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Porcelain Tile versus Ceramic Tile - What are the Differences


Porcelain Ceramic Tile is Rapidly becoming the Ceramic Tile of Choice with Homeowners


By Mark J. Donovan

Ceramic tile and Porcelain tile can add a sense of elegance to a room or outdoor space that is unmatched by few other home accent touches.  As a result, it is no wonder more and more homeowners are becoming do it yourself tile installers. The question is frequently asked by these pre do-it-yourself tile installers is: “What is the difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile?” Well the answers pretty simple. Porcelain tile is effectively Ceramic tile. It is just made of a more refined material.


All ceramic tiles are made up of clay and quartz ferrous sand materials, along with water. Once the tiles are formed they are fired to high temperatures and in some cases their surfaces are glazed. The only difference between Porcelain tile and regular ceramic tile is that the clay used in porcelain tile is more highly refined and purified. Consequently, porcelain tiles are denser than a standard ceramic tile.

As a result, porcelain tiles are more rugged making them ideal for harsher applications such as flooring. Also, because of their higher density, porcelain tiles are less likely to absorb moisture (0.5%) which makes them more durable and more resistant to staining. Porcelain tiles are frequently found in floor applications, outdoor areas, and in cold weather climates where freezing can occur. With their low absorption capability they are less likely to crack in cold weather climates.


Porcelain tile costs a little more than the traditional, more porous, standard clay tile; however prices in general have been coming down in recent years for ceramic tile.

Ceramic tile comes in either glazed or unglazed surfaces. The glazed surfaces are like glass and are best used on walls as they are too slippery for floor applications. Glazed ceramic tiles are also a little more susceptible to cracking.

Ceramic tile is constructed using red, brown or white clay. Most porcelain tile, however, is constructed using white clay.

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When selecting any ceramic tile it is important to look at the PEI factor. This is the scratch resistance factor. A PEI of 1 is ideal for walls. A PEI of 2 is best for bathrooms and kitchens. A PEI of 3 is appropriate for all residential applications, and PEIs of 4 and 5 are applicable for commercial and heavy commercial applications, respectively.

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The MoH hardness factor is another factor to consider when selecting tile. The scale goes from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest hardness level (e.g. diamond). Most sand/dirt brought into a home has a hardness factor between 3 and 7. Consequently it is best to select a ceramic floor tile that has at least a MoH factor of 7.

A few manufacturers of porcelain and ceramic tile include: American Olean, A&P Trading, Eliane and the Porcelanso group.


For more information on ceramic tile and installing a shower pan membrane liner, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com.  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

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- Porcelain Tile versus Ceramic Tile : What are the Differences -

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