must pass a few tests. The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association in conjunction with the Tile Council of North America launched a certification program in 2007.

One of the key tests is based on how much water the tile absorbs. The tile must absorb .5% or less in order to be classified as a porcelain tile.

To read more about the specifications go here:

Tile Knowledge Answer Key

  1. False. Do not use Wall Tile on floors. Wall tile is generally softer and more likely to break if subjected to the abuse that floor tile can withstand. But floor tile can be used on walls with no problems.
  2. False. Generally ceramic tile costs less than porcelain tile.
  3. True. Porcelain Tile is a perfect choice for exterior uses. It comes in anti-slip textures, is easy to clean and has a low water absorption.
  4. True. Porcelain Tile and Ceramic Tile are denser than natural products and tend to be more impervious to dirt.
  5. True. All tile can be lumped together in the ceramic tile category. But not all ceramic tile can be called porcelain therefore the terms are not interchangeable.

Quick Reference Chart

Porcelain Ceramic
Design Choices Many Patterns & Designs Many Choices
Eco Friendly Yes Yes
$$$ Costs More Cost Less
Water Absorption Absorbs Less Absorbs More
Cleanability Easy to clean Can be more difficult to clean
Exterior Use Won’t Freeze thaw Could Crack

Best Uses

Porcelain can be used just about anywhere. So if the budget allows, porcelain is always a great choice. A word of caution, check with manufacturers when using outside in freeze-thaw areas just to be sure this is an specified use. If a tile absorbs water and then freezes, the water will expand and could crack the tile. Because ceramic has a higher absorption capacity, it is generally not recommended for exterior use in areas that freeze and thaw. Ceramic is almost always a great choice for wall tiles, which get less wear and tear. In addition, some decorative wall tiles are only available in ceramic.