Porcelain vs Ceramic Tiles for Kitchens and Bathrooms

Tile is a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Easy-to-clean, tile doesn’t absorb spills like carpet does, and you don’t have to worry about water, food or drinks damaging your flooring. When trying to choose which tile type to choose, you’ll come across two main options: porcelain and ceramic.

Which is the best choice for your kitchen or bathroom?

Both Are in the Ceramic Family

Ironically, both ceramic and porcelain belong to the same family: ceramic.

The materials that make up these two tiles are very similar, and while they’re in the same family, they do have a different makeup.

You’ll also notice that porcelain is more expensive.

But why?

The main difference between the two has to do with water absorption.

Porcelain Has Low Water Absorption

Porcelain has fewer impurities, and it’s extruded. Kaolin is more abundant in porcelain than in ceramic tile.

Water absorption rates are rated as 0.5% in accordance with ASTM C373.

Porcelain is fired between 1200 and 1400 degrees Celsius, and the material is comprised of:

  • Clay
  • Feldspar
  • Quartz

A lot of ceramics have a similar composition, but when the tile is fired, it’s also weighed. The tile is then boiled for a period of five hours and then allowed to sit in water for an entire 24-hour period.

The goal of the weighing and soaking of the tile is to determine it’s weight after it has been soaked in water.

The tile is then weighed an additional time. When weighed again, it must not weigh 0.5% more than it did prior to being soaked to be considered. In effect, it must not have absorbed more than 0.5% water.

Additional Differences Worth Noting

Ceramic and porcelain have additional differences that define each one. The main differences between the two, aside from water absorption, are:

  • Porcelain must be certified to ensure that the tile being sold has absorption rates of 0.5% or less.
  • Porcelain has a higher density than ceramic due to the lower porosity of the material.
  • Porcelain is generally more durable and better suited for heavy usage.
  • Porcelain has the same color throughout the tile. Ceramic has a different internal color, which makes chips more noticeable.
  • Ceramic is easier to cut since it’s less durable than porcelain and is fired at a lower temperature.
  • Ceramic can be cut by homeowners and doesn’t require the experienced hand that porcelain requires to cut.

Ceramic is generally cheaper than porcelain by as much as 60%. In areas where water may be an issue, such as the bathroom, porcelain is a great choice. The low absorption rate of the water will ensure that the tiles remain durable.

Kitchens, where water isn’t as much of a concern, ceramic may suffice.

Porcelain as a whole is the better tile. It’s strength is higher since its fired for a longer period of time at a higher temperature. Certified, the material also absorbs less than 0.5% of water, making it a longer-lasting tile.

In high-trafficked areas, porcelain will last longer, too. Chips in porcelain don’t leave behind tiles that have different colors.

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